Bao Buns

Chinese steamed Bao-Buns

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How to make Steamed Bao Buns!? A Chinese dish – Bao Buns are also known as steamed buns, bao is a complete meal snugly packed in a white and soft bun. Traditionally recipes use a pork mixture, usually steamed and served in bamboo baskets. In the photograph attached to this recipe here, we have used Honey Glazed Chicken (more on that in another recipe). You can use Bao buns with a variety of other side dishes. Its soft texture helps in absorbing various meat flavors easily!

Please note: This is a time-consuming preparation.

Bao Buns

Steamed Bao Buns

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours
Course Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 people


  • 3 cups Plain all-purpose flour plus some more for dusting
  • 2 tsp Dry yeast
  • ¾ tbsp Granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp Salt
  • ¾ cup Warm water as required
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil plus more for brushing and for the bowl
  • 1 tsp Baking powder


Make the Dough

  • In a small bowl, take 3 tbsp warm water and add sugar. Dissolve the yeast into the warm water and let it sit until foamy (about 7-10 minutes).
  • Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir together to combine the dry ingredients.
  • Make a hole in the center of the bowl, add the warm water, dissolved yeast and oil, and stir together to form a rough dough. Alternatively,use a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted to knead it.
  • Pour the contents of the bowl onto a work surface and knead the dough, dusting with extra flour as needed to prevent it from sticking to the surface. Knead for about 8-10 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky and quite soft but should be stretchy and smooth.
  • Pour a little extra vegetable oil into the bowl and coat the dough with oil.
    Cover and leave the dough in a warm place for 2 hours to rise until doubled in volume.
    Tip: Place it in the oven, it makes the perfect warm, steamy environment for the dough to rise.
  • Once the dough has risen, tip it out onto your work surface and roll out into a large rectangle.

Roll the Buns

  • Divide the dough into 8-12 equal pieces. Roll each of these into little balls, lightly dusting with more flour as needed to stop them sticking to the work surface.
  • Cut out 8-12 squares of parchment paper, each roughly 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide.
  • Take each ball of dough and roll it out into a flat disc about 1 cm thick. Lightly brush the surface of each bun with oil. Fold each bun in half to get a half-moon shape, with the oiled part folded inside. Place onto the individual squares of parchment paper.
  • Set aside to rise for 20 minutes so they get a bit puffy.

Steam the buns:

  • Boil some water in a saucepan.
  • Meanwhile, gently place a 3-4 of the risen buns into a steamer or bamboo steamer.
    Tip: Make sure to not squish the buns, so as to lower them in by grasping the corners of the baking paper square. Also leave room for expansion as the buns will rise even more when they are steamed – ensure that the buns not touching each other/ the edges of the steamer or they'll stick.
  • Now, lower the steamer into the saucepan with boiled water, covering it with its lid. Turn the heat down so the water is simmering and let the buns steam for 5-6 minutes.
  • Let it cool slightly then remove from the steamer and repeat for the remaining buns.
  • Eat the Buns Warm!
    Tip: If the buns cool off, reheat them once more by steaming again for around 2 minutes.

Freezing the buns for a later use

  • Steam and cook all of the buns as directed above.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature, then place them on a separate parchment paper (with the baking paper squares still attached). Freeze the buns on the tray for 1-2 hours until solid. Place the frozen buns into a resealable bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat, place frozen buns into a steamer.Steam for 5-8 minutes until piping hot inside.


  • Vegetable oil can be replaced by melted butter
  • Half of the water used for the dough can be replaced with warm milk for a slightly softer bun
  • Easy bake/instant yeast can be used
  • tsp=Teaspoon
  • tbsp=Tablespoon
Keyword Bao, BaoBuns, Flour, Meat, Oriental

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