Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)

In China, they make Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) as plain steamed buns with no fillings. Traditionally, they consume mantou in Northern China as a staple food. In contrast to rice as a staple food in Southern China. They normally eat these buns plain or commonly serve it as a side dish. Whereas they stuff bao or baozi with sweet or savoury fillings and make them rounded in shape.

Popularity of Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)

Besides, Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) and baozi are so universally popular worldwide that you can find them everywhere. From dim sums in a Chinese yum cha restaurants, to frozen ready-made packaged food in Asian supermarket. As well as all kinds of food stores and even as a street/hawker food. They usually eat these Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) during breakfast, as a snack or meal on its own. Alternatively, they also eat them as an accompaniment for a dish. Like braised meat, meat stews or meat casseroles. As well as saucy dishes like Kung Pao Chicken or Singapore Chilli Prawns or Crabs.

Chinese Steamed Buns Mantou Gluten Free Vegan

Gluten Free Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)

For my gluten free Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) recipe, I made them with gluten free self-raising flour. Plus dry instant yeast, rice milk, agave syrup, salt and vanilla extract. This Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) is recipe is not only gluten Free. But also vegan, low carb, dairy free, nut free, egg free, soy free, refined sugar free and allergy friendly.

Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) Gluten Free

History of Mantou

The origin of mantou dated all the way back to many thousands of years ago. During the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (771B.C.), whereby the people were consuming steamed fermented flour dough called “Yi” food. During the Han Dynasty, use of stone mills became popular for milling wheat flour for mantou and wheat noodles. Which became a popular food staple for the people of Northern China.

According to a famous Chinese folktale, a renowned Chinese military strategist invented mantou stuffed with meat fillings. His name was Zhuge Liang during the era of the Three Kingdoms (220–280 CE). At this time, they use stuffed these buns to replace human barbarian’s heads as a sacrifice to the river god. In order for the army to cross the raging Lu River. By the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127 AD), bao or baozi became the terms used for buns with filling. Although mantou still remains as the name used for steamed buns with no fillings.

Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) Gluten Free
Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) Gluten Free
Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) Gluten Free

Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)

Plain steamed buns with no fillings and traditionally consumed in Northern China as a staple food. They are normally eaten plain and also commonly served as a side dish.
5 from 20 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Low Salt, Vegan
Keyword: Adzuki Bean, Allergy Friendly, Chinese Steamed Buns, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Gluten Free Bao Buns, Gluten Free Buns, Gluten Free Chinese Bao, Gluten Free Steamed Chinese Bao Buns, Low Carb, Mantou, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free, Soy Free, Vegan
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 11 buns
Calories: 129.73kcal
Author: Daphne Goh


  • Some gluten free flour for dusting work surface

For the dough:

Dry Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients:


  • In a large bowl, combine and whisk all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture.
  • Warm the rice milk in a small pot for around 1 minutes until lukewarm, between 40.5 and 43.3C (105 to 110 F) then turn off the heat. Add in the extra virgin olive oil, agave sugar and vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Pour the warm rice milk mixture in step 2 into the well in the large bowl, stir and combine well with the flour using a spatula.
  • Then use your hands to knead the dough until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough. Add 2 tablespoons rice milk if required.
  • Divide the dough into 2 portions. Seal in ziplock bags and let the dough rest on the benchtop for 1 hour.
  • Dust the work surface with some gluten free flour. Remove one portion of dough from the ziplock bag. Roll the dough into long log of 1½ inch thickness. You can also cut into any desired size.
  • Cut each log with a knife into 1½ inch pieces around 50g (1.8oz) each.
  • Line 2 large bamboo steamers with baking paper/parchment paper. Place each bun dough 1 inch apart onto the lined bamboo steamers.
  • Heat up a wok with a steaming rack with some water and place the covered bamboo steamers on top of the steaming rack. Bring to a rolling boil and continue steaming the buns for 20 minutes on high heat. Ensure that there is sufficient water in the wok for the whole steaming process.
  • Best served hot immediately after steaming.
  • Reheat by steaming the buns on high heat until soft.


Allergen: Yeast.
Nutrition Facts
Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)
Serving Size
1 bun
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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24 thoughts on “Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)”

  1. Hello!
    This recipe looks great, I can’t wait to try it out. Just to check can you add yeast, if so how much dry yeast is needed?
    Thank you!

    • The dough should rise in the ziplock bags during the 1 hour resting time and then rise further when steaming. If your buns did not rise at all, check that you are using unexpired dry instant yeast and gf self-raising flour. Also warming the rice milk is important in making the dough rise. Hope these will help when you try making this recipe again.

  2. Can I use this recipe/dough to make egg custard buns? Can I use milk instead of rice milk and sugar instead of agave?

      • Thanks! I did see that recipe, but this one uses instant yeast. I wasn’t sure how to adjust the other one to use yeast, so was thinking I’d try to use this recipe ???? Do you have any pointers on how to incorporate yeast in the other recipe? This is my first time attempting any kind of gluten free bun so I’m totally new! Love your site and looking forward to trying more recipes! ????

  3. Hi Daphne. Question: Is it possible to slice these buns after they cool down, and use then as bao buns?
    I was looking for a GF vegan bao buns recipe for a while now, and couldn’t find a decent one, and this looks awesome.

    • Hi Maya, you can make the dough into any shapes or sizes according to your preference. For bao buns, you can shape them into round buns before steaming and then slice after they cool down while still warm to add fillings for the buns. 🙂

  4. Hi Daphne,

    So glad that I found your blog…been dying for a good mantou for a few months now 🙂 Will definitely give this recipe a try!

    • If you skip the agave sugar, just use normal sugar to taste instead as agave sugar is sweeter than normal sugar.

      Bamboo steamer is not essential, you can use any type of steamer. 🙂

  5. What type of gluten free flour did you use because I used Bob RedMill’s All Purpose and it did not turn out at all. It was actually disgusting in flavor and dense. Please advise!

    • I used Organ gf Self Raising flour (also stated in my recipe ingredients). Use gf Self Raising Flour instead of gf All Purpose flour will give a much better results as self raising flour gives a much lighter texture. I have also tested Organ gf All Purpose Flour and result was not good. 🙂

5 from 20 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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