Japanese Milk Bread (Hokkaido)

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



  • 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


  • 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


  • 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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