Sweet Potato and Mochi Steamed Buns (V)

Vegan fluffy steamed buns with sweet potatoes and a gooey mochi filling is a fun and tasty combination you didn’t know you needed!

In an attempt to use up my purple sweet potatoes from my last steamed bun recipe, I decided to make more steamed buns, this time filling them with a purple sweet potato and mochi filling. Steamed buns with filling are called “baozi” and steamed buns without filling are called “mantou” so these are slightly different from my latest purple sweet potato steamed buns recipe. This recipe is such a simple way to use up the sweet potatoes because the filling is just plain sweet potato mash… no added sugars or butter or anything. I like the simplicity of it and feel that the sweet potatoes are sweet enough themselves, but you can certainly add sugar, cream, butter, or other ingredients for a creamier and sweeter filling.

This is a steamed bread recipe that is convenient for anyone who may not have an oven. The dough can be made in a stand mixer or by hand and the mochi is cooked in the microwave. Now, what exactly is mochi? Mochi is a Japanese confectionary made from sweet rice flour. It is eaten by itself, stuffed with filling, or dipped in powders such as peanut and sesame powder. Mochi has a gooey and chewy texture that makes eating fun because you can see the stretchy mochi pull, similar to a melty cheese pull. Sweet rice flour is high in starch and made from short-grain glutinous rice. It is commonly used in East and Southeast Asian cuisines to make desserts and entrees. Sweet rice flour should not be confused with other flours such as glutinous rice flour or tapioca starch. The most common sweet rice flour is Mochiko, which can commonly be found in the International aisle and Asian grocery stores. Bob’s Red Mill also sells sweet rice flour.

What type of purple sweet potato do you use?

There are 3 common types of purple sweet potatoes:

  • Okinawa: light purple flesh, white/tan skin, typically most expensive, native to Japan (~ $3/lb.)
  • Stokes: darker purple flesh, brown skin, typically cheaper than Okinawa sweet potato, native to the U.S. (~$2/lb.)
  • Charleston: deep and dark purple flesh, dark grey/purple skin, cheapest, native to the U.S. (~$$1.50/lb)

I grew up only eating the Okinawa potato, which can be found in Asian grocery stores or specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods, but I actually found out that my local grocery store began to sell Charleston sweet potato, so I happily bought them to experiment with as they are cheaper. I find that all 3 potatoes taste extremely similar. You may notice slight differences in texture and flavor when eating them alone, but because the recipes utilizes the potatoes in a dough, there is really no difference. I used the Charleston sweet potato for this and it yields a darker purple color than a Okinawa or Stokes sweet potato would, which I liked.

Steamed bun cooking tips:

  • Use all-purpose flour for steamed buns as it contains the proper percentage of gluten for a soft, yet firm bread.
  • Use a stacked steamer to steam more buns at a time.
  • Bamboo steamers steam better than metal ones. The bamboo steamer absorbs condensation whereas the metal steamer accumulates condensation on the top and the liquid drops down on the buns. Thus, the buns steamed in a metal steamer tend to be too moist. I use this Bamboo Steamer.
  • Use a Thin rolling pin to easily roll out the dough.
  • For the 20 min. resting period of the buns, place the steamer over a pot with cool water. This cool water is the water that will be used to steam.
  • Bring the water to a boil, and then place the steamer on top to steam. Do NOT bring the water to a boil while the steamer is on top.
  • Steam the buns on high heat.
  • Once the buns are steamed, turn the heat off and do not remove the lid off immediately. Allow the buns to rest for 5 min. and then remove the lid. If you don’t do so, the rapid temperature change will cause the buns to collapse and become wrinkly.
  • Water should be lukewarm.
  • Rest the dough in a warm place, such as a slightly heated oven. I turned my oven on for 1 min. and then turned it off to create the warm environment.

Sweet Potato and Mochi Steamed Buns

yield: 10 buns

total cook time: 2 hrs.


For dough:

  • 250 g. or 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 g. or 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 5 g. or 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 g. or 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 178 g. or 3/4 c. warm water

For filling:

  • 2 medium purple sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed (Plain as is or add sugar to taste)
  • 40 g. or 1/4 c. sweet rice flour (I recommend Mochiko or Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 80 g. or 5 1/2 tbsp. water
  • 13 g. or 1 tbsp. granulated sugar


  1. Add dough ingredients into a stand mixer and knead for 5 min. Cover dough and rest for 1 hr in a warm environment.
  2. In the meantime, mix the sweet rice flour, water, and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 min. Stir the mixture and microwave for another 30 sec. to 1 min. Let mochi cool and dust with some corn flour. Separate into 10 pieces.
  3. Take 1 tbsp. spoon of mashed sweet potatoes and flatten out into a disk. Add a mochi piece in the middle and roll into a ball. Repeat for the rest.
  4. Once the dough has risen, punch out the air and separate into 10 pieces. Place a filling ball into the dough and seal. Place on a piece of parchment paper and allow to rise in a steamer for 20 min. Repeat for the rest.
  5. Steam the buns on high for for 15 min-18 min and enjoy!

*Nutrition facts are estimates.

This post contains affiliate links, which I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.

15 thoughts

  1. I have been looking for a simple vegan way of making these. We call them Manapua. Before I was vegan I would get the ones with char siu or chicken but never saw them with sweet potato and mochi. I have been missing them and wanted to make them for a long time. Thanks Jamie for sharing because I am so looking forward to making them and posting them on squirrellyartmama.

  2. Aaha… This is looks such delicious😋 I’m a full-time foody and I’m so impressed to find this blog. Thanks for sharing.

  3. WoWwWW! I just tried my hand at Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes and will post in an Intermezzo on Monday or Tuesday. But NOW I have to get some purple sweet potatoes!! Course, these might look good with orange ones, too, right? 😋

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