Red Bean Steamed Buns

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup warm water PLUS 2 tablespoons
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 oz active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
red bean paste

12 4-5 inch wide wax paper or parchment paper squares

For the dough:
In a small bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the water. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow to sit 10 minutes. Mix in the remaining sugar, 2 cups of flour and the salt. Mix until the dough is no longer sticky, adding additional flour as needed. Place dough on a floured service and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, roll it into a cylinder. Cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball. Then roll each ball into a circle about 4-6 inches in diameter. Place 1 tablespoon (or slightly more) of filling into the center of the circle. Pull the edges of the circle up over the filling, pinch in the center to seal. Place the buns seam side down on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and repeat for each circle, leave a 2 inch space between each bun. Cover and let rise until puffy and light. Bring water to boil in wok or saucepan. Place buns (still on waxed paper squares) in a bamboo steamer. Place over boiling water (using a wok works well) and steam about 15 minutes or until glossy and smooth.

Serve immediately.

Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave (for about 2 minutes) with great success.

My thoughts:
I made these yummy red bean buns for the Baltimore area food blogger party I’m hosting tonight. Normally I’d steam them when it was time to serve them, but this time, I made them ahead of time (no last minute cleaning!) and plan to just reheat them at the event. They’re actually not bad at room temperature either.


  1. I have always wanted to try red bean buns but I’ve been scared of what they would taste like. They sound delicious. Hope you have a fun party!!

  2. Yum. I love this kind of bun. What other fillings do you think would be good–if we don’t have red bean paste handy?

  3. You have no idea how happy this recipe makes me. I bet the party goes swimmingly!

  4. i adore red bean cakes. i made some once. liked them however i thought the dough could have been a bit lighter. i’ll have to try your recipe. they look delicious.

  5. this recipe look fabulous.. plus i laughed outloud at the red bean cartoon man — totally great.

  6. my dough was not very successful (stiff and didn’t rise very much), but these were still really yummy. i love everything red bean, and had no idea it was so easy to make! thank you.

  7. Kat: sorry the dough was a little stiff-sounds like too much flour. It’s always a good idea to start with slightly less and add more – sometimes the weather can effect how much flour you need or how carefully you measure.

    And make sure your water isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast and that the yeast isn’t expired.

  8. I’m currently making this recipe (the dough is rising as we speak) but although i took the exact ammount of water listed in the recipe, after adding one cup of flour to yeast/water mixture i got a hard, dry, cracking dough, and then I still had to one (and a possible half extra) cup of flour!
    I mixed the left over cup of flour with water untill i got kind of wet sticky dough and mixed it in with the rest of the dough. This seemed to go ok.

    It is very possible this is due weather circumstances, I don’t know if the area you live in is very moisty, currently here the air outside is pretty dry and inside even drier because of the heaters being on. I left the dough to rise under a wet towel, that should help with the rising of it too.

    I think other then the slight problem with the dough being to dry this will turn out to be quite yummy 🙂

  9. Ariane: My guess is that our climate is much, much more humid. I know that I have made the recipe multiple times (as has many readers) and no one’s had the problem yet that I’m aware of. That said, I will add something about adding extra water if needed.

  10. I must agree with Ariane above. The dough is WAY too dry. I could not even get my dough to stick together.

    I bake a fair amount of bread, and most bread doughs have a hydration level of 55% to 75%. This dough has a 30% or less hydration, which is much less than any normal bread product, and I would say is approaching the hydration used for udon noodles.

    I would recommend doubling the water to start, then using the 2 cups of flower, and adding up to 1/2 cup more to adjust for consistency.

    Yes, high humidity will necessitate more flower, or less water, but I can’t see how different humidity can account for needing so much more water.

  11. It is not really a true “bread”. This recipe has worked perfectly dozens of times for me and for hundreds of readers. I am sorry you had such difficulty.

  12. We made these last weekend and they tasted great! We followed your directions exactly, and the dough was very successful (If it matters, it is summertime and we live in the very humid south).
    We also made your Char Siu Bao and Chinese Eggplant with Green Bean at the same time and enjoyed our Sunday dim sum at home for a change.
    Everything was great, thanks!