Steamed Pork Buns

by Sarah

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 | www.savoringspoon.comSteamed 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 | www.savoringspoon.comThe 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 | www.savoringspoon.comTo 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 | www.savoringspoon.comI 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.

Leave a Comment

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder July 25, 2014 at 8:09 pm

oooah this looks so labor intensive but soooo good! Nice video too Sarah – so pro


2 Sarah July 26, 2014 at 1:13 am

Thanks Natalie! The actual folding was actually pretty fast. I think the lack of food processor at the start was the major time holdup.


3 Connie @ Sprig and Flours July 25, 2014 at 11:06 pm

I love this post! My family will go nuts over this! My favorite thing at dim sum is the pineapple buns. Have you ever made them? I would love to learn how!


4 Sarah July 26, 2014 at 1:15 am

Hi Connie, I’m glad you like this post! Let me know how it turns out if you try it. I haven’t made pineapple buns before, but they taste delicious every time I get them at dim sum. I’ll let you know when I make them!


5 Nagi@RecipeTinEats October 20, 2014 at 7:22 pm

My jaw dropped when I found this while browsing your blog. I LOVE pork buns. They are my favourite at yum cha and I will forgo dumplings for these!! I am so impressed you make the filling from scratch, every other recipe I have seen starts with BBQ Pork (which is delicious, but no good for poor sods like me where the closest Chinese BBQ shop is 35 minutes away!) AND your dipping sauce looks great! BALSAMIC VINEGAR! How did I never think of that?? I presume that is a substitute for black vinegar?


6 Sarah October 20, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Hi Nagi! I love pork buns too (and yum cha in general!) I use balsamic vinegar to substitute black vinegar to give the sauce a sweeter taste :)


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