Learn how to make soft and fluffy steamed buns stuffed with savory pork fillings. Perfect for brunch, as a snack, or appetizer.
These Chinese steamed pork buns remind me of what my daughter usually would say on the weekend. We usually eat out on the weekends. I would ask them where they would like to eat for lunch. Sometimes this is what my daughter says “How about the bak pao place?” Bak pao is Hokkian language. Bak is meat in general and pao is similar to the Chinese bao (steamed buns). Don’t confuse this with the Chinese BBQ Pork Steamed Buns (Char Siu Bao), which uses Chinese BBQ pork as a filling.
HOW TO MAKE CHINESE STEAMED PORK BUNS (BAK PAO)
1. PREPARE THE BASIC STEAMED BUNS DOUGH
You can read more in details about it in this Soft Fluffy Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe post.
2. PREPARE THE FILLING
Place all ingredients for the pork filling in a mixing bowl. Use a chopstick to stir in one direction until the meat is a paste-like consistency. Cover with a plastic wrap and marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you have the time.
Lightly dust your work surface with a bit of flour, not too much. Flatten the dough with your palm and then use a rolling pin to roll it out to form a circle about 4-5 inches, with a slightly thicker middle part. Place the filling in the middle. Create a fold around the edge and then pinch to seal.
Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This will make your steamed buns “taller”. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Keep them covered with a clean tea towel.
Let the shaped buns proof until about 50% its original size. They don’t have to double in size. This may take about 15-20 minutes. DO NOT OVERPROOF THE BUNS
Anyway, making steamed buns is one of my favorite thing to do. I find it therapeutic. I still need to practice more at pleating the buns, but I find this activity calms me down!
Bring the water in a steamer to a boil. Wrap the lid with a cloth. This will prevent water dripping from the lid creating burn spots. Place some of the buns on the steamer. Close the lid and leave about 1/4-inch of gap to let some steam escapes. Steam on MEDIUM heat for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and wait for 5 minutes and then remove steamed buns from the steamer to cooling rack. This will prevent the bottom from getting wet and soggy.
DIFFERENT MEAT OPTION: You can use ground chicken, ground turkey, or ground beef. Make sure they have some fats.
ADD SAUSAGE AND EGG: This will be like the Vietnamese Steamed Pork Bun (Banh Bao)
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER STEAMED PORK BUNS
1. Let the steamed buns cooled down completely.
2. Place them on a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper, not touching each other
3. Put in the freezer and let them freeze for about 1 hour. They won’t be completely frozen yet
4. Transfer to a freezer bag and they won’t stick to each other anymore and you save some space too
HOW TO REHEAT FROZEN STEAMED BUNS
1. MICROWAVE: No thawing necessary. Simply reheat in a microwave on high until heated through
2. STEAMER: Bring water in the steamer to a boil. Place the steamed buns in the steamer and steam on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until heated through
DID YOU MAKE THIS CHINESE STEAMED PORK BUNS RECIPE?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
Chinese Steamed Pork Buns (Bak Pao)
Basic Steamed Buns:
- 500 gr ground/minced pork preferably with some fat
- 3 stalks scallion trim off roots and finely chopped
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt or more to taste
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 ½ tsp corn starch
Prepare the filling:
- Place all ingredients for the pork filling in a mixing bowl. Use a chopstick to stir in one direction until the meat is a paste-like consistency. Cover with a plastic wrap and marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you have the time
- Once you have the basic steamed buns dough, lightly dust your work surface with a bit of flour, not too much. Flatten the dough with your palm and then use a rolling pin to roll it out to form a circle about 4-5 inches, with a slightly thicker middle part. This is to support the weight of the filling. Don't roll the dough too thin. If you roll the dough too thin, the filling might make the steamed buns "wrinkle" later when you steam
- Place the filling in the middle. Create a fold around the edge and then pinch to seal. Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This will make your steamed buns "taller". Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Keep them covered with a clean tea towel
- Let the shaped buns proof until about 50% double its original size. They don't have to double in size. This may take about 30 minutes to 1 hour, but please don't go by the time, just observe to make sure the buns have puffed up to half its original size before steaming and when you gently push on the dough, it slowly bounces back. If it bounces back immediately, the dough needs longer proofing time
- If your steamer is not able to steam all buns at one go, do it in 2-3 batches. Make sure to cover the rest of the proofed buns and then place them in the refrigerator to slow down the yeast activity or halt it all together until they are ready to be steamed
- Bring the water in a steamer to a boil. Wrap the lid with a cloth. This will prevent water dripping from the lid creating burn spots. Place some of the buns on the steamer. Close the lid and leave about 1/4-inch of gap to let some steam escapes. Steam on MEDIUM heat for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and wait for 5 minutes and then remove steamed buns from the steamer to cooling rack. This will prevent the bottom from getting wet and soggy
- If you make extra and plan to store them, once the steamed buns have cooled down, place them on a baking sheet not touching each other and put them inside the freezer for 1 hour then transfer to a freezer bag
Check out this Soft and Fluffy No-Yeast Chinese Steamed Buns. These are so good and super easy to make!
My baos are hard and almost crusty on the outside. Under the harder outside, the bao is fluffy – any ideas what I’m doing wrong? I’m steaming these in the Instant Pot and tried both the pressure cooker method and the steaming method. I checked that my yeast was still active, but they also didn’t proof much, even after 30+ minutes.
Also, the pork filling isn’t cooking at all with either method (4 min high pressure or 8 min steam). I’m now re-cooking my first batch for the 3rd time to see if the middle will cook more. Can you help me?
Hi Steph, Sorry to read that you are running into trouble. Perhaps when you proofed the buns the temperature wasn’t warm enough? it may take longer than 30 minutes to proof too sometimes. It’s better not to go by the time, but to see if the buns have puffed up (not necessarily double in size, but about half of its original size) and when you lift the bun up, it feels lighter.
Make sure you have 1 cup of water in the inner pot (it needs to build up pressure using the water) and you may need to top up with more water if you are steaming or pressure cooking in several batches. Maybe the steamed buns are larger in size and need more time, you can try 8-10 minutes high pressure and about 15 minutes with steaming.
Hi Marv! I’ve now made this twice and absolutely adore this recipe! The first time, I cooked the filling before steaming the buns. The second time, I did half cooked and half uncooked before steaming. The uncooked before steaming turned into a sort of “patty” instead of being crumblier and easier to eat. Is this to be expected? I ADORE this recipe and definitely plan on using again!
Hi Leah, I’m glad you enjoy this recipe. You are right that the “uncooked” before steaming will actually turn into “patty” and won’t be crumbly like the cooked version. It is supposed to be that way for this particular type of pork steamed buns. The “crumblier” version, is usually more of the BBQ pork steamed buns https://whattocooktoday.com/barbecued-pork-steamed-bun-char-siu-bao.html If you don’t really like that it turns into patty, you can certainly stir fry the filling first. Hope this answer your question 🙂
This recipe came out amazing! The pork filling was delicious, and the buns super soft and fluffy! Thanks for the detailed recipe, I will definitely be making these again 🙂
Hi Renee, I’m so happy to know that you enjoy the steamed pork buns 🙂 I haven’t made these for a while. Now, I know what I want to do this weekend 🙂 Thanks again for your feedback!
Hi Marvellina, any tips on keeping the dough from becoming soggy? (Also thank you for your website, it’s Marvellous!)
Hi Jannette, do you mean after steaming the buns? I highly recommend to cool them down on a cooling rack or the bottom of the steamed buns will get wet and soggy. Please let me know if this answers your question. Thank you for your kind words 🙂
Tried this today and got compliments from my son. Still have to learn how to pleats the bun 😁 thank you very much
Hi Jo, I’m happy your son likes it 🙂 I’m with you! I’m not good at pleating either. I guess they say practice makes progress LOL! Thank you for trying and for letting me know 🙂
Thinking to make this on the weekend. Thank you so much for the recipes and guide pictures.
My 14 year old made these today. We love them.
I am however concerned about the pork getting done. I’m overly paranoid. We let them steam doe 25-30 minutes.
The pork was very soft and I couldn’t tell if it was done or not.
Is the pork supposed to soft? I’m thinking it may be the corn starch making it that way.
Thank you in advance.
Hi Terra, if you don’t see any pink color, the pork should be done. Yes, the pork is tender because of the cornstarch and that’s how we usually want it. If it bothers you, you can cut down on the cornstarch.
I’ve never tried making anything this impressive, so this will be an interesting challenge. Thank you so much for posting the details! =)
Thank you Isadora. Trust me, if I can do it, so can anybody else!! My skill can still be improved for sure
Marv, you are a pro at bun pleating!!! I’m so impressed 🙂 Two thumbs way way up.
Thank you Anita. You are too humble!!! You can so pull this off (even better I dare to bet!)