These vegan-friendly Fluffy Almond Milk Mantou 馒头 are a must-try if you're a fan of steamed buns! Made with almond milk instead of dairy milk, they're super soft and fluffy and have a subtle nutty flavor that comes from almond milk. They're also easy to make and perfect for pairing with your favorite Chinese-inspired dishes. Try pairing them with savory dishes like stir-fries, curries, and stews, or fill them with your favorite ingredients for a fun and creative meal!
Why I love this Recipe
- Soft and fluffy
- Easy to make if you have a stand mixer
- No eggs, no milk, no dairy needed!
- makes the best breakfast and snack
Ingredients Used to Make Vegan Almond Milk Mantou 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.
- Dairy Free Milk of Choice – I used unsweetened almond milk, but any other dairy free milk (coconut milk, soy milk or cashew milk) works in this recipe. You can even use water.
- 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.
Step by Step Guide
How to Make Vegan Almond Milk Mantou Buns
Heat almond milk in the microwave for 30-60 seconds until warm.
Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder ) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Pour almond milk 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 it 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 (or a surface greased with olive oil).
Use a rolling pin to flatten into a large rectangle, about 16 x 10 inches in size. Starting from the long side, roll the dough tightly into a tight cylinder (like a sushi roll or cinnamon roll). Pinch the ends to seal.
Use a sharp serrated knife or dental floss to divide the log into 14 equal pieces. 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 and serve while warm. Enjoy!
What to Eat with Mantou?
These soft almond milk mantou buns are versatile and can be paired with a variety of savory and sweet dishes. Here are some ideas:
- Braised meat dishes, such as pork belly or beef brisket
- Stir-fried vegetables or tofu with savory sauce
- Spicy mapo tofu or kung pao chicken
- Steamed or pan-fried dumplings
- Sweet fillings, such as red bean paste or taro paste
- Savory breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, and bacon
These are just a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless depending on your personal taste preferences!
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
- Add color to the buns - matcha powder, turmeric, or natural food coloring like beet powder, etc!
- Other than coloring you can also add different flavorings to the dough before cooking. For example, you can add either a teaspoon of coffee extract or espresso powder, cocoa, cinnamon or Cardamom Powder. Savory add ins include garlic or onion powder, paprika or tumeric. They're not typically added in a traditional recipe, but you're welcome to experiment!
How to Store Vegan Almond Milk Mantou Buns
- These steamed buns can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, 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.
Basic Almond Milk Mantou Steamed Buns
- 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 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ⅓ cups unsweetened almond milk (320 g), warmed to room temperature. I used unsweetened original
- 1 Tbsp light olive oil , or melted coconut oil or avocado oil
- Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder ) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Pour almond milk into the dry ingredients. TIP: Heat in the microwave for 40-60 seconds before using to shorten the rising time.
- 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 almond milk (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 (or a surface greased with olive oil).
- Use a rolling pin to flatten into a large rectangle, about 16 x 10 inches in size
- Starting from the long side, roll the dough tightly into a tight cylinder (like a sushi roll or cinnamon roll). Pinch the ends to seal.
- Use a dental floss or a sharp serrated knife to divide the log into 14 equal pieces.
- Place each bun on a piece of parchment square, or a sheet of steamer paper.
- Wrap the dough pieces around the filling of choice (red bean paste, mung bean paste, etc), 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 2 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.