These pork Bao Buns are to die for! Sink your teeth into puffy, cloud-like bao buns, then enjoy the flavour of BBQ pulled pork. This versatile recipe works for practically any occasion—use it as a perfect party food or simply enjoy it at home alone.
Delicious steamed bao buns are also a great way to use any leftover meat from dinner, especially my tender, slow-cooker pulled pork recipe. They make a perfect little alternative to a regular pulled pork sandwich or burger and put a tasty Asian twist on your lunch!
What Are Bao Buns?
Also known as steamed buns or baozi (包子), they are traditionally filled with pork filling and make a complete meal. They are basically a Japanese sandwich filled with savory ingredients.
Unlike bread, bao buns are soft and round and usually pretty small – just large enough to fit into your hand.
They are traditionally steamed in bamboo baskets, which gives them a slightly woody scent. Bao buns are a popular street food all over Asia – particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan.
The good news? With this recipe you can enjoy them right in your own home!
Why You Will Love Pork Bao Buns
These little pork buns will please your senses. Everything about them is delightful. First, your teeth sink into the soft buns. They are slightly sweet with a nutty aroma from the sesame oil.
The crispy lettuce and fresh vegetables contrast with the homemade buns that almost melt in your mouth. Then, you will taste the flavorful and tangy pulled pork.
These pork bao buns are so delicious that you will feel like a master chef when you are finished putting them together. They don’t just look stunning, they taste like five stars too!
I created a no-fail recipe for homemade bao buns. Then, you can fill them with whatever you want.
There are two main parts to the buns, the wet and the dry ingredients.
This recipe uses the same basic ingredients in other buns or rolls:
- Plain flour
- Caster Sugar
- Dried Yeast
- Baking Powder
It’s the wet ingredients that set these buns apart from other types of rolls and bread. The sesame oil gives them a slightly nutty taste. The rice vinegar adds a tart taste and the milk brings the sweet cream flavor.
Then, you will need some water to steam them. Unlike traditional baked bread, you will cook these buns by steaming them.
Bao Buns Filling Ideas
One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can fill the buns with whatever you want! I used pulled pork, matchstick carrots, and lettuce in this recipe.
However, I have seen them filled with spicy sausage, sweet chicken, or even all veggies and tofu. The options are endless.
How To Make Pork Bao Buns
If you have never made bao buns before, take your time and enjoy every step. There are quite a few steps, but once you do it a few times, it will become easier and quicker.
All the exact steps are listed in the printable recipe card for you at the bottom of this post.
1. Make the Batter
First, make the batter for the buns by mixing the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Dissolve the yeast in a separate bowl. Use warm (not hot) water. After the yeast is dissolved, add it to the flour mixture.
Then, add the wet ingredients to the bowl. Keep mixing everything together until it forms a dough.
2. Knead The Dough
Just like with homemade bread, you have to knead the dough and let it rise. To do this, lightly sprinkle some flour onto a bench or cooking board. Then, knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it is smooth.
3. Let The Dough Rise
Now you will place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and over it with a damp tea towel. Let it rise for about 2 hours. It needs to double in size.
4. Cut Into Buns
After it rises, punch it down. Then, flatten the dough on the countertop or cutting board. Sprinkle it with some baking powder and knead it for about 5 minutes.
Next, roll it into a long snake/sausage shape. It should be about 3 cm thick. Cut it into 3cm-wide pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball and let them rest for 2-3 minutes. Then, roll out each ball with a rolling pin. Form them into an oval shape. They should be about 3-4mm thick.
Place a chopstick flat on the surface in the centre of each oval and fold the dough over the chopstick, then slowly pull the chopstick out. This is how you shape the oval dough into the bun shape.
5. Allow The Buns To Rise
Leave the prepared buns on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover them with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
6. Steam The Buns
Now it’s time to steam the buns. Heat some water in a large steamer over medium-high heat. Steam the buns for about 8 minutes. You will know they are done when they are puffed up.
Tips And Tricks
You can make a batch of the buns on the weekend and freeze them so you have them ready to defrost and fill when you want to eat them.
I actually made mine with a bread maker and saved myself A LOT of time, so if you have a bread maker definitely use it to save yourself from all the work and time of making and kneading the dough.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a bread maker because the recipe is very simple to follow! Once the bao buns are all steamed and ready, start filling them with the pulled pork and whatever other fillings you like and enjoy them as a little lunch, a tasty appetizer, or as party nibbles!
What To Serve With Pork Bao Buns
These pork bao buns make the perfect easy lunch. In fact, when you fill them with meat and vegetables, you don’t need to eat much else on the side. They will fill you up.
This Asian cucumber salad is really light and the perfect compliment to these savory little sandwiches. Vegan Sushi Oshinko Roll is another finger food that pairs really well with them. Plus, they are filled with veggies.
Pork Recipes To Try
If you love this pork bao buns recipe, try some of these other recipes as well:
- Tonkatsu Panko Crusted Pork
- Japanese Pork Cutlets
- Rafute Okinawa Braised Pork Belly
- Japanese Rice Bowl with Pork
- Butaman – Steamed Pork Buns
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Steamed bao buns with pulled pork
- 500 g Plain flour plus extra for dusting
- 1 & 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 50 ml milk
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 200 ml water
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pulled pork recipe here
- Lettuce sliced carrot, spring onions, etc. (whatever you want to fill them with).
- Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a larger bowl.
- Dissolve the yeast and a pinch of salt in 1 tbsp of warm water then add it to the flour mixture, along with the milk, oil, vinegar and water.
- Mix it all together until it forms a dough (adding water if needed).
- Lightly sprinkle some flour onto a bench or cooking board and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes or until it’s smooth.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl (I used olive oil spray), cover it with a damp tea towel and leave it to rise for 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down on a bench/board.
- Flatten the dough with your hands then sprinkle the baking powder on top and knead for 5 minutes.
- Roll the dough out into a long sausage shape (about 3cm thick) then cut into 3cm wide pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a ball using your hands then leave them to rest for 2-3 minutes.
- Roll out each ball with a rolling pin into a flat oval shape about 3-4mm thick.
- Place a chopstick flat on the surface in the centre of each oval and fold the dough over the chopstick, then slowly pull the chopstick out (the recipe I followed said to lightly oil the dough and the chopstick, however, I didn’t find it necessary but if you’re dough is a bit sticky you may need to).
- Leave the prepared buns on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover them with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Heat water in a large steamer over medium-high heat.
- Steam the buns (in batches, depending on how many will fit in your steamer) for 8 mins until puffed up.
- Prise open each bun and fill them with the pulled pork, lettuce, sliced carrots, and spring onions (or whatever fillings you like).