Bao Buns

Bao is a light, fluffy, pillowy steamed buns and today I’m going to show you how to make it all at home, from scratch. I also posted on our YouTube channel the easy to follow the step-by-step recipe. And if you want to add some twist to this recipe, I have also now shared my Black Bao buns recipe here. 😃

White bao buns
Black bao buns

To convert from cups to grams, and vice versa, please see this handy Conversion chart for basic ingredients.

How to steam Bao Buns

  • A bamboo steamer is greater for steaming bao buns and some Asian grocery stores tend to stock a large variety of sizes at inexpensive prices.
  • The bamboo steamer should be the same size as your saucepan you will use underneath.
  • Fill the saucepan about 1/3 full with boiling water and place the bamboo steamer on top.
  • Steam the Bao buns over low-medium heat because if you steam the bao at too high temperature, there is a risk that the buns might overcook or they might even become soggy.

Tips for making Bao Buns

  • Plain all-purpose flour works fine in this recipe but your bao will not be brilliant white like those found in a Chinese restaurant, but the taste and texture should still be the same.
  • For snowy white buns, I recommend using bleached flour which you can find in any Asian grocery store.
  • Steam the buns on low-medium heat so that the buns do not overcook and become soggy.

These are pretty small Bao buns, so three bao buns are probably enough for dinner. 😊

Fillings for steamed bao buns

How to store homemade Bao Buns

Bao Buns are best eaten fresh and as soon as they are steamed. Any leftover can be stored in zip-lock bags or airtight containers and store in the freezer. To reheat, simply steam the frozen bao buns for about 5 minutes to warm through completely.

Please refer to my page – Common Baking and Cooking Conversions if you’re using other baking measurements.

If you try this recipe, please rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube to see what I am getting up to.

You will need:

  • 40 grams (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) lukewarm water
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) lukewarm milk
  • 3 grams (1 tsp) instant dry yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast)
  • 26 grams (2 tbsp) sugar
  • 14 grams (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 175 g all-purpose flour or blenched flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Procedure (video):

Make the dough

  1. In a bowl, combine warm water, milk, active yeast, oil, and 1 tbsp sugar. Whisk to let yeast and sugar dissolve, then let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour, 1 tbsp sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer. But you could also make this with your hand if you prefer.
  3. Make a well and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients mixture. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes or until dough is elastic and really soft but not sticky.

Prove and shape

  1. Take the dough out and form a ball. Grease the mixing bowl with some vegetable oil and place the dough into the mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it becomes triple size, about 2 hours.
  2. Place the raised dough on a floured working surface and roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough using a cookie cutter or wine glass. If you have some leftover bao dough, let it rest again for 30 minutes. Roll it out and cut the dough again.
  3. Brush the tops with oil or use a baking spray and gently fold each piece of dough in half as a half-moon shape. Then gently press each bao with a roller. Watch my video on how I did this.
  4. Cover the buns with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, line your steamer with parchment paper or a coffee filter. Spray some water on a coffee filter to prevent the dough from sticking. After 30 minutes, place your bao dough in the prepared steamer.

Steam Bao

  1. While waiting for the dough to rise, bring water to boil on a wok or steamer pot. Carefully place the steamer with the bao on top of the boiling water wok or pot. Ensure water is not touching the baos—cover and steam for 8 to 12 minutes on low-medium heat.
  2. When they are done cooking, tilt the lid a tiny bit for slow air circulation about 2 minutes before open the lid.
  3. You can serve this bao as a side or make a sandwich. Enjoy!


  • If you don’t have bao flour, you can use plain all-purpose flour for this recipe. While you can substitute all-purpose flour for bao flour, it is highly recommended to follow the type of flour required by the recipe to yield optimum results. 
  • Use warm/room temperature water instead of hot water.
  • Whenever possible, it is always recommended to use weight measurements instead of measuring cups when weighing ingredients. 

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