Japanese Milk Bread (Hokkaido)

Japanese milk bread is unlike any other bread out there. Extremely soft, fluffy and flakey texture that is a product of the tangzhong method. The first time I tried making it I failed terribly, but after a few tweaks to the recipe it is now perfect. I use this same recipe to make hotdog/burger buns and loaves of bread.

Originally, my idea was to use this milk bread to make the best char siu bao which is Chinese BBQ pork buns. They turned out absolutely amazing, but in the process I realized how versatile this bread is. Now, the majority of the time, I make this milk bread to serve as dinner rolls.

They make for an amazing homemade appetizer to bring to food gatherings and can be a fun weekend baking project. But trust me, once you get a taste, you will never go back to any other bread recipe.

Key steps and ingredients for Japanese milk bread

Tangzhong method: The tangzhong method uses flour, water, and milk, cooked down into a paste like substance which is then added as a dough ingredient. What this does is make the bread softer and more springy. This is an essential step and you definitely don’t want to skip it. Even after a few days, my bread is still really soft and springy.

Active dry yeast: With active dry yeast you will need to activate it in lukewarm before using. Alternatively, you can use instant yeast which does not require any activating. However, I would still add the 1/4 cup of water to maintain hydration level.

Softened butter: Make sure your butter is softened, not melted and be patient when mixing the butter in. When you initially try to add the butter, the dough will break, but after a couple minutes, you will see the butter incorporate into the dough better.

Japanese Milk Bread

Before you get started with the recipe, I want to say that I would highly recommend using weighted measurements instead of volume. It is much more accurate and can save you a headache.
4.77 from 26 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 50 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Japanese

Ingredients
  

Tangzhong

  • 2 tbsp flour 20g
  • 2 tbsp water 27g
  • tbsp milk 60g

Yeast mixture

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast 10g
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water 40g

Dough

  • Tangzhong
  • Yeast mixture
  • 2⅓ cup AP flour 380g
  • ¼ cup sugar 60g
  • 1 tsp salt 3g
  • ½ cup milk 130g
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter

Instructions
 

  • Add the active dry yeast into the lukewarm water, mix and allow to sit for 10 minutes. You know the yeast is active if it blooms.
  • In a saucepan, add the tangzhong ingredients and cook, continuing to stir over low heat until a paste forms. Should be thick and you will be able to pick all of it up with a spoon.
  • Add your yeast mixture and tangzhong along with the remaining dough ingredients except for the butter in a stand mixer bowl and mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until a proper dough forms.
  • Add your softened butter, 1 tbsp at a time and mix on medium speed until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is very smooth.
  • Allow your dough to proof in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
  • Portion the dough into 75g pieces and place into a 9 inch cake pan giving them 1cm of space. Allow it to rest another 45 minutes.
  • Brush with egg wash which is just 1 beaten egg and bake in the oven at 350F for 20 minutes.
  • Top with garlic butter and enjoy.
Keyword baking, bread, milk, milk bread

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63 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I saw your TikTok on these and they look so amazing that I had to come and get the recipe.

    Would this bread work for a sandwich? Could this be made as a loaf, in a 9×5 pan? Do you know how long it would bake?

    Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    I saw the video on tik tok first, then came to your website and made this today! It’s so delicious, and I will 100% be using this recipe for any kind of bread in the future!

  3. 5 stars
    I love the Milk Bread you make! Thank you so much for sharing! I love making Any Bread! BUT THIS MILK BREAD IS THE BEST I HAVE EVER EATEN!:Please keep cooking and posting! May God Bless and Keep you! Vida Collier

  4. 5 stars
    Just tried this recipe and omg it really does work the bread is soooo soft! 😍😋 it’s delicious, thank you

  5. Going to make these rolls today but am curious what weight you portion for hamburger buns? I’m assuming it’s larger than the 75g for rolls. Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe. It’s soft and delicious and one of the fastest recipes for bread I’ve found so far. The only problem I’m experiencing is my dough remains very wet after mixing for a while and I find myself adding about a cup more flour to keep it together. Is this normal or is it possible that I’m doing something wrong?

    • Nope! The dough should be quite sticky but all flour absorbs water differently so its not a bad thing.

    • 4 stars
      Use the 380 g, it’s what I think he means. Ignore the cup measurements if you’re going to weigh the flour and all other ingredients. Good luck!

  7. I can’t rate yet, in process of making it. I question the measurement for the milk and water. Both weigh 240 grams per cup, so I am going to follow the Tablespoon/Cup measures and see how the dough is and adjust from there.

  8. I’ve tried this recipe a few times now and I always end up with thick heavy bread, not light fluffy bread. Could someone please tell me what I’m doing wrong…

  9. 4 stars
    I’m loving the recipie but I keep struggling when I add the softened butter a chunk of the dough will stick to the bottom of my bowl while I mix it in

  10. 5 stars
    This is the softest most delicious bread I’ve ever eaten!! And it was so easy to make (and I hand mixed it)!! I saw this on your TikTok then came to your site for the full recipe, and I hope you never take this down! This will be my go to bread from now on. I also supplemented half granary bread flour and they still came out amazingly soft. Looking forward to exploring your other recipes. Thank you!!

  11. I haven’t made the bread yet but is it possible to make this even if I don’t have that mixer?

    • Yep, you would have to hand knead it for longer until the dough is smooth though.

  12. Question about using instant yeast..should the water be mixed with the yeast separately or just add both yeast and water into the mixer with the rest of the dough ingredients?

    • If using instant yeast mix all your dry ingredients together along with yeast. Then add wet ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer and mix. Mixing instant yeast straight with water can kill it.

  13. 4 stars
    I made this recipe for my son and grands, they al liked it, but weren’t thrilled, just hungry. I tried a small piece and knew why. It just wasn’t all that flavorful.
    So I went over the recipe, did the math and realized that the salt amount was really off. Granted, I’m sort of a baking geek, though I’ve only been doing it for a few years and NOT consistently. Still, I’m just a pretty good at math. So here’s my 2 cents’ worth.
    The part that salt plays in bread isn’t just for flavor, if there’s yeast in the recipe, it’s also there to regulate its growth.
    With the amount of yeast in the recipe, and the sugar, it needs more salt. In this case I’d suggest 2% of the flour (baker’s math, right?) which comes to 8g. The 3g amounts to 3/4 of 1%, much too small of an amount to be of any use for flavor or as a yeast regulator.
    Just in my very humble opinion. I’m not a chef, or pro baker, just read enough to get into trouble.
    Most sincere apologies if I’m way off.

  14. 5 stars
    Just made these and loved it!!
    I was just wondering if there is a way I can “scandinavify” them using less sugar? Any suggestions please #amateur

  15. Oh M G! Thanks for this and all of your other recipes! I found via Insta and decided to follow. We often get into dinner ruts and fall into the same old grub week after week.
    I tried my hand at this today and my dough was pretty wet but it did was it was supposed to and is in the oven now.
    So excited to try more of your fun recipes in the coming weeks!

  16. 4 stars
    I am so excited to try this recipe over the weekend, thank you for sharing! Is there a substitute for eggs? Can I leave out the eggs altogether? Thoughts and tips please?

  17. 5 stars
    Hello if I want to use this recipe to make burger buns how much should be the portion? And how many buns I get with this recipe?

  18. 5 stars
    I made these yesterday, my first time using weighted measurements, other than needing a little extra flour they turned out tasty and perfect! A couple questions, my dough made 12 rolls, is that right? I didn’t see quantity listed, but maybe I missed it. Also, my roll tops are sticky, did I use too much egg wash or is that the consistency of the bread? I baked them in a 9×13 pan lined with parchment, so easy and delish!! This recipe is a keeper for sure!!

    • Yes 12 rolls are about right. Usually my rolls arent sticky. They are glossy and soft

  19. I’m making these tonight for sliders. I’ve always had a desire to make Japanese Milk Bread since my rolls always seem to turn out like a hockey puck on center ice at times. If they are fluffy and tender these will be my go to from now on. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  20. 5 stars
    Been baking bread for 40 years. Made these today. Followed the recipe exactly and they came out amazing. Thank you for teaching this old dog some new tricks.

    • 5 stars
      they turned our beautifully! I had to knead by hand, so it took a bit longer but the results were still great 🙂 I’m wondering how to store these, I’ve never made rolls before and I’m not sure how to keep these since I didn’t finish them in one evening.

      • If I am eating them in the next day or two I would leave them at room temp, but any longer in the fridge.

  21. 5 stars
    Hey, question. I mixed my dough for over 5 mins on low and it was really wet and sticky, I added a little bit of flour (idk if that was a mistake I was just winging it) and it was still pretty sticky. Is this a bad sign? Will my bread come out okay or should I just start over?

  22. 5 stars
    Made this and loved it so much I’m going to make a big batch for a family gathering! Do you know if at any point after the dough is made it can be refrigerated or frozen for one night or two so it can be baked fresh during their visit and still be fresh?

    • I would throw them in the fridge overnight for the first proof. Then shape them and do the second proofing before baking

  23. How would I use this recipe for burger buns? How many would it make and would it be the same temperature and time?

  24. 4 stars
    Could you please let me know an alternative for 1 Large Egg and the Egg Wash? This looks amazing, though!

  25. 5 stars
    my family absolutely loves this! my dad asks me to make it every weekend because he’s tired of our usual bread we keep at home haha!

    i’ve been making them as dinner rolls, and today i tried to make it as a loaf. do you have any tips on making this a loaf? i kind of had trouble :/
    either way this is always sooo yummy! my fav and the ingredients are super accessible <3

    • When I make them into a loaf, I usually portion them into 3 equal weights and roll them up into a cylinder like shape (you can probably find a lot of videos on how to shape a loaf). But I’m very glad your family enjoys 🙂

  26. 5 stars
    Hello
    I’ve tried several milk bread recipes in the past and I failed at all of them miserably.. however this recipe is amazing.. the portion is just right, ingredients are well specified and prep is simple and not so tedious or super time consuming.. it’s something I hope everyone can do..

    Thank you so much

  27. 5 stars
    This recipe is so good! Once I found it I made the buns 4 times in one week I couldn’t get enough. They come out fluffy and taste so good and I didn’t have any problems using cup measurements rather than by weight.

  28. Hi, what kind of flour do you use? May I have the specific name if you don’t mind? Thanks!

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