mantou 饅頭 [chinese steamed buns]

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    Mantou: homemade Chinese Steamed Buns that have a smooth and puffy surface and are fluffy and soft when you break into them.


    What you’re looking at is a steamed white ball of goodness. And the name of it is a mantou, basically a Chinese steamed bun. It’s most often served in Chinese restaurants here in the United States but in Taiwan (and I assume China — never been there lol) you can buy them at bakeries and food stands all over the place. You can also buy them frozen at the Asian marts here in America and steam them at home yourself, but they’re NOTHING compared to homemade ones. Homemade mantous differ from the frozen ones (as do most foods) because a homemade mantou is made with love. Haha, just kidding, but seriously, what is deemed as a “good” mantou is a smooth and puffy surface that is fluffy and soft when you break into it and that is exactly what a homemade mantou will give you.

    These little (or large) balls of fluff are so addicting. They don’t have much flavor to them, although, there’s a hint of a sugary sweetness, but you can break one open and stuff it with something savory or eat them on its own as a breakfast roll. I personally like to eat them plain. I like the hint of sugar and the doughy taste. It’s hard to describe why they’re so addicting unless you’ve had one before, but the fluffiness, in my opinion, is what makes them so good. They’re really easy to make too, it just takes a lot of patience to wait for them to rise and rise and steam. Well-worth the wait and it’s so easy to double up the batch so you can make yourself enough for the entire week :) The dough is also refrigerator friendly up to 2 days so you can always come back to making them later if you’re pressed for time.

    Thanks, mom for passing this along and showing me how to make them :) you’ll always make the best ones!

    mantou 饅頭 [chinese steamed buns]

    Fluffy and nostalgic Chinese steamed buns!
    Prep Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
    Cook Time: 20 mins
    Total Time: 3 hrs 50 mins
    Servings (adjustable, but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings): 6
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    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp yeast (if using envelope yeast use 1 envelope & follow instructions on envelope)
    • 3/4 cup of warm water or milk
    • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
    • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar


    • 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.
    • To reheat them, you can steam them for 2-3 minutes in a steamer.


    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
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  • Krissy @ Krissy's Creaions says:

    I LOVE (I mean LOVE LOVE LOVE) Chinese Steamed Buns! My husband is half Chinese and he introduced them to me years ago. Thanks for the recipe :)!

    • Julie says:

      Oh, that’s awesome about your hubby! I’m glad you love it so much :) they’re so good!

  • Cassie Laemmli says:

    This sounds so interesting Julie! I love that they are steamed. I must try this!

  • Carroll @VanillaLemonade says:

    Steamed Buns=Happiness! Just got hungry again!

  • Jeff D says:

    Teri finally made these… so delicious (and easy to make, she says)! Thank god we don’t have to buy the frozen ones any more :)

  • Fe says:

    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?


    • Julie says:

      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!

  • Carl Yee says:

    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 says:

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

  • Ken Claar says:

    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 says:

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

  • TheBrooklynBakers says:

    cant wait to try making these! I am from chinatown NY and you’re right, the fresh ones are the best! thanks!

  • Minna says:

    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 says:

      I don’t think you should omit the oil.

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