Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns


You don't need much experience at all to make beautiful barbecue pork buns, aka. char siu bao. Instead of that mysterious, gelatinous red sauce that Chinese restaurants use, I filled these buns with regular barbecue pork for a more savory version. Regardless of what filling you choose, I hope this helps shape your technique.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Additional Time:
2 hrs 55 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 40 mins
12 pork buns


For the Dough:

  • ¾ cup water

  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • 1 ½ teaspoons white sugar

  • 2 cups self-rising flour

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups diced barbecued pork, or to taste

  • ¼ cup finely sliced green onions

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce, or to taste


  1. Pour water into a bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and let stand until yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable oil, sugar, and self-rising flour. Mix using a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough comes together.

  2. Turn dough out onto your counter and knead into a smooth ball, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl. Flip to lightly coat. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  3. Combine pork, green onions, cayenne pepper, sesame oil, and hoisin sauce in a separate bowl. Mix well and refrigerate.

  4. Add a couple inches of water to a Dutch oven and set a bamboo steamer on top.

  5. Poke dough down to deflate and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Cut dough in half and roll each half into a long tube. Divide each tube into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and press into a disk. Roll each disk until about 1/8-inch thick and 4 to 5 inches wide. Roll out edges so they are slightly thinner than the center.

  6. Transfer a spoonful of filling onto the center of each dough circle. Pinch edges together to form multiple small pleats, moistening edges with water if needed. Squeeze pleats together at the top to seal in the filling. Place pork buns on individual squares of parchment paper. Transfer them to the cold steamer, cover, and let proof until noticeably puffed, 30 to 45 minutes.

  7. Bring the water in the Dutch oven to a boil over high heat. Set timer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave buns covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and transfer to plate.

    close up view of Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns on a white plate
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

If you don't have self-rising flour, you can use 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon fine table salt.

You can season the filling with sugar and salt or soy sauce. You may have some filling left over.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

150 Calories
3g Fat
19g Carbs
11g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 150
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 369mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 76mg 6%
Iron 2mg 8%
Potassium 181mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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