Sweet Red Bean Steamed Buns

Beans for dessert? Yes! This sweet steamed bun recipe is filled with a sweet paste filling made from a lovely little red bean variety called adzuki (or aduki) beans. It has a mild, sweet flavor and the bun has a light, soft, pillowy texture. These unique treats make a delightful snack or a sweet finale to your favorite southeast Asian meal. You can easily make the paste in advance and refrigerate it for a up to a few days or freeze it for longer. You can make the paste from dry beans or start with canned beans. The bun is made from a simple sweet yeasted dough that also happens to be vegan!


Red Bean Paste Filling

  • 1/2 cup dry adzuki beans (or one can)
  • 1 cup sugar (approx.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Sweet Bun Dough

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups flour (approx.)

Red Bean Paste Instructions:

If you’re starting with canned beans, skip to the next paragraph. Put 1 cup of adzuki beans to soak overnight (or 8 hours). Drain, rinse, and put into a pot with fresh water to well cover them. Bring beans to a boil. Turn heat to med-low and simmer, covered until beans are soft (about an hour). Drain and transfer beans to a blender. Blend beans to a paste.

If you’re using canned beans, drain and rinse them and place them in a blender. Blend beans to a paste. Measure paste and transfer it to a pot, add salt. Measure out an equal amount of sugar as you have of bean paste and add it to the pot. Turn stove on medium and stir mixture constantly. The sugar will dissolve and gradually the mixture will thicken to a thicker consistency. A good test that the paste has thickened sufficiently is it should feel a bit harder to stir and if you move your spoon across the pan, you’ll see the bottom. This will take around 20-30 minutes, depending on moisture content. Allow mixture to cool and store in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze it.

Making the buns:

Place 2/3 cup wrist-temperature water in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast into water and allow to activate (about five minutes.) Add sugar, salt, oil and begin whisking in flour. Continue adding flour until it forms a soft, wet dough. You may want to add a little additional flour to keep the dough ball workable. Knead dough ball for a few minutes and place in a warm place under a clean, damp towel. Allow dough to rise for about an hour, to double in size.

You’ll be making eight buns, so cut eight four inch squares of parchment paper to set each bun on. Punch down dough and work it into eight equal balls. Using a little extra flour, flatten dough by hand into disks that are thin at the edges and slightly thicker in the center. Scoop 1-2 Tbsp red bean paste into the center of each disk. Using your finger, dampen the outer edge of a disk and wrap the outer edges up to meet in the center and form a ball. Seal the base well and form into a sphere. Position bun sealed edge down on its parchment square and repeat the process for all the buns.

Prepare steamer with enough water to fill to just below the steamer basket. Position as many buns (with paper under them) in one layer without allowing them to touch. You may need to steam in 2 or 3 batches. Bring water to boil, turn heat down to med-low and cover with lid. Steam buns for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove lid, and leave buns on stove until they are cool enough to remove. Serve warm.