Recipes/ Sides

Steamed Japanese Pork Buns (Nikuman)

Steamed Japanese Meat Buns (Nikuman) are soft, fluffy buns filled with a satisfying combination of succulent meat and fresh vegetables. They are great as a tasty snack or a flavorful side dish. Their delightful flavor and texture make them the perfect comfort food.

Pork buns on a plate.

You probably consider Thailand to be a pretty popular destination for people to visit, but Japan doesn’t seem to have the same appeal, at least for us Americans. When Jacob and I were planning our trip, stopping in Japan was really just a way for us to cut costs. We actually had a lot of friends ask us, “Why Japan?”. And to be honest, I’d never even considered traveling to Japan before this trip. Places like England, Italy and France were always at the top of my list, but Japan, not so much.

But, in all reality…Japan not only exceeded my expectations, but I was absolutely blown away by the country! Not only was the culture amazing, but the food was so delicious, the people were so friendly, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Such a neat country to visit, and I HIGHLY recommend it!

Of course, while there were so many great parts of Japan, I was naturally excited about trying all of the new food. Some of my favorites included ramen, tonkatsu, mochi, and my inspiration for today’s recipe…pork buns. Ugh, sooo good. I’m totally craving some Japanese cuisine right now!

Steamed Japanese pork buns on a plate.

While we were exploring Japan, I made an effort to search for all of the new foods that we needed to try. There was a specific restaurant in Kyoto that I knew we needed to visit on our way to the Kiyomizudera Temple. This restaurant was well-known for its meat buns (or Nikuman): steamed buns made with a flour dough and filled with meat. So, we picked up some meat buns on our way to the Japanese temple, and enjoyed them so much that we purchased more on our way back! It’s funny how something so simple can be so satisfying!

Since I have no idea where to get my hands on these meat buns in America, I’ve decided to take a stab at making my own. While they aren’t exactly the same as true Japanese steamed pork buns, they come pretty dang close. Yes, I know the thought of making these from scratch may sound rather intimidating, I thought that too. But I think you’ll be surprised to find out that it’s a lot easier than you think.

A close up photo of pork buns.

Are pork buns Chinese or Japanese?

Nikuman is the Japanese name for Chinese baozi. The steamed buns are made from flour dough and filled with cooked pork or beef and are actually enjoyed in many countries throughout South East Asia in addition to Japan and China.

How do you cook pork buns without a steamer?

No steamer? No problem! This video has a great tutorial for steaming pork buns without a steamer.

How long do pork buns last in the fridge?

Cooked buns can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge or 4-6 weeks in the freezer. To reheat the buns from frozen or refrigerated, let them come to room temperature. Steam the buns for 5-7 minutes or until hot.

Cooked buns will keep in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or 4 to 6 weeks in the freezer. To reheat: If frozen, let the buns thaw and come to room temperature; if refrigerated, let them come to room temperature. Then steam the buns in bamboo steamers until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.

You’ll also love these other Japanese recipes:

If you make this recipe, let me know what you think! I’d love it if you could add a star rating ★ and a comment below. Be sure to follow me on InstagramPinterest, and Facebook, too!

Steamed Japanese Pork Buns
Prep Time
2 hrs
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 20 mins

Steamed Japanese Meat Buns (Nikuman) are soft, fluffy buns filled with a satisfying combination of succulent meat and fresh vegetables. They are great as a tasty snack or a flavorful side dish. Their delightful flavor and texture make them the perfect comfort food.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: beef, pork
Servings: 6 servings
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
Meat Filling
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or pork cooked
  • 1 1/2 cup cabbage finely chopped
  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic minced
  • 1/8 tsp dried ginger
  • dash of pepper
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Start by proofing your yeast (unless you are using instant yeast). Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. Let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes until it looks foamy.

  2. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the olive oil, and knead with a stand mixer or by hand for 5 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky at this point. Place a damp towel over the bowl and let rise until double in size.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine the meat filling ingredients. Place in the refrigerator until the dough is ready.

  4. Once the dough has risen, split into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and let rise for another 10 minutes.

  5. Roll out each ball with a rolling pin and fill with the meat filling. Pinch together each of the sides to seal the bun, and then slightly twist in the middle.

  6. Place each bun on a small square of parchment paper or a cupcake liner. Let the buns rise for 20 minutes. Steam the buns for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Mamaloli.

If you don't have a steamer, layer four equal sized balls of aluminum foil in a large pot. Add a couple of inches of water into the pot, and then place a plate on top of the aluminum. Set your buns on the plate and cover with a lid. Let the buns simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes.

Long Pinterest pin for Japanese beef buns.

Square pin for Japanese Beef Buns.

Pinterest pin for Japanese beef buns.

Shop the Recipe

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating