How to make Japanese Milk Rolls

These Japanese Milk Rolls are incredible! Milky sweet pillowy rolls, with a soft feathery texture, they pull apart like a dream and melt in the mouth! This gorgeous texture and flavour is made possible by the Japanese invented dough called Tangzhong. It sounds tricky doesn’t it? Believe me, it really isn’t!

Japanese Milk Bread

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Yeast Mixture

1 x 7g Sachet of Quick action yeast and warm water-not hot (Hot water will kill the yeast, warm encourages it to activate)

Tangzhong Mixture

Just 3 ingredients, Milk Water and flour. See below for method


Flour, Sugar, Salt, Butter and Milk. *For best results ensure, the Egg, Milk and Butter are room temperature.

Japanese milk rolls

What is Tangzhong?

Tangzhong is a Japanese method that helps change the texture of the bread in order to get a super soft crumb and a longer shelf life. A simple process that requires Milk, Water, and Flour. The 3 ingredients are cooked together until a thick paste forms, cooled, then added to the dough. 

Milk in Bread?

Yup! The fat and lactose in Milk helps tenderise the crumb of the bread, making it softer and sweeter. It enriches the dough and helps with Caramelisation of the crust, giving that lovely golden colour.

Recipe Basics

  1. Start by activating the yeast. Simply mix the warm water with the yeast and set aside while you make the Tangzhong
  2. Prepare the Tangzhong, place on a plate set aside to cool.
  3. Make the Dough, adding in the Yeast & Tangzhong
  4. Shape into a ball, allow to rise for 1 hour
  5. Divide the dough into 8 sections, shape 8 dough balls
  6. Place the dough balls in a prepared tin or dish, cover and allow to puff up for 30-45 minutes
  7. Brush with Egg wash
  8. Bake for 20 minutes

What should I Bake them in?

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Whatever you like! As long as its oven safe and has a deep edge your good to go. I have baked these in…

A loaf tin (you’ll get 2 x 2lb loaves, 4 rolls in each)

Cast Iron Skillet Pan Fits 8 Rolls

Round Springform Cake tin Fits 8 Rolls

Square Spring Form Cake Tin Fits 9 Rolls (just make 9 dough balls instead of 8)

Similar Oval Baking Dish (Mine fits 7 Rolls, with 1 spare)

How to Store Japanese Milk Rolls

These rolls will stay soft and fresh for up to 4 days at room temperature. Want to freeze the rolls? Allow them to cool completely, pop them in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Then just thaw and serve!

Give them a try and let me know how you got on in the comments, or tag me on Instagram, I would love to see your creations

Japanese Milk Rolls

Prep Time2 hours
Cook Time20 minutes
Servings: 8


Yeast Mixture

  • 1 x 7g Sachet of quick Action Yeast
  • 60 ml Warm Water

Tangzhong Mixture

  • 4 tbsp Milk
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 2 tbsp Plain Flour


  • 310 g Plain Flour
  • 120 ml Milk (room temperature)
  • 55 g Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 45 g Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Egg

Egg Wash

  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 egg


  • First make the yeast mixture. Combine the yeast and water in a bowl, stir and set aside.
  • Make the Tangzhong mixture. Place the Milk Water and Plain Flour in a saucepan, heat over a medium heat until thickened, take off the heat and stir until a thick paste forms. Place the paste on a plate and set aside to cool.
  • Make the Dough. Get the yeast mixture, and add the Flour, Milk, Sugar, Salt, Egg & Tangzhong mixture, stir together. If the dough looks too wet, add sprinkles of flour until workable.
  • Add 15g of the butter at a time, kneading in-between until it is completely absorbed by the dough ( This process is easiest with a mixer with a dough hook, but can still be done by hand, be warned it will get messy! add sprinkles of flour to help with the stickiness)
  • Form the dough into a ball, place in a greased or lined bowl, cover with cling film, allow to rise for 1 hour.
  • Divide the dough into 8 pieces, form 8 balls (see video)-I used 7 dough balls due to my oval dish, but 8 should be sufficient for a round tin.
  • In a lined or greased deep edged dish or cake tin, arrange the dough balls (see video) Cover with cling film, allow to puff up for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 170°c
  • Make the Egg wash by mixing the water and egg together
  • Brush the Egg wash on the buns.
  • Pop in The Oven for 20-25 minutes until golden

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