Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

July 31, 2021

Fluffy and light with the slightest hint of sweetness, these mouth-watering bao buns are perfect for just about every occasion! And they only use easily available ingredients!

These easy to make homemade bao buns are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed as is or stuffed with beef, chicken, and vegetables. Combine all this with the buns’ pillowy texture and ability to be frozen for up to 2 months, and it’s easy to see why they are such a hit.

Bao BunsPhoto By Canva
Taste Score: %88
Difficulty Hard
Servings 8 people
Preparation 180 mins
Cooking 10 mins
Total 190 mins

Tips

  • Instant yeast is also known as instant dried or fast-action dried yeast and is different from dried yeast or active dry yeast as it doesn’t need to be activated in warm water before use.
  • To use dried yeast instead of instant yeast, use the same amount and activate it in warm (but not boiling) water for 5 minutes until frothy.
  • These homemade bao buns are pale yellow due to the all-purpose flour. Use bleached flour for perfectly white buns.
  • Knead the dough properly for as long as recommended to avoid blotchy bun bao due to the trapped air bubbles or insufficient mixing.
  • Any steamer basket will work fine for this as long as it fits your saucepan perfectly.
  • It’s important to steam the buns on low-medium heat to avoid overcooking and soggy buns.
  • Always leave a little space between the bun bao when steaming to allow for puffing.
  • Freeze leftover buns for 1-2 months in zip-lock bags. Then, reheat these frozen bao buns on a stovetop steamer until warmed through (about 5 minutes).
  • Keep in mind that you might end up needing more or less liquid than stated in this recipe to make the dough, depending on the kind of flour you decide to use.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. If using an electric stand mixer, add them to the bowl of the stand mixer.
  2. Mix on medium speed using a dough hook and add the warm water and oil to get a sticky dough.
  3. Continue kneading this sticky dough on medium speed until soft and smooth (10 minutes with a stand mixer and 5 minutes by hand).
  4. Knead this dough by hand for a couple more minutes on the kitchen bench top, shaping it into a ball.
  5. Transfer the dough ball into a mixing bowl and cover with cling film. Let the dough rise for about 60 to 90 minutes in a warm place until doubled in size.
  6. Release any air bubbles in the risen dough by punching it back and hand kneading for 5 minutes before rolling it out till 1 cm thick.
  7. Rub some oil on the dough surface and cut it using an 8 cm (3 inches) cookie cutter. Re-roll as required.
  8. Transfer all the dough rounds to a small sheet of baking paper and fold each round before using a rolling pin to gently flatten into the bun bao shape.
  9. Place these shaped buns on a large tray covered with a tea towel. Leave this tray in a warm place for about half an hour, so the buns puff up slightly.
  10. Add the puffy buns in batches to a steamer basket sitting on top of a saucepan one-third full of boiling water. Cover and steam on low-medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes until the homemade bao buns are soft, puffy, and cooked through.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Bao Buns
Serves 8
Amount Per Serving
Calories184.79
% Daily Value*
Protein 3.19 g6.4%
Total Fat 5.05 g6.5%
Sodium 102.61 mg4.5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

What Is Bao Buns?

Bao buns are steamed buns known for being light and fluffy with a slightly sweeter flavor than traditional Chinese dumplings. As for their origin, bao buns likely originated in China's Three Kingdoms period and are thought to have been popularized by the legendary military strategist Zhuge Liang.

Is Bao Bun Gluten-Free?

These fluffy vegetarian bao buns are not gluten-free as they are made with all-purpose flour, which contains 8-11% gluten. For gluten-free bao buns, substitute regular all-purpose flour with gluten-free all-purpose flour.

How to Make Bao Buns?

To make these delicious homemade bao buns, you must follow the following steps:

Make the dough: Mix the dry ingredients and add oil and water. Knead by hand or using an electric stand-mixer until the dough is soft and smooth. Then knead again for a few minutes until the dough bounces back when indented with a finger.

Prove till doubled: Transfer the dough ball to the mixing bowl, cover, and place somewhere warm to rise. Leave the dough alone for 60 to 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Roll out and cut: Knead the risen dough to remove air before rolling it out till about 1 cm in thickness. Rub oil onto the surface and cut into rounds using an 8 cm cookie cutter.

Shape: Transfer the dough rounds to baking paper and fold in half before using a rolling pin to gently flatten into the characteristic bao bun shape.

Steam: Allow the buns to rise for another thirty minutes before transferring to a steamer basket on top of a saucepan one-third full of boiling water. Cover and steam on low-medium heat for 10-12 minutes until buns are puffy and cooked through.

What Are The Bao Bun Fillings?

Traditional Bao bun fillings include beef, pork belly, and tempeh, but you can fill your bao with almost anything ranging from Brussels sprouts and fried tofu to honey-glazed Korean chicken for some Korean bao buns.

What to Serve With Bao Buns?

Bao buns are perfect with sides like cucumber salads, steamed pak choi, pickled red cabbage, edamame beans, omelettes, and crushed avocado. They are also amazing with a number of dipping sauces and can be paired with noodle soup for a deliciously hearty dinner.

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