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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
Steer clear of the freezer aisle and make more of my traditional Taiwanese recipes at home!
Mantou 饅頭 (Chinese Steamed Buns)
- 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
- ⅓ 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.
- 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.
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.