My BBQ pork buns are filled with a mouthwatering, tangy barbecue pork filling dressed in rich Chinese seasonings and flavors. You get sweet, spicy, and savory flavors in every bite. With these warming flavors packed in a baked, glazed, fluffy bun, this recipe is easy to eat, serve, and save!
Chinese BBQ Pork Buns, or Char Siu Bao, are an incredibly popular Chinese dish. It is a form of dim sum that is commonly served either baked or steamed. It’s delicious either way, but I prefer to bake them!
My goal was to make incredibly fluffy pork bao buns, made possible by the Asian flour paste (tangzhong) used in the dough. It really makes all the difference and is well worth the extra step.
Many of the ingredients here are listed in my Essential Chinese Spices and Pantry Staples, which I recommend you check out if you enjoy Chinese cuisine and flavors.
Rich, heavy, baked Char Siu Bao like this calls for a refreshing side! Try out my Pai Huang Gua (Chinese Cucumber Salad) or Sunomono Salad recipes for some bright, zesty flavors to have alongside your BBQ pork buns.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Dough -Using bread flour to start, this recipe includes:
- Hot Water -We use hot water to make a very tender dough.
- Milk -For a mild, creamy flavor and enticing crust.
- Salt & Sugar -These ingredients work together to control the rise of the dough and add flavor.
- Instant Yeast, Egg, & Butter -These ingredients add flavor, help the dough rise, and work to form a nice crust.
- BBQ Pork Filling -In addition to vegetable oil, sugar, and flour, we’ll use:
- Shallots -To add a gentle sweetness and spice.
- Dark & Light Soy Sauce -We use both for a combination for a sweet, salty, and fresh taste.
- Oyster Sauce -Sweet, salty, savory, and tangy.
- Rice Wine Vinegar -You can use white wine vinegar as a substitute.
- Sesame Oil -Very nutty and viscous.
- Chinese Five Spice -This spice combination is very strong and warm.
- White Pepper -Earthy, grassy, and mild.
- Chicken Stock -You can also use vegetable stock.
- Chinese Char Siu BBQ Pork -Juicy, sweet, and savory – the star of the dish!
- Egg Wash -Made with egg and water to give the buns a beautiful golden color.
- Glaze -Mix corn syrup with water for a sweet glaze that’ll make these buns shine- literally!
HOW TO MAKE BBQ PORK BAO DOUGH
- Make the Tangzhong. Whisk together the flour, water, and milk in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium and continue whisking until it forms a paste.
- Form the Dough. Combine the remaining flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour paste (tangzhong) and remaining dough ingredients. If using a stand mixer, use the hook attachment and stir on low until the dough forms, and then on medium to knead. If you do not have a stand mixer, then knead by hand for 15 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 1 hour.
HOW TO MAKE PORK SIU BAO FILLING
- Stir Fry. Heat oil in a skillet on medium high. Stir fry the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, soy and oyster sauces, vinegar, sesame oil, Five Spice, and white pepper. Stir until it begins to bubble.
- Add the BBQ Meat. Stir Chinese BBQ Pork into the sauce and sprinkle flour over top. Toss to coat and mix, cooking for another minute.
- Reduce and Thicken. Add the chicken stock, reduce heat to low, and stir until thickened. Remove from the heat and cool.
HOW TO MAKE BBQ PORK BUNS
1. Knead. Punch the raised dough and turn out onto a floured surface to knead. Roll into a ball and cut into 12 equal pieces.
To prevent the dough from drying out, cover the pieces you aren’t working on with a damp kitchen towel or sheet of plastic wrap.
2. Shape. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten it in your palm. Keep the center thicker, pressing the edges down with your fingers.
3. Add the Filling. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the dough. Bring the edges up and around to the center, pinching together to seal. Place the dough ball pinched side down. Cup the dough and move it in a small, circular motion to seal it closed. Repeat until all filling is used.
4. Allow to Rise. Lay each bun on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 1 hour.
5. Egg Wash and Bake. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
6. Glaze and Cool. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with the glaze.
NOTE: It’s important to add the filling sparingly. Otherwise, the buns could split open during baking. To prevent this, add no more than 1 tablespoon of filling per bun.
See instructions for each step in the recipe card, or watch my video (in recipe card) to see how it’s done!
Where should I put dough to help it rise?
I like to keep mine in the microwave while it rises. It’s a tight, small space with no drafts that maintains a consistent, warm temperature.
You can, and I often do! Once I finish filling the buns, I put half in the freezer. Use an airtight container or baggie.
When you’re ready to bake, allow them to come to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.
What do BBQ pork buns taste like?
The bun itself has a very fresh, milky taste. It’s rather fluffy and has a sweet glaze topping. The BBQ is very rich and savory, with a great deal of umami flavor.
To put it simply, baked char siu bao have a slightly spicy, rich BBQ flavor packed in a chewy, fluffy bun. And it’s absolutely delicious!
This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes Dec. 03, 2020, was updated with new content on Feb. 02, 2022.
BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)
BBQ Pork Filling
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp corn syrup
- 2 tsp water
- Make the Tangzhong: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/3 cup flour with 1/2 cup hot water and 1/3 cup milk until the flour is dissolved. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture resembles a thick paste, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl with dough hook attached, combine remaining 3 2/3 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the flour paste (tangzhong), remaining 2/3 cup milk, egg, and the butter. Stir on Low until dough comes together. Turn speed up to Medium and knead dough for 15 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough into a ball and place into lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel, and let rise for 1 hour (See Note 1).
BBQ Pork Filling
- Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium high heat in a skillet or wok. Add the shallot and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, light and dark soy sauces, oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, Five Spice Powder and white pepper. Stir and cook until it starts to bubble up, about a minute. Add the chopped BBQ pork and sprinkle the flour over all. Toss to coat and mix in. Cook for another minute.
- Add the chicken stock, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring for 3 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- After the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it over onto a floured surface, knead several times. Roll into a ball and cut it into 12 equal pieces. Cover the pieces you aren’t working on with damp tea towel or plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
- Shape each cut piece into a small ball. Using the palm of your hand, press down to flatten the dough ball. Shape each circle by hand or with rolling pin, keeping the center slightly thicker than the edges. I use my fingers to press and spread the dough, leaving a mound of dough taller in the center than the edges.
- Place 2+ tablespoons of the filling on the center of the dough circle.
- Bring the edges up and around filling to the center and pinch together. (If there is too much dough, pinch it off and discard and pinch dough to seal again).
- Place filled dough ball pinched side down on floured surface. Place your palm and fingers over the ball, cupping the dough and move the dough in a small circular motion to seal the pinched bottom. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Lay each seam side down on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon mat. Cover with damp tea towel again and let rise for another hour (See Note 2). Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush each bun with egg wash and put them in the oven, bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and brush tops with glaze. Allow to cool slightly before eating.
- I keep it in the microwave, it’s a tight small draft free space and it rises great.
- At this point I often times freeze half of them for another day. Seal in an airtight container or Ziploc bag after frozen. Thaw and allow to come to room temperature before baking as directed above.
- Recipe adapted from Woks of Life
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.