Kabocha Buns

These buns are a great breakfast item made with FRESH kabocha squash that gives it a light and subtle flavor that’s really delicious! I often like to buy squashes or pumpkins to have on hand to create soups and roasted squash side dishes for dinner…but why not use them for breakfast as well?

The addition of kabocha squash really makes these buns pillowy and moist…a really satisfying treat to enjoy in the morning or as an afternoon snack with some tea if you prefer! Slather a little butter and boy do you have a winning combination.

They do take a little time to make but it does make up for a great Sunday afternoon project. You can also try substituting kabocha squash with whatever squash or pumpkin you have on hand and it’ll taste great! If you’re in a pinch canned pumpkin can also be substituted for fresh.

In this recipe, I made individual buns in a muffin tray but you can also place them in a bread pan and make an entire loaf instead. Make sure to let the dough rise thoroughly to achieve that light and airy texture. And don’t skip that egg wash, that’s the secret to giving these buns that beautiful sheen!

Kabocha Buns

Prep time: 2 h    
Cook time: 25 min     
Total time: 2 h  25 min  
Servings: 12


  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 small kabocha squash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water (egg wash)
  • sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Cut kabocha squash into quarters and remove seeds. Place into a steamer and steam for 10-15 min until soft and tender. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Remove kabocha squash flesh with a spoon and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the kabocha squash flesh until smooth like mashed potatoes.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla extract, active dry yeast, powdered milk, salt, and sugar to the mashed kabocha squash. Mix thoroughly until combined.
  5. Gradually add in the flour a little at a time while stirring into the wet ingredients. Keep stirring until the dough mixture begins to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Depending on the moisture content of the squash more or less flour may be needed to adjust for the right consistency.
  6. Once dough is formed knead for 10-15 min until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  7. Cover the dough with a damp towel and allow to rise until double the size for 2 h in a warm place.
  8. After rising, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll out each dough into a 8 x 3 inch long rectangle then fold in lengthwise the top and bottom sides towards the middle. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll out again into an 8 x 3 inch long rectangle. Then roll the dough lengthwise to form a swiss roll shape.
  9. Line a muffin tin with baking cups and place each rolled dough into the cup with the swirl end facing up. Give each dough a gentle push to ensure it is securely fastened into each cup.
  10. Allow the dough to rise again for 15 min then brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  11. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 min until golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!

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