Mantou – Steamed Chinese Buns

This recipe used the basic Yeast Dough from my previous post and is the simplest preparation for the steamed buns that are often eaten for breakfast with hot, sweetened soy milk and sometimes a dab of fermented beancurd or chili paste. When I studied in Taiwan, most kids grabbed this breakfast from a street vendor and inhaled it on the way to school, a habit I also fell into very easily.



  • 24 squares of wax or parchment paper, 2×2″
  • steamer: for this recipe, if you have been rigging up a steamer as I discussed in the Steamers post, you will need to add some sort of rack to the pot over the plate – if you steam the buns on a plate, the bottoms will get too soggy.


  1. Divide the dough in 1/2, keeping one half in a bowl under a damp cloth.
  2. Roll or pat the first 1/2 into a rough square approximately 6″ along the sides, then roll it into a cylinder being sure to press out any air bubbles as you go. If your dough is the right texture, you shouldn’t need to add extra flour, but it’s okay if you need to flour the counter a bit.
  3. Roll the cylinder between your hands and the counter until it is approximately 1 foot long.
  4. Press down lightly to make a slightly squashed cylinder.
  5. With a very sharp knife, cut the cylinder into 12 sections.
  6. Place each roll on a square of paper and transfer to the steamer rack.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 with the second 1/2 of the dough, then stack and cover the steamer racks.
  8. Allow the buns to rise 20 m.
  9. Steam for 8-10 m.

do ahead:

Unless you get up insanely early (like I do!), you won’t want to be making these for breakfast the day you plan to consume them. The buns can be steamed and either refrigerated or frozen for another day – just pop them back in the steamer to heat through – from frozen it will take about 10 minutes. I don’t recommend microwaving them, although some people swear by wrapping an individual bun in a damp cloth or paper towel and microwaving it.

nutritional data:

I have assumed that the recipe makes 24 buns and counted 2 buns per serving. These figures are based on white unbleached enriched all-purpose wheat flour.

  • Total calories 123, calories from fat 6
  • Total fat 1 g, saturated fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 21 mg
  • Total carbs 25 g, dietary fiber 1 g, sugars 1 g
  • Total protein 3 g

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