Chinese steamed bun is one of the most popular and common staple foods in China. We are quite used to the plain but natural taste, as they are usually served with Chinese pickles, fermented tofu and other small cold dishes. However plain and nature is not the only taste of Chinese steamed buns. Elaine introduces two versions of customized Chinese steamed buns. And the following creation is up to you. Any creation and suggestion are highly recommended.

cocoa powder steamed buns

Dried Cranberry Buns

We all know that there are stuffed steamed buns like BBQ Pork buns and unstuffed steamed buns—Mantou. Steamed buns can be customized not only by changing the filling as we used to do, but also by changing the dough itself. So we have two versions here: steamed buns with cocoa powder and steamed buns with dried cranberries and Chinese red kojic rice powder. Chinese red kojic rice powder is a natural and healthy coloring powder made from red kojic rice. It is considered as one of the most important coloring ingredients of famous Chinese Char Siu (also known as Chinese BBQ Pork). The purpose of adding red kojic rice is to add a pinkish color to the dough. It can be replaced by red food coloring just like making a red velvet cake.

Dried Cranberry Buns

Cocoa Steamed Buns and Dried Cranberry Buns

Some inspirations and ideas about how to customize plain Chinese steamed buns at home
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Course: Breakfast, staple
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Steamed Buns
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 16 (for each type, making 8 buns)
Calories: 117kcal
Author: Elaine


Steamed buns with dried cranberries

  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour , whisk flour before measuring
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast , can be increased to 1 and 1/2 teaspoon in winter
  • 1/2 cup clean water
  • 2 teaspoons oil , optional
  • 1 g red kojic rice powder , or just a very small drop of red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries

Steamed buns with cocoa powder

  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour , whisk flour before measuring
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast , can be increased to 1 and 1/2 teaspoon in winter
  • 1/2 cup clean water
  • 2 teaspoons oil , optional
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


  • In two separate bowls, mix the two dough ingredients together. And continue kneading for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth and elastic. If you have not made Chinese steamed buns and are unfamiliar with the process, please check this post for detailed information about how to make a dough.
  • Cover with wet cloth and wait for the first proof until the dough becomes double in size. This process may need 2-3 hours in summer days and 4-6 hours in winter. If your room temperature excess 28 degree C, place the dough in cooler places.
  • When the dough is almost double in size, transfer to a lightly floured board and then knead the dough forcefully for around 4-7 minutes until smooth again. This process will decide whether the buns can be smooth in surface.

To make cocoa steamed buns

  • Shape the dough into a long log around 5cm in diameter and then divide into 8 equal portions. Roll the two ends portions into small round buns (just for a better shape) and leave other portions the original condition.

To make buns with dried cranberries

  • Roll the dough into a large rectangle around 20cm long and 10cm wide. Then sprinkle the dried cranberries evenly on the wrapper. Leave around 10cm to two long edges empty. Then roll the wrapper up to form a long log. Tide the two ends carefully. Divide into eight portions too.

How to steam soft buns

  • Set up the steamer and place the buns in. To prevent the buns sticky to the bottom, you can either brush some oil on the bottom or lined the steamer with paper. Add cool water in wok and put the buns in the steamer to steam. Cover the lid and rest for around 10 minutes to 20 minutes (this is called second proofing and can let the bun softer.) A better solution tested by me is to turn on the fire and heat until steams begin to go up. And then turn off the fire immediately, wait for another 10-15 minutes and restart the fire.
  • Use high fire or medium fire to bring the water to a boiling and continue to steam for around 20 minutes after the water boils depending on the size of your buns.
  • Remove off the fire and wait for around 5 minutes before opening the lid.


The Nutrition Facts is based on each single bun.


Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1.2mg
cocoa powder steamed buns
Dried Cranberry Buns

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  1. Chinese buns are sooooo good. I make them a lot since I found your page, because with buns everything is possible 🙂 different fillings like red bean (my favorite), powidl (austrian plum creme), poppy seed, sesame , pork and sauerkraut, bacon and pork rind, curry chicken,…
    You see, we eat lots of buns now. Collegues at work think they are awesome too. I even think that it would be a good idea to open a bun store here, because we have nothing similar here in Vienna (if only I had the money…).

    Coloured buns would be awesome, I need to find food colouring.
    The next bun will be chocolate bun! My husband loves chocolate so I bet they will be a hit 🙂

    1. It is really a challenging idea to open a bun shop. We have small shops along the sweet selling mantou and stuffed buns, also known as Baozi. However, only traditional versions are provided and you really inspire me a lot. And chocolate bun should be very yummy! I will try it too.