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Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns

I have tried so many Chinese steamed buns recipe, and over the years I have whittled it down to this one recipe that is super easy and uses only six ingredients! If you have been curious and wanting to try making your own mantou, give this six ingredients Chinese steamed buns recipe a try. You may end up with plenty of steamed buns stocked into freezer ready for breakfast.

Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns
Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns

The six ingredients you need

For this super easy and straightforward recipe, you need all-purpose flour, milk (water for vegans), active dry yeast, vegetable oil, salt, and sugar. That’s it! You probably have everything in your pantry already, so you can start getting busy whipping out some steamed buns.

Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns
Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns

Fluffier buns

When you read most steamed buns recipes, you probably notice the mention of Hong Kong pao flour and maybe wheat starch. Basically, these flours help make your buns fluffier compared to just using all-purpose flour. If fluffier buns are what you are after, you can simply switch a third of the all-purpose flour with cake flour instead of hunting down the two more hard-to-find flours.

Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns
Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns

The recipe

Six Ingredients Chinese Steamed Buns

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 40 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 16-20

Print Recipe


  • 250 ml (1 cup) warm milk, about 38 Celsius/100 Fahrenheit (*)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoon, or 7 gram) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (375 gram) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon sugar


  1. Place warm milk and oil in a bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Set aside for about 10 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. In another mixing bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar. Make a well, and slowly pour the yeast solution while stirring with a pair of chopsticks or a spatula. Then, knead for about 30 seconds or just until the dough comes together.
  3. Flour your work surface, then turn the dough out onto it and knead the dough until smooth. About 10 minutes.
  4. Grease a mixing bowl with oil, then place the smooth dough into the bowl. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and wait for the dough to proof until almost double the amount. This can take about 1-2 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  5. Turn the proofed dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and roll each into a log with 1" diameter, then cut into 1" sections. Place each piece of dough onto a piece of parchment paper.
  6. Prepare a steamer on medium-high heat. Once the water boils, arrange the dough on the steamer basket (don't cram!), place the basket inside the steamer, and steam with the lid on for 12 minutes. Turn the heat off, but let the buns sit inside the hot steamer for another 3 minutes before opening the lid. Take the lid off and remove the steamed buns. You may need to repeat this step multiple times if you have a small steamer.
  7. The steamed buns can be stored in a large ziplock bag and freeze. To reheat, I usually just place the amount I want on a plate, cover the buns with a wet paper towel, and microwave for 2 minutes. They will be as fluffy as the instant they step out from the steamer.


  • (*) Substitute with water.


  • Srie Srie says:

    Hi Anita. How do you get warm milk? I mean, we’re buying cold milk from the stores. Does it mean you warm it up on room temperature, or do you warm it on the stove? How if I use cold milk instead? Thanks. I’m avid follower of your other blog, and today I found out this website! Thanks for always helping me in my own daily cooking quest.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Srie, usually I pour the milk into a microwave-able bowl and heat just until it reaches 100 Fahrenheit. If I'm not feeling lazy, I heat the milk in my small sauce pot on the stove. And yup, I also always buy cold milk too! :) I have a cooking thermometer, so I can tell when my milk reaches 100 Fahrenheit. If you want to just wink it, it should feel slightly hot, but not uncomfortably so, otherwise the yeast will die.

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