Black Sesame Bao & Mantou (Steamed Bun)

Mantou: Steamed bun
Bao: Stuffed steamed buns

Growing up, we always had at least 3 different types of steamed buns stocked in the freezer at any given time. They’re such a quick and filling snack– although it is best steamed, there have been many occasions where I have blitz one up in the microwave (it’s never as soft, and when you heat it up for a tad bit too long, the buns gets hard). Whenever I go back home to visit, my mom still, before heading to work, will steam some up and leave it the pot on the stovetop for me, so everything about steamed buns spells nostalgia and home.

Here is a recipe for Black Sesame Steamed Buns– all from scratch. It’s soft, fluffy, nutty, and lightly sweet. Also provided is a recipe for the filling: black sesame paste, which is completely optional.

For a sourdough version, reference this post on Sourdough Basic Steamed Buns (Mantou), making sure to include the black sesame powder into the dough.

Looking for more black sesame recipes?

Black Sesame Steamed Bun (Mantou)

Soft, fluffy and nutty steamed bread with the option to stuff it with a sweet and nutty black sesame paste. Vegan friendly.
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: bread
Servings: 8 buns




  • 140 g milk or milk of choice or water
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g vegetable oil I used coconut
  • 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 240 g all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 10 g black sesame powder or seeds*

Black Sesame Paste (optional)

  • 100 g black sesame seeds powder or seeds*
  • 80 g granulated sugar
  • 80 g water
  • 20 g vegetable oil


Make the dough

  • Heat up milk in a microwave for 30s. It should be hot but not unbearable to the touch. Dissolve sugar and oil and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 5 minutes or until foamy.
  • Combine together black sesame seed powder (see notes on how to make powder from seeds), flour, and baking powder. Mix flour mixture into the yeast mixture and knead until a smooth dough forms. Let rest for 1 hour.

Make the black sesame paste (optional):

  • Combine all the paste ingredients together in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until fragrant and most of the water has evaporated and a thick paste forms. Set aside and let cool.


  • Run your bamboo steam basket under water to wet it– this helps prevent your dough from drying in the second proving. Cut parchment paper into squares and line the steamer.
  • Option 1: Make mantous (just buns, no filling): You have a few options in shapes, I'm going to go over the traditional log shape here. See the notes for more shape options (photos to come). Using your hand, flatten the dough onto your work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle. Take the shorter side and tightly roll into a log, like rolling up a poster. Slice into 8 even pieces and place it seam side down on parchment in the steamer.
  • Option 2: Making baos (stuffed buns): Divide the dough in 10 even pieces and shape into balls. Flatten and roll out into circles having the edges being thinner than the middle. Roll out the black sesame paste into 10 even balls. Place the paste in the center of the dough and wrap the dough around, sealing the ends. Place seam side down on parchment in the steamer. Repeat.
  • Cover the steam basket and let the dough prove for 30-60 minutes.


  • Add water to a pot and turn your stove on high. Place the steam basket on top and steam for about 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the buns sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
  • Storage: You can freeze the buns once they have cooled. To reheat, just pop it back into the steam basket and repeat the steaming step.


Making black sesame seed powder from seeds:

Toast equal amount of sesame seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant. Let cool and blitz it into a powder in a blender or in a mortar. 

Some shapes options: 

Log: Flatten the dough and using a rolling pin, roll out into a long rectangle. Take the shorter side and tightly roll into a log, like making cinnamon rolls or rolling up a poster. Slice into even pieces and place it seam side down on parchment in the steamer


Twists: Divide the dough into golf ball size pieces. Flatten and cut strips in the dough, leaving the top and bottom connected. Brush with oil. Holding the top and bottom edges, stretch and twist the dough into a rope. Hold one end between your thumb and pointer finger and twist the rope around your pointer finger, creating a gap in the middle. Tuck the end into the gap.

Gua bao bun: Divide the dough into golf ball size pieces or larger if desired larger buns. Flatten with the palm of your hand and roll out into a circle. Brush with oil and fold over

Baos: Divide the dough into golf ball balls. Flatten and roll out into circles having the edges being thinner than the middle. Roll out filling into even balls and place the filling in the center of the dough. Wrap the dough around the filling and seal the ends. 

Other Notes

  • adding some white vinegar to the steaming water helps prevent any greying in the dough

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