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Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

Breakfast, Chinese Food, Sweets

the blog:

These Vegan Snowman Mantou, otherwise known as Chinese Steamed Buns, require less than 10 ingredients and are easy to make. They are fluffy and lightly sweetened, making them perfect for breakfast or as a snack!

Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of steamed buns when I was little.

They were not my first choice but for some reason, my siblings loved them. On weekends when we are all home, my mom would often steam some for us to have for breakfast. Whenever they were done, you would not find me to be the first to grab one unless there were fillings inside or they were colorful. At that time, they were a bit too plain for me and I would much prefer pancakes over them.

Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

However, I remember there used to be these packages of steamed buns that tasted just like any other steamed buns, but instead of being one fluffy bun, there were fluffy strands of yellow sweet white bread all wrapped inside the bun. When you tear it apart, you can pull out threads of bread. They were always so fun to eat and I wondered why my mom wouldn’t just buy those ones instead of the plain version. If they had character/animal-shaped ones too, I would for sure want them for breakfast every day.

I will have to make a recipe for those golden threaded steamed buns one day but for now since christmas is just around the corner from us, I made these Vegan Snowman-shaped Mantou. There aren’t threads of bread inside but they are fluffy and a joy to make. Who wouldn’t want to eat something this cute? They are not hard to make at all so let’s get baking!

Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)
Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

Here is an overview of these Vegan Snowman Mantou.


Flour: If you do not have all-purpose flour, you can also use bread flour. I have not tested the recipe with gluten-free flour, but if gluten-free is needed, you can make this Vegan Snowman Mantou with Bob Red Mill’s 1:1 gluten-free flour, substituting it with the same weight. Note that the bread might not rise as much as regular dough.

Sugar: To make it refined sugar-free you can use coconut sugar. Note that the color of the steamed buns will be darker if you use coconut sugar. I would not recommend using maple syrup as this would change the over amount of weight ingredients to dry ingredients.

Coconut Milk: Make sure you use full-fat coconut milk when you are making these buns. The fat in the coconut oil helps make the dough smooth and elastic.

Coconut Oil: I used unrefined coconut oil but you can use refined coconut oil if you prefer a less coconuty taste. If you do not have coconut oil, substitute the same amount with unsalted, vegan butter.

Natural Vegan Food Coloring: if you do not have vegan food coloring, you can substitute them with matcha powder, a pinch of turmeric or any other spices/powder for the dough.

Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)


What should I do if my dough is too wet or not baked through?
This might happen if you did not weigh the ingredients correctly. This happens to me sometimes too when I get lazy and do not use a scale. If this happens to you, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough is smooth to knead.

How do I store these steamed buns? Can I freeze them?
Store the buns in an airtight container or wrap them individually before freezing them. When you are ready to eat one, you can either microwave it for 2-3 minutes until it is soft and warm, or bring a steamer pot to a boil with water over medium heat and steam the buns for 3-5 minutes.

Why are my steamed buns wrinkly in appearance?
This may be a result of over-proofing the dough. Make sure you work as quickly as you can or cover any unused dough in the process with a damp towel and place it in your fridge while you make the buns. It can also be a result of condensation while you are steaming the buns or if you remove the lid of your steamer too quickly after they are done. Make sure you cover the lid with a kitchen towel before putting the lid over the steamer and wait 2-3 minutes before you lift the lid when the buns are done.

Why are my steamed buns not proofing? Why are they not fluffy?
This can be a result of expired yeast or the environment. If you find that the yeast is not activated after you combine it with the warmed coconut milk, the yeast may have expired. If your room is too cold, the dough will take a longer time to rise. Place the dough in a warm area in your home to help with the process.

If you like these Vegan Snowman Mantou, you might also like to try:
Vegan Christmas Tree Steamed Buns
Vegan Chinese Bunny Steamed Buns
Vegan Chinese Rose Steamed Buns

I cannot wait for you to try this Vegan Snowman Mantou! If you do, please tag me on Instagram @_withhelen or leave a comment below letting me know you like it! Happy Baking!


Vegan Snowman Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

These Vegan Snowman Mantou, otherwise known as Chinese Steamed Buns, require less than 10 ingredients and are easy to make. They are fluffy and lightly sweetened, making them perfect for breakfast or as a snack!

  • Author: Helen Au
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Sweets
  • Method: Steaming
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Vegan


188-250g (¾-1 cup) full-fat coconut milk, warm

3g (1 tsp) active dry yeast

300g (~2 cups) all-purpose flour (or bread flour)

50g (½ cup) cane sugar

15g (1 tbsp) unrefined coconut oil, melted

Red, green, brown, black and orange vegan natural food coloring


  1. Combine the warm coconut milk and the yeast together. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is activated.

Keywords: chinese mantou, chinese steamed buns, vegan bread, holiday desserts

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