Steamed Pork Buns

by Sarah on July 25, 2014

in Asian Dishes, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Entrees

Remember those fluffy steamed pork buns you ate at the dim sum place or picked up at 99 Ranch Market? This is your chance to make it at home!

Homemade steamed pork buns | Steamed buns (also known as bao zi) are a Chinese dim sum classic, and the filling comes in all flavors and textures. The pork and vegetable filling is most popular, and easy to make at home. These buns are filled with pork, onions, and mushrooms. The mushrooms make the buns extra yummy.

The best part about the buns is that you can make it ahead and freeze it. This is my inner med-student-too-busy too cook coming out. I made about 40 of these a month ago, and froze them in the freezer. I’m still eating these with dinner.

Homemade steamed pork buns | The initial making process is best  done either A. over two days, making filling the first and doing bread and folding on the next day OR B. In one day, making the filling while the bread rises.

Homemade steamed pork buns | filling | To really speed up the filling making, use a food processor to chop all the vegetables. I did part of the filling chopping by hand because I couldn’t figure out how the new food processor worked, but once the food processor worked it took about 2 minutes to do what I did in 40 minutes. So get a food processor! It doesn’t have to be a nice one, it just has to be able to dice things. Food processors are perfect for making dumpling fillings and bao zi fillings in minutes. Here are some affordable food processors from amazon: Hamilton Beach 8-cup, Black and Decker 8-cup. I tried the Black and Decker one recently and it was really nice!

If you want to invest in a fancy food processor, The Cusineart food processors are great and come in a variety of sizes from 7 cup to 14 cup. I’ve used the 7-cup one at home before moving away for college / med school really liked that it came with different attachments for cutting in different shapes.

Homemade steamed pork buns | I did in fact once spend an afternoon making dumpling filling with my blender. It took 30 minutes to chop lettuce up using my blender because the blades were small and dull. So I highly recommend you get a food processor if you are deciding between that or a blender. Or both if you like smoothies!

The actual folding of the pork bun is very fun. And here’s a video I made showing how I fold it.

Once you fold the steamed pork buns, you can either steam it right away or freeze it. If you want to freeze it, put the buns on a cutting board / plate/ cookie sheet with about 2 cm around each pork bun so they don’t stick to each other. Then put it in your freezer a few hours till they are as hard as rocks. Once they are frozen you can put all of them in one gallon sized (or more!) freezer-safe Ziploc bag. At this point it is okay if they touch each other because they are already frozen so won’t stick.

Homemade steamed pork bun| dipping sauce |  Whether you want to freeze or steam the buns, it is important not to let them sit at room temp too long when you are deciding. In other words don’t make all 40 buns at once and then decide if you want to freeze or start steaming. Because the bread is made with yeast, it will continue rising as the already made buns sit at room temperature. Pretty soon all the pleats you made will swell up and  your bun will look like an inflated ball with just a few ripples instead of pleats.

I plan to make these again closer to when school starts and freeze them to eat during the quarter. They are a great make-ahead time-saver, in other words, high yield.

Steamed Pork Buns


  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 4tbs white sugar
  • 4 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • Filling
  • 1 gound pork
  • 2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 12 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp cooking wine
  • 1tsp minced ginger
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce (can add more or less for desired saltiness)
  • 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • pinch of black pepper
  • Dipping Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • sesame seeds
  • diced green pepper (optional, spicy)


  1. 4-8 hours before, put 2 cups of shiitake mushrooms in a large bowl of water so they can plump up from their dried form.
  2. Dice shittake mushrooms, green onions, and yellow onions. Alternatively, dice using a food processor (so much faster!)
  3. Mix diced vegetables into ground pork in a large bowl, using a spatula or fork. Add cooking wine, minced ginger, salt, sugar, sesame oil, corn starch, black pepper. Add soy sauce (can do less or more depending on how salty you like it). Mix till well distributed. Filling can be kept in the fridge overnight.
  4. In a large pot or bowl, add lukewarm water (can be from your sink) and yeast. Let it sit for a few minutes till it bubbles (tells you the yeast is alive).
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients for the bread, adding four last. Kneed till well combined, and cover the bowl/pot it's in. Leave in a warm place for 4 hours.
  6. Put flour on a cutting board, and roll out half the dough. Roll it into a long cylinder and pull off a section to fold the buns. Use rolling pin to roll until about 1 mm thick.
  7. Fill buns with 1.5 tablespoons filling, and fold by pinching the top in a circle (see video).
  8. At this point you can freeze the buns in the freezer (do it on a flat cutting board so they don't stick together, once they harden transfer to large Ziploc bag) or you can steam right away.
  9. To steam, cut parchment paper square to cover bottom of buns and steam in rice cooker or stove pot steamer for 30-40 minutes (use medium high if you are on the stove. The rice cooker will only have one heat setting anyways).
  10. Make dipping sauce by combining all ingredients and stirring till combined. Serve hot!


Recipe makes about 40 buns.


Hello there! I’m super excited about these cupcakes, because in addition to being delicious and vegan (code: healthier) they have a surprise center! I bought a cupcake corer when I started med school last Fall, but school and classes got in the way and anywho this is my first time using it (but will NOT be the last!).

Vegan raspberry cupcake with surprise jelly filling |
Taste-wise these cupcakes are fluffy vanilla cupcakes and the top is filled with a vanilla buttercream with a hint of cinnamon. I love the kick that cinnamon brings to any sweet dish, and might even add some to the cupcake stump next time. Every part of this cupcake is vegan friendly, and no part of it makes me eat it and think: ew this is for sure vegan. I didn’t always eat vegan desserts so I promise I have tasted *both* kinds and the vegan ones are not just healthier but often tastier because they are lighter (yes! gasp, a light cake). When you bite into the cake, the filling oozes into your mouth creating extra texture and deliciousness.

Vegan raspberry cupcake with surprise jelly filling |

The center of the cupcake is filled with rasberry jam. Specifically, this is the jam I used (Bonne Mama raspberry preserves). I got them at Safeway, but I think they exist everywhere.

Rasberry jam for vegan rasberry cupcakes | To prep the cupcakes for filling, I first cutholes out of the cupcakes using the cuisipro cupcake corer. I cooled the cupcakes after baking, then put the cupcake corer  in the center, pushed down, and twisted, then pulled up. And Voila! A disk of cupcake was sucked into the cupcake corer and there was a hole in the cupcake like this:

cupcakes-without-center-650px The cupcake corer’s red button even lets you pop the freshly removed cupcake center right into your mouth! That is ingenious design.

Then I filled the cupcakes with the jelly using a spatula (spoon, whatever works for you).

filled-raspberry-cupcakes-650px Now the cupcakes are totally ready to be frosted! I used the Oasis 1A tip (first time using this tip too!) to pipe out my vanilla cinnamon frosting.  I topped it off with a fresh raspberry, and glazed it with an apricot fruit glaze to make the raspberry shiny. The glaze took all about 5 minutes to make, basically boiling some apricot preserves with 1 tablespoon of water until it mixes into a liquidy glaze. I did this in a mini pyrex bowl right on top of my stove so I didn’t have to wash an extra bowl and could store it in the same bowl I heated it in.

fruit-jelly-coat-650px Finishing off the cupcake, I sprinkled it with edible Wilton gold star sprinkles. PS I just got these gold stars in silver recently and am excited to try them on some champagne strawberry cupcakes soon!

Vegan raspberry cupcake with surprise jelly filling | Since the cupcakes were a gift, I put them in a four-cupcake box with a see-through center and tied it off with a ribbon. I like the see-through box because then I can see if I’m pressing the box too far and squishing the raspberry into the icing. It didn’t squish too much but with the box on my raspberries were touching the box top.

Vegan raspberry cupcake with surprise jelly filling |

Here is the youtube video I watched to tie the ribbon into a bow! Super easy to follow.


Raspberry cupcakes with surprise center


  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Wet
  • 1 cup soy milk (or almond / rice milk)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure white imitation vanilla extract
  • Frosting
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure white imitation vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of soy milk
  • Filling
  • Bonne Maman raspberry preserves
  • Fruit Glaze
  • 1/4 cup peach preserves
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients separately in a wet bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well with a spatula until just combined.
  3. Use cookie dispenser to add batter to each cupcake liner. Add about 1.5 scoops per cupcake if you are using the 1.5 tablespoon dispenser.
  4. Bake until toothpick inserted to center of cupcake comes out clean (about 25 minutes).
  5. Frosting
  6. Beat shortening till smooth with electric hand mixer. Add the rest of the frosting ingredients, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on high.
  7. Fruit glaze
  8. Heat mixture of water and peach preserves on stove on medium-high till boiling and preserves have started to blend into the water so it isn't chunky anymore. Stir. This takes a few minutes.
  9. Assembly
  10. After cupcakes are cool, use cupcake corer to cut centers out of cupcake. Fill holes with raspberry preserves. Put frosting in a 12 inch piping bag (do it in batches so the bag does not overflow) and use 1A tip to pipe swirls on cupcakes. Top with raspberry and glaze with fruit glaze. Sprinkle gold stars.


Recipe is for 12 cupcakes

Recipe for cupcake stumps and frosting are adapted from Chloe Coscarelli's book Chloe's Vegan Desserts, which I highly recommend for healthier baking!


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