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Sweet Potato Mantou (Steam Buns)

How to Make Chinese Mantou - soft, pillowy and fluffy steamed buns are THE BEST! Make these sweet potato mantou with step-by-steps |


Sweet Potato Mantou (Steam Buns) Recipe

Yields 12-15 | Prep Time: 1 hour | Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Adapted from 人生加油站



1/2 tablespoon (5.5g/0.2 oz) yeast
75ml warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar


75g (2.6 oz) sweet potato (or “yam” in the United States)
250g (8.8 oz) Chinese bao flour, Hong Kong flour, or cake flour
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons oil
Pinch of salt


Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl. Stir to mix well. Set aside for 20 minutes. The yeast mixture will rise and becomes foamy.

Steam the sweet potato until soft, discard the water that seeps out after the steaming. Using a spoon, mash the sweet potato into a puree.

Add the sweet potato puree and all the ingredients in B and also the yeast mixture and mix using a stand mixer on low speed, for 20 minutes. You can also knead with hand for the same time or until the dough doesn’t stick to your hand. Transfer the dough out of the stand mixer and lest rest/proof for 45 minutes, covering it with a damp cloth.

Dust the surface with some flour and divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Make each portion into a log.

Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to a somewhat rectangle shape. Wet the surface of the dough with just a wee bit of water, using a pastry brush or your hand.

Roll the dough up tightly (this is important so the mantou remain a nice shape after steaming), into a log.

Cut the dough into 4 or 5 equal pieces, in mantou shape and place them on 2-inch by 2-inch baking or steaming paper sheets. Repeat the same for the remaining two portions. You will make a total of 12-15 small mantou.

Bring your steamer to a boil and steam the mantou in batches, for 12-15 minutes.

Cook’s Notes:
  1. I used bao flour or Hong Kong flour specifically for Chinese steamed buns. If you are in Malaysia or Singapore, you can get the bao flour easily from baking supply shops or supermarkets.
  2. For best results and accuracy of the recipe, please use the metric measurement.
  3. All purpose flour and cake flour should work just fine, or you can try this Vietnamese steamed bun flour found in Asian supermarkets in the US. I haven’t tried this recipe using all purpose flour, cake flour or the Vietnamese steamed bun flour so I don’t know the end results.
  4. Make sure you have new yeast, as old yeast will not rise/proof properly.
  5. Use warm water to activate the yeast. It’s important.
  6. The texture of the mantou is a little dense, not the super soft and fluffy type but my friend in Malaysia tried the exact recipe and had very soft and fluffy mantou, perhaps due to climate difference.
  7. My friend sent me this recipe, which is in Chinese, which she got it from here. I basically cut the quantity of the following recipe into half.

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34 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. hi Bee,
    Long time fan, love your site and I would love to try these buns. Can you tell me whats the difference in hong kong flour and regular ap flour? As well as if there are any readily available substitutes

  2. As someone who does now own a steamer of any sort, I have no idea how to make this recipe with what I have on hand. I tried making some Chinese steamed bread once before and couldn’t seem to get a set up that would steam well enough to cook the bread. Any ideas?

    • You need enough water at boiling point to create the continuous steam to “cook” the buns. Steam longer if they are not entirely cooked. Also don’t overcrowd the steamer but steam in batches.

  3. susue Q

    ls the hong kong flour is the OO flour? why is it the steam bun in chinese bakery or in the restaurant are so fluffy and soft what’s the secret? l did try to make but is not fluffy.

  4. Samantha H

    Hi Bee, I love the sound of this recipe. Sweet potatoes are my favourite, but I’ve never tried sweet potato mantou. I have the same problem here in the UK – only plain frozen ones are available in the supermarkets. I do however, prefer fried mantou… If I were to fry these ones, do you know if I would have to steam them first still?

  5. Jude Fruit

    Hello, I tried your recipe but obviously I made something wrong. Nothing happened during the 45 minutes, it didn’t raised at all. But the yeast was working as the first 20 minutes were fine. I wonder if maybe my dough was too dry, how is it suppose to look like before the 45 minutes ?

  6. Yingwei

    The temperature of the water that you put the yeast in shouldn’t be boiling hot nor cold. Because in science, the optimum temperature for yeast to grow is between 28 celsius to 37 celsius. Test the water on your wrist ( that’s what they do to test the baby’s temperature for milk too. ) and your yeast should rise soon. If it doesn’t, then perhaps it’s time to change a new packet of yeast. :D

  7. Joanne

    I made these the other day and they are super duper yummy!! Everyone I shared them with loved them and asked me for the recipe, so I sent them the link to this page. Thank you for sharing yor recipe.

  8. Velina

    Good Morning Bee,

    Lovely recipe but what do you served it with? I haven’t tried any of the plain steam buns, sweet Potato is one of my favourite.

    Tell Samantha that she could get sweet Potato in London

  9. Jamie

    These were so nice- they were a little bit sweet, soft and so fluffy. I used half the flour because I wanted to retain the flavour of the sweet potato, and it worked really well, thanks a lot!

  10. Meli oliex

    I’ve tried this recipe today. I’ve been looking for mantao recipe quite some time (tried several batches last week, and didn’t satisfied with the result). This recipe worked so well. Thank you. The bun come out so soft, even when it’s cool. I can tell my kid enjoyed them too, he ate 3pieces right after i finished steaming the bun (i made them small). ^^ thanks a lot.
    Btw, do you have any idea how to remove the smell of the yeast ?

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