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Mantou 饅頭 (Chinese Steamed Buns)

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Made with just five inexpensive, simple ingredients, these Chinese Steamed Buns are SO easy to make and even easier to eat! These fluffy, soft steamed buns of goodness are so much better than anything you could reheat from frozen.

Three steamed buns are placed in a round bamboo steamer.

In Taiwan, you can buy these bad boys all over the place, and I’m so very jealous. Whenever I go back to Taiwan and stay with my uncle in Taipei, there’s this mantou vendor right around the corner where he lives. Every morning I would wake up and walk about 30 seconds to this vendor and get a fresh steamed bun. It was seriously the most intoxicating smell and the taste was even better. My favorite was breaking it in half and seeing how light and fluffy it was on the inside and the steam just floating through the air.

Sadly, here in the states, there is nothing like the ones you get in Taiwan. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them fresh here. I’ve seen them in the frozen aisle, I believe, at the Asian grocery store but…don’t get me wrong, they’re not inedible, but those sad frozen buns can’t hold a candle to the real deal.

Homemade steamed buns differ from the frozen ones because these buns are soft, fluffy, and have the most delicious subtle, sweet flavor to them. They almost remind me of being in Taiwan. This recipe is from my mom and it’s pretty authentic to the ones you get in Taiwan and it only takes five ingredients.

I should go ahead and warn you – these buns are seriously addictive and maybe you’ll get a little taste of Taiwan.

I’m not sure if it’s the delicately sweet flavor or the unbeatable fluffy consistency, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve NEVER been able to eat just one of these! I eat them plain, as they are the most pure and authentic. Sometimes they stuff them with red bean but plain is my favorite. I sometimes eat them by the dozen. Kidding. Kind of..

Three buns are placed on tiny squares of parchment paper in a steamer basket.

Ingredients

This is such a budget friendly recipe! You only need 5 ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen to make a batch of Chinese steamed buns.

  • Flour – Use all-purpose flour to create the best structure.
  • Yeast – If using envelope yeast, use 1 envelope and follow the instructions on envelope.
  • Warm water – You can use milk if you’d prefer!
  • Vegetable oil – This helps with the moisture of the buns.
  • Sugar – You’ll need some plain white granulated sugar for that sweetness.
A steamed bun has been split in half to reveal a perfectly cooked center.

Do I have to use a steamer?

Yes, these are steamed buns and that’s how they are essentially “cooked”/”baked.”

Can I bake these?

No, they will have a completely different texture than what is intended. You should find a different recipe if you prefer a non-steamed buns.

A halved bun is presented on a blue and white plate.

How long will Chinese steamed buns stay fresh?

I like keeping them on the countertop (covered) at room temperature for about 48 hours max to maximize the fresh fluffiness of the bun. Once it goes into the refrigerator it still tastes great but you must steam them again to get that same texture.

In an airtight container in the fridge, these buns will stay fresh for about 3-4 days.

Reheat using your steamed, NOT the microwave! All a microwave will do is zap the life right out of your homemade buns.

How should I serve steamed Chinese buns?

As I mentioned earlier, I like to enjoy these buns plain.

However, you can also smear your favorite butter or jam on them if you want to Americanize it!

They’re tasty as a treat in the morning, as a midday snack, or even as a side dish for your favorite Chinese entrée. Think of it like an Asian’s dinner roll.

Half of a steamed bun is presented on a round blue and white plate.

Steer clear of the freezer aisle and make more of my traditional Taiwanese recipes at home!

Instant Pot Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Taiwanese Braised Minced Pork

Taiwanese Tea Eggs

Three Cup Chicken

Mantou 饅頭 (Chinese Steamed Buns)

These Chinese steamed buns are light, fluffy, and moist. They're perfect on their own or alongside a Chinese entree, and they only use 5 ingredients.
Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 6 buns
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon yeast, (if using envelope yeast, use 1 envelope & follow instructions on envelope)
  • ¾ cup warm water or milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • cup granulated sugar

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and yeast. Then mix in the vegetable oil.
  • Make a well in the middle and slowly pour in the warm water and mix until dough forms into a ball. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to do all these steps (you won’t have to make a well, just pour everything in).
  • Once the dough forms into a ball, begin kneading the dough for 15-20 minutes. If you have some anger you need to let out, this is the perfect thing to make. You can punch the dough and throw it around :)
  • After you’re done kneading the dough, put it in a clean large bowl and cover it with a cloth towel. Set in a warm place to rise. About 3 hours.
  • After the dough has risen, form into medium sized balls and set each ball on a square baking paper (each ball has its own).
  • If you have the time, let the balls sit for 40 minutes to rise more, if not, 20 minutes is good enough.
  • Put the buns in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes until they’re puffy and cooked.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for 4 days, or in the freezer for 4 weeks. Reheat in the steamer for 2-3 minutes, or for 5-6 if frozen. 

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 bun | Calories: 280 kcal | Carbohydrates: 60 g | Protein: 8 g | Fat: 1 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g | Sodium: 3 mg | Potassium: 96 mg | Fiber: 2 g | Sugar: 11 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Bread
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword: chinese bread, chinese side dishes, easy asian recipes, mantou
 
Recipe Rating




Minna

Monday 4th of June 2018

I made these and they are amazing!!! Is it possible to eliminate the oil since it is hard to shape the bun at the end?

Julie

Tuesday 5th of June 2018

I don't think you should omit the oil.

TheBrooklynBakers

Thursday 9th of February 2017

cant wait to try making these! I am from chinatown NY and you're right, the fresh ones are the best! thanks! -a.brooklyn.baker

Ken Claar

Sunday 3rd of April 2016

Question? In the Mantou recipe in Step 3, your instructions say to knead for 15 to 20 minutes. If using a stand mixer with a dough hook, does this translate to 5 to 7 minutes? What dough properties am I looking for?

Thank you!

Julie

Monday 4th of April 2016

Hi Ken, I would say 10 minutes in a stand mixer. You're looking for a smooth, non-sticky dough.

Carl Yee

Sunday 23rd of March 2014

Your Chinese recipes are great. This one looks like it would make a good Cha-Siu Bow (Hom bow to some). Since my wife is not Chinese, but she loves to cook Chinese so these recipes are great.

BTW, we call ourselves a saffron and rice couple.

Julie

Monday 24th of March 2014

I'm glad you're enjoying my Chinese recipes! Hopefully your wife will try some of them out!

Fe

Thursday 15th of August 2013

Just came across your site via Pinterest and I'm lovin' it! Question on the mantou-- I live at higher altitude (4300ft) are there any changes you think I should make so they will still come out as fluffy goodness?

Thanks!

Julie

Thursday 15th of August 2013

Oh man, I'm so bad with altitude stuff - I've NEVER baked at a high altitude so I really couldn't give you any tips :( I know Mountain Mama Cooks is a high altituder baker if you wanna check her out for some tips? Sorry Fe!