These Healthy Vegan Black Sesame Buns (Chinese Steamed Buns) are not just pretty on the eyes, they’re actually good for them too! Raw black sesame seeds are finely blended with water and mixed into bread flour and other dry ingredients. The beneficial antioxidants and omega-6 fatty acids that are rich in the black sesame seeds are deeply nourishing for your eyes and also keep your skin, hair and nails healthy. The secret to getting that rich black color smooth texture is to first soak the black sesame seeds in water overnight before blending in water. It’s a perfect fluffy treat to have on a chilly day, and an impressive recipe to show off your friends and family.
Why I love this Recipe
- Soft and fluffy
- Easy to make if you have a stand mixer
- No eggs, no milk, no dairy needed!
- higher in fiber, to keep you fuller longer
- makes the best breakfast and snack
Ingredients Used to Make Vegan Black Sesame Buns
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
- Bread Flour - I used bread flour for this recipe (I use King Arthur Bread Flour most), which I prefer and highly recommend for the best texture and structure. Please read the note on the substitution section below if using other flours.
- Instant Yeast - you can find instant yeast in the baking section near the flours. My favorite is SAF Instant Premium Yeast, which works quickly and consistently produces great results. I recommend using instant yeast over active yeast for this recipe since active yeast (unlike instant yeast) needs to be activated in water, which we don't add until the very end.
- Sugar - I used raw cane sugar, but you can use regular granulated white sugar, or healthier alternatives like coconut, date, or maple sugars which are less processed and more natural. I also sometimes like to use honey powder.
- For yeasted breads, I would not recommend using sugar-free substitutes such as monk fruit sweetener or stevia powder since they can cause the bread to not rise properly. If you prefer a lower sugar recipe, you're welcome to leave out the sugar. The bread might taste slightly plain, but it will not significantly impact the shape or texture of the bread.
- Salt - Pink Himalayan salt is what I have at home, so it’s what I use, but you can use any kind for this recipe.
- Baking Powder - helps to puff up the dough during the steaming process.
- Black Sesame – You'll need raw black sesame seeds in this recipe. Roasted black sesame is also good, and will give the steamed buns a more roasted nutty flavor.
- Olive Oil - I like using light olive oil since it has a neutral flavor, but you can also any cooking oil of your choice like coconut oil, or avocado oil instead
- I used a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough. You're also welcome to use a bread machine, or knead the dough by hand.
More Sesame Seed Recipes (HERE)
What I Used for the Filling
Sweetened White Bean Paste (a.k.a. Shiro An) - White bean paste (also called Shiro An) is a thick and smooth paste made from cooked white beans, such as butter beans or cannellini beans, that’s been pureed then cooked down with sugar. The sweetened white bean paste has a mild sweet flavor with subtle earthy notes. It has a creamy and almost fudgy texture that makes white bean paste a versatile ingredient for many East Asian dessert recipes, especially for Japanese mochi and confectionaries.
You can also make your own at home! Here's my Shortcut White Bean Paste Recipe I make when I don't have Shiro An at home.
Step by Step Guide
How to Make Vegan Black Sesame Buns
Soak the sesame seeds in water overnight, or for 6-8 hours. Blend the sesame seeds and the water in a blender until creamy. Set aside.
Mix the other dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder ) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Pour the sesame water mixture into the dry ingredients.
Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, until all the ingredients are mostly combined.
Add the olive oil next, and continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, supple ball.
Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
Let rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled in size.
When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a generously floured surface and divide into 8-12 pieces.
Prepare filling by rolling prepared white bean paste (or other filling of choice) into 2-3 Tbsp sized balls
Wrap the dough pieces around prepared filling, and place on a piece of parchment square, or a sheet of steamer paper.
Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
Transfer the buns to the steaming pan, and steam for 15 minutes
Gently remove from steamer pan with a spatula (tongs are not recommended since they ruin the shape of the buns). Serve when warm. Enjoy!
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
- Use white sesame seeds for a milder sesame flavor.
- Add color to the buns - matcha powder, food coloring, etc
- Other than coloring you can also add different flavorings to the dough white kneading. For example, you can add either a teaspoon of coffee extract or espresso powder, cocoa, or Cardamom Powder. They're not typically added to a traditional recipe, but you're welcome to experiment!
Different Filling Options
If you want to enjoy these steamed buns with a variety of fillings, there are many fun and delicious filling options to choose from. Here are some ideas!
- Koshi-an (sweetened red bean paste) - on Amazon, here
- Mung Bean paste - sweet and delightfully yellow, homemade mung bean paste is a perfect mochi filling for those who are looking for a healthier bean paste alternative. Here's my 2-Ingredient mung bean paste recipe here
How to Store Vegan Black Sesame Buns
- These Vegan Black Sesame Buns can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or in the fridge inside an airtight container for 3-5 days.
- For longer storage, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, re-steam buns in a steamer for about 10 minutes.
NOTE ON SUBSTITUTIONS
- Unfortunately, gluten-free flours cannot be substituted for bread flour in this recipe.
- All-purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour, but will produce softer, less chewy steamed buns.
- Weigh your flour for the best results. 1 cup of bread flour = 120 grams / 4.23 oz. This is recommended since scooping the flour directly from the bag can can pack the flour into the measuring cup, and this means you’ll end up with more flour than what’s called for in the recipe. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can measure the flour by spooning pre-sifted flour into the measuring cup, then using the straight end of the spoon to level the flour across the top to sweep off the excess.
- To make this recipe in the bread machine: add all the dry ingredients into the machine, stir briefly before adding the wet ingredients. The machine can be set for basic. Check the dough for consistency and adjust by adding additional water (or flour) before the end of the first kneading cycle. If you want to add additional nuts or dried fruits, leave them aside, and only them 3 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle.
Healthy Vegan Black Sesame Buns (Easy Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe)
- 4 cups bread flour (480 g), sifted and leveled*
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar , read notes** for substitutes
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ cups water (354 g)
- ½ cup black sesame seeds (75 g) , I used raw (unroasted) sesame seeds
- 1 Tbsp light olive oil , or melted coconut oil or avocado oil
- Soak the sesame seeds in water overnight, or for 6-8 hours
- Blend the sesame seeds and the water in a blender until creamy. Set aside.
- Mix the other dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder ) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Pour the sesame water mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, until all the ingredients are mostly combined.
- Add the olive oil next, and continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, supple ball.
- Note: Additional 1-2 Tablespoons of water (or additional bread flour) may be necessary depending on the protein content of the flour, as well as the humidity and temperature of the kitchen.
- Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes***
- When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a generously floured surface and divide into 12-14 equal sized pieces.
- Wrap the dough pieces around the filling (sweetened white bean paste), and place them on a piece of parchment square, or a sheet of steamer paper.
- Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil water and prepare the steamer
- Transfer the buns to the steaming pan and steam the buns for 15 minutes
- Note: You can store these steamed buns, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 day. For longer storage, you can place them in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and freeze up to 3 months, then defrost them at room temperature or steam them again for just 10 minutes to enjoy them just like fresh.