Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

You absolutely must try these mouth-watering Steamed BBQ Pork Buns! And while you’re at it, don’t miss out on our incredibly popular baked cha siu bao recipe that has consistently remained at the top of our list for years.

That’s why we’ve had steamed BBQ pork buns, also known as Char Siu Bao, or steamed roast pork buns, on our list of things to make for a very long time. The topic of how to make steamed buns has been asked of us numerous times, and rightfully so. Great for all ages, this variation is a crowd-pleaser at dim sum buffets.

My ideal situation would be to have a buddy who worked at a Chinese bakery or dim sum restaurant and could show me the ropes. Even though it took me a lot of work, I finally nailed down a Chinese recipe for steamed bbq pork buns that, with a little tweaking, turned out to be delicious. Cornstarch, I’ve learned, is the secret to fluffy, white, pull-apart buns, and baking powder opens up the domes.

For these buns, you must pre-boil the steamer, which causes the buns to rise rapidly and crack on top, in contrast to traditional steamed buns, which are made with cold water and steamed over medium heat. I have to say, this is pretty neat stuff! What a rush it is to figure something out all by yourself!


For the Steamed Cha Siu Bao Dough:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • ¾ cup of warm water
  • 1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 1-2 teaspoons of water (optional)

For the Steamed Bao Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups of diced Chinese roast pork
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped shallots or red onion
  • 2 tablespoons all of purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce


  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water in an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment or a standard mixing basin if you prefer to knead by hand. Mix the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and oil together in a separate bowl, then sift the mixture and add it to the yeast. Start the mixer on the lowest speed and run it until a smooth ball of dough forms. Put a damp cloth over it and set it aside for two hours.
  2. Cook the filling meat while the dough is resting. In a wok, bring the oil to temperature over moderately high heat. Toss in the onion and cook it for a minute in a stir-frying motion. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and dark soy and reduce the heat to medium. Just keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble.
  3. When you’re ready for a thicker sauce, add the chicken stock and flour and let it cook for a few minutes. Take it off the heat and mix in the roasted pork. Place in a cool place. To keep the filling from drying out, make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge.
  4. After 2 hours of resting, add the baking powder and start the mixer on the lowest speed. If the dough seems dry or you’re having trouble mixing in the baking powder, add 1–2 teaspoons of water now. The dough can be reworked by hand until it is smooth once more. Rest for an additional 15 minutes with the cover on. Meanwhile, get yourself a big sheet of parchment paper and divide it into ten squares that are each 4 inches on a side. Bring some water to a boil for your steamer.
  5. Roll the dough into a long tube and cut it into 10 pieces; now we can assemble the buns. Flatten the dough into discs that are about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Fill the buns, then close the tops with pleats.
  6. Steam the buns by setting them on individual squares of parchment paper. I used a bamboo steamer to steam the buns in two batches.
  7. Put the buns in the steamer once the water has boiled, and cook them for 12 minutes on high heat.
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