baking cooking

Easy, Pillow Soft Char Siu Steamed Pork Baos

Growing up my family would sometimes take trips to Seattle Washington and visit the Pike Place Market. There was one tradition we had every time we went and that was to go to the Bao shop there. My Dad used to work at the Pike Place Market about 50 years ago. My parents would walk around and look at all the different offerings but the bao shop was always a must. They have the best baos I’ve ever tasted. I have yet to be able to copy their immaculate flavor but when I have a craving for one, these baos do the trick. They take a while to make, especially if you don’t have any leftover char siu on hand, but they are not actually difficult much of it is wait time so don’t be intimidated. The inside is sweet and savory with a delicious and tender char siu pork. The outer dough is perfectly fluffy with a slight chewiness. They are perfect for a bite to grab on the go. For the char siu check out my recipe below.

There are many different ways to fold the baos up. I do it the easiest way I can think of even though it’s not traditional. To me they don’t have to be pretty, just functional. If you don’t get the seal on them tight enough, they may open up a little in the steamer. Don’t worry about it because it’s just an aesthetic thing, they will still taste the same.

I use a bamboo steamer. They aren’t too hard to find you can grab them or something similar on amazon or basically any kitchen store. If you don’t have a steamer, you can lay a wire cooling rack across a pan with water in it. Then lay a thin, clean tea towel down, place your baos, and then wrap the tea towel up the sides and over the top. It’s not a perfect solution but it technically works in a pinch.

Here is how I fold my baos.

Easy Char Siu Bao

Prep Time 10 minutes
raising time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese


  • steamer


For the filling

  • 1 cup leftover Char Siu marinade or see recipe below
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup chopped cabbage or mushrooms. optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion or 1 small caramelized yellow onion.
  • 3 cups Char Siu pork cut in small cubes.

For the bao dough

  • 1 pkg instant yeast 1 Tbsp
  • 1 3/4 cup warm water about the temperature you would bathe a toddler in
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 6 cups all purpose flour

If you don't have marinade use this for sauce instead

  • 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups Char Siu cut in small cubes.


For the bao dough

  • In a large bowl combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar and stir. Let the yeast sit for 10 minutes or until the top is foamy.
  • Add to the yeast mixture, flour, baking powder and cut in shortening. mix well until a dough forms. Knead the dough for ten minutes until smooth and elastic. more flour may be needed if it's too sticky.
  • Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover it. Put it in a warm place for 1-2 hrs. until it has tripled in size.
  • Knead the dough again until smooth and elastic.
  • Separate the dough into 4 sections. then roll those sections into logs and cut 4 more sections each. You should now have 16 balls of dough.
  • Flatten the dough into circles. pat the dough down and then pinch and flatten the edges thinner than the center.
  • Add 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center.
  • Fold the circle in half and pinch the very center. Rotate and fold in half the other direction pinching in the center. You should now have an x shaped top. bring the points of the x together pinching hard so that it really sticks. (This is hard to explain in text format see video above for a better explanation)
  • Wait 10 minutes for the baos to rise again before steaming.
  • Line the steamer with parchment or steamer liners. Place the baos 2 inches apart from each other.
  • Add 1 1/2 -2 inches water to a pan. Place steamer on top and bring to a boil.
  • Steam for 12 minutes. Remove the baos carefully as the steam will burn you.
  • Repeat until all the baos are cooked. Check the water level after every round to make sure you have enough in the pan. Baos can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat just steam for 5 minutes.

For the filling

  • Chop cabbage or mushrooms and onions (raw green onion or caramelized yellow onion) place in a medium bowl.
  • Chop cooked pork into small cubes. and place in the bowl.
  • Place cornstarch and marinade in a saucepan and stir over medium heat. (Stir cornstarch in while it's still cold)
  • Add onions, cabbage and pork into the saucepan. Bring the sauce to a slow boil and cook for 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
  • Cool and then scoop 1- 1 1/2 tablespoon filling into bao dough, seal and steam.

If you dont have marinade

  • Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a light boil for 5 minutes. (Stir cornstarch in while it's cold)
  • Cool and then scoop 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons filling into bao dough, seal and steam.
Keyword cantonese, char siu, chinese, easy, Pork

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating