Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

This is Part I of the Steamed Bun Series. Here are the other posts in this series:
Part II: Chinese Steamed Meat Buns (Baozi) 包子

In Chinese cuisine, there is nothing more basic and classic than Chinese steamed bun or Bao. If you have lived in China, you would know that I am not exaggerating when I say that bao is literally everywhere in China! No matter which part of China you go, you can always see, smell, and eat freshly steamed from fancy restaurants to street food carts.

As with many other classic Chinese foods, the Chinese steamed bun family has thousands of years of history and comes in many different variations. The stuffed buns, which can be either savory or sweet filings, are popular dim sum items and appetizers.  On the other hand, the plain bun or Mantou in Chinese is a staple food in Northern China.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

Not everyone in China had the luxury to eat homemade bao regularly but I was one of the lucky guys. My grandfather would get up at 5am and start preparing the dough. 2 or 3 hours later, I would wake up in the smell of freshly steamed buns. By the time I got up, the freshly steamed bao was just in time to serve.

So yeah I was spoiled as a kid.  However, after I moved to the States, I have not been able to find any steamed buns like the ones my grandfather used to make. Not wanting to settle for less, I decided to recreate my childhood memory by making my own bao at home.

Since my grandfather never had a written recipe, I started out with the oral instructions from him. From there, I experiment different recipes and combinations of ingredients until one day these soft buns came out of my steamer!

In this basic plain bun recipe, I use bread machine / stand mixer to knead the dough, making the process a less stressful and physically demanding. However if you are one of the traditionalist, you are more than welcome to knead the dough using your hands. In fact, my grandfather, who is over 80 years old, still kneads his dough by hand twice a week. I’d better hide my “easy” recipe from him before he yells at me (yes he takes food very serious!)

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

This is my first recipe in the new Chinese Steamed Bun Series. Once you have mastered this basic dough, you’ll be all set to make other types of bao such as Cantonese custard bun, steamed meat buns, or the famous soup dumplings (xiao long bao).

And as always, I would love to hear your suggestions and feedback on this recipe or any other recipes.

P.S. Please check back on March 29th of the launch of the Cooking Planit Spice Giveaway!. You can subscribe to email if you don’t wish to miss out.

Step by Step Instructions

Activate the yeast by combining the yeast with lukewarm water for about 5 minutes. The mixture will become milky and bubbly.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

In a bread machine or stand mixer, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Turn on the bread machine / stand mixer, and slowly add the activated yeast and milk/water.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

When adding the milk/water, do it slowly and in batches. Also slowly add the cooking oil. Continue to knead for about 10 to 15 minutes as a dough ball is formed. Pay close attention to the texture of the dough. If it’s hard, add a little more water/milk. If it’s too wet or the surface is sticky, add a little more flour. At the end you should see a smooth, soft, but non-sticky dough ball.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and side aside to rest. Depending on the room temperature, let the dough rest for 45 – 60 minutes or until the dough doubles the size. If the dough smells very sour, add a tiny portion of baking soda to reduce the sourness. Turn on the bread machine/ stand mixer once again and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth dough is formed.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

Place the dough on a flour-covered work station, cut the dough into two halves.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

Roll each half of the dough into a long log about 1.5 inch in diameter. Flatten the log using a rolling pin.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

Lightly brush some water on the flat dough. Starting from one side of the flat dough, roll the dough towards the other end to form a log.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

Remove the ends of the log and cut the remaining log into 4 equal pieces or the size of your choice. Repeat the previous 3 steps for the half of the dough. Place each piece in a wax-paper-covered steamer.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

Do not steam the dough right away. Loosely cover the dough with a damped towel and let the dough rest and rise for about 30 minutes. The dough should become 1.5x the original size. Finally steam the dough over boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes. After you turn off the heat keep the lid on for extra five minutes to prevent the buns from becoming saggy.

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

In the morning I like to serve it with butter spread. For lunch, I turn the bun into a sandwich with some cold cuts.

How do you want to serve it?

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 buns

Chinese Steamed Bun is one of the most basic staples in Chinese cuisine. This step by step recipe will guide to through the process in making these soft buns at home.

Ingredients

  • 400g All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 30ml lukewarm water
  • 200ml milk or water +/- 10ml
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp cooking oil
  • 40g sugar
  • 2g salt
  • 1/10 tsp baking soda (optional)

Instructions

  1. Activate the yeast by combining the yeast with lukewarm water for about 5 minutes. The mixture will become milky and bubbly.
  2. In a bread machine or stand mixer, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Turn on the bread machine / stand mixer, and slowly add the activated yeast and milk/water.
  3. When adding the milk/water, do it slowly and in batches. Also slowly add the cooking oil. Continue to knead for about 10 to 15 minutes as a dough ball is formed. Pay close attention to the texture of the dough. If it’s hard, add a little more water/milk. If it’s too wet or the surface is sticky, add a little more flour. At the end you should see a smooth, soft, but non-sticky dough ball.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and side aside to rest. Depending on the room temperature, let the dough rest for 45 – 60 minutes or until the dough doubles the size. If the dough smells very sour, add a tiny portion of baking soda to reduce the sourness. Turn on the bread machine/ stand mixer once again and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth dough is formed.
  5. Place the dough on a flour-covered work station, cut the dough into two halves.
  6. Roll each half of the dough into a long log about 1.5 inch in diameter. Flatten the log using a rolling pin.
  7. Lightly brush some water on the flat dough. Starting from one side of the flat dough, roll the dough towards the other end to form a log.
  8. Remove the ends of the log and cut the remaining log into 4 equal pieces or the size of your choice. Repeat the previous 3 steps for the half of the dough. Place each piece in a wax-paper-covered steamer.
  9. Do not steam the dough right away. Loosely cover the dough with a damped towel and let the dough rest and rise for about 30 minutes. The dough should become 1.5x the original size. Finally steam the dough over boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes. After you turn off the heat keep the lid on for extra five minutes to prevent the buns from becoming saggy.

Notes

Use milk instead of water if you want the buns to appear white

http://yireservation.com/recipes/mantou-chinese-steamed-bun/

Mantou (Chinese Steamed Bun) 饅頭

151 comments

  1. Hi Yi, tried your recipe and the buns taste absolutely great. Thanks for sharing. 

  2. How much should the flour to water ratio be? My dough doesn’t end up smooth after kneading

    • Hi JasonD, thanks for checking out my recipe. For each 100g of flour I use roughly 60ml of liquid. How long do you normally knead the dough? I normally knead for about 10-15mins and the dough comes out relatively smooth.

    • I knead for 10-15mins too

    • i knead for about more than 15 mins.So if it’s still sticky, does that means the water added was too much?

    • Hi Jason, yes if it’s sticky then it sounds like there is too much water. Please try to reduce the water by 10%. Also are you kneading by hand or using a mixer/bread machine? Thanks.

  3. I made good recipe BUT I replace 100g of flour w cake flour then instead of just water I dilute some double action baking powder into the water to brush. End result fluffy BUT still not same like what I ate from the frozen ones.

    • Hi Mae, thanks for checking out my recipe. I am glad to hear that some the buns came out fluffy. Hope one day I’ll come up with a recipe that produces super fluffy buns just like the ones sold in the store. Thanks again.

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  5. I lived in China for a while to learn chiese and steamed Buns were one of my favourites! I have tried your recipe and though Dough looked fine the mantous didn’t rise while steaming and after half an hour they were still raw inside and The texture was hard and chewy. I have used an electric steamer and my concern is That the steam condenses back to water, so The mantou won’t cook properly. Do you know which is The correct way to cook mantou/baozi using food steamer? Maybe I could avoid using The lid? Ciao!!

    • Hi Simona, sorry to hear that the buns came out raw. It sounds like the buns weren’t fully steamed. Normally a steamer is designed to avoid condensation but if your buns came out wet then that could be a problem. However you do need the lid to trap the steam inside. If you have large wok and matching lid, you can set up a steamer like I did with this dish. Please let me know if this answers your question.

  6. Hi Yi,
    I tried your mantou recipe last night and it turned out fluffy and delish.
    However I came across two problems and is hoping if you can help to help me master this:
    1. The buns didn’t turned out white (they were lightly brown) as the ones bought from the shops, even if I used milk to replace water and used white AP flour as per tips provided in one of your responses below.
    2. After resting the dough for ~60 mins (as per first part of step 4) my couch turned out soft but chewy. No matter how long I knead by hand the dough didnt turn smooth. I went ahead to roll the dough out anyway, but found its difficult to roll the dough flat as the texture was chewy and dough sprung back to its original shape. After much effort, I have only managed to roll the dough out by 10-12 cm leaving the dough quite thick (in height) not as flat as per picture provided.
    However the buns still turned out soft and fluffy.
    I have read all the Q&A’s posted on this and it seems that I am the only one experienced these problems. Can you please suggest how I can overcome this?
    Thanks in advance for your help and sharing this great recipe. JJ

    • Hi there, thanks for visiting my blog. It’s hard to tell the exact reason why you have hard time flattening the dough but I would suggest letting the dough relax for 10 minutes right before you roll it out. The resting makes the dough easier to roll. Additionally, you can consider using slightly more liquid in the recipe – generally additional liquid makes the dough easier to roll.
      I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Hello Yi, I’m from malaysia born into a chinese family. I used to request my mum to make steamed buns for me but she didn’t quite do it as she didn’t have a good recipe. Earlier this year I googled for a good recipe and found your site. I tried it and buns turned out so well except for thatthey had a strong yeasty taste. I put in too much yeast, more than what you stated in the recipe as I wanted to finish the packet of yeast. Penny wise pound foolish. Anyway today I made them again and they were just perfect. My parents are visiting me at the moment and my mum is very impressed by the recipe and tips I gave her. I said it’s all thanks to you!!!! I gave her your link and she will surely be learning more from you! Thank you sooooo much for all the good tips on top of the wonderful recipe! It is very kind and generous of you to share all you have 😀 thankyou Yi!

    • Hi Nicole, sorry for getting back to you late. I am so glad to hear that the buns turned out great and both your mother and you enjoyed these fluffy buns. Thanks again for the feedback!

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  9. thanks Yi. I substitute the flour with 2 cup of cake flour and left it on the steamer longer. The texture is fluffy now, however my buns is not white. I think it’s because I am using 1% milk instead of whole milk. Thank you for the reply.

  10. Best baozi dough recipe i have yet to try! Thanks!

  11. Thanks Yi,
    I tried your recipe yesterday, and it’s by far better than any of the other recipe. I like the taste, however I feel the texture is not right. It seems nice after steaming, but if I don’t eat it right then and leave it on the counter, the bun would deflate and have stretchy texture. I kept on going to the step I have done and I can’t figure out what I did wrong. Perhaps, the expert like you can tell me what I did wrong? Thanks.

    • Hi there, thanks for checking out my recipe. Many factors can affect the texture of mantou. The deflation is most likely related to not enough baking powder and not enough steaming time. In the next batch, I’d suggest you use slightly more baking powder and leave the mantou in the steamer for a few minutes longer after done steaming (with lid on and heat off). Please let me know if this helps with the texture issue. Thanks again for visiting!

  12. Hi Yi,
    for the flour measurement, how many cup of flour is equal to your 400gram of flour? I don’t have a measurement scale.

    • Hello there, 400g of flour is equal to roughly 3 cups. For other conversions, you can actually use a converter located on the right hand panel of this site. I hope this helps!

  13. I wonder if we can make mantou without cooking oil?

  14. Thanks for this great recipe and the wonderful baozi recipe. You might have very well just saved my marriage! :). At least, my husband, a very homesick Chinese, was thrilled with the results. Thanks! Also, any leads for recipes for vegetarian filling for the baozi? Thanks again!

  15. Thanks for the great recipe — they turned out much better than the ones I’ve tried before. Your site is terrific… will be trying your recipe for 肉燥飯 soon. :)

  16. Great recipe – we’re addicted! Just wondering how long the dough can last before you steam the buns? We want to prepare everything for a dinner party and may even get things ready a day or two before hand if possible..?

    • Hi there,thanks for trying out the recipe! To answer your question, you can 1) prepare the dough and leave in the fridge – when you are ready to cook, you roll the dough into buns and let the dough rise (requires longer time as the dough was cold) and follow the steps to steam the buns. alternatively 2) steam the buns in advance and keep them in the fridge – heat them up in the streamer when you are ready to serve. Personally I prefer the second solution. Hope this helps!

  17. I am going to try to make these rolls for my family. I am beginning to get into making foods from around the world to open up my (way too Americanized) family to different flavors.

    I do have a question though, when using milk does it matter the fat content? I generally buy skim (fat free) milk, is that okay?

    • hello Sherry, thanks for stopping by my blog. So happy that you are going to try this recipe! The fat-free milk should work. Please let me know how it turned out.

  18. Natalie Summers Reply

    I’m half way making this and I forgot to put the oil in…I hope it won’t ruin the buns?

    • Hi Natalie, oil is not absolutely necessary so you should be fine. Please let me know how the buns came out.

  19. Hello Yi,

    I followed your recipe exactly. My dough did not rise. Any idea why this happens?

    Thanks!

    • Check the expiration on your yeast. Also, your liquid may have been too hot. Yeast cannot take anything more than around human body temperature. It is a living organism. Rainy days don’t help yeast rise. Humid sunny days are best. Not kneading the dough enough might yield a poor result: Wrong flour can too. There are so many factors that can go wrong. Baking (steaming) anything with yeast, flour, sugar, etc. is a science and so the clues to your dilemma must be sorted out according to how you went about preparing the recipe. Please don’t be disappointed and do try again because the recipe yields some glorious clouds of steamed delight and making dumplings with the dough and Yi’s recipe for the filling is heavenly.

    • Hi Sima, sorry for getting back to you late. I think Leslie has given some good reasons as to why the dough didn’t rise. One thing I’d like to add is to make sure you let the dough sit at relatively warm temperature. When the room temperature is low I like to heat my oven to about 100 F then let it cool down to around 80F. Then I leave my dough in the oven until it doubles the size. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for checking out my blog.

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  21. Hello,
    I just found out your blog and I like It ! You have wonderful recipes ! Thank you for sharing them.
    Regarding Mantou/Baozi Dough recipe, in case we can’t use yeast, is it possible to replace it by adding more Baking Powder or Soda ?

    • Hello Anna, thanks for checking out my blog. To answer your question, there isn’t a good substitute for yeast. However if you absolutely can’t use yeast, you can still use baking soda in conjuction with some acid. I found this article explaining how. I hope this helps. Thanks again for vising my site.

    • Hello Ti,
      Thank you for your reply.
      I actually made the recipe by using Bakind soda + vinegar to replace yeast. The result was quite good, but I’m gonna try with yeast to see the difference.

      Anyway thank you for your Baozi recipe, they were more than delicious, especialy the filling seasoning.

    • Hi Anna, good to know that the baking soda & acid combo worked out for you! Yes please let me know the yeast version compares to the baking soda version! Thanks!

  22. Dear Yi,

    We (my husband and 2.5 years old son) have moved very recently to Dalian, China from Philly. We always liked Chinese takeout in the States but never knew how different and delicious mainland cuisine could be! We are loving trying out new dishes, snacks here and have started to cook some of them. The steam buns are certainly one of our favorites. (We somehow thought they are made with rice flour though!). It is wonderful to find your blog. I plan to make the mantou sometime in future. Do you have any idea where I can find the bun steamer and rolling pin?

    Thanks.

    • Hello there, thanks for checking out my blog!! Hope you have enjoyed your stay in Dalian so far! If remember it correctly the city is known for its soccer community and fresh seafood!!
      The rolling pin and steamer should be available at your local supermarkets or cooling supply shops. Nowadays people prefer to user stainless steel steamers rather than the traditional bamboo version but if you look hard you can still find the bamboo one! I hope this helps and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions!!

  23. Hi all mantou lovers living in Australia,

    I’ve did this mantou with a few types of flour and guess what…I bought one from Coles the other day called “Lighthouse – Bread and Pizza” flour and it turned out FANTASTIC as compared to other flour available!

    I used Dry Yeast from Tandaco and no baking powder.

    Hope it helps!
    By the way, I have some pictures of my before and after mantou using this Lighthouse flour. If you would like a pic, please email me (aunomdelalune@yahoo.com) or maybe Yi will allow me to show on this site…

    Thanks all!

    • Hello Evelyn, thanks for sharing all the tips. If you don’t mind I’d love to share some your pictures either on this post or a designed “pictures from the readers” area!

  24. Hi Yi
    I have tried at least 5 different dough recipes for Baozi, and have never come as close to perfection as the ones made from your recipe! I was so close to giving up. So a big thank you for sharing the recipe! We can now enjoy proper homemade steamed Baozi.

    One question, what does the baking soda which was optional do for the dough? I didn’t use it.

    Not sure if anyone mentioned it, for the yeast to activate properly, it is good to dissolve a pinch of sugar or flour into the warm water before adding the yeast. It’s said that helps to feed the yeast and gets it doing its thing. And cover the yeast mixture with a cloth as they like to work in the dark.

    Tah from Australia.

  25. Hi can I use bao flour instead of all purpose flour for the mantau and what temperature will be for lukewarm water? Over here in Australia, we can get purple orchid brand bao flour. Please advise. Thanks for sharing

    • Hello Kimee, yes the special bao flour will definitely work (and probably better as I think it’s combination of different types of flours). As for the lukewarm water, I normally keep it around 25C or 76F. Hope this helps!

    • Hi (from Aus too) Kimee

      I used the purple orchid brand low gluten wheat flour (bao flour), and followed the package instruction, but didn’t succeed.

      I used that same flour using Yi’s recipe, and the baos turned out really soft and fluffy :)

    • Thanks for the feedback:)

  26. Hi there, Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made it today and it’s WONDERFUL! I used dry yeast though, it didnt swell up that much after resting but it did swell up when I’m steaming it. Overall 100% tasty!! 😀 Thanks again.

    • Hello Evelyn, thank you for the feedback! I am so glad that the buns came out wonderful. Thanks again for trusting my recipe :)

  27. Can you tell me how to fry it and how to use a rice steamer in more detail please.i need. It for a school project on Thursday. Thanks!

    • Hi Emily, does your rice cooker come with steaming tray? Basically you can place the tray inside of the rice cooker w boiling water and place the mantou dough on the steaming tray. Make sure to line the tray with parchment. Cover and steam for 15 mins or so. To fry the mantou, I normally steam it first and fry in oil over medium low heat until golden brown. I like to serve the fried mantou with some condensed milk. You can also fry the mantou dough directly without steaming but the buns come out harder and not as good. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

    • Thanks for the help hope I get an a on this school project

  28. Hi Yi – I’ve always loved man tao! Can’t believe I can try to make it myself now! Thanks for the recipe!!!

    Just wondering if I could use fresh yeast? (I just happen to have some.)

    • Hi Irene, thanks for checking out my blog. To answer your question, yes you can absolutely use fresh yeast! It’s considered better yeast to use and you do get a slightly better flavor out of it. For this recipe you probably need approximately 10g to 12g of fresh yeast. Please let me know how your buns came out!! Thanks again for visiting!

    • Thank you so much! I’m going to give it a try and let you know how that goes!

      I guess I won’t need to mix the fresh yeast with the milk beforehand?

    • You are welcome! Yes you can use the fresh yeast firstly! Enjoy cooking!

    • Just a quick update for you!

      My fresh yeast gone funny so I had to use instant yeast in the end :-(

      Some interesting results though…

      1) I made two batches, one with 3:1 bread to plain flour ratio and the other with 1:3 ratio. What I found was the latter combo (with less bread flour) actually produced buns with better texture.

      2) I used rice bran oil and the buns came out slightly golden in colour. So I’m going to try coconut oil the next time to make them whiter~~~

      These buns are soooooooo good. Thanks again for the recipe!

    • Hi Irene, thanks for the update! I really enjoyed reading your experiments and I’d love to hear how the coconut oil worked out for you as I have never used it with the buns. Thanks!

    • Actually Yi, I dont understand what is “fresh yeast” how does it look like or where can it most likely be available for purchase? I’m in Melbourne.

      Also, I’ve heard of some recipe using “shortening”, can that be replaced with cooking oil or butter etc?

      Thanks Yi.
      Cheers

    • Hi Evelyn, fresh yeast is aka cake yeast or compressed yeast. It comes in a block and works really well with buns, bread, and cake. You can check specialty stores or online. I have never used shortening for plain buns but I’d think it can replace cooking oil. Please let me know if you have any other questions:)

    • Thank you Yi. No, the shortening wasn’t for this recipe, I just happen to see it for making something else… I forgot already what it was for. Lol

  29. Great web site. Plenty of helpful info here. Iˇ¦m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks on your effort!

  30. What is the purpose of step 7, brushing water onto the dough before roll it up? I have tried once to make mantou but failed miserably. I suspect it was because I didn’t use baking powder, instead of fluffy I got rubber-ish texture. Do you think baking powder may help?

    • Hello, thanks for visiting my blog. To answer your question, the use of baking powder can definitely helpful make mantou soft and fluffy. In my opinion the key is to properly knead the dough and proof it sufficiently before steaming. I have been using this recipe for quite a while and the buns always come out good. Please give it a shot and let me know if you have any other questions.
      – Yi

    • thank you. can you give the ingredient list of mantou with 100g of flour? Can I just reduce everything else in proportion from your 400g flour recipe? After I threw away the entire batch of my first try, I now want to experiment with smaller batches

      When you list 1 tbs of yeast, do you mean one teaspoon or one table spoon? I wonder if I can find a recipe that list everything in grams so it is much easier to make a different batch size by proportion.

    • You can just reduce everything else in proportion to make an 100g flour batch. And yes I meant to say 1 teaspoon and that was a typo – just updated in the recipe. Please let me know how these buns came out and let me know if you have any other questions.

  31. Thank you, Yi, I forgot to inquire if the bun dough might be baked, as well.

    I really enjoy your site. Cheers, Leslie

    • Hi Leslie, the baked version comes out a bit hard so I think you’re better off steaming the dough. However please feel free to experiment and let me know how it came out :)

  32. Hello Yi,

    I am wondering if you have ever frozen this dough. Also, have you ever fried the dough. I have kept half the first dough batch I made in the refrigerator for several days and then steamed them and they were still delicious.

    Also, have you ever fried this dough. I think the basic dough is very versatile.

    Thank you, Leslie

    • Hello Leslie, thanks for checking out the steamed bun recipe! Yes you can freeze the dough as long as you seal it nicely (so it won’t get a freezer burn). However most of the time I would freeze the steamed buns instead so I can just heat up when I want to serve it. And yes I have fried the dough before. It surface gets a little hard but on the inside the texture resembles that of donuts. Give it a try if you have some leftover dough! Hope this helps. Thanks again for visiting!

  33. Hi Yi! Your recipe makes my buns grow really huuuuuge! I did not expect it’s going to be that puffy. But the texture is soft and spongey. They are perfect! Thanks for the recipe. I’ll make another batch today and will try to use wheat starch for 20% of the flour. Happy New Year!

  34. I don’t have a bamboo steamer. Would these come out well in an electric steamer?

    • Yes, you can use any steamer you have. I once used rice cook to do the job and the buns came out perfectly!

    • how did you use the rice cooker to do this please. I have a zojurushi rice cooker and am very interested.

    • hello Rb, i apogloize for the late reply. The rice cooker I have has a steamer compartment and basically I place the dough on the steamer and let the boiling water steam the buns. Please let me know if you need more information.

  35. Hi Yi,
    I’m going to make these in the weekend. Thanks for the recipe. Now, what do you suggest of what to eat with the buns? Would it be ok with sauteed chicken with lemon and honey?

    Gong Xi Fat Choi!
    Arfi

    • Hello Arfi, thanks for stopping by! These buns go well with almost anything since they don’t have much flavors. The sauteed chicken sounds like a great idea! My favorite are saucy dishes…I like to use the bun to mop up the sauce haha. Please let me know how these buns turned out. Thanks again!

  36. Hi Yi. I tried these yesterday and they were great. I just miscalculated the spacing between buns resulting to some pieces being stuck together. Also some were a bit misshapen from my inexpert handling. These aside, the buns sure tasted great.

    Tomorrow, I will do your char siu recipe. And one of these days, your meat bun recipes, too. After trying 2 of your recipes, I’m fairly confident to try anything as I realized I can’t go wrong if I followed your instructions to a tee.

    Thanks again. And still hoping to find a taro puff recipe here :)

    PS. I do not have a kitchen scale so I used your ingredient conversion table. This btw is an excellent added feature for you site.

    • Hello Elim, thanks for your kind words!

      I really enjoy reading your “report”! :) Yes the spacing gets a little tricky as the buns expand after steaming but looks like you already have a hang of it. Please keep your feedback coming!

  37. Hi Yi,

    Finally, I made it!! The steam buns look so smooth and fluffy. And also, taste really good. But one more thing – I used parchment sheet and applied oil and put the buns and steamed. But it’s still hard to take them out. They were all stick on the sheet. I tried to apply oil and without it; but both were stick.

    Thank you.

    Josephine

    • Hi Josephine,

      I am so glad to heard that the buns came out smooth this time. I normally use parchment paper and I don’t any sticking issue but I know that wax paper makes buns stick, always. I’d suggest you to make sure that no condensation gets on the buns and the parchment paper. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, I’d brush some oil on a few layers of cheese cloth and steam the buns on the cheese cloth. This is a bit of traditional but it never failed on me:)

      Please let me know if this works.

      Yi

    • Thank you for your suggestions. You’re always so helpful.

      Josephine

    • Hi Yi,

      I tried again, I used aluminum foil in bamboo steamer. It worked so well – the buns were soft, fluffy and yummy. The most important is not stick anymore. Thanks again.

    • Awesome Josephine. I am so glad that it all worked out for you at the end! Wish you are a happy Chinese New Year and don’t forget to check out my Chinese New Year Cookbook!

  38. Hello, I forgot to add that I used King Arthur bread flour to make my Mantou and it worked perfectly. I used bread flour because the gluten gets much more elastic with kneading. I bake a lot of conventional style bread so I figured Mantou might do as good or better with bread flour. I was not disappointed and I did leave the lid on for an extra 5 mins after the steaming process was done. My Mantou were fluffy little pillows of scrumptious delight. Thank you

    • Hi Leslie, I see that yo are already an advanced steamed bun maker!! I sometimes use a combination of bread flour and AP flour to make a more elastic and denser version. Good job!

  39. Hi,
    My mantou tasted really good, but it did not smooth in the surface. I used medium heat and steamed for 15 minutes. Any suggestion? Thank you.

    Josephine

    • Hello Josephine, thanks for checking out the recipe. To answer your question, the bumpy surface is most likely caused by the air trapped in the dough. Make sure you get as much air out as possible when you flatten the dough using a rolling pin (step 6). I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks.

    • Hi Yi,

      Thanks for your prompt respond. Your are right, when I flattened the dough there has a lots of air. I used the stand fixer to make the dough. Is that the reason to get the air? How long should I whirl the dough and it won’t overdo.

      Thank you.

    • Sorry! Should be stand mixer.

      Josephine

    • Hi Josephine, it is normal to get the air trapped in the dough. I normally swirl / hand knead my dough for between 15 – 20 minutes so you are not over doing. And it is perfectly fine to use a stand mixer as I use my bread machine to knead from time to time. To fix the problem, you’ll just need to try to get as much air out as possible when you flatten and roll out the dough with your rolling pin. You might also want to flatten the dough a few more times.

      Please let me know if this helps.

    • Hi Yi, Thanks for your suggestions. Definitely, I will again and will let you know the result.

      Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    • You are very welcome Josephine!

  40. Hello,

    I kneaded for 16 minutes. It was great!

    The scallion pancakes were wonderful too!

  41. Hello Yi,

    The Mantou I made per your instructions were incredible. I made them today. I would not change one thing and they were perfect.

    Thank you, Leslie

  42. Dear Yi,

    Today, I make Mantou per your recipe. Wish me luck. I am kneading by hand.
    Thank you for bringing to us the wonderful recipes from your childhood.

    This afternoon I will make your recipe for Scallion Pancakes.

    I really enjoy your blog please keep up the good work!

    Cheers, Leslie

  43. Can you please post the ingredients by measure cup and spoon?
    I would like to try Mantou.

    Thank you a lot.

    • Hello LL, thanks for checking out the mantou recipe. There is a cute little measurement converter on the sidebar of this side that can convert the measurements to cups and spoons. Please let me know if this works for you. Please let me know if you still have questions on the measurements. Thanks again for stopping by!

  44. Thanks so much for the recipe! My dad missed eating man tou that my grandma used to make. I hand kneaded the dough and it turned out really well. My dad said, “Bu Cuo.” :)
    I’ll definitely make another batch soon!

    • Hello Viky, thank you for the feedback. I am so glad that the man tou turned out good!! Please feel free to send me the pictures of man tou you have so I can share with other readers!!

  45. Thanks. Tried the recipe. Great.
    1. The rising was very slow (our house was cool).
    2. We made both MANTOU and STEAMED BUNS. Mantou was a little too salty per my wife from Xiamen, China.
    3. She made a unique filling; part red cooked pork and cabbage and spices. Was a bit wet as the pork fat melted, and made the dough a ilttle mushy after cooking in some of the dumplings. The dumplings were a bit fragile.

    1. Any comments about the thickness of the “wrapper”?
    2. Any comments about the diameter of the “wrapper”?
    3. If you freeze these, do you freeze the mantou/baozi before or after cooking?
    4. How do you defrost them the best way?

    Thanks for the nice posting.

    • Hello Neal, thanks for your feedback. I am so glad you got to try the recipe! The cooked pork filling is another popular filling I grew up eating. I normally slightly freeze the filling so it wouldn’t be running when I fold the meat buns.

      To answer your questions:
      1. thicker wrapper makes it easier to fold and less likely to puncture holes but more doughy texture. I normally try to keep the dough around 1/16th inch thick.
      2. this depends on your preference. my normally size is between 4 to 4.5 inches of diameter. You can make giant buns with 6-7 inch diameter.
      3. i freeze them after I steam. I have not tried the other way around.
      4. if you freeze them after steaming, you can defrost/warm them in a steamer. I don’t like to defrost using a microwave.

      I hope this helps. Thanks again for trying my recipe and visiting my blog! I will be posting a more more bun/dumpling recipes.

  46. I don’t know if my prior comment came through. But
    1. What do we do with the oil?
    2. Why is the recipe in the video different than the one here?

  47. 1. In the recipe and the video, there was oil required. But the recipe didn’t describe where to use it.
    2. The video had different ingredient levels; more flour, but about the same water. More sugar. I am confused.
    Can you help?

    • Hi Neal, thanks for checking out the steamed bun recipe! To answer your questions:

      1) the oil is required in both the video recipe and the recipe on this post. The oil is added in step 3 in this recipe. In the video, I briefly showed how the dough is made using a bread machine but you will need to refer to this recipe for steps.
      2) the video calls for 500g of flour, 50g of sugar, and 280ml of water/milk. This recipe uses 400g of flour, 40g of sugar, and 230ml of water/milk. The video is for the steamed meat bun which uses this dough recipe, the video uses slightly more of each ingredients but the proportion is more or less the same.

      If you want to make plain steamed buns (mantou), you can just stick to this recipe. If you want to make steamed meat buns, please use the ingredients required in the video as well as the meat bun post.

      I hope this helps and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions!

  48. I cannot wait to try your recipe but I will do it by hand because I’m a purist and glutton for cuisine torture. Thank you for this lovely recipe. I will let you know how it comes out.

    Last night was the first time I ever roasted a Peking Duck and it was spectacular!! Took me five days to prep it but it’s worth the wait.

    Cheers!

    • Happy New Year! I salute you for going through the trouble to make your own Peking duck!! I’d love to see your duck if you have a picture of it!

      I have been thinking of sharing the roast duck recipe here but I think it’ll be split into two posts because as you said it is a lot of effort!!

      Thanks for letting me know you’ll be kneading the dough by hands. It does make a difference! Please let me know how the buns come out!

  49. No offence, but your mantou looked very dry and rough in texture. Your pictures don’t lie. ( Sorry ) I suspose there is reason why we need to knead manually, just like making pasta. For a young guy like u, what is so “stressful and physically demanding” kneading a dough ? Don’t be lazy !

    • Hi ANON, thank you for the comment! You are right that the dough made with bread machine can’t compare to the hand knead dough. This is one of the reasons I mentioned that I had to hide this post from my grandfather who, at age of 82, still hand kneads his dough a few times a week! Wit that said, I do think this recipe serves as a basic introduction to the world of steamed buns. I do plan to post a hand knead recipe some time later to do the justice. As for the buns made by the bread machine, yes it’s got a rougher texture but they came out reasonable soft and fluffy :) Thanks again for visiting!

  50. Pingback: Chinese Steamed Meat Buns (Baozi) 包子 | Yi Reservation

  51. Thanks for this! I can buy these easily at the store, but to have them homemade will be great! Do you, by any chance, have a recipe for the corn ones with the dates shaped like a cone? I don’t know what they’re called, but Google isn’t super helpful for finding that recipe.

    • Hi Lauren, thanks for checking out my blog. Based on your description I think you are referring to these buns: http://i3.meishichina.com/attachment/recipe/201202/01/201202011639417.jpg
      Please let me know if that's what you are looking for. Thanks

  52. We have 2 foreign exchange students, I hope I can do this. Not sure what to use to stream them in, but I’ll figure something out. Thanks for the details.

    • Hi NLi, thanks for the comment. I hope you figure out the steamer situation. Please let me know how your mantou came out. Thanks.

  53. Hi Yi,
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe! I used it 3 times already and buns came out perfect every time ^__^
    I also used half the dough to mix pandan paste in it, it gave the buns a very nice sweet smell, and an awesome swirly double colour 😀 plus i use coconut milk instead of normal milk(just because i like coconut milk lol)
    First time i saw mantao in Jackie Chan movies and they looked so tasty, now i can make my own!!!oMG!!
    Thanks again, you are awesome ^____^

    • Hello NY, thanks for your feedback and I am glad you like it. The use of coconut milk and pandan paste sounds fantastic. I’ll need to try that next time I make my mantou! Thanks again!

  54. Hi Yi,
    Thanks for a wonderful recipe! I used it 3 times already and buns come out perfect every time ^__^
    I also used half the dough to mix pandan paste in it, it gave the buns a very nice sweet smell, and an awesome swirly double colour 😀 plus i use coconut milk instead of normal milk(just because i like coconut milk lol)
    First time i saw mantao in Jackie Chan movies and they looked so tasty, now i can make my own!!!oMG!!
    Thanks again, you are awesome ^____^

  55. Hi Yi,

    Great recipe! But I have one problem:
    What did I do wrong when some of the buns
    shrank as soon as I open the lid after
    steaming?

    • Hello Anna,

      The “sinking bun” is a common problem in making the steamed buns. Here are a few things you can do to avoid this:

      1) use a little more baking powder. It helps the buns to stay puffy.
      2) after you form the buns, let them rest and rise for a little longer I normally do it for 30 mins but it can take up to 1 hour depending on the temperature
      3) after finish steaming, please don’t open the lid right after you turn off the heat. Keep the lid on for another 5 minutes.

      I hope this helps but please let me know if you still have the same problem.

      Thanks for visiting!

      Yi

    • I notice in number 3 in your comment you said to leave the lid on for 5 min to avoid the buns sinking. you should include this tip in the main recipe too. I plan on making these sometime this week. wish me luck!

    • Hi Debbie, first of all, thank you for visiting my side. I really appreciate for your suggestion. I have just added that tip in the last step of the instruction. Now every reader can use this tip! Thank you so much for spotting that! Please let me know how your buns came out!

    • I did make these tonight and they turned out amazing. So light and fluffy . Now I want to try the meat filled ones.

    • Hello Debbie, thank you so much for the feedback! I am so happy to hear that these buns came out fluffy!! Yes now you’ll have to tackle the meat buns and many more other buns to come :) Please let me know how the meat buns came out. Thanks!

  56. Pingback: Almost Singapore Chili Crab | Yi Reservation

  57. Looks delicious. 😀 I can’t wait to try.

  58. Pingback: Mantou – 饅頭 | SpankyMango.com

  59. Hmmmmmm, your steamed buns look heavenly. Would you have a recipe to make steam buns from rice flour or any other non-gluten flours for the gluten-intolerant?
    Tks

    • Hey JK,

      Thank you for the visit. Rice flour will not come out the same in terms of texture and flavor. but I’d imagine it would come out great with gluten-free all purpose flour. You can probably also use gluten-free corn meal. Hope this helps.

  60. Hi Yi, great to find this recipe! I hope you will also post one for taro mantou. I imagine it would just include taro paste, but I could be wrong!

  61. I make sandwich bread and buns all the time but have yet attempt to try making Mantou yet! I’m very inspired to make a batch after seeing your post. My Dad is a big Mantou fan and I’m sure he’ll be thrilled if I prepare these for him. :) Thank you so much for sharing.

  62. I’ve loved steamed buns ever since I was a kid. Even plain, they are just irresistible. There’s just something about that pillowy texture that is so delicious. Yours are truly wonderful looking, too.

  63. Good job, Yi. I actually made these with a Pillsbury in the can dough not to long ago. I like the sound of yours much better! Though,I do have to say if you want them in a pinch, it worked! Looking forward to the next post!

    • Hi Abbe, good call on the Pillsbury dough! I use the same trick when I am under the extreme time pressure or when I am too impatient to wait for the dough to rise. I’ll probably share the “secret” with everyone else when I make my next steamed bun post. Thanks!

  64. How about adding some slced green scallion! I usually buy buns in packages in the soymilk/noodle refrigerator section of my local Asian mkt and steam them at home. They are fabulous! Bet that fresh is even better.

    • Hey DB, you definitely know your steamed buns! The buns with scallions are called flower rolls (shaped as flowers) and I used to eat it all the time when I lived with my grandpa. Will post that in my future steamed bun series. Thanks.

  65. I’ve never had bao – not something that a celiac can generally have but I may try to whip something up :) Thank you for the inspiration Yi!

    • Hey Mare, thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you get to try the steamed buns. If you did make it at home please let me know how it came out. Thanks.

  66. Love steamed mantou! The leftover can be fried and served with sweetened condensed milk…..a lipsmacking afternoon snack.

    • you are absolutely right. I love to dip the fried mantou with condense milk…i would eat fried mantou for all occasions if health concern wasn’t an issue. I’ll have to post a quick recipe on this soon. Thanks.

  67. Great recipe! I love steamed buns, but only have them in restaurants – I’ve never tried making them. They’re not that hard! For some reason I imagined they’d be more complicated. Thanks for a really terrific recipe with detailed instructions.

    • Hello John, it’s always a pleasure to see you here. Hope you get to try the homemade steamed buns soon. Thanks.

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