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Char Siu Bao {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns}

Scratch Cha Shao Bao, Easy Yummy and Healthy

by Shirley
Char Siu Bao {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns} Recipe

Homemade Char Siu Bao {Cha Shao Bao 叉烧包} from scratch is so easy, yummy, and healthy. The cloud-soft & fluffy bun wrappers feature organic all-purpose flour using half milk and half water. The wholesome traditional Chinese Red Yeast Rice gives a delightful bright red color. The secrete for a juicy and delicious BBQ Pork Bun filling is to cook the chopped pork belly from scratch the night before.

Why the night before? Let the cooked chopped BBQ pork sit in the refrigerator overnight, the pork gelatine will then solidify while wrapping around the pork. This not only makes scooping the filling easier, but the gelatine will melt during the steaming, which creates this souping juicy Char Siu Bao filling.

Char Siu Bao {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns} Recipe

How to make a cloud-soft & fluffy Bun Wrapper for Cha Siu Bao?

Tip No.1 is to dissolve active dry yeast in water beforehand

I usually use active dry yeast whenever I can for recipes when there is water content. Why water? This is because you will need to dissolve the active dry yeast completely in water first, before adding to the dough. Never add active dry yeast powder directly. This is one of the most important tips.

active dry yeast dissolved in water

Tip No.2 is to use half milk and half water for Cha Siu Bao Dough

I use whole milk which gives the bun wrapper a white glowing look and spongy texture. The half water is to give the wrapper a light airy balance.

fully proofed half water half milk yeast dough in the mixer, for Cha Siu Bao

Tip No.3 is to use a Stand Mixer to make the dough if you can

For the dough to be fluffy, the flour needs to be fully worked up and saturated with water. While you can use both hands to knead the dough, the mixer does a better job with a breeze.

The funny thing is I used to make the dough by hand all the time. Nevertheless, it took good 15 minutes or longer, when I found out the Stand Mixer can potentially use liquid to accomplish the same result dough. It turned out that the less liquid you use, the more spongy the dough will become after being fully proofed.

Use a stand mixer to knead the dough

Last but not least is to let the dough rise properly

If you want the buns to be super fluffy, then proof twice, before and after wrapping the buns respectively. Let the dough rise and double its size, which takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on the surrounding temperature, first before wrapping. After you have done wrapping the buns, let them rest in the enclosed bamboo steamer over water for about 20 -30 minutes before steaming.

The key is not to over-proofing, otherwise, the dough will lose all its spongy texture. They will also taste sour.

Cha Shao Bao {BBQ Pork Bun} Recipe

How to wrap Char Siu Bao {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns}?

The bottom line is you can wrap the buns any way you want, it doesn’t impact the taste. You can either wrap it in the classic way which is pleaded.

how to wrap buns {easy classic way}

This is the classic way of wrapping buns. Shanghai soup dumplings {Xiao Long Bao} also utilizes this method. Nevertheless, in a mini-sized way.

how to wrap shanghai soup dumplings

Or you can wrap it in a dome. It is especially popular to wrap Dou Sha Bao {Red Bean Buns} this way.

homemade from scratch red bean buns {dou sha bao} recipe

Suzhou or Shanghai-style Sheng Jian Man Tou {Pan Fried Pork Buns} also leverages this method.

Sheng Jian Mantou {Easy Authentic Huai Yang Style}
Sheng Jian Mantou {Easy Authentic Huai Yang Style}

Nevertheless, the traditional Cantonese Dim Sum style Char Siu Bao has a unique look. They split into multiple corners to show off the beautiful juicy red Char Siu filling.

We can potentially accomplish this by wrapping them into four corners and then gently pinching them into a dome. During the steaming, if the force is just right, and you didn’t pinch the corners too tight, the bun will split into four corners.

how to wrap Char Siu Buns {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns}
Char Siu Bao {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns} Recipe

Char Siu Bao {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns} Made from Scratch Recipe

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 36 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 36 minutes

Homemade Char Siu Bao {Chinese BBQ Pork Buns} from scratch is so easy, yummy and healthy, featuring a cloud-soft wrapper and juicy delicious Chinese BBQ Pork chunks.


For Char Siu Filling:

  • 1 lb pork, pork belly/butt or shoulder, cut into small chunks
  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar in the raw, or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp red yeast rice powder, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp star anise powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/8 tsp bay leaf powder, freshly ground, optional

For Bun Wrappers

  • 660 g all-purpose flour, unbleached organic preferred, about 4 cups
  • 25 g avocado oil
  • 170 g water, approximate, depends on the flour and the humidity level
  • 170 g whole milk
  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 15 g cane sugar, organic preferred
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt

For Steaming the Buns:

  • 4 large dried bamboo leaves, use as liner for the buns, optional


Prepare the Char Siu Filling the Night Before:

  • See here to cook the Char Siu Bao Filling the night before and store it in the refrigerator overnight.
    homemade from scratch Char Siu Bao filling recipe
  • The pork gelatin will solidify overnight and wrap around the pork chunks. This makes the wrapping easier. In addition, the gelatin will melt during steaming so that you can have an extremely juicy Char Siu Bao.

Prepare the Bun Dough:

  • For the super fluffy and spongy red bean buns, I use half water and half whole milk to make the dough. Add 660 g all-purpose flour (organic unbleached preferred) to the stand mixer, along with 170g whole milk, 25 g avocado oil, 1/4 tsp salt (Himalayan pink salt), and 15 g cane sugar. Add 170 g water to a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add 4 tsp active dry yeast to a small bowl.
    make dough for fluffy Chinese buns
  • Add some water, about 1/2 cup to the small bowl with the active dry yeast, use a mini whisk or pair of chopsticks to whisk until the yeast is fully dissolved and the whole thing turns into a smooth paste. Do not skip this, which is one of the important keys to fluffy buns.
    dissolve active dry yeast with water in a small bowl
  • Add the yeast paste to the mixing bowl and the remainder of the water from the measuring cup. Use a silicone spatula to fold the flour into the liquid until everything is loosely mixed.
    making half water half milk yeast dough
  • Attach the mixer to the Stand Mixer, and turn it to low, until it forms a smooth dough, about 1-2 minutes.
    smooth half water half milk yeast dough in the Mixer before proofing
  • Cover the mixer with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for about 1-2 hours, depending on the surrounding temperature, or till it doubles in size.
    fully proofed half water half milk yeast dough in the mixer

Wrap and Steam Char Siu Bao:

  • This recipe makes about 22 regular-sized red bean buns, which is perfect for the double-layered bamboo steamer. Each steamer can hold 11 buns nicely. Each bun uses about 48 g of dough. Use a kitchen scale to help measure the dough.
  • Once the dough rises and doubles its size, knead to remove the air and divide into 22 portions, each portion weighings about 48 g. Cover them with a food film to prevent them rom drying.
    prepare dough for wrapping Chinese buns
  • For each portion of the dough, use both hands to continuously press into a ball and then organize it into a round disk. This will release the trapped air which is important for a fluffy bun. The round disk also makes rolling the wrapper easier..
    for each bun portion of dough, press and organize into a round disk
  • Use a Chinese rolling pin to roll the dough disk out into a wrapper that is about 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter. This large dough mat is super handy for makinginging buns with the measurement provided. When you roll the wrapper, start with the outer edge of the wrapper and stop right before you reach the center. This way, the center is thicker than the edge, which is ideal for a bun wrapper.
    freshly rolled Chinese bun wrapper
  • Scoop out a large tablespoonful of previously cooked Char Siu Bao filling and place it in the center of the wrapper. Then visualize four corners diagonally across the round wrapper and gently pinch them together. The goal is for the corners to split during the steaming. Therefore need to be gentle. Another tip is to dusk the corners with flour so that corners do not stick together.
    pinch four corners for wrapping Chinese Char Siu Bao {BBQ Pork Buns}
  • Hold the bun in your left hand (less dominant) and then use the right hand to firmly but gently rotate and pinch four corners up-right together to form a tip, like a peach. Again, be gentle so that the corners open up during steaming.
    pinch four corners together to form a peach shaped bun
  • Place the bun on the bamboo leaf in the bamboo steamer, and repeat to complete additional 10 buns wrapping.
    freshly wrapped Char Siu Bao ready for steaming
  • I use a 14-inch wok paired with a 12-inch bamboo steamer set consisting of two steamers. The bamboo steamer sits snugly inside the wok.
  • Once you've done wrapping the first half of 11 buns. Add 6 cups of water to a cast iron wok and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the bamboo steamer on top of the wok, cover the bamboo steamer with the bamboo lid and steam for 15 minutes.
  • While waiting, continue to wrap the other half of the Char Siu Bao. When the 1st batch is done, add 2 cups of water to the wok, bring it to a boil and repeat to steam the 2nd bamboo steamer.
  • All done! Enjoy a super yummy and nutritious homemade from scratch Char Siu Bao.
    Cha Shao Bao {BBQ Pork Bun} Recipe


  • This recipe makes about 20-22 Char Siu Bao. If you divide and weigh each portion dough about 48 g, then you get 22 buns. If you divide and weigh each portion dough about 50 g, then you get 20 buns.

Nutrition Information
Yield 11 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 405Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 40mgSodium 431mgCarbohydrates 56gFiber 2gSugar 5gProtein 21g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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