These delicious fluffy Chinese steamed Scallion Buns (Huā juǎn) are made of layers of yeast dough oozing with a rich and fragrant scallion filling, twisted into delightful flower rolls. These super soft blossom buns are divinely delicious, completely egg-free, dairy-free and can be made gluten-free too.
What are Chinese Scallion Buns?
These buns are one of China’s staple comfort food. It is aptly called “Huā juǎn buns” by locals, which literally translates as “flower rolls”. Some may know them as Mandarin rolls, Steamed Mandarin rolls, or Flower Buns. They are leavened buns made by creating layers of yeast dough twisted and molded into a flower shape. They are then steamed until the dough expands and turns soft and fluffy. These buns can be made with or without filling, but using scallion is the most common way to add flavor.
These buns are delicious as they are, and are perfectly consumed right off the steamer. However, as customary with common Chinese dishes, these can be served with savory and sweet dips. I paired mine with a spicy and savory dumpling dipping sauce and believe me; one bun is never going to be enough!
Homemade Vegan Steamed Scallion Buns
I’ve had made my fair share of dumplings and buns – sweet or savory, stuffed or rolled. This Mandarin Scallion Buns recipe, however, is quite exciting because of how it is intricately designed by piling, twisting, and coiling the dough before steaming giving it its unique appearance. Do not get intimidated, though! It might take you a few tries before you get the hang of it, but once you make one successfully, the rest are easy!
I used the same easy dough recipe I used in making my Pan-fried Bao Buns. However, instead of using water, I used soy milk instead. This makes the dough softer and more pliable which is what I wanted to achieve in making these buns. Also, instead of the traditional way of steaming the buns using bamboo steamers, I used the pan-steaming method. This gives me crunchy sesame-crusted bottom that I really enjoy!
Shaping the Buns
If you look this up in Google, you will see several ways of shaping the Chinese scallion buns. There is simply no one way of making these pretty rolls. Some of the methods I’ve seen are pretty complicated, yet yield a stunning outcome. So I tried to find a way to achieve the same picturesque result using an easier method. Anyway, I am happy with how a simple slice, fold, and twist method gave me the flowery finish I am looking for. I love how neat, simple, and effective it was. The instructions, pictures, and video below will guide you through it!
Ingredients Used and Possible Substitutions
For the dough:
- Soy Milk: You can also use other non-dairy milk such as almond milk, oat milk, or cashew milk.
- Instant Yeast: I used this because it is easier and faster as no proofing is needed. You can just add it directly with the other dry ingredients. However, if you have active dry yeast, you can also use that. Just proof it first by mixing it with a teaspoon of sugar and ¼ cup warm water for at least 5 minutes or until it foams.
- All-purpose flour: You can use a gluten-free flour blend 1:1 to make the buns gluten-free.
- Agave syrup: you can also use maple syrup or sugar.
- Salt: a pinch.
For the Scallion Filling
- Scallions: This recipe calls for using only the green parts that are thinly sliced. Don’t throw away the rest though; store them in the fridge to use for garnishing salads, stir-fries and noodle dishes later on.
- Oil: You can use any plant-based oil like grapeseed, sunflower, or canola oil plus sesame oil.
- Sesame Seeds: toasted to give that intense nutty flavor that works so well with the fresh and sharp taste of scallions.
How to make Chinese Scallion Buns
As always, I recommend checking out this step-by-step instruction first. Then you can find the full recipe with exact measurements in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Make the Dough
Start by whisking together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the warm soy milk and agave syrup and mix with chopsticks until it clumps together. Then transfer to a work surface and continue kneading with your hands until a smooth and soft dough forms, about 5-8 minutes. Cover and allow to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Step 2: Make the Scallion filling
Toast the sesame seeds in a pan without oil for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Thinly slice the scallion, then transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, add oil and toasted sesame seeds and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 3: Fold the buns
Once the dough has doubled in size, knead it briefly to remove any air bubbles. Then roll it into a log and cut into 10 pieces. Work with one piece at a time and cover the rest to prevent them from drying out.
Form one piece into a ball and roll it into an oval-shaped wrapper. Spread 1-2 tbsp of the scallion filling on top and slice vertically strips on it. Fold the long edges towards the center, then grab both ends, twist and shape into a bun. Repeat until all the buns are assembled.
Step 4: Cook the buns
Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Dip the bottom of each bun in sesame seeds (optional), then place in the hot pan, (make sure to leave enough space between each bun as they will rise during steaming), and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden-brown and crispy.
Then carefully pour in 1/3 cup of water to create steam. Immediately cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and allow the Chinese scallion buns to steam for about 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Remove from pan, garnish with sesame seeds and leftover scallion filling, and serve with dipping sauce as desired.
Tips when making Vegan Scallion Buns
- Always check and follow the instructions on the yeast package you’re using for best results.
- Be patient, you will start with a very sticky and lumpy dough, keep on knead until the dough becomes firm and smooth before resting.
- The dough resting time depends on the room temperature and yeast brand used, so check on it regularly. Once it has doubled in size, then you can continue.
- When shaping the buns, refrain from dusting much flour on your work surface. The dough has to be a bit sticky when formed so they do not unravel during steaming.
Storing Vegan Scallion Buns
Store leftover steamed buns in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, add a bit of water in a pan or microwave-safe dish. Then add the buns, cover, and cook until warm.
You can make a batch of these Chinese Scallion Buns and freeze them for 2 months at most. Follow all steps before the steaming part. Arrange the buns in a baking tray with enough space between each to prevent them from sticking to each other. Place the tray in the freezer for an hour to 2 hours. Once they are firmer and not sticky, place them in freezer bags.
You can cook them straight off the freezer once you are ready to enjoy some. No need to defrost or thaw. Just follow the same instructions above to reheat but keep them on the pan or microwave longer.
These Steamed Scallion Buns are:
- Dairy-free (lactose-free)
- Gluten-free possible
- Soft & fluffy
- Beautifully shaped
- Deliciously flavored
- Perfectly pan-steamed
- Fun to make
- A great dish to impress your family and friends
- Perfect as an appetizer, side dish or main course
Here are some of my favorite vegan dumpling recipes to try:
- Japanese Gyoza (Vegan Potstickers)
- Gluten-free Dumplings
- Pan-fried Bao Buns
- Sichuan Spicy Wontons
- Polish Pierogi
- German “Maultaschen”
- Vegan Spinach Ravioli
- Squash Ravioli
- Vegan Tortellini
- Mexican Samosas
- Spanish Empanadas
If you try this recipe for Chinese Steamed Scallion Buns (Huā Juǎn), feel free to leave me a comment and a star rating! And if you take a photo of your flower buns and share it on Instagram, please tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I love seeing your remakes! Have fun trying! 🙂
Steamed Scallion BunsAuthor:
- 1 recipe dipping sauce
- Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the warm soy milk and agave syrup and mix with a chopstick (or wooden spoon) until it clumps together. Then transfer to a work surface and continue kneading with your hands (or use a mixer with dough hooks attached) until a smooth and soft dough forms, about 5-8 minutes.
- Put the dough in an oiled bowl, brush with a little oil, cover and allow to rise for about 45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a pan without oil for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- Thinly slice the scallion, then transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, add the oils, and toasted sesame seeds and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Folding the buns
- Once the dough has doubled in size, knead it briefly to remove any air bubbles.
- Then roll it into a log and cut into 10 pieces. Work with one piece at a time and cover the rest to prevent them from drying out.
- Form one piece into a ball and roll it into an oval-shaped wrapper.
- Spread 1-2 tbsp of the scallion filling on top and slice vertically strips on it. Fold the long edges towards the center, then grab both ends and twist. Shape into a bun as shown in the recipe video or step-by-step photos above. Repeat until all the buns are assembled.
Cooking the buns
- Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Dip the bottom of each bun in sesame seeds (optional), then place in the hot pan, making sure to leave enough space between each bun as they will rise during steaming and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden-brown and crispy. Then carefully pour in ⅓ cup of water to create steam. Immediately cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and allow the buns to steam for about 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. (I recommend cooking 5 buns at a time using a large pan).
- Remove from pan, garnish with sesame seeds and leftover scallion filling, and serve with dipping sauce as desired. Enjoy!
- Dough: You can also try a gluten-free flour blend 1:1.
- Storing: Store leftover cooked buns in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, add a bit of water in a pan or microwave-safe dish. Then add buns, cover and cook until warm.
- To freeze the uncooked buns, place them in a single layer on a baking tray or wooden board, leaving some space between each to prevent them from sticking. Freeze for 1-2 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag. Cook straight from the freezer (no need to thaw) in the same way as instructed. They may take a little longer.
- Please read my blog post for further information about this recipe.
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