Chinese Green Onion Sesame Rolls

I grew up in a small suburb outside of Los Angeles called, Cerritos. It's a pretty small city and mainly known for the auto square ("605 to South Street, Cerritos Auto Square!"). In addition to the car dealers, there is an awesome Asian food scene in Cerritos where you can get great Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, etc. everywhere you turn. 

I remember one of my favorite places to go as a kid was the local Chinese bakery with my mom and dad. For those who haven't been to a Chinese bakery before, they are these magical places that smell like sugary milk as soon as you walk in the door. with shelves of different types of individually wrapped sweet and savory bread buns with delicious fillings/toppings and pastry cases with fruit cakes, swiss rolls and other yummy desserts. 

When we were tasked to make a dinner roll during bread week for The Great American Baking Show, I was inspired by all the Chinese bread I ate growing up. I knew I wanted to make an enriched dough (with eggs, milk and butter) because it reminded me of home. I was also inspired by Green Onion Scallion Pancakes (Chinese pronunciation: cōng yóu bǐng that is served as another source of carbs besides rice with your meal. 

While I was able to complete these rolls in just about 2 hours on the show, please TAKE YOUR TIME with this. We had proofing drawers and I had to massively rush through the shaping. Bread is NOT to be rushed especially if you want a beautiful light and fluffy roll at the end of this. In total I think with two proper rises at room temperature you're looking at at least 3.5 hours. At least it's worth the wait. :) 

Chinese Green Onion Sesame Rolls
Recipe featured on ABC's The Great American Baking Show, Makes 12 rolls

Bread Dough: 

  • 1 2/3 cups whole milk, slightly warmed 
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg, room temperature and lightly beaten 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 


  • 8-9 fresh green onions, chopped, cleaned and dry 
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil 


  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk (for egg wash) 
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted white sesame seeds

1. In a small bowl, microwave milk for about 30 seconds just until it's warmed (slightly warmer than body temp) then add yeast. Stir lightly and let it sit for 5 minutes to dissolve. 

2. In a stand mixer bowl, cake flour, bread flour, salt and sugar in that order. Then add the milk yeast mixture and then the beaten egg. This will be a very wet dough to begin with.  

3. With the dough hook, knead everything together for 9-10 minutes on low till dough comes together. This will be a wetter dough even when it's done kneading and will be sticky to the bowl and your hands.  Butter or oil your hands and pull the dough from the bottom and form it in a ball.   

4. Take a separate large bowl and spray with oil. Transfer dough ball into the large oiled bowl. Cover in plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 1 hour for the first rise. Dough should grow to at least 1.5 x it’s original size.

5. While dough is rising, work on making filling. Julian green onions on a slanted cut. Add in salt and both oils. Taste and make sure there is enough sesame and salt flavoring. Cover and set aside. (Image above) 

6. Line a 9 x 13 rectangle pan with parchment paper then set aside. 

7. When dough is ready, punch it down in the bowl and place on a lightly floured counter.  Knead a few times lightly just to get out the air bubbles. 

 8. Place dough on an oiled surface and cut into 12 equal pieces. Measure it on a scale to be precise. Shape each piece into a nice round ball and place into the lined pan. Cover the dough balls that you aren’t actively using with a dry and clean kitchen towel. (Image above) 

9. Take each ball and lightly roll out with a wooden pin into a longer rectangle then add an even layer of green onion mixture on top of the dough. You will be adding about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling to each piece. (Image above) The key is to not get too much oil on the dough since that makes it tricky for sealing. 

10. Roll up the dough with the green onion lengthwise then pinch the ends to ensure it is enclosed inside. (Image above) 

11. Pull the ends of the long “cigar” dough and make a knot with the dough while tucking in each end. Place each dough into the parchment paper lined in rows of 3. Repeat till you’re done with all 12 rolls. Cover the rolls that you’ve place into the pan with a towel as you’re working.

12. Now you're reading for the second proof. Place pan with dry cloth over it back and allow to proof another hour or 1.5 hours until rolls have doubled and fill the space between them. (Image above) 

13. Preheat oven to 350 F / 176 C.

14. Prepare egg wash and brush on top of the buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

15. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tops are golden brown. Make sure buns have reached an internal temp of 200 F / 93 C and tap to hear a hollow sound. Rotate the pan at least once in the oven to ensure even baking.

16. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 20 minutes in the pan. Remove parchment paper and rolls and place on cooling rack until it’s cool enough to be handled. 

17. After a few minutes break them apart and place in a cloth-lined basket.