Chinese Soft Steamed Buns (Mantou)

Mantou is a staple food at many Northern Chinese household meals. Just like steamed rice, families eat mantou with several savory dishes, often accompanied by something more liquid, such as congee or soup. It’s also a common breakfast item, often spread with a savory sauce, such as fermented bean curd or black bean sauce.

In Northern China, Mantou is also a festive food prepared for the New Year and the Hungry Ghost Festival. For New Years, they are made into all kinds of shapes, such as flowers, butterflies, animals, etc…, and decorated with dried Chinese dates.

When eating as a sweet snack, it’s very popular to dip mantou into condensed milk. Honey or jam is a great accompaniment too.

Chinese Mantou Soft Steamed Buns

Mantou- Chinese Soft Steamed Buns

These tender and pillow-y steamed buns are fabulous dinner rolls or as tea cakes. They can be stuffed with all kinds of fillings, including red bean paste or BBQ pork (Baozi). During the Hungry Ghost festival, they are often served with a condensed milk dip to keep the agitated and hungry ghosts happy. This recipe is for both steamed and baked mantou.
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Course: Bread, Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese, Northern China
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Rest: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 buns
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Wok or steamer
  • Bamboo steamer
  • Stand Mixer with dough hook


  • 1 tsp Dried active yeast
  • ¾ tsp Baking powder
  • ½ tsp Sea salt or kosher salt
  • 250 g All-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • ½ cup Water, luke warm
  • Vegetable oil for brushing steamer
  • 1 can Sweetened condensed milk


  • Prep – Turn on oven's inside lights. Lightly oil the bottom of a bamboo steamer to avoid the steaming rolls from sticking. If baking, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Make Dough – Combine flour, baking powder, yeast, salt, sugar, and water in the bowl of a mixer with dough hook. Knead on low speed until a very smooth dough forms, about 8 minutes.
  • Form Buns – Transfer dough to a work surface. Knead to flatten. Fold the left and right sides of the dough over each other, meeting in the center. Then gently roll into a 12-inch log. Divide dough log into 6 even pieces.
    * If baking, roll the cut pieces into round balls.
  • Cook Buns – Place buns round-side up in a steamer basket (to steam) or parchment-lined baking tray (to bake). Leave ample space between them. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes (45 to bake) in the oven with internal lights on. They should rise to almost double in size and very smooth surfaces.
    To Steam: Place steamer basket over 1-inch of cold water in a wok or steamer. Bring water to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a steady simmer. Steam buns for 10 minutes from this point. Serve warm with condensed milk or honey for dipping.
    To Bake: Remove resting buns from oven and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly then serve.


  • To store, place buns in an airtight container or plastic bag. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 days or freezer for 2 months.
  • To serve, steam refrigerated buns for 5 minutes and frozen buns for 7.


Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 138mg | Potassium: 290mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 176IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 223mg | Iron: 2mg

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