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Tangzhong Cocktail Buns (湯種雞尾包)

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Tangzhong Cocktail Buns01

Both pineapple buns and cocktail buns are my childhood favourite snacks that I grew up with. These two HongKong-style sweet buns are classics, typically soft and light. As for cocktail buns, the sweet buttery shredded coconut fillings make them more sensational and addictive.

As a tangzhong lover, I always love to add some tangzhong to make buns that can be kept soft for more days. So the other day, I prepared some tangzhong to make some soft buns, wrapped some fillings inside, popped them in the oven, cut one in half when finished baking, gave it to hubby to taste, and asked if it tasted like a cocktail bun. He commented it’s a real cocktail bun.

Tangzhong Cocktail Buns Recipe (Printable recipe)
By Christine's Recipes
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 180 mins
Yield: 8 buns

Ingredients of buns:
  • 80 ml milk
  • 35 gm whisked egg + plus more for egg wash
  • 80 gm tangzhong (for method, please see below)
  • 3 gm salt
  • 35 gm sugar
  • 5 gm milk powder
  • 230 gm bread flour
  • 4 gm instant yeast
  • 20 gm butter, softened at room temperature
  • 90 gm butter, softened at room temperature
  • 40 gm caster sugar
  • 25 gm cake flour
  • 30 gm milk powder
  • 45 gm desiccated coconut
  • 35 gm cake flour
  • 40 gm butter
  • 20 gm caster sugar
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling on top, to taste
How To Make Tangzhong Cocktail Buns

  1. Put all the ingredients (except the butter) into a bread machine, wet ingredients followed by the dry ingredients. (I use to make a well in the middle of flour and place yeast in it.)
  2. Select the “dough” setting. Knead until all ingredients come together. Add the butter. Let the machine finish kneading. The dough should be smooth and elastic. It can be stretched to form a thin “membrane”. Let the dough sit inside the machine and finish the 1st round of proofing, double in size.
  3. Transfer to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Knead into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Wrap fillings (as above picture shown) . Transfer to a lined baking tray with seals facing down. Repeat this step with the remaining dough portions and fillings. Cover with a plastic wrap and let them proof for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  5. Lightly brush whisked eggs on the surface of each dough. Pipe two lines of toppings and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Baked in a pre-heated oven at 180C / 356F, for about 13 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy !
Fillings of Tangzhong Cocktail Buns

How to make the fillings:
  1. Combine the butter and sugar well. Stir in milk powder, cake flour and desiccated coconut.
  2. Roll into a long tube. Divide into 8 equal portions. Set aside.
Frostings of Tangzhong Cocktail Buns

How to make the toppings:
  1. Mix the softened butter with sugar well. Sift in the cake flour and combine well.
  2. Transfer into a piping bag and cut away the tip. Pipe over the tops of buns after egg wash.
Tangzhong Cocktail Buns02

  • Please refer to this post for more details of tangzhong and how to make it. You can make the tangzhong well ahead and keep it in fridge for two or three days. Simply measure out the quantity yielded by the recipe when you’re ready to make buns.
  • You can knead the dough by hand or a stand mixer. Beware that the tangzhong dough is quite wet and sticky. It needs more patience. That’s why I used a bread machine.
  • When the buns are completely cooled down, they can be kept in an air-tight container for a few days at room temperature.


  1. Dear Christine,

    These buns look delicious, especially with a cup of strong Asian coffee!

  2. Beside using deciccated coconuts, what can I replace with?

    1. It's a kind of classic Hong Kong buns, using desiccated coconuts as an important ingredient in making fillings.

      You can deviate the traditional way and make your own for sure, like replacing with custard fillings. Feel free to experiment to your liking.

  3. I love cocktail buns! These look really soft and delicious, Christine.

  4. i never had this bun, but it looks great!

  5. Hi Christine, OMG!! Thank you so very much for the tangzhong secret ingredient!! I am so excited. I made this recipe but instead stuffed the buns with minced pork but I am just so impressed with how the bread turns out. I never thought I could make such soft bread like what you buy in the chinese bread shops. I always thought it was lard that made the bread soft. I cannot wait to try more of your recipes especially more bread ones. Thank you so much! I also cooked today your radish cake - I shall try it tonight. P.S. Your daughter and husband are so lucky!!!

    1. Hi Amanda,
      So glad that you tried and loved this recipe. Although it needs a bit time and effort, it's all worth it.
      The buns are super soft and fluffy, that's why I'm a big fan of tangzhong breads.

  6. Hi Christine
    Becoming a big fan of yours! :)

    After I fell in love with the tangzhong method
    while making your pumpkin loaf recipe and the amazing Hokkaido Milk Toast,
    I decided to try these cocktail buns, and it was super deliciousss!

    Thank you for sharing all those great recipes, and thanks for the inspiration :)

    1. You're welcome.
      Glad that you liked tangzhong breads. Once you make one, you'll be addicted to it.

  7. Thank you Ms. Ho for sharing this wonderful recipe, I did try it today and it turn out great!. Only draw back is the measurement, wish it were in US Metric.

    1. Thanks for trying my recipe. And congrats on your success.

      The upside of using the weight measurement is that it's more accurate and the end result of baked food is certainly ensured.

  8. If I dun have a bread maker instead use a dough hook mixer...should I put wet or dry ingredients into mixer bowl first?

    after mixing is the dough very sticky?

    1. The tangzhong dough is quite sticky. That's why I often use bread machine to help knead the dough.

      However, some of my fans tried using their stand mixers with success.

      If using a stand mixer with a dough hook on, blend dry ingredients first and gradually add the wet ingredients.

  9. hi Christine, i already make the bun base you receipe, so fluffy. many thanks

    1. Hi Gino,
      So glad you love my recipe. Thanks for letting me know.

  10. Hi Christine, if i want to double the recipe, will the amount of yeast also double?

    1. Hi Chris,
      Yes, double the amount of yeast as well.

  11. Hi Christine,
    I normally use a bread maker to knead. However, my dough has never turned out to be a thin "membrane" even I use the dough function for 40 minutes. Is it something to do with the flour? I used the baker's flour which contains 12.5g protein per 100gram. Which flour do you use for your bread? I live in Australia as well.

    1. It's strange. The dough should pass the window pane test after kneading about 30 minutes in a bread maker.

      Try another brand of flour then.

      I often use Defiance White Baker's Flour (5kg), contains protein 12.5%, from Coles.

  12. Hi Christine, my dough is still very very sticky after 90mins of dough kneading in the breadmaker. i had to add much more flour in order to shape into buns. my hands and fingers are covered with the sticky dough while shaping. is it normal?

    1. Hi Angel,
      Looks like the situation you encountered was not normal.
      Normally, the dough will be kneaded enough after 20 to 25 mins.
      I tested with 4 different brands of breadmakers, they all won't knead dough over 30 minutes.
      Did you double check if the quantity of ingredients you measured was correct? Just for asking.

  13. Hi Christine, oh..i meant i used the dough function. It knead for 30mins and proof for 60mins. After 90mins in the bm, i tried to shape it but it is super sticky until my fingers are glued with it. Measurement is correct and texture of bread came out was soft. Just the part out of the bm is very difficult to handle. Was thinking maybe something has gone wrong.

    1. The dough shouldn't be too sticky to handle after kneading 30 mins and proofing 60 mins.
      If all the ingredients and quantity measured were correct, it might be the water absorption of your flour is very different.

  14. Hi Christine,
    I have made this bun twice. The first time I made egg custard filling instead, and the second time just plain without any filling. These are the softest, most fluffy and delicious buns I have ever tasted. I live in Singapore and I used to eat a lot of buns from Chinese bakeries but nothing compares to this.
    I actually did not have a machine and hand kneaded all the time. I am not an expert in kneading, in fact I just started making bread 2 - 3 months ago. This dough was very sticky and I had to slowly add 2 more tablespoons of flour. I kneaded for about 12 minutes, the dough was still sticky, not smooth, but I did the window pane test and saw a little window. Yesterday I even taught my 11 year old son how to knead and he did most of the kneading for me. After baking the structure of the crumb looked just like those bread/buns which are commercially made, and tasted far better.
    So I think tangzhong bread is really quite a forgiving bread to make, meaning that anyone can do it! I also think it is great that you use weight measurement which is very accurate. Your website is excellent and really inspiring for everyone who loves to cook and bake. Thank you!
    I have also just ordered your cookbook!

    1. Hi Alicia,

      Yes, that's why I'm a big fan of tanghzong breads. The natural ingredients of tangzhong will keep the moist inside the dough. Best of all, the tangzhong bread can be kept soft for a few days. If we can hold back the urge to add too much flour to prevent from sticking, we can experience the amazing texture of tangzhong.

      You're amazing too. You make the buns by hand. Congrats on your success.

      Btw, thanks for your support of my cookbook.

  15. I'm looking for a dinner roll, would this recipe, minus the filing, still be good?

  16. Hi Christine,

    Love your recipes and website. I've made your Hokkaido Milk Toast, and pineapple buns with success in the past. But I have some questions I want to ask you after I failed to make these cocktail buns yesterday.

    When using a bread maker (or even when you are not), do you warm up your liquids first? What temperature, if you do? Or do you just add milk/egg straight from your fridge.

    What type of yeast do you, or can you use? Active dry, instant, bread machine?

    What is the texture of the dough after the 1st proof? Mine was kind of sticky (stuck to my fingers), I don't think that was right.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Joanne,
      Making these cocktail buns is quite similar to the pineapple buns. It's strange that you failed this time with the previous successful experience. Something might've gone wrong in the process.

      When using a bread maker, you don't need to warm up anything. The other way round, if the weather is too hot, it's better to use cold milk as the machine will heat up everything inside and make the yeast increase too rapidly, and make your dough too sticky. I often use milk and egg at room temperature. When it's too hot, I use them straight from the fridge.

      I use instant dried yeast.

      After 1st round of proofing, the dough won't be sticky on the surface.

  17. Hello Christine,

    Can salted butter be used for tangzhong bun recipes? or should it be unsalted butter?

    1. Sure, you can use salted butter. But please omit the salt in the recipe.
      The reason why I often use unsalted butter is that I can totally control the amount of salt added in my bread.

  18. Hi Christine,
    You are absolutely right that it is not necessary to add flour. Your recipe is just perfect.

    I am a full time working mother so I have taught my maid to make this bread using the recipe of the tangzhong cocktail bun, but shaped into a loaf bread. She is now very good at hand kneading and it takes her only about 10 minutes to knead the bread. Now the whole family including our maid eat this delicious home made bread for breakfast regularly. We use King Arthur bread flour and Elle & Vire butter so the bread tastes so much better than bread bought from bakeries outside.

    Thank you again for your excellent website.

    1. Hi Alicia,

      Awesome ! You have a maid around who can manage hand kneading and your whole family can enjoy fresh bread for breakfast.

      Thanks so much for letting me know. Your comment made my day. I'm so happy for
      you all.

  19. I do not have bread maker but I have an oven which has ferment function and it helps to double the size of the bread. The bread is soft.

    However, after I baked my bread but it has the favour of wine. Is it because of the yeast?

    I use instant dry yeast.

    1. If your bread has a alcohol smell, your dough was over-proofed. Next time, you may shorten the proofing time or decrease the temperature of your oven.

  20. Why is the filling spill out? I followed your recipe exactly. Taste and texture were perfect except the filling.

    1. Hi Bostonian,
      It could be the fillings were not sealed well, or the absorption rate of the flour used was lower. If the latter, add a bit more of flour for making your fillings next time then.

  21. Hi,

    I don't have milk powder, I was wondering what I can use instead ? Or simply leave out ? Thank you!


    1. Hi Karine,
      The milk powder is to enhance the aroma. If you don't have any, just leave it out.

  22. Hi Christine,
    Is it possible to make the bread the night before and let it do the first proof overnight? If so, does it have to be kept in the fridge. I am in Melbourne and it is cooler weather at the moment.
    Then the next morning, I am planning on doing the filling and finishing it. The reason being that I always feel bread is nicer when baked fresh.
    But with this recipe, will it still keep well for the next day? If so, do you keep it in an airtight container?

  23. Hi JT,
    Couldn't agree with you more. The best thing in the world is to enjoy fresh bread in the morning.

    As for proofing your dough, it depends on the weather and temperature. If the weather on your side is very cool, you can let it proof on your bench top overnight. Otherwise, it's better to keep it in your fridge with cover or in an airtight container. And then finish the remaining steps in the next morning.

    Tangzhong bread can be kept soft for a few days if covered well.

    Happy baking!

  24. Hi!! I've been dying to make cocktail buns for so long but i dont own milk powder. Is there anyway around that? Thank you!!!

  25. Hi Lipika,
    You can skip without any problem. The milk powder is to enhance the frangrance.