Kirbie's Cravings

5 Minute Chinese Buns

a photo of a small bacon sandwich with a 5 Minute Chinese Bun
I stumbled across a way to make the traditional Chinese buns without a steamer or the use of yeast. This recipe takes less than five minutes to whip together and you cook it in the microwave for about 1 minute. And they taste just like the original.
process photo show the batter scooped into silicone molds and placed in a bamboo steamer
Chinese buns are a staple item in the Chinese diet. They come in many variations, some with filling, some with spirals, but the most common one is the basic plain one, called “mantou“.

photo showing how the dough is rolled for traditional Chinese steam buns

They are often served with a congee breakfast or eaten with dried pork sung or other meats. The buns are fluffy but dense and have a mild sweetness.

They are white in color and traditionally steamed. I’ve made them from scratch before but it is so cheap to buy pre-made frozen ones that I never made the effort again.

I was in the kitchen trying to create a new mug cake when I ended up with this “cake” which was not at all what I was expecting. But it tasted eerily similar to my childhood Chinese bun. I thought maybe I was imagining it and gave it to Mr. K to taste and asked him what he thought it was. He thought it was a “mantou,” which is the plain Chinese steamed bun.
baked 5 Minute Chinese Buns in a steamer
Since the batter is wet, you can’t shape these like the traditional buns. So instead, I baked them in silicone cupcake molds. I bought mine from Amazon*. The molds hold less than 1 mug cake of batter, so they actually only take 30 seconds instead of 1 minute. I’m so excited about this discovery. The key is the condensed milk which binds the flour and creates a dense, thick bread bun.

No more kneading, rolling, or steaming. And I can just make just one serving.
photo of a Chinese Bun with bacon

*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. Much like referral codes, this means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product I referred (at no extra charge to you).

5 Minute Chinese Buns

Servings: 1
Prep Time: 4 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Chinese
Chinese buns are a staple item in the Chinese diet, but because traditional ones are made with yeast and take time to make I hardly ever make them. After experimenting, I developed this super easy Chinese bun recipe that takes only five minutes to make in the microwave. It's very similar in texture and flavor to a traditional bun and my go-to easy recipe when I get a craving.
5 from 4 votes


  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp condensed milk
  • 3 tbsp fat free milk


  • Using a small whisk, mix all ingredients into a microwave-safe mug until batter is smooth and no flour chunks remain. The batter will be thick. Microwave for about 1 minute. Top of bun should look dry. You should be able to remove the entire bun in one piece. 
  • If using silicone molds, fill about 2/3 full with batter. This recipe should be enough to make two regular silicone cupcake molds. Microwave each separately for about 30 seconds. If using something bigger or smaller, you will have to adjust time accordingly.


Serving: 1bun, Calories: 127kcal, Carbohydrates: 23.7g, Protein: 3.9g, Fat: 1.8g, Saturated Fat: 1.1g, Sodium: 34.8mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 11.6g, NET CARBS: 23g

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!

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33 comments on “5 Minute Chinese Buns”

  1. Correction: 1 Tablespoon of evaporated milk NOT 1 teaspoon..

  2. Thank you so much Kirbie for such a great recipe. After tasting my first mug cake recipe and some other mug cake recipes I thought the texture was similar to bao. Then I thought hmmm..maybe someone has a recipe for man tou mug cake! Google it and so glad I found you! My mom and daughter and Myself was so impressed!! I did not have condensed milk but I had evaporated milk plus half and half. So I did one teaspoon of the evaporated milk and 3 tbspn of the half and half and added one teaspoon of white sugar. It turned out amazing!! Can’t thank you enough 🙂

  3. Great recipe! I split the batter between two silicon mini tart molds, cooked together for sixty seconds. The result was the size and thickness of frozen store-bought varieties and what is served in restaurants. 

  4. Hi, I just tried making this but when I pulled it out the bottom was still very doughy. I tried microwaving it longer but it ended up way too hard and inedible 🙁
    So I’m just wondering if the bottom is supposed to be wet still or not?

    • the bottom may be a little damp from the condensation in your mug depending on the mug you are using. It should go away as it cools.

  5. Hi,
    can i substitute fat free milk to full cream or low fat milk?

  6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!! THANK YOU! Totally satisfies my cravings or if I need a quick snack for the kids. I love bao but trying to find the time to make it from scratch is almost impossible! Thank you so much and I had all the ingredients just sitting in my cabinets.
    ~One Satisfied Mom

  7. My apartment is boiling because the air is not on quite yet. It is early spring but yet, it’s been over 80 for multiple days straight. I couldn’t bring myself to turn the stove on. Microwave meal it is!

    I loved these. I know I’ll be making them year-round going forward!

    I didn’t have any condensed milk (sweetened or unsweetened) so I improvised. Below is the recipe I used, that seemed to work quite well. I should note that I have never had a true Chinese bun, but these were delicious and filling for my partner and me.

    3 and 1/2 tbsp 2% milk
    1/2 tsp coconut oil
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp granulated sugar
    1/4 cup flour
    mini pinch of kosher salt

    One minute in the microwave in a mug! Came right out when done.

    Thank you!!! This was the first recipe I have seen from your site, but I am excited to try more things!!

  8. have you baking this is the oven? i want to make a batch, not 1 or 2….so i was thinking that doing it in the oven would be easier…

  9. Just made these tonight, for the first time. I don’t know why your recipe isn’t everywhere – it’s magical. Thank you.

  10. Absolutely in love with this recipe! Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. Omg, amazing. So dense and spongy! I didn’t have condensed milk so I added 2 tb spoon of sugar and added 1 tb milk instead hubby couldn’t get enough.

  12. Kirbie,

    What an ingenious discovery / invention…on par w/ other  accidental inventions such as pot stickers and ice cream cones! I’m always on lookout for Bao recipes for my #4 Auntie to try. 

    Please clarify, whether the condensed milk is SWEETENED  or UNsweetened. In the USA,
         condensed milk = SWEETENED condensed milk
         while UNsweetened condensed milk = evaporated milk.

    Also need to clarify how flour is being measured as that can make a big difference…
         dip & sweep,
         lightly spooned, or
         sifted into the measuring cup.

    Finally, have you tried studding the batter or perhaps just the middle w/ a few cubes of cooked ChaSiu? At least visually, that might make it more “authentically” bao-like. If you have or do try, please let me know how that worked.

    Unfortunately or fortunately (depending which way I look at it), my health condition doing much better on a grain-free diet now so flour is out of the question or else I’d be experimenting before my next trip to visit family.


  13. I have no idea what chinese buns are but those taste like the ?eský knedlík my mum made T_T ty so much. I love them.

  14. I think I would love these with some pork!

  15. These look great! I’ve also used Pillsbury biscuit dough and steamed them to make buns before – not bad for a shortcut!

    • I’ve done that method too! Love it though it has a more savory buttery taste. This one is more like the mantou because it’s a tiny bit sweet. But it totally works!

  16. Ahahaha this is genius. I can’t wait to try this out and make my mom taste it to see if she likes it. >:D

    • You should do a blind taste test. haha. I gave some to my mom. She thought it was close but not quite right but I think it was mental because I swear they taste the exact same to me. And I told her beforehand it wasn’t the normal ones plus she saw the cupcake shape so I think mentally it made her think something wasn’t quite right.

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