Chinese Steamed Custard Buns: the easy recipe for making Nai Wong Bao

Total time: 30 Min + Resting Time
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
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By Cookist

Chinese Steamed Custard Buns are classic dim sum also known as Nai Wong Bao. It’s an easy dim sum Chinese recipe that you can find in restaurants, or sold from food carts as a popular street food. The custard buns are fluffy similar to milk buns, with a creamy custard filling. They are sweet and delicate in flavor.

To make you will need ingredients for the dough such as flour, milk, yeast, and sugar, and the custard made of milk, butter, cornstarch, and egg yolks. To save time, make the buns and leave them to rest while you prepare the custard. Once they are steamed, allow them to cool, and enjoy!

What Are Chinese Steamed Custard Buns?

These Chinese Steamed Custard Buns are also known as Nai Wong Bao. It consists of a yeasted dough that is then formed into buns, filled with a sweet, creamy custard, and steamed. Because it’s steamed and not baked in the oven, it has a soft texture.

Chinese Steamed Custard Bun Ingredients

Flour – use cake flour.

Yeast – check to make sure the yeast you use is active.

Milk – use warm milk (not hot).

Vegetable oil – use a neutral oil that won’t leave an aftertaste.

Sugar – use superfine powdered sugar.

Butter – use unsalted butter to better control the salt content of the buns.

Baking powder – use baking powder, and not baking soda.

How To Make Chinese Steamed Custard Buns

Chinese steamed custard buns are easier than you may think.

Making The Dough

Combine the warm milk, sugar, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add flour, a pinch of salt, and baking powder. Gently mix the dough with a spatula, then continue to knead the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add the oil, and knead until it’s incorporated into the dough (about 5 minutes).

Making The Custard Filling

Melt the butter in the milk, in a saucepan over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with sugar and cornstarch, until smooth. Pour this mixture into a pot with the milk and melted butter and cook over low heat for about 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Finish off the cream custard by adding the vanilla. Transfer it to a bowl and set aside.

Wrapping The Buns

Divide the dough into 8 equally-sized pieces, and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly with your hand, or use a wooden roller. Add a spoonful of the custard cream in the middle and close the bun by carefully folding over and sealing the edges.

Steam the Chinese custard buns

Cover the buns with a kitchen cloth and let sit for 12-15 minutes, then steam for 10 minutes until cooked through.

To steam buns at home, you will need a pot and steaming basket. Fill the pot with water up to the halfway mark. Place the steaming basket on top of the pot so that it’s a few inches above the water.

Place the buns in the steam (you can place them in cupcake cases of a piece of wax paper). Cover and steam until cooked through.

Tips For Making Nai Wong Bao

If you want a softer bun, use flour with a low gluten content (like cake flour). You can also look in specialty stores for bao/bun flour.

Dust the work with flour to prevent sticking the dough from sticking. To prevent the rolled-out dough from drying out, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel.

How To Store And Reheat Chinese Steamed Custard Buns

Store the cooled Steamed Rose Buns in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Can You Freeze Nai Wong Bao?

The buns can also be frozen. Allow to cool, wrap tightly with plastic wrap (or place in an airtight container), and freeze for up to 3 months.

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for the cream
200 ml (4/5 cup)
15 g (1 tbsp)
Egg yolks
40 g (3 tbsp)
20 g (2 tbsp)
Vanilla Extract
5 g (1 tsp)
for the dough
warm milk
125 ml (1/2 cup)
25 g (2 tbsp)
Instant yeast
3 g (1 tsp)
220 g (1 3/4 cups)
a pinch
Baking powder
2 g (1/2 tsp)
Vegetable Oil
20 ml (4 tsp)


In a saucepan, melt butter in milk. In a bowl whisk 2 egg yolks with sugar until smooth. Add cornstarch, and mix well.

Transfer this mixture into a pot with butter, milk and heat on low for 3-4 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in vanilla extract, transfer into a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl combine warm milk, sugar, and instant yeast.

Add flour, a pinch of salt, and baking powder. Start to mix the dough with a spatula.

Continue to knead it with your hands. Pour in oil and knead until you receive an elastic dough.Transfer on the working surface and knead for 5 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

Flatten the ball with your hand.

Place a spoonful of the prepared cream into the center.

Seal the edges together to create a bun and place it onto a muffin liner. Continue with the remaining dough and cream. Cover the buns with a kitchen cloth and let sit for 12-15 minutes.

Steam over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!


Serve the Chinese Steamed Custard Buns as a breakfast item, a snack, or dessert!

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