Chinese Steamed Buns(Mantou Recipe)

Chinese Steamed Buns also named as mantou(馒头) is a basic staple in northern part of China and served in every places of China not just the northern part.

Chinese Steamed Buns

In the other parts of China, Mantou is mostly served as breakfast in restaurants and food carts.

Mantou is made with flour usually all-purpose flour, yeast and water. There is no filling used. However baozi—Chinese steamed pork buns are also called as Mantou in some places of China especially in Northern China.

This is a basic recipe of homemade Chinese steamed buns. But now there are many variations about mantou in China for example wholemeal mantou, milk mantou and sweet potato mantou.

In the past days, people are making mantou totally by hand. But now we have mixer to help knead the dough. I introduce the hand-making way in case you may want to have a try.

Chinese Steamed Buns

How to make the basic dough for Chinese Steamed Buns

Prepare warm water around 35 ℃ and melt the sugar in. And mix the yeast with the water. Mix well and set aside for around 5 minutes. If you do not want sugar, just skip it.

I strongly recommend measure the water and flour firstly. And ratio should be around 1:2 for water :flour.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Prepare the flour in a large bowl. Pour the water with yeast slowly to the bowl with flour and stir with a chop sticker.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Then knead the flour into smooth and soft dough. At the very beginning, it might be a little bit sticky.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for around 1 hour or until the paste ball doubles in size. This process can be done by mixer. Since it is winter on my side, I put it in a oven and using fermentation function to shorten the time.

Preheat the oven to around 35 degree C for fermentation. After the oven works 5 minutes, turn it off. And leave the bowl in. Please note that  in summer, the oven is not needed. The high temperature will kill your yeast. Just place the bowl in a warm place and wait until the dough  double in size. 

Chinese Steamed Buns

Tips about how to judge the dough is fermented well? There are two ways.

Firstly the size should be doubled. Poke a hole with finger and the dough does not collapse.

Chinese Steamed Buns

 

Or you can see the honeycomb texture. Chinese Steamed Buns

When the dough is double in size, get paste ball out and punch the air out.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Then roll the dough into a long log around 1 inch in diameter or any size you want.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Scatter some flour on your board and cut the log to small sections you like. Be quick during the process.

Chinese Steamed Buns

The process is quite similar to make bread.

Then brush some cooking oil on the bottom of the buns and begin to steam. I highly recommend using a Bamboo Steamer to steam Chinese steamed buns or Chinese Baozi. They are much healthier than steel steamer and can bring a bamboo armoa to the food. You can try to find some in local stores or purchasing from Amazon Joyce Chen 26-0013, 10-Inch Bamboo Steamer Set.

Chinese Steamed Buns

 

If you get an excellent steamer, there are other Chinese steamed recipes to try.

1. Xiao Long Bao RecipeChinese Steamed Soup Dumplings   The dough for Xiao Long Bao does not need yeast and fermentation.

2. BBQ Pork Buns

3. Chinese Sugar Buns with sesame and brown sugar as filling.

4. Vegan Baozi with spicy tofu as filling.

5. Chinese sweet potato buns – to add some excellent purple color for your buns.

6. Healthywheat buns–mix flour with wheat flour.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Chinese Steamed Buns
Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: I have made around 12 small steamed buns with a total net weight around 420g. Adjust the ingredient amount if necessary.

Basice Chinese Steamed Buns

Ingredients

  • 300g all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (one packet instant yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 150g water or milk

Instructions

  1. Prepare warm water around 35 °C and melt the sugar in. And mix the yeast with the water. Mix well and set aside for around 5 minutes. If you do not want sugar, just skip it.
  2. Prepare the flour in a large bowl. Pour the water with yeast slowly to the bowl with flour and stir with a chop sticker.
  3. Then knead the flour into smooth and soft dough. At the very beginning, it might be a little bit sticky.
  4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for around 1 hour or until the paste ball doubles in size. This process can be done by mixer.
  5. When the dough is double in size, get paste ball out and punch the air out.
  6. Then roll the dough into a long log around 1 inch in diameter or any size you want.
  7. Scatter some flour on your board and cut the log to small sections you like. Brush some oil on the bottom of each bun.
  8. Add cool water in wok and put the buns in the steamer to steam. Continue to steam for around 15 minutes after the water boils.

Notes

When lifting the cover when the buns are steamed ready, do not drop any water on the buns.

Chinese Steamed Buns

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Comments

    • Elaine Luo says

      Thanks Priya for the feedback. Usually I match those soft buns with soups and congee and serve for breakfast. I guess milk and soy milk are good match too.

    • Elaine Luo says

      Ashley,

      300 grams is a little more than 2 cups. Here is the measurement for flour.
      Bread Flour
      Cups Grams Ounces
      1/4 cup 34 g 1.2 oz
      1/3 cup 45 g 1.6 oz
      1/2 cup 68 g 2.4 oz
      1 cup 136 g 4.8 oz

  1. Serdar says

    I’m making it right now. My son won’t eat in the morning, so I try to find out what be would eat. Hope the recipe works

    • Serdar says

      Just made these. They suck. There is no taste, nothing. It’s just empty calories without any taste. I could have eaten cupcakes and be more satisfied. Change the recipe. This is no good!

      • Elaine Luo says

        Hi Serdar,

        Thanks for stopping by and trying my recipe. Mantou is just a basic staple food which needing go with other things like soy milk, minced beef, minced pork, pickled vegetables or congee. Surely comparing with refined sugar in cupcakes, the faint fragrance is just too hard to feel. But it really exists. If you do not want to eat the plain mantou anymore, just enjoy cupcakes. However next time if you want to have a try again, match them with congee or soy milk along with some pickled vegetables. Thanks again for your feedback!

  2. Marie says

    I tried these twice but no luck :( I followed your instructions but the dough won’t rise. I have to say I never had luck with dough/breads in general lol. Any tips?

    @serdar I suggest you do some research before making comments like that. You obviously don’t have very good foudndation knowledge about Chinese cuisine.

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Marie,
      If you follow all the steps but still the dough cannot rise, I suggest you checking with your yeast once more. The problem might exist in your yeast. You can melt them in a small bowl with room temperature water in summer and see there they are floating after 10 minutes and whether there are small bubbles on the surface. If yes, then continue the next steps. Otherwise, try to get another package of yeast.
      Secondly in the process, be patient with the dough. Give it more time. You can also increase the amount of yeast. In summer, we do not need oven for fermentation, too high temperature will kill the yeast. Just place the covered bowl in a warm place. I hope this can help and wish you good luck next time.
      And thanks for your lovely support again. I understand that Serdar might be not familiar with Chinese food since she is comparing cupcakes with those steamed buns.
      If you get any problem during the process, do let me know.

  3. Terry says

    Your recipe is great – Plain steamed buns just as I regularly purchased.
    Suggestion: Try breaking into bite size pieces and dipping partly into Sweet Soy Sauce (Ketchup Manis) – My favorite Breakfast with Tea/Coffee.

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Terry,

      Thanks for your comment and lovely suggestion. I will update your suggestion to the post so that more readers can have this idea too.

  4. Marie says

    I ended up mixing up the yeast directly with the flour instead (we must have different types of yeast) and added more water than indicated in the recipe. It finally worked!! Thanks a bunch!

    • Elaine Luo says

      Marie,
      Glad to know that it finally works for you. Can you tell me the type of yeast you are using? I will check them and see whether we can provide some further information for the follow readers.

  5. Carol says

    I think this will be one of my next recipes to try. I look forward to making it. (The photography is lovely,too!)

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Vinea,

      Back to the old days, people use self raising flour. They usually use a old sour dough instead of yeast. The old sour dough can function similar to yeast. But the process requires a much longer time and usually you need to add soda to reduce the sour taste. Using yeast really is the quickest and easiest way.

  6. says

    Thank you very much for this recipe Elaine! I’ve loved eating these buns since I was little, but always bought them in chinatown or the store. I usually eat them with honey. I made them for the first time tonight and they were so good. Very easy and fun to make too! So happy. Thank you

    • Elaine Luo says

      Michelle,
      You are welcome and I am really glad to hear that it works fine for you. Make Mantou in summer is easier in winter because the short fermentation time. Serve with honey sounds a yummy option too.

  7. Mimi says

    When I make this it’s all sticky and gooey… Not like soft or pillowy… Did I do anything wrong? :( and it has the honey comb texture it’s just that it’s all gooey like.. What do I doooo

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Mimi,
      In most cases, if the dough become very sticky and gooey and you even cannot keeping dough it after spreading some dried flour, then the dough might be over fermented. Does it smell sour? This happens when the room temperature is higher than 30 degree C. You can add some soda water with extra flour to see weather you can control the dough.

  8. Deep Pal says

    finally a recipe I know I can trust and get satisfying results . I had tried your sichuan hot pot and it was great ( although I consumed the oil part , and was quite a bit sick , but it was worth it :D) .
    Place where I live , there is only one place which sells it and I have to spend 400 rupees ( indian currency ) for transportation to get buns worth 100 rupees only :P .

    Now I can make my own and won’t need the trouble to go so far to go get the buns . I prefer the ones with meat filling though with just basic chinese red chilli paste / red chilli sauce . You are doing a great job , keep it up , and thanks again for the recipe . God bless .

    • Elaine Luo says

      Pal, Thanks so much for your trust and feedback. They are so warm! As long as you can make this basic buns successfully, then you are ready to make different fillings, different shapes. Good luck and just enjoy the process.

  9. Max Soh says

    Hey, thanks for putting up the recipe, just wondering is the recipe right when it says 150g of water/milk or is it supposed to be milliliters? Wasn’t sure if 6 cups of water/milk would be too much. :)

  10. Nayoung Lee says

    Hi I was wondering how many will come out cause it says serve 4 but does that mean 4 people or 4 buns? Sorry but I’m new to this

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Lee,
      That’s a good question. Mantou should be served with other dishes or porridge I made around 12 small buns with a total net weight around 420g, make serves 4 as breakfast. I have updated the recipe so that you can adjust the amount according to your own needs.

  11. Nathalie says

    Hi Eliane,

    I was so excited to find your website! So many recipes to try. I really like the fact that this recipe was really easy to make (not always the case for me), no need to purchase anything I didn’t have in my cupboard already … and most of all: tasting exactly as I hoped! China nostalgy… :)
    Thanks! You’re putting so much work in this, I can tell! All the best to you and your family.
    Nathalie

      • Elaine Luo says

        Nathalie,
        Thanks for your lovely feedback and the warm words. They will encourage me to the feature recipes. I will try my best to make them accurate, yummy and accuracy authentic. Thanks again for your support and trust.
        All the best to you too.
        Elaine

  12. Charlie says

    These look fantastic. Going to try and make them soon. I was just wondering how long to knead the dough for? I am very new to making dough.

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Charlie,
      Usually it takes around 10 ~20 minutes depending on your knead skill. But you are quite new, you can resort to mixer.

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Susan,
      I would not suggest to do that because the first kneading part can mix the yeast well with the flour. So personally I think it is a must. Knead the dough is not that difficult as you think. Just grasp with hand together firstly and then knead like you are washing clothes until it is smooth. Just try this, I believe you can do it.

  13. Charling Cheung says

    I would like to make the steamed pork buns in my coursework so I only get 1hr to cook it.
    if I just leave the dough for half and hour will it still success?
    Thank you
    P.S. Yours recipes are so good

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Charling,
      Thanks for your trust. In that case, the better way is to prepare a semi-fermented dough before the coursework and make another one during the coursework. And use the pre-prepared dough to for the following steps after showing how to prepare another fresh dough during the coursework. Good Luck.

  14. Coco Chan says

    Hello, I would like to ask if there is any quicker way to make the dough be bigger, like within half hour instead of one hour? Thank you so much!

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Coco,
      The time needed for rising the dough depending on many factors including the yeast and temperature. Personally I think half hour is not enough. Even in summer time, at least 40 minutes are needed. You can try to add a little bit more yeast and test to see what’s the texture after 30 minutes.

  15. Antoni says

    Hello!!

    I’ve just found this web and it’s really nice the recipes I am seeing, I have to say that I am baker and .always I wanted to try with Asian recipes (bread recipes) and I think I’m gonna try it,thanks for inspiring me. Xxoooo from Spaim

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Antoni,
      Thanks for stopping by and dropping me such a warm note. Chinese breads are very different from western traditional breads. Hope you will love them too.

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