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The BEST Fried Mantou Recipe From Scratch

February 2, 2022 (Last Updated: May 1, 2023)
fried mantou recipe fried mantou bun fried mantou

Did you Google fried mantou recipe only to find the instructions to be, “Buy ready-made frozen mantou buns and deep fry them,”? Yeah, me too. That is why I made this VEGAN fried mantou recipe for you. It will walk you through every step (pictures included) so you can make mantou buns from scratch at home.

Mantou buns are soft steamed or fried buns that are light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. They’re absolutely versatile and make for an amazing dessert dish or accompaniment to a savory dish like sweet chili crab or this turmeric low FODMAP shrimp stir fry.

They sound tempting, don’t they? Besides the actual fried mantou recipe, we’ll also be covering a few of the basics like:

Let’s get right into it and learn how to make this fried Chinese bread from scratch!

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How To Make This Fried Mantou Recipe

Fried Mantou Recipe

Let’s talk about equipment:

Some mantou recipes will call for a stand mixer but I didn’t always have fancy baking equipment. So I wanted to show you it can absolutely be done and made this recipe without a stand mixer. If you have a stand mixer or bread mixer, feel free to use that. 

You will need a steamer. I use my favorite bamboo steamer because it’s easy to clean, super light weight, affordable and has lasted me 8 years so far. I got mine from Amazon way back:

Otherwise, I have a super easy DIY steamer trick you can use to make these steamed Chinese bread.

If you want to know how to make mantou buns, follow these simple steps:

  1. Making the dough
  2. Shaping and resting
  3. Steaming
  4. Frying

Let’s get started with the dough and move our way through the list.

Making The Dough

This dough is very easy to make and comes together after 3-5 minutes of kneading. Start by sifting all of your dry ingredients to remove any lumps. Add all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the center. Gradually pour in the wet mixture and move in a circular motion, pulling in the flour as you mix.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface when it roughly comes together. Start kneading the dough until the surface is smooth like in the fourth picture. This took me about 3 minutes but it can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes in my experience. After that, set the dough aside and prep your parchment paper. 

Cut parchment or baking paper into little squares or rectangles:

The mantou buns will be resting on these little squares. Set them aside and let’s move on to the next step: shaping the dough and allowing it to rest.

Shaping And Resting

Mantou buns have a distinct oblong shape and subtle spiralized motif. It is not decorative and helps achieve the light and fluffy texture we’re after. Take your dough and roll it out flat (about 1cm or 0.4 inches). Fold the corners into the middle and roll it out again to the same thickness earlier.

After this, we’re going to start shaping the dough. To help everything stay sealed, flatten one end of the dough with your thumb. Press down onto the dough lightly to make one end thinner than the other. Starting with the thicker end, roll the dough into a log.

Pinch the edges together and roll this log gently to seal it. Now we can begin cutting. Cut the dough in half. You can remove the ends if you want but they are edible and delicious, they just look a little funny. I’ll show you a comparison in the steaming section. 

Portion out the dough by dividing the log into sections like so.

Set each piece of dough on parchment paper and let the dough rest in the steamer for 20 minutes.

Fried Mantou Recipe

In winter, this means covering the steamer in a damp towel and setting it next to the radiator.

Here you can see my mantou buns nestled next to the radiator, protected by a damp cloth, and hiding from the Dutch winter cold.


After the dough has rested for 20 minutes, we can now steam them! They only need to be steamed for 12 minutes and then left to cool for a minute or two before frying. Remember those wonky ends I was talking about? Here’s what they look like when they’re steamed. 

Now, you have a lot of mantou bread that is ready to be served. But if you really want to take it to the next level, you can turn your steamed mantous into fried mantou buns in a few minutes with the next step.


Once the mantou buns are cool enough to handle, heat up a small saucepan with enough oil and wait for it to come to temperature. Place your steamed buns into the hot oil and fry on each side until golden brown.

Fried Mantou Recipe

When they’re done frying, set them on kitchen paper to remove excess oil. And folks, you will have a plate of mantou bun fried to perfection -ready to serve and soak up any delicious sauce. 

Fried Mantou Recipe

Now that you know how to make fried bread buns, let’s skip to part two. For those of you who are not too familiar with mantou buns, let me give you a brief introduction, “what are mantou buns?” 

What Are Mantou Buns?

Fried Mantou Recipe

Mantou or 馒头 in simplified Chinese is a white steamed (and occasionally fried) soft bun that originated from China. Mantou’s are made from the same dough used to make baozi or bao. The difference is that bao buns are a filled bread whereas mantou’s have no filling.

Growing up in Malaysia, people often called this roti mantou which basically means mantou bread. 

Now, onto that origin story I promised you earlier on. Wikipedia has an interesting folklore tale about mantou bun origins that include severed heads, soldiers, river crossings, kings, and appeasing some sort of river God. 

That all sounds fine and dandy but I think I’ll stick to the basics in this post. Mantou buns are easy to make but sometimes the ingredients are not readily available (if you live in a European country or in the states).

In the next section, we’ll talk about the original recipe and find accessible alternatives.

The Original Recipe

Fried Mantou Recipe

Mantou buns are often made with special Chinese white bread flour. I can get a hold of this at my local pan-Asian grocery store but sometimes, I can’t be bothered to get on my bike and cycle there. 

A good replacement for bleached white Chinese bread flour is cake flour mixed with some wheat or potato starch or cornstarch. Okay, I know that doesn’t sound like a walk in the park either. Fancy flours aside, I’m here to show you that you can make this recipe with all-purpose flour and it’ll come out just as delicious. 

Because I am lactose intolerant, this mantou bun recipe is made with water and oil but some recipes will call for milk powder or cold milk in the dough. I wanted to keep this recipe vegan and accessible because not everyone has skim milk powder on hand.

In my opinion, the best mantou recipe is one that can be made lickety-split with ingredients that are easy to find. Now that you know a little bit about these buns, let’s talk about serving options.

What To Serve With Fried Mantou Buns

Fried Mantou Recipe

You want to make mantou buns but you don’t know what to serve them with? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. 

In Malaysia, they are commonly served alongside dishes like sweet chili crab and other saucy seafood dishes to soak up all the delicious goodness. But why stop there? Mantou buns can be cut in half and filled like a sandwich too.

If you have more of a sweet tooth, you can also serve them as a dessert. You can find mantou buns dipped in sweet condensed milk. I recommend cutting them down the middle and stuffing the bread with coconut and ube ice cream. You have not lived until you’ve had a mantou bun filled with ice cream.

Mantou buns can be steamed or deep-fried but it’s 2022! And if you want to have fried food without the oil, that is entirely possible. Simply switch out the gallons of oil for an air fryer and voila. Healthy ‘fried’ mantou buns. 

If this is something you’re interested in then hop on to the next section with me and we’ll cover air frying mantou buns.

Deep Frying & Air Frying

Thanks to the advancements of technology we can now fry anything without actually deep frying it in vats of oil. If you want to make this deep fried mantou recipe but you’re not keen on the amount of oil needed for it, that’s a-okay.

These mantou buns can also be air fried. Air frying the mantou’s will cut down significant calories (if you’re counting that is), remove any possibility of oil splatter and save you some money on oil. 

To make this mantou recipe in an air fryer, follow the instructions until the point where the dough is portioned and cut. Next, place the portioned dough onto baking sheets and steam them as directed. After steaming them, brush the mantou buns with some oil or melted butter. The buns are ready to be air-fried for 5-8 minutes at 180c or 350f until golden brown. 

You can air fry bao buns too to get a crispy soft bread.

I love making mantou buns but sometimes I end up making one too many. Pfft, who am I kidding? There’s never enough mantou buns to go around and I never have leftovers. But if you have extra or want to make them ahead, here’s how you do that.

How To Make Ahead Fried Mantou Recipe

What I love about these versatile buns is that they can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. 

Allow them to cool completely after you’ve steamed them for 10 minutes. The cooled mantou buns should be wrapped individually in parchment paper or cling film. Store them in a ziplock bag or any freezer bag that will keep the air out.

When you want to have some buns, you can steam them for 3-5 minutes. If you want air fryer mantou buns, then place frozen mantou buns into an air fryer at 180C or 350F for 5-8 minutes or place them in hot oil until golden brown. No thawing necessary!


Have some questions about this man tou golden bun recipe? Here are the internets most asked questions about Chinese bread fried to perfection.

What Is Fried Mantou Made Of?

Fried mantou only needs 3 ingredients– flour, water and yeast. Other ingredients like baking soda, oil and sugar will give you the best results for making steamed fried mantou buns.

What To Eat With Fried Mantou?

Chinese fried mantou or golden mantou buns can be served sweet or savory!

Savory: Serve fried or steamed mantou bread with chili crab or saucy seafood like stir fried sweet and sour shrimp.

Sweet: Serve mantou buns for dessert with a side of condensed milk. This is a popular dessert at Chinese restaurants or during the New Year.

What Is The Difference Between Mantou and Bao?

Mantou buns and baos are made from the same dough. The main difference is that mantou bread doesn’t have any filling. They are like tiny loaves of bread served on the side of a main meal.

Bao buns are Chinese steamed bread that are filled with sweet or savory fillings.

What Is The English Name For Mantou?

Mantou in traditional Chinese: 饅頭; and simplified Chinese: 馒头 .

The English name for Mantou is really just the pronunciation but you can also call mantou Chinese steamed bread, golden bun, fried Chinese bread or golden fried buns.

Fried Mantou Recipe

This is a foolproof fried mantou recipe that you can depend on rain or shine. This recipe is actually a variation of my gua bao and bao bun recipe and has never failed me before. Even on cold winter days when I think the dough won’t make it, it proves me wrong.

Want to make this fried mantou recipe but not sure what to serve with it? Why not make these recipes? They’re perfect to dip your fresh fluffy mantou buns in:

Sweet & Sour Low FODMAP Shrimp Stir Fry

Malaysian Chili Crab

Steamed and Fried Mantou Recipe

side Chinese Malaysian Singaporean
By Yummyble -Aisha Serves: Makes 14
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

Make these easy mantou buns from scratch within minutes. These little golden brown loaves are crispy on the outside and soft like clouds on the inside. They take 5 minutes to make, 20 minutes to rest, 12 minutes to steam, and a minute or 2 in hot oil.


  • 360g flour (All-purpose flour works too)
  • 4g baking powder
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 35g white sugar
  • 200ml warm water
  • 35ml vegetable oil
  • Oil for frying
  • Equipment needed: A steamer, rolling pin, baking paper



Cut small squares from your baking paper and set them aside. The mantou buns will be resting on these sheets.


Sift the flour and baking powder.


Add the yeast and sugar to the flour and baking powder.


Mix the water and oil together.


Form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and gradually add in the water and oil mixture.


Mix everything together until a dough forms.


Scrape the sides and kneed the dough until it is smooth. This can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes.


Optional: Let the dough rest for 40 minutes.


Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough out into a thin rectangle shape and fold both the corners into the middle (there are pictures in the post if this makes absolutely no sense).


Roll the dough out again until flat, about 1 cm or (0.4 inches) thick.


After that, roll the dough into a tight log.


Divide the log into half and portion out your buns to the desired size.


Place an individual mantou bun on a square of baking paper and put it in the steamer. Repeat this step until each mantou bun is resting on a parchment square in the steamer.


Place the lid on the steamer and let the mantou rest for 20 minutes.


Bring water to a boil after the mantou buns have rested for 20 minutes. When the water is boiling, steam the mantou buns for 12 minutes.


After 12 minutes, take them off the heat and set them aside to cool for a minute or two.


In the meantime, you can heat up the oil to fry the mantou buns.


When the oil is hot enough, add one or two mantou buns and fry for a few seconds on each side or until golden brown.


Set them on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.


Repeat this step until all your buns are fried and serve it with our chili crab or turmeric sweet and sour prawns (which are low FODMAP)!


If you want to store the mantou's, steam them for 10 minutes and allow them to cool completely once they're out of the steamer and wrap them in baking paper (this keeps them from sticking to one another). Store in a ziplock bag or container of your choice and freeze until you're ready to fry them. Fry frozen mantou's straight away or steam for a minute or two before serving.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    February 6, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    Yummy. I made the bread to have with the shrimp dish – it was perfect. The sweetness of the bread with the sauce of the shrimps is delicious. At first, it looks difficult how to fold the bread but it is much easier than it looks – the pictures and the descriptions really help! It succeed at first try!

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