Nikuman (Steamed Pork Buns) | Easy Japanese Recipes at

Nikuman (Steamed Pork Buns)

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: pork bun, steam bun
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 20 small buns
Author: Nami

Japanese steamed buns wrapped around a delicious pork filling with shiitake mushroom, cabbage, and scallion.



For the dough

  • 10.6 oz all-purpose flour (10.6 oz = 300 g) (and more for dusting) (See Notes 1)
  • 2 scant Tbsp sugar (scant 2 Tbsp = 20 g) (See Notes 2)
  • ½ tsp salt (kosher or sea salt; use half if using table salt)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp neutral flavor oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
  • 160-170 ml water (160-170 ml = 160-170 g) (See Notes 3)

For the filling


  1. Gather all the ingredients.

    Nikuman Ingredients
  2. Put 11 oz flour, scant 2 Tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. instant dry yeast and 1 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl. While mixing the mixture with chopsticks or a wooden spoon, slowly pour 160-170 ml water into the mixture and mix until incorporated.
    Nikuman 1
  3. Lightly dust your hand with flour to keep the dough from sticking too much. Use your hand to knead the dough , pressing it down and reshaping it. Form it into a ball.
    Nikuman 2
  4. Sprinkle the working surface with flour. Transfer the dough onto the surface and start kneading. This is how I knead. First, press the top half of the dough, pushing forward slightly. Then pull it back and fold it in half and press it forward again with the heel of your hand twice. Then turn the dough slightly and repeat this process for 10-15 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and silky. Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of flour at a time to help decrease the stickiness.
    Nikuman 3
  5. Form the dough into a smooth, round shape, gently tucking loose ends underneath. Coat the bottom of the bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 30-60 minutes.
    Nikuman 4
  6. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, make the filling. First, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in ½ cup water. Place something heavy on top so the whole shiitake will be submerged. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
    Nikuman 5
  7. Thinly slice the scallion. Remove the tough core of the cabbage and chop into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces.
    Nikuman 6
  8. Sprinkle the chopped cabbage with 1 tsp. salt to draw out excess water.
    Nikuman 7
  9. Once shiitake mushrooms are hydrated, squeeze the liquid out, cut off the tough stem, and mince the mushroom tops.
    Nikuman 8
  10. In a large bowl, combine ground pork, scallion, and shiitake mushrooms. Squeeze the excess water out from the cabbage with your hands and add into the bowl.
    Nikuman 9
  11. Grate ginger and add all the seasonings (1 tsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. sake, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1 Tbsp. potato/corn starch, and freshly ground black pepper).
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  12. Knead the mixture well until it is well combined and looks pale and sticky. Set aside (or cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge) until the dough is ready.
    Nikuman 11
  13. Once the dough has doubled in size, dust the working surface with flour and divide the dough in half and then roll each piece of dough into a log. Cut each log into 5 even pieces and then cut each piece in half (See Note 4). Form each piece of dough into a ball and dust the dough balls with flour to avoid sticking to each other. Space each ball apart and cover loosely with damp kitchen cloth to avoid drying out. Let them rest for 10 minutes.
    Nikuman 12
  14. Take a ball of dough and flatten it with your palm. Then roll it with a rolling pin into a round sheet. Here’s how I roll the dough. Hold the top of dough with left hand and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough with right hand. You only need to roll up and down on bottom half of the dough. After rolling 1-2 times, rotate the dough about 30 degree with left hand. Repeat this process until the dough becomes thin. The center of dough should be thicker than the edge.
    Nikuman 13
  15. Scoop 1½ Tbsp of filling (with a 1½ Tbsp. cookie scoop) and place in the center of the dough.
    Nikuman 14
  16. Hold the dough with the left hand and seal the bun using the right index finger and thumb. First, pick up a corner of the dough with your right index finger and thumb and pinch togeter (left picture). Without moving your thumb, use your right index finger to pick up the dough and pinch it with your thumb while rotating the dough clockwise with your left hand (right picture).
    Nikuman 15
  17. Repeat this process about 10-12 times (=10-12 pleats) until you seal the last part of dough by pinching it tightly. Here are some tips: your left thumb should hold down the filling and use your left fingers to turn around the wrapper. Use your left index finger to help pleating. Also, lift up the pinched pleats slightly while you make the new pleat so the filling stays inside the dough.
    Nikuman 16
  18. Once you finish sealing the last part of dough, twist the pleats further with your right index finger and thumb to maintain a tight seal. If you’re left handed, reverse the directions.
    Nikuman 17
  19. Easy Alternative Option: Wrap the filling by bringing the dough up around the meat to the top, forming little pleats with the excess dough, then slightly twisting the dough to close it and pinching it firmly to join the edges.
    Nikuman 18
  20. Place the bun on a piece of parchment paper that fits the bun (for small size, 3” x 3”). Cover the finished buns with plastic wrap and repeat this process with the rest of dough. Let the buns rest for 20 minutes.
    Nikuman 19
  21. Bring water to boil and set a steamer. Once the water is boiling, place the buns and parchmentpaper in the steamer tray leaving about 2” between each bun (buns will get larger while being steamed). Close the lid and steam over high heat for 10 minutes (10 for small buns, 13 for medium, 15 for big). If you use a regular pot for steaming, wrap the lid with a kitchen cloth to prevent the condensation (formed on the lid) from dripping onto the buns. Enjoy immediately.
    Nikuman 20
  22. The buns keep well in the fridge till next day and freeze well after steamed. Wrap them in plastic wrap and then pack them in freezer bags (I suggest to consume in 1 week). To reheat, steam frozen buns for a couple of minutes.

Recipe Notes

1: 300 g (10.6 oz) all purpose flour = ROUGHLY 2 1/3 cups.

2: “Scant” 2 Tbsp. means “just barely” 2 Tbsp. Don’t fill the Tbsp. to the top and use slightly less than the required amount. (2 Tbsp. of granulated sugar is 25 grams, but we only need 20 grams.)

3: Start with 160 gram/ml of water first. Depending on the weather, you might need more.

4: You can divide into less pieces of dough to make bigger buns. It's also easier to work with smaller dough to make nice pleats when you wrap because it's hard to hold a big dough and filling in one hand.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.