Steamed Chinese Buns

4.8 stars

Chinese steamed buns are also known as 'mantou' or bao buns (baozi). They are smooth yet fluffy and usually eaten as they are. However, in the popular chilli crab dish, they are fried and served together to complement the dish.

Preparation 10 mins
Cooking 150 mins


Mantou, Mantao, Mantau, Steamed Bao, 馒头, Plain baozi

Malaysian, Singaporean, Cantonese, Chinese


3 1⁄2 g yeast
80 ml water
2 tbsp wheat flour
1 1⁄2 tbsp sugar
100 g wheat flour
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1⁄2 g baking powder

Nutrition per Serving

52 kcal
9 g
1 g
1 g

Made these mantau for the kids and they love it
After taking this pic, I fried some of them. Absolutely delicious! Terima kasih nyonya
Soft and chewy
My son loves it! Looks like I gonna have to perfect my technique and make this more often!
i didn't have baking powder but it turned out just as perfect, texture and taste. Fluffy and tasty. It is very very simple to make.
So this was my first time trying this recipe and i think for an unexperienced chef i nailed it.

Chinese steamed buns are best eaten when they are freshly made. Steamed buns are sometimes made with fillings such as barbecued pork, vegetables or sweet bean paste. There are many varieties in the market with different types of fillings. As for me, I love them plain. These are known as mantou. The secret to perfect steamed buns calls for the correct flour to be used. When I first attempted the recipe, I was so disappointed with the outcome as it did not turn out to be at all fluffy.

Type of mantou or bao flour

Over the months, I kept experimenting and was on the verge of giving up when finally, I succeeded in making the fluffy Chinese steamed buns just as how I imagined them to be. Using wheat flour numbered 405 bought from the local German grocer, the buns came out perfectly. Please note that low gluten flour (ca. 8 – 11% protein) must be used to make these Chinese steamed buns. If you are in Italy, wheat flour numbered 00 would be the right choice. Otherwise, look for Chinese steamed buns flour which are usually from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong or China at the Asian grocers.

How to make white Chinese buns?

You may also had noticed that the buns are slightly yellow in colour. This is due to the unbleached flour which was used. Try adding a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice to 'whiten' the dough, if you wish but it is really not necessary. Moreover, in my opinion, the vinegar or lemon juice might be too strong and spoil the original taste of the buns. For guaranteed snowy white steamed buns, look for the flour which are sold at the Asian grocers.

How to steam Chinese buns?

Of course, you may use an electric steamer to prepare these fluffy mantou. If you do not own a steamer, steam them in a wok, pan or pot with the lid on. Add enough water and allow it to boil. Just ensure that the buns are above the water level during the steaming process.

Frozen Chinese buns

If you like to make these buns in advanced, allow them to cool to room temperature after steaming. Then, freeze them. Steam the frozen buns once again for about 8 to 10 minutes before consumption. Once ready, the inside of these steamed buns should be hot and soft.

Steps to Prepare

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 1

Step 1 of 4

    • 3 1⁄2 g yeast
    • 30 ml water
    • 2 tbsp wheat flour
    • 1⁄2 tbsp sugar

Mix yeast, (warm) water, wheat flour and sugar well. Allow yeast mixture to activate by allowing it to rest in a warm area for 30 minutes.

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 2

Step 2 of 4

    • 100 g wheat flour
    • 50 ml water
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1⁄4 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp oil

Then, mix wheat flour, water, sugar, salt and oil to yeast mixture. Knead dough for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth. Place kneaded dough in a bowl which had been oiled and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm area for 1.5 hours.

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 3

Step 3 of 4

    • 1⁄2 g baking powder

Remove dough from bowl to a working area which had been dusted with flour. Flatten dough and sprinkle baking powder on the dough. Then, knead baking powder into the dough for 5 minutes.

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 4

Step 4 of 4

Shape dough into a log and cut equally into 12 pieces. Place on baking paper individually. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Steam dough for 8 minutes.

Published: September 18, 2016

4 Discussions

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4 months ago


Hi there, just want to know whether you could also bake this as an alternative to steaming. Thank you

4 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Certainly. They will have a nice browned surface. Upload a food snap to show us the final result once you've made them.

4 months ago


If i cant find hong kong flour at my place. Can i substitute that type of flour with cake flour ? Please reply to me as soon as possible.. because i want to make it early in hand before my dad's birthday. Tq.

4 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Yes, all-purpose flour or cake flour will be suitable

4 months ago

Tan Lee eng

My first try. Fabulous. Easy and delicious.

2 days ago


Hello, thank you for sharing this recipe! I was wondering how long I should knead it for if I was using a standard mixer to mix the dough instead?

2 days ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Hi Colleen. That depends on the speed and the mixer. It usually takes about 8 minutes but it's best to check and see if the dough is smooth, as suggested in step 2. That's the only indicator you will need.