Bao buns

Bao buns

Bao buns are deliciously light and fluffy and surprisingly easy to make at home. Jeremy Pang shares his foolproof method for great results every time.

Looking for filling ideas for your bao buns? Try char siu pork, spicy vegan cauliflower or sticky chicken.

For this recipe you will need a steamer.



  1. Place the flour, salt, yeast, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.

  2. Mix 1 tablespoon of the oil and 150ml/5fl oz warm water together in a jug (make sure the water is on the hotter side of warm to the touch). Pour half of the liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir into the flour mixture using a spoon.

  3. Gradually add the rest of the liquid until all the flour has come away from the sides of the bowl. Once combined, remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 5–10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should be fairly wet, but still manageable. If the dough is too sticky, use a little extra flour to dust the outside of the dough when kneading. If the dough feels a little dry, add a small amount of water to get a tacky feel to the dough.

  4. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, dust with 2 tablespoons of flour, scraping off any additional dough from the sides of the bowl. Knead 5–6 more times and then shape the dough into a rough ball. Coat the dough ball lightly with the remaining oil, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave in a warm, draught-free location for 1–1½ hours, or until doubled in size.

  5. To make hirata bao, the lip-shaped bao pictured above, roll the proved dough into a thick cylinder, similar to the size of a salami. Divide the cylinder into 7–8 pieces and roll each piece between the palms of your hands to create individual balls of dough.

  6. Roll until each ball is smooth. Press down on each ball of dough with your palm to flatten. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll each flattened piece out further to make elongated oval shapes.

  7. Lightly brush the top of each oval with a little vegetable oil. Then gently fold one side over the top to form a lip-shaped bun. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for a further 15–20 minutes. After resting, the buns are ready to steam.

  8. Place 3–4 buns on greaseproof paper or non-stick baking paper in a bamboo steamer basket, leaving plenty of room between the buns. Stack the steamer baskets and cover with the lid. Half-fill a wok with boiling water and place over a high heat. (If using a metal steamer, see the Recipe Tips.) Add the steamer baskets and steam for 8 minutes, without removing the lid. Once steamed, the buns will be cooked through and well risen.

Recipe Tips

If using a metal steamer, take care not to overfill with water and keep your bao away from the sides (as the steam can't escape, the sides of metal steamers can get quite wet which may make your bao soggy). Cover the top steamer basket with a clean tea towel to absorb any condensation and then place the lid on top.

You may need slightly more or less water depending on how humid the air feels – if the air feels very dry, add a little more water, but if it is very humid, a little less water is required.