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Dirt Candy’s Carrot Buns Recipe

Barbecued Rainbow Carrot Buns from Dirt Candy
Photo courtesy of Arthur Bovino

Barbecued Rainbow Carrot Buns from Dirt Candy

An ingenious vegetarian chef, Amanda Cohen uses fresh carrot juice to replace water in her dough, giving the Cantonese-style steamed buns their vibrant color and sweet taste. Filled with garlic and ginger-seasoned barbecued carrots, these bite-sized, plump morsels are dipped in a carrot-and-hoisin reduction (the rainbow-like arc across the plate) and paired with a crispy white carrot, cucumber, ginger and sesame salad. — Yasmin Fahr

Click here to see the Dirt Candy Vegetarian Carrot Buns Slideshow.


For the buns:

  • 10 ounces/300 grams cake flour
  • ¾ teaspoon/3 grams baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon/3 grams instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons and ½ teaspoon/30 grams white sugar
  • 160 milliliters carrot juice
  • 3 ¼ teaspoons/15 grams olive oil

For baking the carrot filling:

  • 4 cups medium diced carrots
  • 2 cups fresh carrot juice
  • ¼ cup vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce, preferably Shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

For finishing the filling:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup hot-house cucumbers, deseeded and diced
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup scallions, sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


For the buns:

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a Cuisinart using a dough blade. Slowly pour in the carrot juice.

Let dough come together until it forms a ball and there are a few strands of gluten forming.

Slowly add the olive oil. Dough will come together and then break down. (This is okay). You want to end up with a hot sticky mess; the heat is what is activating the yeast.

Oil a bowl, and form the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest in a warm spot for at least 1 hour. (The dough should double in size and you should be able to see little air holes after 1 hour).

For baking the filling:

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix everything together in a baking dish and cook for at least 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Carrots should get a little crispy and slightly firm but still very moist. Remove from oven.

For finishing the filling:

In a pan over medium heat, warm the oils with the ginger and garlic. Then add the carrot filling. Once the mixture is bubbling, add the rest of ingredients except for the cornstarch. Once the liquid starts to reduce, add the cornstarch. Remove from the heat once there is very little liquid left in the pan and allow to cool.

While the carrots are cooling, punch the dough down and divide into smaller balls, about 7 ounces each. You should end up with around 22-24 balls.

Working with one small ball at a time, roll each one out into a small disc, about 2 inches in diameter. Place a little less than 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of each circle. Then pinch the circle into 4 pleats and fold over to seal. Repeat with the rest of the balls.

Cut little squares of parchment paper to fit under each bun. Place buns on paper and then on a tray. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise for ½ hour.

Working in batches, steam the buns for about 15 minutes. Can be served immediately or steamed again when ready to serve. Serve with Carrot Hoisin Sauce and White Carrot Salad.