Whole Wheat Mantou

March 10, 2023

These Whole Wheat Mantou are the perfect combination of fluffy and chewy, in my opinion. When I find exceptional mantou, these are the first words that enter to mind.

When we were living in Beijing, I ate my fair share of whole wheat mantou, which is surprisingly widespread alongside the traditional white variety. For some reason, I’ve never had a fantastic, fluffy, chewy whole wheat mantou before, but I’ve eaten plenty of dense whole wheat mantou (also known as quan mai mantou) throughout my life.

Explaining Why This Southerner Loves Mantou!

One of my favorite things about mantou is that they are more delicious when cold than rice and can be eaten on the go. It was once a base ingredient in every meal in the northern provinces of China.

Most people are familiar with the word “baozi,” but not the phrase “mantou.” In English, we often use the word “bun” to refer to a wide variety of steamed or baked dough, but the Chinese description is more precise.

“Mantou” usually means empty steamed buns. Like our Ginger Carrot Baozi pork buns, steamed buns with fillings are known as “baozi.” We call the baked buns, filled or not, “mianbao.” Every day is a new educational adventure!

If you’re as hungry as I am from reading this, you’re in luck: whole wheat mantou is super simple to make. Look into it on your own.


  • 2 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⅔ cups of warm milk
  • 1¼ to 1½ cups of whole wheat flour (depends on the humidity in your kitchen)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast


  1. The milk should be heated until it’s just warm (not hot). Then dissolve the yeast in the sugar by stirring it in. Whisk the milk and egg in a large bowl, then add 2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour. It will be a wet mixture. To proof, place the mixture in a warm place (about room temperature), cover it with a damp cloth, and wait for the mixture to double in size (about 1 to 2 hours). Due to the cold weather, I let the dough rise in front of a heater.
  2. A quarter cup at a time, stir in the whole wheat flour until the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth, soft, and flexible. The dough has to rest for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  3. Get a pot of cold water ready in your steamer. Don’t let any water get on the mantou when steaming. To keep the mantou from sticking to the steam rack, brush it with a touch of vegetable oil or cut 12 small squares of parchment paper (3 inches by 3 inches).
  4. Now, using a kitchen scale, divide the dough into 12 even pieces and knead the dough. Roll up each piece into a ball. Alternatively, you can form the dough into a long tube and divide it into 12 pieces. Put the mantou on a steaming rack with approximately an inch between each one. You’ll need a few racks or to steam them in multiple batches.
  5. The mantou dough needs to rest in the steamer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size, while the heat is on high. Make sure your mantou is done by steaming it for 15 minutes on high heat, then turning off the heat and waiting 5 minutes before opening the cover. The final procedure will guarantee a full and smooth mantou. Please do so to avoid a collapsed and lumpy appearance.
  6. These mantou are great fresh out of the oven or can be stored in a plastic bag for later. They can be frozen for later use or kept in the fridge for approximately a week. I normally steam them for 8-10 minutes to reheat them. It also works if you microwave it for 30 seconds to an hour.
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