Gluten-Free Steamed Rolls with Purple Yam and Cocoa

Can you believe these steamed rolls are gluten-free? They are as soft, spongy, and chewy as those steamed wheat buns.There are a few things I have to morn the loss of since my gluten-free journey. The steamed bun is one of them. They are typically made using wheat flour and are the most served breakfast food in the north part of China where I grew up. However, I am very excited about these steamed purple yam cocoa rolls. Can you believe they are gluten-free?

These gluten-free healthy, chewy, and soft purple yam cocoa rolls can now take the place of the steamed buns I liked so much. Gluten is the key ingredient in making the wheat rolls soft and spongy. Creating that similar texture for the gluten-free version is quite tricky. After searching online, I have found a few gluten-free steamed buns recipes using white rice and sweet rice based gluten-free flour. However, I wasn’t very satisfied with the texture and taste of those buns. They are more like steamed rice cakes than authentic steamed buns.

After many trials with my gluten-free flour that contains brown rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, white rice flour, sweet rice flour, and starches, I finally came up with these gluten-free soft and chewy steamed rolls. In this recipe, I added purple yam puree into the dough to help the dough maintain its moisture, increase the food value, and enhance the flavor of the steamed rolls.

Can you believe these steamed rolls are gluten-free? They are as soft, spongy, and chewy as those steamed wheat buns.Like my recent post, Jumbo Cinnamon Roll Cake, the process of making the gluten-free yeast dough is very similar. After rolling the dough to be an approximate 12” × 12” sheet, sprinkle some cocoa powder and stevia mix over it, roll up the dough, and then cut into 2” slices.   At this point, I let all of these rolls rest on the steamer rack over a steamer pot filled with warm water for 10 minutes before the steaming process. Steaming is a great cooking technique for making gluten-free buns because the steam keeps the gluten-free dough moist during cooking. It only takes 15 minutes to cook these rolls with hot steam. Don’t be disappointed if the leftover rolls are hard and stiff. That is common for steamed buns, even the wheat ones. You can just warm them up using the steaming method and they will be just as soft as the freshly made ones.

Can you believe these steamed rolls are gluten-free? They are as soft, spongy, and chewy as those steamed wheat buns.

These gluten-free steamed purple yam cocoa rolls are as soft, spongy, and chewy as those steamed wheat buns. Although they are gluten-free, they don’t taste like steamed rice cake at all. If you are tired of toast for breakfast and want to try something different, try these healthy steamed rolls. I hope you will enjoy this Chinese type breakfast and feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think!

4.5 from 2 votes
Steamed Purple Yam Cocoa Rolls

Can you believe these steamed rolls are gluten-free? They are as soft, spongy, and chewy as those steamed wheat buns.

Course: Asian
Keyword: Gluten-free, Gluten-free Asian, gluten-free steamed buns, gluten-free vegan, plant based, purple yam, sweet potato
  • 1-½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthum or guar gum
  • 1 cup purple yam puree from approximately 5 small purple yams
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 2 cups 300 g all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1-½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp pure stevia extract powder Now brand
  1. Combine yeast, water, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture briefly and let it stand at room temperature until creamy (approximately 10 minutes). This step will allow the yeast to proof. Pour the yeast mixture into the purple yam puree. Add canola oil and xanthum gum. Mix well.
  2. Use a fine mesh strainer to sift the gluten-free flour, baking powder, and baking soda over a mixing bowl. Pour the purple yam puree mixture into the flour and mix together with a rubber spatula until no dry flour is left. Use your hand to roll the dough until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is too dry to form a ball, gradually add 1 tbs of water at a time into the dough and roll by hand continuously. Loosely cover the mixing bowl with lid or plastic wrap. Let the bowl stand in a warm area of the room.
  3. Mix sifted cocoa powder and stevia powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. After 1-½ to 2 hours, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it on a flour dusted working surface. Dust the top of the dough with extra flour and knead the dough to form a smooth ball. Divide the dough into two equal halves.
  5. Roll out the first half into approximately a 12” × 12” square sheet. Sprinkle the cocoa powder mixture over the dough and then roll the dough up. Cut the dough into 2” pieces.
  6. Fill the steamer with warm water. Transfer the rolls into a parchment paper lined steamer and let them stand for 10 minutes. Bring the water to a boil then turn down to medium heat to obtain a gentle boil. Steam for 15 minutes.
  7. Turn off heat and let the cooked rolls stand for 5 minutes before removing the steamer cover. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes

For homemade all-purpose gluten-free flour (yield 40 oz all-purpose gluten-free flour)
5 oz brown rice flour
5 oz millet flour
6 oz oat flour
8 oz sweet rice flour
8 oz white rice flour
4 oz cornstarch
4 oz potato starch
Mix all flour well in a container or a gallon zip-lock bag. Store in freezer.


Gluten-Free Steamed Rolls with Purple Yam and Cocoa


  1. Andrea Franchi says:

    Could I do the same thing with puréed red beans? I am not sure if I can get purple yams.. is this also known as taro? I love your site and the delicious recipes. ??

    • Joyce says:

      I’m not sure if the pureed red bean will work. I think it may change the texture of the dough. Purple yam has higher starch (or carb) content than the bean puree.
      Taro is different than purple yam. I found some purple yams at my local whole foods store lately. If you have one in your town, give it a try.
      Thanks for enjoy reading my blog! 🙂

  2. Amalia says:

    Can I leave out xanthum gum and replace canola oil with olive oil? Because i have everything in my pantry except those two. I’m excited to try this recipe out since i am running out of ideas with my purple yams!

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.