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asian bakery coconut buns

Asian bakery coconut buns (dairy-free)

These soft and fluffy coconut buns are dairy-free and full of coconut flavor, from the fluffy Japanese "milk" bread exterior to the sweet filling. They're inspired by the Asian coconut buns from my childhood!
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Rest Time 2 hrs
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 12 buns


  • Mixing bowls
  • Baking tray
  • Rolling Pin



  • 3 tbsp (23g) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full fat coconut milk


  • 1/2 cup (120g) full fat coconut milk, lukewarm
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (7g) instant or active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) bread flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp (60g) coconut oil

Coconut filling

  • 3 tbsp (45g) coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (40g) dried coconut, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour

Egg wash & topping

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk or water
  • sesame seeds


Make the tangzhong

  • In small skillet or pot, whisk together flour and coconut milk until smooth. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until mixture has thickened but is still pourable. It should take 5 – 10 minutes. Your whisk should leave a mark when dragged along the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour into a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the dough

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the warm coconut milk, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy and active. If you do not see any activity, your yeast may be dead. Start over with fresh yeast.
  • Add the bread flour, egg, salt, and tangzhong to the bowl. Using a dough hook attachment, need on medium-low speed until the dough just come together. Add the coconut oil in pieces while the mixer is running. The dough may look a little curdled, but it will come together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Continue kneading for 10 - 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and passes the window pane test. You can also choose to knead by hand during this step.
  • Cover and let rise for 1 - 1.5 hours until doubled in size.

Make the filling

  • While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a medium mixing bowl, add the coconut oil and sugar. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the chopped dried coconut until combined. Mix in the vanilla extract and egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Finally, mix in the flour. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Shape the dough

  • Cover a baking tray with parchment paper
  • Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured countertop. Knead a few times to release the air. Divide into 12 equal pieces. For extra precision, you can use a food scale - each piece should weigh about 60g.
  • Use a rolling pin to roll a piece of dough into a 6 x 6 inch square. If the dough is sticking, lightly flour the surface. Cut slits about 1/4 inch wide across the bottom third of the dough to create a fringe. Take 2 - 3 tsp of filling and spread it on the top part of the dough. Roll the dough towards you and then pinch the two ends together. The raised dough "stripes" should facing inwards. Please read the notes above for pictures of this process.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining buns. Place each bun on the baking tray, at least 2 inches apart. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Let rise for 30 minutes until puffy. When you press a finger into the dough, it should fill in halfway. If it fills in all the way, it needs more time. If it doesn't fill in at all, it has overproofed and you need to bake immediately.

Bake the buns

  • Whisk together the egg and coconut milk to create an egg wash. Generously brush each bun with egg wash and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.
  • Place in the center rack of the oven and bake for 18 - 20 minutes until golden brown and the buns make a hollow sound when tapped.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray for 5 minutes.
  • Store leftover buns in airtight containers at room temperature


  1. If you like extra filling, you can double the filling recipe
Keyword baking, coconut, dairy free