Steamed buns are delicious, fluffy bread rolls that are often served as an appetizer or snack food in East Asia. The dough for the steamed buns may be plain and simple, but options for steamed buns filling are just about endless–from sweet fillings like red bean paste to savory kinds like pork and veggies, you can never know what you’re getting into until you take that first scrumptious bite.
Here are 10+ filling ideas for steamed buns that I made for my own reference, as well as for others who are looking for new and fun ways to make them. FYI, this list is just focused on the sweet fillings.
Also, if you’re interested in other filling posts for mochi and mooncakes, check them out below!
- The Ultimate List of 10+ Different Mooncake Fillings
- 10+ Different Mochi Fillings, Recipes & Ideas for More Homemade Mochi
Custard is a creamy and sweet pudding-like dessert that is made with milk, sugar and eggs. It tastes amazing on its own, but it’s also a very popular add-in for desserts and pastries, including Asian sweet breads and steamed buns. While you can make vanilla custard using custard powder, it’s not too difficult to make the custard at home since it’s mostly made with milk, eggs and sugar.
- How to Buy: Custard Powder (Amazon)
- How to Make: Here’s a shortcut microwave custard recipe I used for my steamed buns, here. For a more traditional custard filling, I recommend the custard recipes from What to Cook Today (here), and Ominvore’s Cookbook (here).
2. Sweet Red Bean Paste
One of the most widely used filling in steamed buns is the sweet red bean paste. Red bean paste (also called Koshi An) is a thick and smooth sweet paste made from cooked adzuki red beans that’s been pureed and then cooked down with sugar. The sweetened red bean paste has a sweet almost syrupy flavor with mild earthy notes. It has a creamy and hearty texture that pairs perfectly with East Asian dessert recipes, especially those made with rice flour.
I usually purchase my red bean paste from my local Asian grocery store, but you can also buy them on Amazon, here
- How to Buy: Koshi An (Amazon)
- How to Make: Here’s a recipe by Just One Cookbook, as well as a Pressure Cooker Bean Paste Recipe by Chopstick Chronicles
3. Crunchy Peanut Butter
This steamed buns filling recipe uses peanut butter and chopped nuts to create a crunchy and savory filling that you won’t be able to get enough of.
- How to Make: Mix creamy peanut butter with equal amounts of chopped nuts until evenly mixed.
4. Sweet White Bean Paste (a.k.a. Shiro An)
Fudgy and sweet, white bean paste is a perfect filling for steamed buns. It’s a hugely popular ingredient in East Asia and widely used in Asian confectionary and desserts like mochi, sweetbreads, cookies as well as steamed buns. Unfortunately, it’s not always stocked in most Asian grocery stores. Here’s one brand you can purchase on Amazon (here).
- How to Buy: Shiro An (Amazon)
- How to Make: Here’s a Shortcut White Bean Paste Recipe I make when I’ve run out of Shiro An
5. Coffee Bean Paste
Coffee Bean Paste is a delicious twist on the sweet white bean paste that you can make at home! Sweet, bitter and rich, this smooth coffee-flavored paste is made of sweetened white beans and coffee extract. Coffee lovers are sure to love this versatile recipe — it can be used for spreads, stuffings, and fillings for steamed buns, like my coffee flavored steamed buns below.
- How to Make: Here’s my recipe for the 2-Ingredient Coffee Bean Paste (커피앙금) for Spreads and Mochi Filling
6. Black Sesame Paste
Nutty and sweet, black sesame is a delicious filling that can be used in many different types of desserts and snacks, including mochi, mochi and steamed buns. It’s also a healthy and nutritious ingredient because of its high calcium content and antioxidants and is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin E and B6. Try making your own black sesame filling for your next steamed buns filling.
- How to Make: Easy 3-Ingredient Black Sesame Paste
7. Mung Bean Paste
Mung beans have a mildly sweet flavor that can be used in both savory dishes and in desserts, and they pair perfectly with steamed buns.
Unfortunately, mung beans are not commonly sold in stores in paste form, so, you do have to start from the dried beans—but I think it’s worth the extra time and effort. Homemade mung bean paste is easy to make and so much healthier than storebought bean pastes or lotus pastes since the homemade kind uses less sugar and is also free from preservatives and other additives.
- How to Buy: the dried mung beans are sold in Amazon, here
- How to Make: Here’s my recipe for the 2-ingredient sweet mung bean paste (link to recipe)!
8. Matcha Mung Bean Paste
Here’s an easy variation of my 2-Ingredient Mung Bean Paste that you can use to fill your favorite Asian confectionaries: matcha mung bean paste. The delicate green color and subtle earthy notes from the added matcha really enhance the eating experience both aesthetically and flavor-wise. Recipe link below!
- How to Buy: the dried mung beans are sold in Amazon, here. The matcha powder you can also buy, here
- How to Make: Here’s my recipe for matcha mung bean paste (link to recipe)!
9. Chocolate Filling
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Thankfully, there are a couple of chocolate filling options for steamed buns. One is using nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread. Another is chocolate custard (recipe here). Last but not least, you can also fill steamed buns with a chocolate frosting made with peanut butter powder (like PB Fit or PB2).
- How to Make: Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter powder with 2 T of cocoa powder, 4 Tbsp of water, 2 T of sugar, 1 T coconut oil. You can add additional water as needed, to control for the consistency of the filling. See the full recipe here
We all know that red bean paste and mochi go well together, but inside a steamed bun? It’s absolutely amazing. These Japanese-styled tofu steamed buns are soft and fluffy on the outside, and sweet and chewy on the inside– all thanks to the sweet red bean paste filling and a pre-cooked mochi filling that is so easy to prepare in the microwave.
- How to Make: Full recipe for the mochi filling here
11. Mashed Sweet Potato (Purple or Orange)
The thick creamy texture of the baked sweet potatoes is a wonderful filling for steamed buns.While the orange sweet potatoes work as well, purple sweet potatoes are a great alternative to the classic orange variety. They have a similar texture and taste, but with more nutrients and antioxidants.
- How to Make: sweet potato filling recipe here
12. Pumpkin Spice Bean Paste Filling
This spicy and sweet pumpkin spice mochi filling is so easy to make and bursting with all the best flavors of fall! It only requires 3 ingredients: pumpkin puree, sweet white bean paste, and pumpkin spice.
- How to Make: Here’s my recipe for the Easy Pumpkin Spice Filling
Variations on the Custard Filling
1. Coffee Custard
Add 1 tsp of instant coffee granules to the finished custard while it is still warm. The powder will dissolve into the custard as you stir.
2. Chocolate Custard
Add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to the finished custard, until the chocolate is fully melted.
More Filling Ideas on the Blog
10+ Sweet Fillings for Steamed Buns – Ideas & Recipes
- 1 CUSTARD FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 SWEET RED BEAN PASTE FILLING*
- 1 SWEET WHITE BEAN PASTE FILLING** click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 BLACK SESAME FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 COFFEE BEAN PASTE click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 MUNG BEAN PASTE FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 MATCHA MUNG BEAN PASTE FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 MASHED SWEET POTATO FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 MOCHI FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 CHOCOLATE PB POWDER FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- 1 PUMPKIN SPICE PASTE FILLING click on the link to go to the recipe
- The list of fillings above in the ingredients list is actually the recipe link to the fillings! Click to get to the recipe pages.