Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

These homemade Steamed BBQ Pork Buns are soft and fluffy with a succulent savoury filling. Make this classic Dim Sum favourite at home! Complete recipe for the bao buns, plus the Chinese Barbecue Pork filling, with step-by-step photos.

bbq pork buns on white plate with coriander

Steamed BBQ Pork Buns

One of my favourite dishes at Yum Cha are Steamed BBQ Pork Buns, also called Char Siu Bao. As a child, I tried to only eat them towards the end of the meal because they tend to be quite filling. But even after stuffing myself silly with more dumplings than we should have ordered, I still somehow found appetite left for a Char Siu Bao or two.

These days, as both Yum Cha and Steamed BBQ Pork Buns don’t exist where I live, I find myself making a large batch which my family eats as a complete meal. That is, dinner will be 3-4 buns per person, together with some steamed Chinese greens – my idea of heaven!

char siu bao buns on white plate with sriracha

BBQ Pork Bun Recipe

Two of the most popular recipes here on my website are my Steamed Bao Buns and Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork).

And I finally got around to combining both of these recipes to make these Steamed BBQ Pork Buns.

What often prompts me to make these buns is when I have leftover Char Siu Pork. In fact, I frequently make 1.5 or double the recipe for Char Siu Pork, just so I can have leftovers for other dishes, such as Wonton Soup, Fried Rice, or these Char Siu Buns.

char siu bao buns on white plate

How to Make Steamed BBQ Pork Buns

Making your own Steamed BBQ Pork Buns requires the following steps:

  1. If you wish to make your own Chinese BBQ pork, I recommend making it at least the day before. The Chinese BBQ pork can even be made 3-4 days in advance. Alternatively, you can buy it from your local Chinatown.
  2. Make the bao bun dough, which takes about 20 minutes with an electric stand-mixer. You will need to start this step at least 3 hours before you intend to serve, possibly longer if you are not familiar with shaping buns and dumplings.
  3. Leave the bao bun dough to rise for the first time, about 90 minutes.
  4. Make the Chinese BBQ pork filling, which I tend to do while the bao bun dough is rising the first time. The filling only takes about 10 minutes to make.
  5. Shape the buns. Depending on your experience, this step could take about 30 minutes or longer.
  6. Leave the prepared buns to rise for the second time, about 30 minutes.
  7. Steam the buns. This step takes about 12 minutes.

Making the Chinese BBQ Pork Filling

Steamed BBQ Pork Buns need Chinese BBQ pork for the filling. If there is a Chinatown in your area, you can use store-bought Char Siu Pork for this recipe. Otherwise, you can give my recipe for Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) a try.

I recommend making the pork the day at least the day before. For this BBQ Pork Bun recipe, you will only need about half of loin of Char Siu Pork for the filling.

Once you have the Char Siu Pork to hand, the filling only takes about 10 minutes to put together. It will be a very thick filling but, once steamed inside the buns, the filling will be deliciously saucy and slightly runny.

{Recipe for Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) with step-by-step photos}

Making the Steamed Bao Bun Dough

For the bao bun component, I recommend my recipe for Steamed Bao Buns. Follow this recipe until you need to roll out and shape the dough.

My bao bun recipe makes enough dough for 10-12 stuffed buns, depending on the size of your buns.

To shape the buns, you will need to prepare the dough as though it were a large dumpling. That is, roll out the pieces of dough into a large round, with the edges slightly thinner than the centre of the dough.

Place some filling in the centre of the dough, and then shape the buns by crimping the edges, much like making a soup dumpling.

I will update this Steamed BBQ Pork Bun recipe with step-by-step photos soon!

{Recipe for Steamed Bao Buns with step-by-step photos}

How to Freeze Char Siu Bao Buns

As a busy working mother, I like to keep our freezer well-stocked with our favourite foods which we can defrost at a moment’s notice. To that end, I try to go the extra mile when I cook so that we have leftovers which can be stored in the freezer.

For these Char Siu Bao Buns, I like to make a double batch at a time. Especially if the Chinese Barbecue Pork has been made in advance, I won’t hesitate to make a double batch of the bao bun dough. And as I am familiar with shaping and crimping bao buns and dumplings, it usually doesn’t take me too long to roll out the dough and shape each bun. It also helps that I have a steam oven which is large enough to steam a whole sheet pan of buns (up to 12) at a time.

One batch (about 10-12 buns) will usually be enough for dinner for 4 with a side of steamed Chinese greens. During dinner, I will steam the second batch which will later be put away into freezer bags.

To reheat, simply re-steam the frozen (and cooked) buns for about 10 minutes, or until they are piping hot throughout.

bbq pork buns on white plate with coriander

How to Serve BBQ Pork Buns

These BBQ Pork Buns are almost a meal in themselves! You can serve them just as they are as a snack, or turn it into a more substantial meal by serving steamed Chinese greens on the side.

Some chilli sauce or Sriracha is a must for me.

And just in case you were wondering, all bao buns should be eaten with the hands – no knife and fork, please! Think of them like a hamburger 😉

steamed bbq pork buns char siu bao on white plate

More Bao Bun Recipes

For more bao bun recipes, you might also like:

Steamed Bao Buns

Sticky Pork Bao Buns

Print

Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

  • Resting Time: 2 hours
  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 12 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 12 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 10-12 buns
  • Category: Appetiser
  • Method: Steam
  • Cuisine: Chinese

These homemade Steamed BBQ Pork Buns are soft and fluffy with a succulent savoury filling. Make this classic Dim Sum favourite at home! Complete recipe for the bao buns, plus the Chinese Barbecue Pork filling, with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the Steamed Bao Buns

  • 300 g (2 cupsplain flour (all-purpose flour) or bleached flour
  • 125 g (1 cupcornflour (cornstarch)
  • 5 tablespoons caster sugar (super-fine sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) (see Kitchen Notes)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) warm water
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil, plus extra

For the Char Siu Pork Filling

Instructions

To prepare the bao bun dough (Please see my recipe for Steamed Bao Buns for step-by-step photos)

  1. Measure all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand-mixer (if using).
  2. Measure the warm water and oil into a measuring jug. The water needs to be a bit more than lukewarm to help activate the yeast, but it shouldn’t be boiling hot.
  3. Using the dough hook on medium speed, mixing the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Depending on the type of flour which you have used, you might need more or less liquid that than stated in the recipe.
  4. Once you have a sticky dough, continue kneading the dough on medium speed until it becomes soft and smooth to touch. This should take about 10 minutes using the stand-mixer on medium speed, or about 5 minutes by hand.
  5. Once the dough is soft and smooth, I recommend kneading it by hand for a few more minutes on the kitchen benchtop.
  6. Place the ball of dough back into the (clean) mixing bowl.
  7. Cover the bowl with some cling film or a re-usable bowl cover.
  8. Place the bowl somewhere warm for about 60 to 90 minutes for the dough to rise and double in size.

To prepare the Char Siu Pork filling

  1. Place the oil, shallots, garlic and sea salt into a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the shallots and garlic until they have softened and are aromatic.
  3. Add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, dark soy sauce and pepper.
  4. Simmer gently for a few minutes.
  5. Add the chopped pork.
  6. Simmer for a few more minutes until the pork has warmed through.
  7. With the sauce on a medium simmer, pour in the cornflour (cornstarch) slurry.
  8. Stir until the mixture thickens. You want a fairly thick mixture so that the filling does not run everywhere when you eat it.
  9. Transfer the mixture to a large, shallow bowl and allow it to cool completely. The mixture will thicken more upon cooling.

To roll out the bao bun dough

  1. Place the dough onto a clean surface and knead it gently a few times with your hands.
  2. Use a large rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle shape.
  3. Fold the rectangle in half, from left to right.
  4. Then fold the rectangle in half again, from top to bottom.
  5. Use the rolling pin to flatten and shape the dough into a large rectangle.
  6. With the longer side of the rectangle in front of you, roll the dough into a log.
  7. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces with a sharp knife.

To shape the buns

  1. Take a piece of dough and use a small rolling pin to roll it into a flat, round shape.
  2. Then use the rolling pin to thin and stretch out the edges, so that the middle of the dough is slightly thicker than the edges. The dough should measure approx. 15 cm/6 inches in diameter.
  3. Place the rolled out dough into your left hand (if you are right-handed).
  4. Place a tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the dough.
  5. Use the thumb and index finger on your right hand to crimp the edges of the dough together.
  6. Pinch the crimped edges together, and twist slightly to seal the buns.
  7. Place the prepared bun onto a large baking sheet lined with baking paper.
  8. Repeat the above steps for the remaining buns.
  9. Once all of the buns have been prepared, cover them with a clean, damp tea towel. Place the tray somewhere warm for about 30 minutes, or until the buns are slightly puffed.

To steam the buns

  1. Meanwhile, prepare the steamer on the stove (see Kitchen Notes below).
  2. Steam the buns in batches for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are puffy and soft, and cooked all the way through.
  3. Serve the buns immediately.

Kitchen Notes

DIFFERENT TYPES OF YEAST
* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* If you do not have instant yeast, I would suggest using the same amount of dried yeast. In which case, add the dried yeast to the warm water and set it aside for about 5 minutes until it is frothy. Add this yeast mixture, along with the vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients in the recipe above.

WHAT TYPE OF FLOUR TO USE
Plain flour (all-purpose flour) works well in this recipe as the cornflour (cornstarch) helps to give the buns a light and fluffy texture. However, the resulting buns will be a pale yellow in colour.
* For snowy white buns like those sold in Chinese restaurants, you can use bleached flour found in Asian grocery stores.

HOW TO STEAM BAO BUNS
* The steamer basket (whether bamboo or otherwise) should sit directly on top of a saucepan of the same dimension.
* Fill the saucepan with boiling water until about one-third full.
* Place the steamer basket on top of the saucepan.
* Place the bao buns in the steamer basket, leaving a bit of room for each to rise and puff up during cooking.
* Place the lid on top of the steamer basket.
* Steam over low-medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes.

HOW TO MAKE BAO BUNS WITH A STEAM OVEN
* First Proof: Cover the bowl with some cling film or a re-usable bowl cover. Proof the dough in the steam oven/combi-steam oven at 40°C/104°F for about 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
* Second Proof: Once you have shaped the bao buns, place them onto a large tray (lined with baking paper) that will fit inside your steam oven/combi-steam oven. For my steam oven, I can fit a large sheet pan, which will comfortably fit 12 bao buns. There is no need to cover the buns. Proof the shaped bao buns at 40°C/104°F for about 30 minutes, or until the buns have puffed up slightly.
* Steaming the Bao Buns: Remove the tray of bao buns from the steam oven/combi-steam oven. Increase the temperature to 100°C/212°F. Once the steam oven/combi-steam oven has come to temperature, place the tray of bao buns back inside and steam them for 10-12 minutes.

HOW TO FREEZE BAO BUNS
Any leftover steamed buns can be frozen in zip-lock bags for 1-2 months. Reheat the frozen steamed buns in a steamer or steam oven for about 10 minutes, or until they are warmed all the way through.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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