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Blue Corn Steamed Buns {Mantou 紫玉米馒头}

by Shirley
Published: Last Updated on
Blue Corn Steamed Buns {Mantou}

Blue corn steamed buns featuring organic blue corn masa flour is so spongy, naturally delicious, and super healthy. We call steamed fluffy buns made of yeast dough without fillings Mantou (馒头) in Chinese. They are a well-liked everyday staple food in northern China. When you add fillings to steamed buns, they become Bao Zi {包子}. Pork Bao Zi, Dou Sha Bao {Red Bean Paste Bao Zi} are two popular foods across China.

Blue Corn Steamed Buns {Mantou}

I am a big fan of Mantou made of whole-grain flour. Recently I discovered this organic blue corn masa flour, which is nutritious and delicious, and thought it might work out for yummy steamed buns. And it absolutely did. Now, these become one of my favorite breakfast items.

blue corn steamed bun (mantou) ingredients

How to make a tasty blue corn steamed buns?

1. Have a balanced ratio between all-purpose flour and blue corn masa flour for blue corn steamed buns

For every 3 cups of organic all-purpose flour, add 1 cup of organic blue corn masa flour.

2. Make a yeast paste first

I use the normal active yeast, which I store in the freezer. Mix the active yeast with room temperature water until the yeast fully dissolves in the water and turns into a smooth paste. This is an essential element for fluffy dough.

Make a smooth active yeast paste for a fluffy yeast dough
Make a smooth active yeast paste for a fluffy yeast dough

3. Make a dough that is sufficiently soft

This is because whole corn flour may continue to absorb water in the dough during the proofing process.

blue corn mantou dough before proofing
Blue Corn Steamed Bun Dough before Proofing

4. Proofing properly

Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and leave it the room temperature for proofing. The dough will double the size.

The actual time required really depends on the temperature of the environment. During hot summer days, 30 minutes might be sufficient. For room temperature that is between mid-60 degrees to low-70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius), you may need about 1.5 hours. During cold winter time, below mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit, you may need 2 hours.

However, it is very important to remember NOT to overproof the dough. Otherwise, the dough will become sour and lose all the sponginess.

Freshly Wrapped Blue Corn Mantou
Blue Corn Buns before Steaming
freshly steamed purple corn buns
Freshly Steamed Blue Corn Buns

Three ways to enjoy Steamed Buns

Of course, you can eat these yummy buns as it is.

If you want to make a meal, cut the buns into halves and add the Red Braised Pork Belly or Braised Beef Shank, Braised Veal Chops, and eat like a burger.

The third way is to pair it with a soup, such as Lion’s Head (Pork Meatballs) Soup or Beef Soup with Potatoes and Daikon Radish.

Blue Corn Steamed Buns {Mantou}

Blue Corn Steamed Buns Mantou Recipe {紫玉米馒头}

Yield: 13 buns
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 38 minutes

Blue corn steamed buns, or Mantou in Chinese, featuring organic blue corn masa flour is so spongy, naturally delicious, and super healthy. 


  • 495 g all-purpose flour, about 3 cups, organic all-purpose flour preferred
  • 120 g organic blue corn masa flour, about 1 cup
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast powder
  • 15 g cane sugar, about 1 tbsp., organic preferred
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 25 g avocado oil, about 2 tbsp.
  • 390 g room temperature water, about 1 3/4 cups, up to, may not need the entirety
  • 2 dried bamboo leaves, or unbleached parchment paper, used as a coaster/liner for steaming


Prepare the Dough:

  1. Fill a glass measuring cup with 350 g water
  2. Add active yeast to a small bowl, add water from the measuring cup, about 1/4 cup, mix well and let it dissolve completely into a thin paste
  3. Add organic all-purpose flour, blue corn masa flour, avocado oil, salt, sugar, and the yeast paste into a mixing bowl
  4. Make a well in the middle, and gradually add about 1 1/4 cup water from the measuring cup while mixing and kneading
  5. Gradually add the remaining water, a few drops at a time, mix and knead, until form a soft dough
  6. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp kitchen towel, leave it at room temperature, and let it proof for 1-2 hours, or till it doubles the size. The temperature in the environment plays a huge role. During hot summer, you may only need 30 minutes for the dough to rise and double its size. During cold winter, you may need 2 hours.

Make the Buns:

  1. While waiting, prepare the things needed for steaming the buns. I use bamboo leaves as coasters for buns to stand on during the steam. See notes for more information and options.
  2. Grab two large dried bamboo leaves, wash & rinse them, and then cut them into 13 pieces, each about a 1.5-inch square. Place the bamboo leaf pieces into a bamboo steamer evenly.
  3. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, lightly knead and divide into 8 equal portions {each portion weighs about 130 g} for jumbo-sized buns, or 13 equal portions {each portion weighs about 82 g} for regular-sized buns. Use a kitchen scale to help weigh the dough if needed.
  4. For each portion, knead inward and then use two hands to turn and press to form a curved disk, close the openings and toss to form a ball shape. Essentially this step is to create a hollow ball. The bun will continue to rise during the steaming process which will fill in those spaces and make a very fluffy bun.
  5. Place the hollow ball onto one of the bamboo sheets in the steamer. Repeat for the remaining 12 buns
  6. Fill the wok with 6 cups of water, turn the heat to medium-high, bring it to boil, and then add the bamboo steamer, cover with the lid, and steam for 18 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat, wait for 1 min and remove the lid and remove the steamer from the wok.
  8. All done! Enjoy a spongy tasty and healthy bun.


  • This recipe makes 8 jumbo-sized buns or 13 regular-sized buns. Both can fit into a 12-inch bamboo steamer.
  • The water needed depends on the humidity of the environment. The drier the surrounding environment, the more water will be required. Add water slowly toward the end while kneading to allow the flour to absorb the water.
  • Not only bamboo leaf is a healthier choice, but it also produces a refreshing, pleasant bamboo aroma during the steaming. Alternatively, you can use cabbage leaves or unbleached parchment paper.

Nutrition Information
Yield 13 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 313Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 34mgCarbohydrates 61gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 9g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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www.xmc.pl November 22, 2020 - 10:41 pm

Hey cool blog, just wondering what anti-spam software program you utilize for feedback as a result of i get heaps on my blog. Anyway, in my language, there are not a lot good source like this.

Shirley DTerry December 5, 2020 - 8:02 pm

Thank you! I use a WordPress plug-in called Titan anti-spam. Hope this helps!


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