Black sesame red bean buns are soft, fluffy, nutty and perfectly sweet!

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Steamed Black Sesame Red Bean Buns

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5 from 2 reviews


Units Scale


  • 180g bao flour (or substitute 140g AP flour + 40g wheat starch)
  • 3 g instant yeast (or 3.1g active yeast, dissolved in water first)
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar (15g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100110ml cold soy milk

Black Sesame Red Bean Filling

  • 1/2 cup sweet red bean paste (140g)
  • 2 tbsp black sesame paste (32g)
  • pinch of salt





  1. Sift the flour, wheat starch and powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the salt and instant yeast to opposite sides. Start the electric mixer at a low speed and then pour in the soy milk with lesser amount. 
  2. Set the setting to #4 and let it run for 6 minutes or knead by hand for 10 minutes, or until soft and smooth. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, make the paste by blending the red bean paste and black sesame paste together. Divide the paste into 6 portions (about 28g each). 
  4. Take the dough and continue to knead it until VERY smooth. Shape it into a circle and then divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (mine were exactly 49g). To easily divide the dough, poke your thumbs in the middle of the circle and  carefully stretch it out to make a donut shape. Cut it into half and then into 3 pieces. Cover the pieces of dough with a damp kitchen cloth. Take one piece of dough, press down with the palm of your hands and then roll it length wise. Fold it up, and roll it out again. Repeat for a total of 5 times. Then roll it out into a circle, as best as you can ensuring the sides are thinner than the middle. The dough should be about 3.5-4 inch in diameter. Add the red bean paste in the middle and pleat it closed. Place them into a steamer basket with 1 inch of space between each bao. Cover and proof the dough for 30-40 minutes. To proof the dough, I microwave a cup of water for 45 seconds and keep them in there with the door half way open. Alternatively, you can add hot water to a pot and then place the steamer basket on top. The time for proofing will depend on your kitchen temperature. To check if proofing is complete, gently press on the dough. It should leave an indentation that spring back slowly. If it springs back quickly, proof longer. If it does not spring back, the dough is over proofed. To try and save over proofed buns, quickly transfer it over into the fridge.
  5. Set up your steamer by adding cold water to the pot. Place the steamer back on to the pot over the stove. As soon as you turn on the stove to high heat, set a timer for 15 minutes. Do not open the lid while the buns are steaming. Remove the pot from the heat and keep the baos covered for 5 minutes, and then uncover. Enjoy! 


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About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.

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  1. Wonderful recipe! Thank-you for sharing. It’s a great flavor combination!

    I don’t have a weight to measure things out so I tried converting things on google. For the flour I added 2/3 cup of ap flour and 1/3 cup of tapioca flour because I didn’t have the starch flour. It worked well. However when I added the almond milk that I made, I think I converted it wrong because the dough was very sticky almost too wet like cake mix (I think I put 2/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup of liquid). So what I did to fix it was I gradually sprinkled in another 1/3 of ap flour and switched from a hand held electric mixer to the board and it worked as i kneaded the dough.

    I made my own black sesame paste with some toasted sesame seeds, honey, and sesame oil. I also used some red bean paste from the brand kabuto.

    I also need to buy a steamer to make mine in! I used a pasta pot that can have another strainer pot inserted inside. Added some water below and added a nonstick baking sheet to the metal strainer that fit 3 bao.

    Thankfully it all worked out well.
    My mom and dad really enjoyed eating them!

  2. I’ve made red bean buns a few times, but Lisa’s recipe for the dough is perfect, so fluffy!!

    I made this with some chunky red bean paste (tsubuan), going to mix with black sesame next time to follow the recipe exactly.

  3. Hi Lisa! I was confused by your recipe. The ingredients list says: 100–110ml cold soy milk. But then the instructions say: pour in the warm water with lesser amount. Which one is the correct one to use? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Teresa! I would opt for potato starch or do half cake flour and half all purpose flour! 🙂 You can also use pure bao flour.