A Humble Traditional Chinese Steamed Bun – Chinese Steamed Buns With Red Bean Paste



This is one of the basic steamed bun recipe with a humble filling of red bean paste. When I was young, it was one of the cheapest steamed buns as compared to the barbecue pork or meat steamed buns. I have decided to complete my kitchen adventures by baking some Chinese traditional steamed buns, starting from these plain looking yet delicious bun.


I am not 100% satisfied with my buns as the skin were not as smooth as desired while the texture and taste were okay. I knew what was the culprit, the paper I used for the steaming.


In one of my trips to a bakery shop, I was requesting for some paper for Chinese steamed cakes and the seller gave me some assuring me that was the paper used for steaming purposes. I never doubt it until yesterday prior to the steaming. When I put my very first nicely shaped and proofed dough in the steamer, I discovered that the paper were not water proof, therefore, I have to change the paper for the proofed dough. That was a disaster. The dough was so soft and I had to be extremely careful to remove the paper that stuck to the bottom of the dough and replaced it with another piece of my normal baking paper. That handling process may have caused some unevenness in the skin of the buns. Other than this, the steamed buns were satisfactory and my wife have commented that the skins of the steamed buns “were not bad, nice”!


Since it is  a basic bun, you will have a lot of variations to suit your taste buds be it the filling or the ratio of filling to the dough. It is really nice to have some hot steaming homemade buns.



Servings : Make 12 steamed buns


Dry Ingredients (A)

  • 550 grams of pao flour or Hong Kong flour or low protein flour
  • 100 grams of corn starch
  • 100 grams of castor sugar
  • Pinches of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 10 grams of instant dry yeast

Wet Ingredients (B)

  • 300 grams of lukewarm water
  • 30 grams of vegetable shortening, melted, cool and set aside

Fillings and others

  • 500 grams of red bean paste (ready made)
  • 12 pieces of waterproof parchment paper cut into square size of about 6cm x 6 cm

You can substitute the fillings with lotus seeds or any other fillings that you prefer.



Servings : Make 12 steamed buns

PicMonkey Collage11

  • Put all dry ingredients (A) in a whisking bowl. Use a spoon to stir the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Add in the lukewarm water.  Use the same spoon to roughly stir it until it form a sticky dough. Use the machine dough hook to knead the dough for 10 minutes at medium speed. Add in the melted vegetable shortening, beat at high speed for another 15-20 minutes or until the dough leaves the side of the whisking bowl. If the dough is too wet for the kneading, add 1-2 tablespoon of flour to continue. You can also do this manually if you don’t prefer to use the machine kneading.

  • In a flat surface, dust with some flour, transfer the dough to the flat surface and knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough does not stick to your hand. Shape it into a ball, put it in a bowl. Cover with a wet towel or clingy wrap and let it prove for 30 minutes (or double in size whenever is earlier.

PicMonkey Collage21

  • While waiting for the dough to have its first proofing, divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 41.6 grams). Shape it into a ball and set aside.

  • Cut your paper into 6cm x 6cm for placing the steamed buns. I prefer to use the knife to cut rather than to use the scissors.


  • After the first proofing, take out the dough, knead in a lightly floured surface for 1-2 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Mine is approximately 85 grams each. Shape the dough into rough shape. If prefer, you can roughly use a rolling pin to flatten the dough but that is not necessary, you can just use you palm to flatten the dough ball. Put a dough in your hand and on the top of the dough, put one ball of read bean paste.


  • Wrap the dough around the red bean paste and seal off the edges. Slightly roll it into a round ball. Put the sealing end on top of the square baking paper. Put the dough in a steamer. Leave space of about 1.5cm between the dough for expansion. Proof the dough for another 30 minutes.


  • After second proofing, get ready a steamer with some water. Bring to boil. The water should not be too much until it had a chance of touching the base of the steamed buns when steaming. It should not be too little as you may need to add water during the steaming. Therefore, some own judgement is needed. If prefer, you can lightly greased the cover with some oil to prevent water condensation. But that is optional.


  • When the water boils, steamed the buns under high heat (throughout the entire process) for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, off the heat and let the buns sit in the steamer (without opening the lids) for at least 5-10 minutes before you formally transfer the buns out of the steamer. Put the buns in a rack for cooling. (Note that the bottom of the steamer plate may have water condensation and therefore it is important that you transfer the buns in an airy place for cooling.

  • Best served as  a snack or a breakfast items. Traditionally, Chinese like to have steamed buns with a cup of soya bean milk.



This is one of the most basic steamed buns. From this recipe, it can be extended to other common dim sum steamed buns such as Char Siew (barbecue pork) buns. In my country, buns with lotus seed paste or red bean paste are usually shaped round and meat buns are shaped differently. In my next attempt, I will share the preparation of Char Siu buns or chicken or pork buns. Recipe will be slightly differently but methods of preparation are almost the same.


Before I end the post, remember that you  can substitute with other fillings and as for the size, depending on your preference, you can make it into a smaller bun. If you think the ratio of fillings : dough of 1:2 is too low for your liking, do increase the ratio to say 1.5 : 2. Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have  nice day.


For Chinese New Year related cookies, snack and steamed cake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy Chinese New Year Recipes – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD3.50. The recipes covered various recipes from auspicious radish cake to nian gao to traditional kuih bangkit to trendy London almond cookies. Of course not forgetting both type of pineapple tarts. You can purchase by clicking the link above. You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.





12 thoughts on “A Humble Traditional Chinese Steamed Bun – Chinese Steamed Buns With Red Bean Paste

  1. This looks very interesting! We don’t have things like steamed buns here–not like yours. It makes me wonder why we don’t have more bread filled with yummy things! Thanks for sharing today on the Daily Blog Boost!!
    -Brooke –

  2. Hi Kenneth, what lovely paus! I think it looks really good, don’t fret too much about the smoothness as it is really not obvious. Texture looks super soft and fluffy.Your step by step photos are very helpful too!

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    • Sorry, pressed too fast. Had wanted to ask if vegetable shortening can be replaced and what is a good replacement.

      Thank you

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  7. Thx Kenneth for the recipe. I tried yesterday. The texture when warm was slightly chewy!! Reminds me of my childhood hometown red bean buns!!🙂 But when cold it gets dry n hard.

    As I didnt have baking powder, I used double action baking powder. Could that be the reason?

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