Japanese Milk Bread is extremely soft and tender. Shaped into rolls, it’s a delicious, unforgettable addition to any meal.

The secret to this Shokupan Bread, or eating bread, is tangzhong, a roux made of flour and water. The delicate, feathery texture of these rolls will have you making them again and again!

Japanese milk buns on a white serving plate with one removed.

Why You’ll Love these Japanese Milk Buns

  • This will be the softest bread to ever come out of your kitchen!
  • You’ll learn how to make tangzhong which makes bread tender and helps keep it fresh longer.
  • Once you give this bread a try, you’ll make it again and again. Cinnamon rolls made with milk bread are next on my list!
A Japanese Milk Bread Bun torn in half on a small white plate with a red butter knife.

How to Make

  1. Make the tangzhong in a small pan on the stovetop until thick. Cool.
  2. Measure out all the ingredients.
  3. Add the ingredients, including the tangzhong, to a bowl or stand mixer.
  4. Mix with a dough hook or paddle attachment or mix and knead by hand.
  5. Continue kneading until the dough is not sticky.
  6. If it’s still sticky after extending the kneading time, Add a bit more flour.
  7. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size.
  8. Deflate the dough by pressing down on it with your fists.
  9. Divide dough into 8-9 even pieces (I used a scale).
  10. Shape into rolls and place in a greased cake pan.
  11. Let rise again, brush with egg wash, and bake as directed.

Expert Tips

  • If you’re new to making tangzhong, it is done when it looks like paper mache paste. You will know it’s ready when your spoon or whisk leaves trails as you stir.
  • You will need 1 tablespoon of dry active yeast. This is more than one packet. There are recipes that use instant yeast, too.
  • PRO-Tip: When testing this recipe, I measured the flour in cups, and in grams. Using grams produced a less sticky dough so I recommend getting out your kitchen scale to measure your flour.
  • This bread is made with all-purpose flour, not bread flour. Using AP flour will make a more tender bread.
  • Grease your pan well with butter so your bread will release without much effort.
  • If your bread is browning too fast, tent your bread with foil.
  • PRO-Tip: This bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 190°.
One Japanese Milk Bread Roll on a white plate with a red handled knife with a pat of butter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Shokupan the same as Milk Bread?

Shokupan is a loaf of fluffy Japanese Milk Bread but made into a square Pullman-style loaf that’s perfect for slicing. The word Shokupan means “Eating Bread.”

What does Shokupan Bread Taste Like?

It’s slightly sweet with a milky flavor, but what you’ll really note is the soft, pillowy, and feathery texture of this bread.

Is Shokupan White Bread?

Yes, shokupan is a version of white bread, with a slight yellow tinge from the egg in the recipe.

What is Tangzhong?

Tangzhong is a water roux, a cooked gelatinous mixture of water and flour. Added to bread dough, it works its magic since the pregelatinized starch allows for higher hydration levels. The resulting bread is moister with a slower staling rate.

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A japanese milk bun broken in halfon a white plate with a small knife

Japanese Milk Bread Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Yield 8 rolls

Soft, fluffy rolls that are a delicious addition to any meal.


Yeast Mixture

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water, 98-105°


  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4½ tablespoons milk


  • 2⅓ cups or 380 grams all-purpose flour (It's best to weigh your flour with this recipe)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. 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 (expands and bubbles).
  2. In a small saucepan, add the tangzhong ingredients. Cook and stir until a thick paste forms. It should be like paper mache glue.
  3. Add your yeast mixture and tangzhong along with the remaining dough ingredients except for the butter in a stand mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms
  4. Add your softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix on medium speed until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is very smooth.
  5. Allow your dough to proof in a bowl in a warm (85°) location, covered with plastic wrap for 1 ½ hours or until doubled.
  6. Portion the dough into 8 or 9 equal pieces, and shape it into rolls.
  7. Place the dough balls into a lightly greased 9-inch springform or cake pan. Leave about ⅓ inch between rolls.
  8. Allow it to rest another 45 minutes.
  9. Before the last resting period is up, preheat the oven to 350°.
  10. Whisk together egg and water until well combined to make the egg wash. Brush across the surface of the rolls and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. When done, remove to a cooling rack. Let cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan to finish cooling.


Adapted from kwokspots.com/

If all your dough balls don't fit into your pan, use a greased ramekin or two to make single rolls with the excess dough.

If you're unsure if your bread is done, the internal temperature should be 190 degrees.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 roll

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 330mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 8g

Thatskinnychickcanbake.com occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although thatskinnychickcanbake.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on thatskinnychickcanbake.com recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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