Chinese Steamed Custard Buns

Many people love the Chinese Steamed Custard Buns which is a classic cantonese dim sum dessert. Likewise, they make these soft and fluffy custard buns with leavened dough and the sweet fillings with creamy lava custard. Besides, they make sweet lava custard fillings with traditional ingredients including salted egg yolks, milk powder and custard powder. Plus evaporated milk, butter and sugar. For my gluten free recipe of Chinese steamed custard buns, I am using vegan custard powder and corn starch. As well as agave sugar, maple syrup and vegan butter for the sweet fillings. My Chinese steamed custard buns recipe is not only gluten free. But also vegan, dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free, refined sugar free and allergy friendly.

Steamed Chinese Custard Buns Gluten Free Asian Recipes
Steamed Chinese Custard Buns Gluten Free Vegan

History of Chinese Bao Buns

According to a legendary folktale, a Chinese scholar and military strategist named Zhuge Liang created baozi or buns. When three-party states divided and ruled China during the Three Kingdoms era (AD220-280). Namely Wei, Wu and Shu, after the Han dynasty and before the Jin dynasty. While many different parts of contemporary China have different Chinese cultures. Likewise, buns are an extremely popular food staple and are broadly available. Moreover, they eat buns most commonly for breakfast and as a snack or even as a meal itself.

Steamed Chinese Custard Buns Gluten Free Vegan

Variety of Chinese Bao Buns

They often make soft and fluffy bao or baozi leavened with yeast. A type of steamed filled bun or bread like bun in Chinese cuisines. There are countless number of variations to the fillings and methods of preparing these buns. These buns are similar to the traditional Chinese mantou, they stuff them with meat or vegetables and sweet fillings. They frequently serve buns or baozi in a push cart in Yum Cha restaurants as dim sums. Moreover, they often dish up three buns or baozi together in a bamboo steamer.

There are many different variation of buns available, the fillings can be sweet or savoury. The variety of buns include many all-time favourite dim sum. For instance char siu bao, sweet red bean paste buns (doushabao) and Chinese steamed custard buns (naihuangbao). As well as lotus seed bun and black sesame paste buns (zhimabao). In addition, meat buns include pork buns (bah-pau), and large bao (normally filled with pork, eggs and vegetables). Plus tangbaozi (soup-filled buns), shaobao (filled with any fillings of chicken, pork or salted eggs) and Shanghai xiaolongbao. There is also another variation of bun popular in Malaysia and Singapore. They called these popular buns pandan kaya buns. Besides, they fill these pandan kaya buns with kaya jam prepared with coconut, eggs and pandan. Other variety of mantou include shengjian mantou, a small Shanghai fried mantou stuffed with minced meat. 

Steamed Chinese Custard Buns Gluten Free Vegan

Chinese Steamed Custard Buns

Chinese Sweet custard buns (naihuangbao) are a favourite Cantonese dim sum dessert served in a Yum Cha restaurant. They are soft and fluffy with sweet and creamy custard fillings.
5 from 9 votes
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Course: Breakfast, Buns, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Asian Desserts, Chinese
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Fat, Vegan
Keyword: Bao, Baozi, Custard, Custard Buns, Dairy Free, Dim Sum, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Gluten Free Bao Buns, Gluten Free Chinese Bao, Gluten Free Dim Sum, Gluten Free Dim Sum Dessert, Gluten Free Dim Sum Recipe, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free, Soy Free
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 16 buns
Calories: 312.96kcal
Author: Daphne Goh


  • some gluten free flour for dusting work surface

For the dough:

    Dry Ingredients:

    Wet Ingredients:

    For the Custard Filling:


    For preparing the dough:

    • In a large mixing bowl, combine and whisk together all the dry ingredients except agave sugar. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture.
    • Warm the rice milk in a small pot for around 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Add in the rice bran oil or extra virgin olive oil and agave sugar and mix well until all the agave sugar has dissolved.
    • Pour the warm rice milk mixture in step 2 into the well in the large mixing bowl, add the vanilla extract, stir and combine well with the flour.
    • Then use your hands to knead the dough until you have a smooth dough. Add 1 tablespoon 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.

    For the filling:

    • Mix the corn starch with all the water.
    • Combine and mix well all the ingredients for the custard filling including the corn starch mixture in step 6 into a non-stick frying pan. Stir and mix on medium to low heat for 5 mins or until the custard mixture is smooth and has thickened.
    • Remove the frying pan from heat and let the custard filling cool for around 2 minutes.
    • Roll the custard filling into 16 balls about 54g (1.9oz) each. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

    For the dough:

    • Dust the work surface and rolling pin with some gluten free flour.
    • Remove 1 bag of dough from the ziplock bag at a time, divide the dough equally into 16 large balls around 72g (2.5oz) each. Repeat until all the dough are finished.
    • Flatten each ball into a disc or patty. Roll out each dough, turning it as you roll, to form a 4 inch round dough around 0.7cm (0.3 inch) in thickness.

    For stuffing the dough:

    • Place a cooled custard ball into the centre of the dough.
    • Wrap and pinch the dough together. Making sure that the thickness are even throughout the ball. Seal the edges and shape into a smooth ball.

    For cooking the buns:

    • Arrange each dough onto a piece of baking/parchment paper.
    • Heat up a wok with a steaming rack with some water and place the bamboo steamer on top of the steaming rack. Steam the buns for 20 minutes on high heat in batches. Ensure that there is sufficient water in the wok for the whole steaming process. Repeat until all the buns are cooked. You can use any type of steamer.
    • Remove and place the cooked buns on a cooling rack. Best serve warm.
    • You can also store the buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat by steaming on high heat for 3 minutes or in microwave for 1½ minutes or until buns are soft.


    Allergen: Corn.
    Nutrition Facts
    Chinese Steamed Custard Buns
    Serving Size
    1 bun
    Amount per Serving
    % Daily Value*
    Saturated Fat
    Trans Fat
    Polyunsaturated Fat
    Monounsaturated Fat
    Vitamin A
    Vitamin C
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    Did you make this recipe?Tag me on Instagram @healthygfasian or tag #healthygfasian!

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    14 thoughts on “Chinese Steamed Custard Buns”

    1. 5 stars
      Would substituting coconut milk in the filling for soy milk be okay? Can’t wait to try all your recipes 😀

    2. Hi,

      I tried this recipe and LOVED it. This is one thing I dearly miss since developing a wheat allergy. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Have you had luck making these with any other GF flours? I have run out of the Orgran and cannot find it in stock 🙁

      • Hi Lisa,

        Thanks for your good feedback. If you can’t find Orgran gf self-raising flour, you can try buying online or use other good brands of gf self-raising flour like Bobs Red Mill, Well & Good and YesYouCan, all availale online. They should all work well. 🙂

    3. I am a little confused as the allergen information says yeast, yet there is no yeast in the ingredients that I can see. am I missing something?

      • You are correct, there is no yeast in the ingredients list. I have removed yeast and included corn (maize) as an allergen instead. Thanks for pointing this error out. 🙂

    4. Hi!

      So I have a few questions:
      Can I use honey instead of Agave sugar? If I should stick with agave sugar should it be liquid or granules? (have a hard time finding granules)

      and last I am planning on using bob red mill’s active dry yeast, would that work?

      Thanks so much!

      • Hi Brytanny,

        You can use honey instead of agave sugar. Alternatively 2 1/2 tablespoons agave syrup for 50g agave sugar will be better.

        Any active dry yeast will be ok for this recipe. 🙂

    5. This looks amazing! But wil this work with the same non-gluten-free ingredients? I don’t have any of these ingredients.
      Thanks 🙂

      • This will definitely work with gluten ingredients. It is always easier to work with gluten as it has elasticity and rise easily. The only thing I would do differently is to add the rice milk gradually until you get a smooth dough. You can also substitute for soy milk if you prefer. 🙂

      • If you have dim sums in a Chinese yum cha restaurant, they normally serve steamed char siu bao, sweet custard buns is another version of baos. Hope you get to try steamed buns soon, as they are really delicious indeed. 🙂

    6. These steamed custard buns look and sound amazing. It’s so nice that you’ve also told some of the history behind them!


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