Steamed Buns

Steamed buns — pillows of deliciousness that can be sweet or savoury, stuffed or plain. The same dough recipe can be used to make a bao or stuffed bun and lends itself to many different fillings. These are also great make-ahead items! They can be done in a large batch and frozen, then pulled out a few at a time and re-steamed (or microwaved) as needed.

Megan and I have been trying to make steamed buns for years now. It all started with us wanting to make longevity buns for our parents’ birthdays. After trying recipes online and from a number of cookbooks we still couldn’t get things quite right, so we had to take matters into our own hands and start tweaking and testing. This current version of our recipe is something that we are happy with, but we will continue to try to improve and add notes and variations. Nicholas is a big fan so I think we’ll need to keep working on these.


  • 540g all purpose flour (preferably bleached)
  • 75g sugar
  • 5.4g instant yeast
  • 290g water (room temperature)
  • 30g oil, neutral
  • 2.5g baking powder

Tools Required:

  • scale
  • whisk/ spatula
  • stand mixer fitted with hook attachment
  • steamer basket or perforated hotel pan


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with hook attachment, put all ingredients into the stand mixing bowl.
  2. Mix on low speed for 8-10 minutes. Note: Don’t worry about getting a full gluten development, you just need the dough to be homogenous.
  3. Cover with a damp cloth and bulk ferment for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Divide buns into 41g, 52g or 78g depending on your preference.
  5. Roll them into rounds, cover with a damp cloth again, and let the dough rest for another 15 minutes.
  6. For bao buns: Roll them flat to roughly 1/4″ thick, spray or brush with oil, fold in half and place it on a piece of parchment.
  7. Transfer the buns to a steamer basket or a perforated hotel pan, cover and let it rest for another 15 minutes.
  8. Steam for 10 minutes.


  • For stuffed buns, 30g filling and 41g bun, you should get a yield of 23.
  • For a smaller steamed bun, scale roughly 52g, you should get a yield of 18.
  • For large steamed buns, we scaled them to 78g, you should get a yield of 12.

FAQs, Tips, Troubleshooting:

  • The flour should be between 10-11% protein.
  • Using cake flour will give you an even more tender bun and bread flour will give you a chewier bun.
  • For a chewier texture, substitute some bread flour or wheat starch.
  • I like reheating them in the microwave, heating it in an oven might dry it out, and steaming it again just takes a little more time, and you also run the risk of getting it soggy.
  • You can increase water to 324g for an even softer crumb.

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