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Char Siu Bao (Steamed BBQ Pork Buns) | Learn how to make authentic Chinese char siu bao just like a dim sum restaurant. The buns have very soft, fine, and fluffy bread with a juicy tender pork filling. My recipe includes detailed step-by-step photos and a video to help you achieve the best result in your own kitchen.

Char Siu Bao (Steamed BBQ Pork Buns)

4.64 from 11 votes
Learn how to make authentic char siu bao (Chinese steamed BBQ pork buns) just like a dim sum restaurant. The buns have very soft, fine, and fluffy bread with a juicy tender pork filling. My recipe includes detailed step-by-step photos and a video to help you achieve the best result in your own kitchen.
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: dim sum
Servings: 16 buns
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

Dough

  • 125 g (1/2 cup) water , warm
  • 7 g (1 packet / 2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 60 g (4 tablespoons) sugar
  • 250 g (1 2/3 cup) low-gluten flour (or cake flour)
  • 7 g (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 7 g (1 1/2 teaspoons) shortening

Filling

Instructions

Prepare the dough

  • Add the water into a small bowl and warm to approximately 100-110°F (38°C), about 30 seconds in the microwave. The water should be warm, just a bit above body temperature. Add the sugar and active dry yeast, stir to mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes so the yeast will activate.
  • While the yeast activates, add the cake flour and baking powder into your mixer bowl.
  • Once the yeast is activated, you should see bubbles on the surface of the mixture. Pour it into the mixer bowl. Mix it with a spatula a few times, until the liquid is just absorbed by the dry ingredients.
  • Install the dough hook on your mixer. Start at low speed, then gradually increase to speed setting to 6 out of 10. Knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is very smooth. Stop the mixer halfway through and scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the shortening. Knead on level 6 for another 5 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth, and easily lifted from the bowl without sticking to your hands.
  • Lightly grease a large bowl with butter or oil spray. Transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm part of your room, until the size triples, about 2 hours.

Prepare the char siu filling

  • Combine the stock, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, garlic, and five spice powder in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Turn to medium-low heat and let simmer for 1 minute. Stir occasionally until everything is mixed. Once done, remove the pan from the stove and let the sauce cool for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • While cooling the sauce, add the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water into a small bowl. Stir to mix until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Pour the cornstarch into the sauce. Stir to mix well. Turn the heat back on, to medium-low. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and stir constantly, until thickened. You should be able to draw lines on the bottom of the pan easily.
  • Transfer the sauce into a medium-sized bowl. Add the char siu meat. Stir to mix well.

Assemble and cook

  • Cut some parchment paper into 3” (7 cm) squares to hold the buns. You’ll need 16 squares.
  • Punch the air out of the dough. Transfer it onto a lightly oiled working surface. Knead a few times to make the dough into a round ball. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces by cutting it into 2 even strips, then further cutting each strip into 8 small pieces. Each piece of dough should weigh 27 grams. Use your hands to roll and shape the dough pieces into dough balls.
  • Wrap the buns one at a time. Flatten a dough ball using your palm. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough ball into a round disc that is thick in the middle and thin on the edges, about 2.5 to 3” (6 to 7 cm) in diameter. Carefully remove it from the surface and place it onto your palm.
  • Place about a heaping tablespoon of the char siu mixture onto the center of the wrapper. Wrap the bun by pinching two ends of the dough together, then pinching the other two ends together. Press the dough edges together so it forms a square bun with a cross on top. Pinch the two opposite edges together, then repeat with the remaining two edges. Now the bun will be round. Check my blog post above to see the step-by-step wrapping pictures.
  • Once done, place the char siu bun onto one of the cut parchment squares, pleated-side-down, then place it on a plate. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Repeat the process to wrap the rest of the buns.
  • Set a stopwatch (or timer) after wrapping the first bun, to keep track of the resting time. You need to rest the buns for 20 to 30 minutes before steaming them.

Steaming

  • Depending on the size of your steamer, you might need to steam the buns in batches. What I usually do is prepare the steamer after wrapping half of the buns, so some of them are ready to be cooked as I work on the rest.
  • To prepare the steamer, add about 3” (7 cm) of water to the pot and heat it over medium-high heat until the water starts to boil. Place the rested buns onto the steamer rack, leaving at least 2” (5 cm) between them, because the buns will expand a lot as they cook.
  • Cover and steam for 10 minutes. Once done, remove the steamer rack and place it onto a trivet. Uncover the steamer rack carefully. Let the steam out and then transfer the buns onto a serving plate. Let the buns cool for 5 minutes before eating.
  • Cook the rest of the buns using the same method.

Serve and store

  • The char siu buns taste best when they are hot or warm. If you made them in advance, you can warm them up in the microwave or in a steamer.
  • Once the buns have cooled completely, place them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • You can store the cooked buns in the freezer for up to a month. To cook the frozen buns, thaw them completely in the fridge. Then heat them up in the microwave or in a steamer until heated through.

Notes

  1. You can use the leftover pork from my Char Siu (Chinese BBQ pork) recipe, or you can purchase char siu pork from a Cantonese restaurant. If neither works for you, try using some not-so-heavily-seasoned roasted pork from your grocery store deli. This recipe makes a very flavorful BBQ sauce so you can still make very good pork buns with regular roast pork.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 125kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 9.1g, Fat: 1.8g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 180mg, Potassium: 150mg, Fiber: 0.7g, Sugar: 7.5g, Calcium: 8mg, Iron: 1mg