International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Bao (Chinese steamed, filled buns)

(Chinese steamed, filled buns)

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Average: 4 (52 votes)

Bao, also known as baozi, are soft, pillowy buns that are either steamed or baked. They come with a variety of fillings and are a common item in dim sum shops. Bao are a favorite for breakfast or mid-morning snack.

Makes 20 to 24 buns


  • Warm water, warm (about 110°F) -- 1 cup
  • Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) package
  • Flour -- 1 cup
  • Sugar -- 1/4 cup
  • Shortening or oil -- 2 tablespoons
  • Water -- 1/2 cup
  • Salt -- 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Flour -- 3 to 3 1/2 cups
  • Filling (see variations) -- 3 cups


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the 1 cup warm water and yeast. Let set for about 10 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.
  2. Stir the 1 cup of flour into the yeast mixture until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
  3. While the batter is rising, add the sugar, shortening or oil, 1/2 cup water and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium flame, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Stir the cooled sugar water into the batter mixture. Next stir in the remaining 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour. Remove to a lightly floured work surface and knead to form a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough into a large, greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, from 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Punch down the dough with your fists and knead gently another 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal halves. Roll each half into a log and cut each log into 10 or 12 pieces.
  6. Roll each piece of dough into a round about 3 inches wide. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Pull the edges up around the filling and twist to seal the top. Place the filled bao on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper.
  7. Cover the finished bao with a towel, and set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  8. Set up a Chinese bamboo steamer over a wok or pot filled with 1 to 2 inches of water. Working in batches, steam the buns for about 10 to 12 minutes per batch. Serve warm.

Baozi Variations

  • Char Siu Bao: This is the famous BBQ pork bun, especially popular in Guangdong Province. See the char siu recipe notes to make the filling. Char siu bau bun dough is a little different from that for other baozi in that a little baking powder is usually added, giving the dough a fluffier, more tender texture. Just mix 2 teaspoons of baking powder into the 3-3 1/2 cups of flour before you add it to the yeasty liquid.
  • Chan Bao: Bun filled with BBQ pork, onion and oyster sauce.
  • Dousha Bao: Sweet bean paste bun.
  • Fo Tui Bao: Ham bun. These are usually brushed with an egg glaze and baked instead of steamed.
  • Ga Lei Bao: Curried beef bun. Like ham buns, these are  brushed with an egg glaze and baked instead of steamed.
  • Gai Bao: Chicken bun.
  • Lat Cheung Bao: Chinese sausage bun.
  • Lin Yung Bao: Sweet lotus bean starch and egg yolk bun.
  • Mui Jeung Gai Bao: Plum sauce chicken bun.
  • Zhu Rou Bao: Pork and cabbage buns. See pork and cabbage filling recipe.
  • Xiao Long Bao: Juicy pork buns. Popular in Shanghai.


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