Buns. Chinese Baked Buns.

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I’ve had a certain cook book for about 23 years. When I announced one day in high school that I was a vegetarian, my mom was completely awesome and incorporated some meat-free dishes into our lives- straight from these unassuming yet delightful Sunset collection.

old vegetarian cook book


Now, to emphasize the point that I enjoy this recipe, I will show you the recipe and my feelings for it.

recipe notes

Do you understand how delicious these are yet? Even the recipe says they’re superb.


First you whip up a filling that includes some cashews, mushrooms, onions, bamboo shoots and such. Then you set it aside to let dust and bugs fall into it for a while.

chinese bun filling


I made the dough in my bread machine, and then followed the rest of the directions as written. You separate the dough into 12 balls and roll them out and fill them with about 2T of filling.

rolling dough


putting filling in buns


Inevitably you will run out of filling, so the last bun gets chocolate chips. Holy shit, is this delicious. If you want to have so much fun you nearly explode, mix the buns around after you close them, so you don’t know which is the chocolate-filled.

chocolate chip bun


finished buns

I served ’em up with edamame and baked tofu. And crazy amounts of hot sauce.


1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 teaspoon salt
About 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
Mushroom-cashew filling (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water; blend in sugar, oil and salt. Let stand until bubbly (about 15 minutes). Add flour and mix until dough holds together. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 to 10 minutes). Turn dough over in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). Or save time and precious arm muscles and let your bread machine make the dough.

Meanwhile prepare mushroom-cashew filling; let cool and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 1 minute. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a round about 4 1/2″ in diameter. Press outside edge of round to make it slightly thinner than the rest of the dough. Place about 2 tablespoons filling in center of each round. Pull edges of dough up around filling and twist to seal. Don’t forget to make loud fwoop! sounds when you twist the tops.

Place buns about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until puffy and light (about 30 minutes). Melt butter; brush over tops. Bake in a 350 degree oven until bottooms of buns turn golden brown (about 15 minutes). Makes 12 buns, one of which is not like the others.

Mushroom-cashew filling

1/4 lb mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup coarsely chopped bamboo shoots
3/4 cup coarsely chopped cashews
2 green onions, including tops, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a bowl, combine soy sauce, sherry, sugar, water, and cornstarch.

Heat 1 tablespoon salad oil in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, and ginger and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add bamboo shoots, cashews, and green onions and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in soy mixture and cook, stirring, until sauce bubbles and thickens. Stir in 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Remove pan from heat; cool.

Chinese baked buns recipe- vegetarian - whole wheat - healthy - yummy


  1. 03/19/2012 / 3:31 am

    First, I did the same thing to my mother in high school. (I hope *my* kids are less presumptuous! Or that I have the grace to handle their demands as well as she did.) Second, I love recipes from older cookbooks/cookmagazines? !

    Third, do you think I can go straight for the chocolate chips?

  2. 03/19/2012 / 4:13 am

    Does EVERY high school kid go through a vegetarian phase? I hung a picture on the fridge of my daughter (when she was 4 yrs old) chewin on a barbeque chicken leg with sauce all over her chubby little cheeks when she went through hers. Yes – I'm a sensitive and respectful mom….. but seriously – these look really, really good.

  3. 03/19/2012 / 4:47 am

    Those look a-mazing! Especially the chocolate. 😀

  4. 03/19/2012 / 6:52 am

    Yum – I'll be over for lunch!

  5. 03/19/2012 / 7:03 am

    Wow, I've never tried to make these. I always thought it was too difficult. We get ours at Dim Sum or at the Chinese bakery in Chinatown in Boston. You are impressive!!!!

  6. 03/19/2012 / 7:13 am

    oh nomnomnom. I want to eat them! I'm really hungry for lunch and these sent me over the edge. DEEEELISH. and yay, vegetarians!

  7. 03/19/2012 / 7:14 am

    I have to say, the chocolate chip variation looks like a winner! The regular version looks good too but just like bacon, I need a daily chocolate fix.

  8. 03/19/2012 / 7:16 am

    I've considered adding another star over the years, but I don't want to go too nutty.

  9. 03/19/2012 / 7:16 am

    Okay, but it won't be as exciting today. I just ate snap peas with hummus.

  10. 03/19/2012 / 7:17 am

    I'm sure mine would rival those from Chinatown. LOLOLOLOL

  11. 03/19/2012 / 7:17 am

    Make these! They take a little bit of time, but you'll be a happy monkey when you eat them.

  12. 03/19/2012 / 7:19 am

    I guess better that in high school than suddenly announcing you're going to be taking up lots of drugs. And I definitely recommend going straight for the chocolate chips.

  13. 03/19/2012 / 7:20 am

    Oh, poor daughter. I made it sound like my mom gave me a big hug and made everything vegetarian when I decided this, but I'm sure there were plenty of eye rolls and annoyed comments at me when I wouldn't eat what she made for dinner…

  14. 03/19/2012 / 7:20 am

    I thought the chocolate one would be a big hit. I wish I had made more.

  15. 03/19/2012 / 7:21 am

    I can't make it through a day without chocolate, either.

  16. 03/20/2012 / 2:55 pm

    I love that lentil soup recipe! I probably have another star drawn in on that page. I feel a strange sort of kinship with you now, knowing that you have the same cookbook. I've had a secret desire to make that cover item for a long time….

  17. 03/21/2012 / 12:33 am

    I am shocked that the Sunset has such a reasonably authentic recipe. My son is adopted from China, and this is about the only food he misses. I never saw them baked, only steamed.

  18. 03/21/2012 / 8:14 am

    They have the directions to steam them, too, I've just never made them that way so I didn't add it onto the post. I suppose I should try them steamed- I just felt like I'd ruin them somehow and they'd be a gloppy mess of goo.

  19. polly
    10/22/2014 / 10:33 pm

    Thank you so much for steamed bun recipe. I love that exact Sunset cookbook from when my daughter became vegetarian 30 years ago. My pages are also separated and the buns page disappeared. The basil vegetable soup is great.

    • 10/23/2014 / 11:27 am

      Thanks for reminding me- I really need to make this recipe again soon!

  20. peggy
    06/10/2016 / 3:47 pm

    I’m all atwitter!!! (in the old fashioned sense of the word, of course.) I love this recipe, and will make an attempt at it as soon as I get home from the grocery store tomorrow morning! Thanks for the reminder. You’re as keen as can be! Now move over; I’m going to heat and eat that cinnamon bun I kept from this morning’s fare.

    • 06/12/2016 / 7:13 pm

      WHYYYYY must you mention cinnamon buns when I am PMS-ing? Anyway. Um. I hope you make these and love them a lot, because I love them so so so much. I keep thinking I’ll put all sorts of different ingredients inside them sometime, but then I end up just making the recipe as is, because it’s perfection.

  21. Kristine
    08/02/2016 / 11:37 pm

    Jeanette I remember this recipe too, thanks so much for posting it, but could you snap a pic of the steamed version? That’s the way I remember it.

    • 08/06/2016 / 12:44 pm

      Hi Kristine! You know, I have never actually made them steamed. I’ll have to try that one day, and I’ll take some photos if I do and let you know. 🙂

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