Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) | Gluten Free Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (2024)

by Daphne Goh

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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 Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (1)

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 Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (2)

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 Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (3)
Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) | Gluten Free Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (4)
Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) | Gluten Free Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (5)

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 14 votes

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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 hour 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes minutes

Total Time: 1 hour hour 30 minutes 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.

    Did you make this recipe?Tag me on Instagram @healthygfasian or tag #healthygfasian!

    Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) | Gluten Free Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (12)
    Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) | Gluten Free Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (13)
    Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) | Gluten Free Asian Recipes | Healthy gf Asian (2024)


    Are steamed bao buns healthy? ›

    A standard steamed bao typically contains about 200-250 calories, positioning it as a moderate-calorie food option. Additionally, bao serves as a source of protein and dietary fiber, particularly when made with whole grain flours or filled with vegetables or lean meats.

    What is the difference between mantou and bao buns? ›

    Steamed buns (baozi) are small (fist-sized or smaller), of a bread-like (yeast), that are stuffed, usually meat/veggie mixture. Mantou is steamed bread. Normally, not stuffed.

    What is a substitute for bao buns? ›

    Can I substitute out bao buns? Peking Duck Wraps (Mandarin pancakes, Peking pancakes) are a traditional Chinese ingredient that are often served alongside Peking duck but can also be used as a substitute for bao buns.

    Is bao flour low gluten? ›

    Flour specifically labeled as Bao bun flour/Mantou flour is available in Chinese/Asian shops. It has a low gluten level (around 8g protein in 100g flour) so it's good for producing fluffy Bao. However, personally I don't like it as it's heavily bleached and processed (that's why it produces a whiter finished look).

    What is the difference between steamed bun and Bao bun? ›

    Bao Buns (pronounced “bow”), but also known as a 'steamed buns' or 'baozi' 包子, are a delicious, warm, fluffy treat of stuffing wrapped inside a sweet, white dough. Made with a mix of flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, milk and oil, the bao is a tad sweeter than its closely related cousin, the dumpling.

    Are bao buns OK for diabetics? ›

    Stripped of its fiber-rich outer layers, white rice is a refined grain that can send your blood sugar soaring. Noodles, dumplings, and buns (called bao) are made with refined flour, so they're no better for your metabolic health.

    Are bao buns Chinese or Korean? ›

    What are bao buns? Bao or Baozi are said to have been invented in China during the 3rd century by a military strategist called Zhuge Liang [181-234]. They were first named Mantou but over time they began to be referred to as baozi or bao meaning to wrap in Mandarin.

    Is bao bun Vietnamese or Chinese? ›

    Bánh bao (literally "dumplings") is a Vietnamese bun based on the Cantonese tai pao or da bao (large bun), which was introduced to Vietnam by Chinese immigrants. It is a ball-shaped bun containing pork or chicken meat, onions, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables, in Vietnamese cuisine.

    How many calories are in mantou? ›

    Kg Pastry Mantou Oriental Bun (1 serving) contains 27g total carbs, 24g net carbs, 4g fat, 4g protein, and 150 calories.

    What is the difference between bao buns and lotus leaf buns? ›

    Ok, so let's examine what is commonly being referred to as the “bao bun”. The actual name for these types of buns with filling is gua bao, 割包 (or 刈包 in slang, taken from Japanese kanji), literally “cut bread”. The white bun itself is called a lotus leaf bun, 荷葉包, due to its shape.

    What is the difference between a dumpling and a bao bun? ›

    To Summarize. In summary, bao buns are made from fermented yeast dough, while dumplings are only made from wheat flour without the yeast. Since bao dough contains yeast, it needs more time to rise and results in thinner skin than dumplings. In terms of cooking, baos are usually steamed, baked, and sometimes pan-fried.

    What ethnicity makes bao buns? ›

    Bao (or baozi) have taken the world by storm in the past few years, but in their native China the delicious little steamed buns come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

    Can bao be gluten-free? ›

    The best part about BOA is that, like many other of IDG's restaurants, they have a full and extensive gluten free menu. Steakhouses are typically gluten friendly, as meat, seafood, vegetables, and potatoes comprise most of the menu, and that is the case at BOA, too.

    Is Chinese rice flour gluten-free? ›

    Yes, all rice (in its natural form) is gluten-free. Rice is one of the most popular gluten-free grains for people with celiac disease. Many gluten-free packaged goods are made with rice flour instead of wheat flour.

    Are steamed buns healthier than baked buns? ›

    Asian-style steamed bread has a lower glycemic index (GI) than western-style baked bread, A*STAR researchers have found1. This preparation method could be more widely adopted as a useful weapon in the battle against diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes, they suggest.

    How many calories are in 1 Bao bun? ›

    Bao Bun Nutritional Facts and Calories
    Amount Per Serving% DV
    Sat. fats0g0%
    Mono. Fats0g0%
    7 more rows

    Are bao buns high in calories? ›

    Energy: 253 calories

    Proportion of total calories contributed by protein, carbs and fat.

    Do bao buns have a lot of calories? ›

    2 serving of bao buns contains 221 Calories, 38 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat. This has a relatively high calorie density, with 264 Calories per 100g.

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