Chinese BBQ Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao)

bbq pork bun2

Ah, childhood. When choices were easy (Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network?) and one’s biggest concerns were in the vein of running home fast enough from the elementary school to catch the ice cream truck and the 3:30 PM escapades of Arthur the aardvark on PBS. When your parents seemed to know everything there was to know about everything, and you saw the entire world from a foot or two lower to the ground.

My particular version of childhood involved a lot of sinking Titanic reenactments in my friend Reema’s above ground pool (we were very melodramatic children), reading at recess, strong lobbying for a family puppy acquisition, the collected cinematic works of John Hughes, my see-through purple Gameboy Color, and a gradual familiarization with anything having to do with horses. It also involved a lot of Saturday morning car rides into Queens and Chinatown, when we would visit my grandparents or cousins, grab dim sum, and inevitably stop by a Chinese bakery for some warm bread.

There were always the usual suspects…the pillowy soft butter buns, the sweet, crumbly pineapple buns, the vastly-appealing-to-Chinese-American-kids “hot dog” buns (my enchantment with this particular pastry has…ebbed over the years. [update] – THAT IS, UNTIL I MADE THEM MYSELF! Here’s the recipe.), and of course, the “cha siu bao,” or BBQ pork bun, which is filled with a savory, slightly sweet filling of Cantonese roast pork. This dim sum and Chinese bakery favorite is of course, the subject of today’s post.

If you would rather have a steamed bun, then peruse our recipe for Steamed BBQ pork buns. It’s most definitely the real deal and you won’t be disappointed!

Out of all the bakeries in and around Beijing–the Paris Baguette‘s, Bread Talk‘s, Holliland’s, and Wei Duo Mei‘s packing the city, no one seems to have this “quintessentially Chinatown” pastry. Until now!

You know, because we do.

These take some time, but are pretty easy to put together, especially if you can get the roast pork ready made from your local Chinese grocery store’s hot bar. If not, you can also easily make your own roast pork, with this fantasmagorical Chinese BBQ Pork (cha siu) recipe we posted a few days ago. In any case, the bread dough is fairly straightforward as well. It involves one crucial, dead simple step at the beginning, which involves making a quick five-minute roux/paste with flour, water, and milk. The paste, called a “tangzhong,” is then mixed with the rest of the dough ingredients, and you knead the heck out of it until it’s smooth. Easy.

Let’s get started.

For the buns:

UPDATE: You can still use this recipe for the bread dough, but you also have the option to use our new Milk Bread recipe, which is considerably easier (and, truth be told, softer). Find the recipe here. As is the case with both dough recipes, you can fill the dough with filling after it’s proofed once, and then let them rise a second time after they’ve been filled.

  • 5 cups bread flour or all purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/3 cup milk, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • eggwash (1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of milk)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots or red onion
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups diced Chinese roast pork (cha siu)

 

In a medium saucepan, mix 1/3 cup flour with 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup milk until the flour is dissolved. Put the pan over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture resembles a thick paste, about 3-5 minutes. If it looks like vanilla pudding, it’s too thin. If it looks kind of like really thick toothpaste, it’s just right. You can also measure the temperature with a thermometer, if you’re the Alton Brown type. It’s about right when it’s reached 149 degrees F/65 degrees C. Set aside.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine 5 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix it all together with your hands.

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Add the flour paste (aka the tangzhong), 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, and the melted butter. Stir together to form a soft dough, and knead (by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your mixer) for 15-20 minutes. Because our KitchenAid didn’t make the journey from NJ to China, I did this all by hand–in front of the TV, so I wouldn’t get bored. It wasn’t really that bad.

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Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for 1 hour.

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While that’s happening, make the filling. Chop up some onion, dice the pork into small cubes, and take out some chicken broth (or in our case, some Organic Better than Bullion mixed with some water).

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Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

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Add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy.

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Stir and cook until it starts to bubble up.

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Add the chicken stock and flour. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring, for a couple minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the roast pork. Set aside to cool.

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After it’s risen, separate the dough into 16 equal pieces.

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Shape each piece into a small circle, where the center is slightly thicker than the edges. This prevents the top of the bun from being too thin and bursting open mid-bake. That would be bad.

Put a couple tablespoons of filling into each!

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Crimp them closed, making sure they’re tightly sealed. It’s a similar technique to making Shanghai soup dumplings. But no need to unnecessarily complicate things. Just make sure it’s closed, and closed tightly.

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Lay them out seam side down on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and let rise for another hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

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Brush with egg wash…

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And sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). The sesame seeds add a little aesthetic somethin’ extra, I think.

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Beeeeyoooteeeful!

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Put them in the oven and immediately turn the oven down from 400 degrees (about 200 degrees C) to 350 degrees (about 175 degrees). Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

And then don’t immediately grab one, bite into it, burn your tongue, and then almost drop it on the floor whilst nursing a second degree mouth burn. I, uh…let them cool off for a few minutes before not doing that.

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These are a joy to make and to eat. Whether they bring you back to your childhood, or are an entirely new experience, we hope you enjoy them. Post any questions or comments down below, where you’re guaranteed a pleasant and/or witty answer from one of us.

Try one of our other favorite recipes that you can have steamed or pan fried – Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways (Bao Zi, 胡萝卜肉包子)!

 

CHINESE BBQ PORK BUNS (Cha Siu Bao)

Prep Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 16

CHINESE BBQ PORK BUNS (Cha Siu Bao)

Ingredients

FOR THE BUNS:
5 cups bread flour or all purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter
eggwash (1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of milk)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
FOR THE FILLING:
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots or red onion
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 ½ tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
¾ cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups diced Chinese roast pork (cha siu)

In a medium saucepan, mix 1/3 cup flour with 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup milk until the flour is dissolved. Put the pan over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture resembles a thick paste, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 5 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the flour paste (tangzhong), 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, and melted butter. Stir together to form a soft dough, and knead (by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your mixer) for 15-20 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for 1 hour.

While that’s happening, make the meat filling. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy. Stir and cook until it starts to bubble up. Add the chicken stock and flour. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring, for a couple minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the roast pork. Set aside to cool.

After it has risen, separate the dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small circle, where the center is slightly thicker than the edges. Fill each with meat filling, and crimp them closed, making sure they’re tightly sealed. Lay them out seam side down on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and let rise for another hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees C)

Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). Put them in the oven and immediately turn the oven down from 400 degrees (about 200 degrees C) to 350 degrees (about 175 degrees). Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

http://thewoksoflife.com/2014/02/chinese-bbq-pork-buns-cha-siu-bao/

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Comments

  1. says

    hi! awesome, clear recipe.

    I’m struggling b/c my dough didn’t rise (currently doing it now in Bucaramanga, Colombia). tropical humid temperatures, used the (roughly) correct amounts, and dough rose perhaps 15%? in an hour, and it’s quite sticky. what did i do wrong?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Jon T.

    • Sarah says

      Hi Jon. Oh no! Sorry we didn’t get to this comment earlier. I think we were all asleep, if you’re in Colombia. Did you use the instant yeast? It’s SUPER dry here in Beijing, but if you’re in a very humid climate, the dough might have required a bit more flour and a little less liquid. Did you end up trying to shape them and bake them despite the extra stickiness?

    • Sarah says

      Hey Annie, we posted our own recipe for the roast pork, which is something that we already knew how to make. We looked around for ideas on the filling, and created a recipe based on our own taste preferences. As for the dough, I did some research and developed a recipe for that as well!

  2. jess says

    Just about to make these but just wondering how long they will keep for, I’d love to take some into work for a college

    • Sarah says

      They’ll keep in the fridge for a couple days, but it’s best to eat them warm. What you can do is prepare them the night before, and bake them in the morning! What a great idea. : )

  3. helene says

    If I would want to make them into steamed bun, would this dough work it should I use your recipe that you posted earlier as the basic pan dough?
    If that is what you recommend, is bread flour better?
    How long should I steam a meat filled bun for?
    Thanks.
    HY.

      • helene says

        I made these but used baked char sui chicken thighs that was marinated in pre-packaged char sui mix for the filling. The filling need more ‘char sui flavor so I added more seasoning mix with a little water, 1 heaping T of hoisin sauce and a little salt. For the bun, I used your Man Tou recipe and part of the baked char sui bun recipe. Added warmed milk, sugar, baking powder, and vegetable oil.
        I baked a few but it only needed 10 minutes. I steamed some for 20 minutes. They looked fine, but the filling could have used a little more sauce. Otherwise, both tasted great.
        This is a great recipe! Thanks for sharing.

        • says

          Hey Helene, cool to hear you’re taking these recipes and making ‘em your own! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. : )

  4. says

    This sounds SO GOOD and will try soon. Maybe with chicken instead of pork…love making bread though of any kind. Thanks.

  5. Jeanette says

    Hi there, Love your site. I will be making these buns tonight. I am lactose intolerant and wonder if you have any suggestions for replacing the milk in the recipe. I am thinking about yogurt mixed with water, or chicken broth??? Thanks for any help.

    • says

      Hey Jeanette, hmmm that’s difficult because this bread is specifically an Asian style “milk bread,” where milk is added to increase softness. I’m not sure chicken broth would work. Maybe experiment with the yogurt thing? Another suggestion would be to find a different bread recipe that fits your dietary restriction and looks somewhat soft and suitable for filling. Then you could just make our filling recipe and follow the steps to fill your version of the dough!

      • Jeanette says

        I didn’t get your response in time, and ended up plowing ahead with chicken broth. It turned out great. I am not sure it was as good as yours, but the dough was soft, fluffy, and very flavorful. Loved it!

        As an aside, I always wondered why you don’t have more comments. I mean, your recipes are unbelievably good! I attempted to leave two compliments previously on a different recipe, but they never posted. This last time, I indicated that I wanted to hear back if there was a response, and the comment finally posted.

        Thanks for all the recipes! I love getting compliments on my cooking.

        • says

          Hi Jeanette, Excellent to hear that using Chicken broth worked for you! Thank you very much for your feedback about the comments. I will need to check out this issue with the comments but please let us know if this happens again. We may have some technical glitch going on.

  6. says

    Hi! I made the dough and I love it. I am making this again to post in my blog. I will change the filling recipe and use the dough. I love it. This is the most successful filled bun I made.

    • says

      Awesome to hear Shobee, let us know what filling you use! I just checked out your latest post on pancakes and they look pretty fantastic :-)

  7. says

    I stumbled across this blog on Google+ and I’m so glad I found it! I’ve been cooking Chinese food for many years now, but lately, I’ve been wanting to step up my game. I love this cha siu boa recipe–definitely trying it soon. One thing I definitely miss is 煎饼. Hope you can make some here soon!

  8. Karen says

    Would this work to make the filled sweet bean/mung bean buns? I wanted to make sesame balls but I made the dough this afternoon but I don’t have enough pork filling. :))

  9. Natalie Kehr says

    I have often wondered if it would be possible to develop a kosher version, perhaps using a savoury lamb filling, for my Jewish friends. It looks like it is not possible because the milk and butter cannot be used with meat.
    You may be interested to know that today in my favourite Chinese bakery in London England, there was actually someone serving who could speak English (My Cantonese is non-existent). He told be that they import their bun flour from Malaysia, but he didn’t know any more technical details about the gluten content of the flour.

    Someone asked about keeping the buns. I freeze them in individual bags. 2 minutes in the microwave oven is sufficient for defrosting and bringing to nice eating temperature.

    • says

      ooooh lamb filling? Awesome. But yes, these are milk buns…but you might be able to find another dairy-less bread recipe and just kind of apply the same concept to it. And thanks for the awesome storage ideas!

  10. says

    Sarah, I found you on the Retro Pinterest Party…pinned and then came right over to see this post. Yummmmmy! Would you please come by my Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop today to share this and any other posts you’d like to share with us? My readers will LOVE it. Now, I am going to follow you on all the social media etc so that I don’t lose track of your blog. Love it!
    Sinea from Ducks ‘n a Row

  11. Kelly says

    I have 2 questions for you – first, is there a substitution for dark soy? I can’t seem to find any locally (we live in a pretty remote area). When I made it this afternoon, I just used regular soy for the dark. My second question is (I think) a direct result from the first: my finished filling is much lighter in color and quite thicker than yours appears to be in the pictures above. Is this a result of the soy substitution and maybe a little too much flour?

    My son is a walking, talking pb&j kid and he said the filling was so void, could he please eat a bowl of it now?

    Thanks for giving me some kid-approved variety in the menu!

    • says

      Hi Kelly, there isn’t really a substitution for dark soy sauce. You could just leave it out, but the filling won’t be quite as dark and rich. Dark soy is also quite a bit less salty than regular soy.

      So yes, the fact that the filling is lighter in color is a result of not having dark soy sauce. If the filling is a bit thicker, just gradually add a bit of water and stir until it’s well-combined and at the consistency you’re looking for. We’re so happy that your son enjoyed this! We loved it when we were kids too…and still do today. Thanks Kelly!

  12. :D says

    You gave a choice of using bread flour or all-purpose flour. Which is better?

    Also, when you cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rise for 1 hour, does the room temperature have to be warm or place in an oven?

    • says

      Hi, :D, for this recipe, I used All-purpose and it worked beautifully. For proofing, I usually just lock the dough inside the microwave (without turning it on) and leave it for the suggested time (That’s what I do with all my dough proofing) It’s my own quirky method. Hope I answered your questions and we would love to hear how the buns turn out after you make it :-)

      • :D says

        Thank you for your response. I certainly will let you know how they turned out. One last question, how about proofing the buns on the baking sheet. Do I cover them or let them rise uncover and does the room need to be warm as well? Our house is always cold.

        • says

          Hi, :D, yes, cover the buns with a thin damp cloth. As to the room temperature issue, you can put the buns in a sunny spot for higher temperature or in a warm oven (preheat the oven to 150 degree, shot it off the heat, then put the buns inside and close the door). Cheers!

  13. Jerry says

    My buns are on their last rise before being baked. I can’t wait for my family to sit down for dinner tonight! This is my first time making these and I imagine it won’t be my last time either. Thanks for posting all your recipes! There is nothing like fresh cooked Chinese food.

  14. Tripti says

    Thank you so much for the recipe; I want to try this as soon as possible!
    My question is; one of my friends is allergic to soy sauce so I wouldn’t be able to use it in the buns for her. Would the buns be alright without both soy sauces, or is there another alternative sauce I could use?

    • says

      Hey Tripti, we had a dinner table discussion about this one. Soy is just such a crucial ingredient to these pork buns. But then we thought…BBQ pork buns…BBQ SAUCE!

      Instead of using the sugar, soy sauces, sesame oil, and oyster sauce, you could replace all that with your favorite bbq sauce and follow the instructions the same way. They wouldn’t exactly be Chinese roast pork buns, but they’ll still be BBQ pork buns, and, as long as your chosen bbq sauce is worthy…they’ll probably be pretty freakin’ awesome.

      • Mary says

        Just wanted to let you guys know that a good sub for soy sauce is Coconut Aminos! The paleo diet uses this. It’s made from coconut and tastes very close to soy sauce and is slightly sweet. I’m Asian and I’ve tasted it. It’s pretty good.

  15. Kiara says

    I made these last night for a dinner party to go along with my signature homemade Chinese dishes. They were amazing! Everyone was blown away by them :D Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, this is a little gem of a website and is now bookmarked on my computer. I have already spotted more yummy recipes I plan to make.

    Kiara x

  16. Tiffany says

    Hi! This recipe is amazing! But I got a quick question, I feel as though I have made too much bun and filling to eat at one goal…can I put it in the fridge so that I have fresh Char Siu Bao tomorrow morning? Or do I freeze it? Thanks so much for the help!

    • says

      Hey Tiffany, I think you could probably put the dough and filling in the fridge to make them in the morning. Just let the dough rise at room temperature again for an hour or so before working with it. Let us know how it goes!

  17. Jake says

    Mmm this recipe sounds amazing I am extremely happy you posted it. I thank you for that. Ive always wanted to try pork buns ever since I watched the anime “Kanon” and one of the characters had one. The idea of sweet pork in a delicious bun fascinated me but me being an american living in america I had no hope of trying an authentic one. At least I can replicate it or at the very least try to. I hope to one day travel through Asia and get to know the culture and cuisine along with the people. Again I thank you for bringing me one step closer to that dream.

  18. Amanda says

    I came across your blog from Tasty Kitchen and I’m totally hooked! It’s truly inspiring for amateurs like myself, and your recipes have rekindled my passion for baking and cooking. How adjustable is this recipe? I’d love to use this bao recipe to create other types of buns – such as the classic sausage bun – will this work? Also, will halving this recipe yield similar results? Thanks again for all of your help; looking forward to trying your other recipes and more great posts.

    • says

      Hi Amanda, Thank you so much for your comment. You can absolutely fill the buns with different fillings. I think that as long as you halve the recipe exactly and follow the instructions the same way, it should work. : )

  19. Derek says

    I decided to try out this recipe (which i found searching google) after having some pork buns the other week but I did hot have the time to make some pulled pork (which I make in a pressure cooker and feel would be perfect for this) so I decided to improvise. Instead I made breakfast buns and filled them with bacon, egg, and cheese. In the end I would call it a success. so you can definitely fill this recipe with anything you choose.

    Thank you for the great recipe I will definitely use this recipe again for different fillings (including the suggested pork filling ^-^)

  20. Frances says

    Hi Sarah,

    I’ve been looking for a recipe that is the yellowish bun then the white one! I’m so excited to try this recipe! I was wondering though, has anyone tried freezing the buns after baking them? If not, what are your suggestions?

  21. Candy says

    This recipe looks great! I’ve already got my pork butt marinating for the filling but before I make the dough tomorrow I was wondering if the milk needed to be warm to help proof the yeast? Or is the roux is warm enough to activate the yeast?

  22. Vinny says

    Hi,
    Great recipe! My only issue is that i can never get though to come out like what you find in a China town bakery. My dough always ends up being dinner roll-ish. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  23. says

    I usually buy these buns in Chinatown in The Hague the Netherlands. There is a small Chinese bakery who bake it every day fresh. Thnx for posting this, I will give it a try. :-)

  24. Alexandra says

    Hi.

    Made the Cha Siu Bao’s tonight. They turned out picture perfect, however. If you love the taste of the traditional Pork Bao’s you find in the bakeries, and restaurants, you’ll find that these are not it. While good, the bread is dense more like a traditional bun. Probably really great for a hamburger bun.

    The inside was very good. I would give that a B. But I am afraid that the bread was way of the mark for Bao’s

    • says

      Hi Alexandra, thanks for the candid feedback because it helps us improve our recipes. Your comment is timely because we are soon posting an authentic version of a chinatown roast pork bao with the bun recipe you’re describing so stay tuned!

  25. Michelle Mood says

    Help! I made this dough not knowing that I can’t steam them — can I steam them anyway?

    Last time I made another mantou recipe w/your filling, and I couldn’t get the proportions of dough to filling right, so I made your complete recipe w/o realizing these are baked. I have lived in China 4 years over the last 30 years and I still can’t say I’ve eaten them baked, so I’m not sure what they are supposed to be like — the candid feedback said they were tougher more like hamburger buns — do you think i could try steaming them so my autistic son will think they are like the last time i made them with a mantou recipe?

    • says

      Hi, Michelle, here is my suggestion since you’ve already made the dough: make 2 buns (only) first and steam to see if you like the results by following the steaming method on our Carrot Ginger Pork Buns (http://thewoksoflife.com/2014/06/carrot-ginger-pork-buns/). If it does not work out, still using the baking method by reducing the baking time to 20 – 22 minutes. Going forward, since your son likes the steamed version, you can make the dough from our Carrot Ginger Pork Bun recipe. Tomorrow we’ll publish a milk bread recipe, it’s so easy to make and a much improved dough for the baked BBQ Pork Buns. Let me know if I can be more helpful.

      • Michelle Mood says

        Thanks for your quick response! That is a good idea, but before I read this, at the sight of my son’s face, I used my last 4 cups of all purpose flour and I’ll be making regular steamed pork buns — if you get this message, would this pork bun recipe here be a good match for the 4-cup of flour mantou recipe also on this website? Or would I probably have too much filling?
        Since I have a bunch of this dough for baking, I’m whipping together sweet bean buns that will be baked. My son’s eyes lit up at the thought. However, I am using black beans (only ones I had canned) and the taste and texture is a bit beanier than aduki (my fav!), so fingers crossed he’ll like it! More sugar is always a good idea. :)

        • says

          Hi Michelle, the pork bun recipe would leave you with too much filling for our mantou recipe. Something you could try is to just roughly halve the recipe for the filling. It also depends on how big you want your buns to be (i.e. more or less filling). The sweet buns sound interesting! Let us know if the black bean works as a substitute for adzuki! (And yes, in the case of black beans, I think they definitely need a little more oomph!)

  26. Lora says

    Your recipe sounds delicious! Do you think that the buns can be frozen prior to baking, with the cooked filling inside in raw dough and then baked as needed?

  27. Feline says

    Hi,

    I just tried out this recipe for the first time and the dough was so sticky it was impossible to work with…. I started by kneading with my stand mixer, but ended up transferring it to my counter to work by hand. I ended up adding an additional 100g (almost a full cup) of flour into the stand mixer and then had to heavily flour my work surface to even get the thing to come together. I know that 1 cup of flour weighs 120g, is it possible that your measurements are off? I live in a very arid climate.

    The first rise is currently happening, but I”m concerned that the flour proportions are way off and I wonder if I should just toss it.

    Thanks

  28. says

    I love Bao. Since moving to Indianapolis 5 years ago, I have not been to find it in any of our local restaurants. I tried this recipe, with the milk bread substitution. Perfect! This is as good as any bao we have had in the San Fransisco / Sacramento area. This is an extremely easy recipe, and delivers an amazing dish. Thanks so much for sharing. Looking forward to making this on a regular basis from now on.

    Thanks again,
    Bob

  29. Pono says

    Just for some others benefit….
    I live in Florida – today is about 75% humidity.
    I had to add more flour, and I was out of white flour so I used Organic Brown Rice Flour – maybe as much as 1/2 cup to actually form a dough ball. The rest went well and they look nice, but they are very dense. Maybe the brown rice flour? I would stick with the regular white flour for this recipe.

  30. Catlin says

    I am allergic to onions, but I can have garlic. Would the flavor still work for the filling if I used garlic instead of onion? I know from experience with some recipes that completely omitting the onion without replacing it alters the flavor too much. What do you advise?

    • says

      Hi Catlin, so sorry to have missed your comment. Yes, you can use garlic, but you have to cook the garlic until they are super soft.

  31. Shannon says

    I made these on the weekend using the milk bread dough (so insanely good!) and they were even more magical than I ever thought possible – one of my greatest successes to date! Thank you for always posting recipes that impress and, more importantly, WORK!

  32. Yuki Murata says

    I just made these today except filled them with yakisoba, they were perfect! I got much enjoyment from kneading the dough by hand, it made the finished product the more enjoyable

  33. says

    Hey I have had these buns many places. I have also made them before. The ones I made aren’t sweet. I thought if I added honey to the top it would help. It didn’t seem to be right. Is this recipe sweet?

    • says

      Hey Karen, if you follow the recipe here for the filling, it is quite sweet (as you may be familiar with…in terms of what you’ve tried from Chinese bakeries). Then, if you substitute the dough recipe here with our newer Milk Bread recipe, http://thewoksoflife.com/2015/01/milk-bread-2/, you’ll find that it’s pretty soft and sweet as well! (Just make the dough, let it rise for an hour, fill the buns, let rise for a second time, and then bake…the procedure is the same regardless of which dough recipe you use!)

  34. Putri says

    I made these today using the milk bread for the bun. They turned out great, just like how I remember them from my childhood.

  35. StevenHB says

    As I mentioned in my comment on the Dan Dan Noodle post yesterday, I made the Cha Siu and Cha Siu Bao today (using the original dough). I didn’t turn down the temperature when I put the buns in the oven. Nonetheless, they were very good, just a little darker than I would have wanted. I also have six in the freezer since I need to know how they’ll come out when baked from frozen (any suggestions welcome).

    I made the centers too thin and had some leakage – but I made them to learn these lessons.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105164358/BakedChaSiuBao.jpg

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105164358/BakedChaSiuBao-Halves.jpg

  36. StevenHB says

    I should have included in the comment above that one BBQ pork (Cha Siu) recipe makes enough pork for two (2) Cha Siu Bao recipes.

  37. JANICE says

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for this recipe. I had some leftover pizza dough that I made and going to use this. Don’t know…but I’ll try it. Also is there a sauce for this to dip in?
    Janice

  38. Autumn says

    I just made these and they are delicious! There’s so many of them that I was wondering how to save them? Could I freeze a couple or place them in the fridge, and how long do they stay fresh?

    • says

      Hi Autumn, you can store them in the fridge for up to a week in a zip-lock bag. You can also freeze them using a freezer zip-lock bag.

  39. Corinne says

    Hi, I want to make these for a picnic. Can I bake them the day before and store the baked buns at room temp? I need quite a lot (at least 36 buns) and won’t be able to fit all of them into the fridge.

  40. says

    thank you ver much for this recipe ! The fact that am working in the food industry makes me question any recipe I find online! I got to say this is a perfect recipe !
    It reminds me of the ones I had in Hong Kong !!

  41. Manna says

    Hey!
    I’ woke up in the morning wanting a meal akin to this so bad so I made them and added a little twist to the seasoning of the beef (not pork) itself. It was my first time making those ‘edible envelopes’ I call them and they did not exactly fold up as nicely as yours. Any tips?

    Thank you for your website and share. :D

    • says

      Awesome! Thank you for sharing! To prepare/roll out the skin to wrap the buns: the center should be thicker than the edges. I know the dough is very elastic, try pressing the edges thin with your fingers. It’s not hard, but it does take a little practice.

  42. Lily says

    Great Recipe, we just tried it right now! The dough was perfect, but unfortunately the cha siu mix was way to spicy to our taste (and I cut down on the soya sauce). Next time,we’ll try to make it without soya sauce and cutting down the salt in the dough.

    Great Recipe though, thanks for sharing!

  43. Callie says

    My daughter and I made these last night came out great. We let the dough sit 2 hours as it was really sticky. We used floured hands to form each bun and they came out great! Thanks for the recipe.

    • says

      Awesome, thanks for sharing Callie! Some of my best childhood memories involve standing on a chair in the kitchen, with my hands in something sticky, cooking with my parents and grandparents. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  44. Naomi Vaive says

    these were TREMENDOUS!!! We LOVED them!! Definitely a keeper! Thanks so much for putting this together for us! AAAAAND for such simple directions to follow. Yay for you guys!

  45. Amanda says

    Hey, this is great. I LOVE pork buns!
    I made these buns and mine came out slightly crispy and more dense. Not light and fluffy.
    Any thoughts?

    Thanks so much!

  46. Stephanie says

    Thanks for the recipe!! My hubby loves it. However, after cool down, the dough was dense and harder. Is this normal?

  47. Jo says

    Could I check some measures with you? (I’m in NZ, so not sure if measures are the same amounts in the US!) My pork mixture came out a lot more runny than yours looks in the picture, and even with trying to make sure that hardly any liquid went into the bun (and using less than 1 dessert spoon of filling, rather than 2 tablespoons), it ended up squeezing out as I tried to seal the top. We have 1 tsp = 5 ml; 1 tbsp = 15 ml (which makes measuring 1 1/2 tbsp very difficult, as I don’t have a 7.5 ml measure and had to do it by eye…); 3/4 cup = 180 ml.
    Thanks!

    • Jo says

      Quick update (the buns were still cooking when I posted the last question, and I then had to dash off to take them to a party) – I wanted to let you know that these were amazing! I’d had some frustrations with the bread dough, and, as above, with the liquid coming out of the top of the buns when I was sealing them – it got very messy, but it was all worth it! These are definitely going onto my make again list :-)

  48. Jo says

    Hmmm- just posted, but it doesn’t seem to have taken – apologies if this becomes a double post.
    I wanted to let you know that despite the frustrations I had with the liquid above (it got very messy!), plus some with the dough, these were *amazing*. I had to take them straight out of the oven and to a party, and they were a definite hit (still warm a couple of hours later). They are definitely going onto my make again list :-)

      • Jo says

        I made them again today – have just eaten one still warm :-) It was definitely easier the second time round – now that I knew what I was doing! And, even better, there was enough of the pork mixture left to go into the freezer for next time. Thank you for sharing!

  49. says

    I made these over the weekend but instead of using pork i used BBQ pulled chicken! It was amazing and was such a hit in my house! I must say that this is the best dough recipe I have found! I would love to share this recipe on my blog as a feature!

    – Megan

  50. Miranda says

    I just want to say Thank you so much!!! I just moved back to Sweden after 11 years in Asia (BK and HK) and i had difficulty finding good Chinese food, but this motivated me to make my own!!! My beloved char siu bao <3 Love this website! Will be sharing and bookmarking so many recipes :)

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