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Hawaii’s Best Manapua

This manapua recipe is a local favorite of Hawaii. Steamed or baked manapua filled with the savory and sweet classic char siu.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 8 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese, Hawaiian
Servings 12 buns


  • Instant Pot


Char Siu:

  • 2.5 lb pork butt/shoulder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp liquor (rice wine)
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce


  • 1/2 cup leftover juices from char siu
  • 3 tsp cold water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)

Manapua Dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water


Char Siu:

  • In a large bowl combine the sugar, shoyu, oyster sauce, five spice, salt, liquor, crushed garlic, and red food coloring. Mix until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Cut the pork into large chunks. Add it to a large ziploc bag and let it marinate in the sauce overnight.
  • Either cook the pork in a crockpot for 6 hours on high or in the Instant Pot on manual high for 45 minutes. Allow 10 minutes of natural release before pressing the quick release.
  • Shred the meat. Save 1/2 cup of the leftover char siu juices.

Char Siu Filling:

  • Combine the cold water and cornstarch. In a small pot add the char siu juices and corn starch.
  • Heat until the filling has thickened then add in the char siu and mix to combine.
  • Set aside the char siu filling to let it cool down to room temperature.


  • In a large bowl, add in the flour. Create a small well in the flour and add in yeast, baking powder, and sugar.
  • Slowly add in the water while stirring it with a wooden spoon or hand. Transfer the dough to a working surface with flour sprinkled on.
  • With a vertical arm press down with your palm and bring it forward and with the other arm, bring it back. Sprinkle on more flour until the dough can slightly stick. Keep kneading until the dough has become smooth, waxy, soft, and bouncy. Divide the dough into 60-65g pieces. If you have extra, divide it amongst the other pieces. Then cover it with a plastic wrap to prevent it from air drying.
  • With one divided piece, press it into a flat disc with the outer edges thin and in the middle thick.
  • Stuff the dough with the manapua filling (be sure the filling is at room temperature) and close it on the top while swirling and pinching it. If there is excess dough, pinch it off and it’ll look like a bald head. Set aside and repeat with the other pieces.
  • ***Optional: To have a smoother looking sphere, use a rolling pin. Flatten a piece of dough. Roll it with a  rolling pin, fold, and roll. Repeat for 4-5 times then shape it into a circular shape.


  • Line a steamer with parchment paper and place the manapua on it. Cover and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, boil water in a pot large enough to hold the steamer basket. Place the covered steamer over the pot and let it steam for 7-8 minutes. Serve and enjoy!


  • Follow the instructions up to resting the dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 375° F. Use egg wash to spread over the dough and bake it for 15-20 minutes or until it is golden brown. Enjoy!
Keyword baked, buns, char siu, chewy, fluffy, manapua, savory, steamed, sweet