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The Best Steamed Bao Buns

Bao buns are fluffy, steamed rolls stuffed with a savory or sweet stuffing. Our bao buns are stuffed with a combo of sweet and sour flavor, pickled veggies, tofu, and a delicious sauce. You really don’t need a special occasion to make these hand-held treats in your Instant Pot, so go ahead and make them tonight!

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Steamed Bao buns

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What is a Bao Buns

Bao buns (which are pronounced “bow” in English) are soft, fluffy, and sweet steamed bread that contain a delicious stuffing. The stuffing can be either sweet or savory. Our stuffing is a combination of sweet from sugar and sour from vinegar. 

Our bao buns are shaped like a “U” to help you pack them full of tofu and pickled vegetables. They are the perfect hand food that you can serve whenever you want a laid back entree.

Steamed Bao buns

Why you’ll love these buns

Our bao buns are the perfect combination of sweet and sour. They are deliciously fluffy and melt in your mouth. 

These buns are also perfect for a delicious weekend meal or any night you have a little bit of time to let the dough rise. These buns are perfect for anyone who loves to proof dough in their Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot makes these bao easy to make! They cook in less than 20 minutes total after an hour of rise time. 

If you love a sweet and sour, laid back food, then you will love these bao buns and should make them tonight!

Steamed Bao buns

Ingredients you’ll need

You’ll need four sets of ingredients to make these bao buns. Here’s what to gather for each.

For the bao buns:

  • Active dry yeast - You can use loose or a packet of yeast.
  • Warm water - Make sure it is lukewarm or slightly warmer to prevent accidentally killing the yeast.
  • All-purpose flour - I strongly recommend using all purpose instead of bread or other flours.
  • Granulated sugar - We use organic, but you can use any white sugar you prefer.
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • Oil - You’ll need to divide the oil.
  • Squares of baking paper - This will help prevent them from sticking.

Steamed Bao buns

For the pickled veggies, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Rice vinegar - You can use white if you cannot find rice vinegar.
  • Granulated sugar - We use organic, but non-organic can work too.
  • Salt
  • Veggies - We use julienne cut cucumber and carrots and sliced jalapeno peppers.

Steamed Bao buns

For the tofu filling, you’ll need:

  • Soy sauce- you can use  low sodium
  • Rice vinegar - You can use white vinegar if you prefer.
  • Maple syrup - hint of sweetness
  • Sambal oelek - This is optional and used to taste.
  • Sesame oil- Add a nice nutty flavor
  • Oil - We use a light tasting oil that can withstand high heat.
  • Firm tofu - The tofu needs to be pressed and sliced.

For serving the buns, you’ll need:

  • Hoisin sauce  -  A must!
  • Chopped roasted peanuts - You can use salted or unsalted.
  • White and black sesame seeds
  • Cilantro - You’ll need to chop the cilantro as a garnish.

How to make bao buns

Bao buns are pretty easy to make at home. For this recipe, you’ll need to fire up your Instant Pot and get steaming. Here’s how to make the buns.

bao buns step by step instruction

Make the dough

  • First, add flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, oil, and water to a large stand mixer bowl. Next, use a dough hook to mix everything on medium speed. You will need to add a little more warm water to add a bit more moisture to the dough once it comes together.
  • Next, let it knead on medium speed until the dough turns glossy and soft. It should also feel smooth to the touch. The kneading will take around 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Once the dough is ready, empty the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 1 minute or until smooth. Next, add extra flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks to the palm of your hand. Once it no longer sticks, you can stop adding flour.

bao buns step by step instruction

  • When the dough is ready, lightly grease the inner pot with some oil and place the dough in the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Next, cover with the lid and press the yogurt button and proof the dough for 60 minutes.
  • Once it has risen, punch down the dough in the center. Next, transfer the dough to a work surface and dust with flour and knead it for 5 to 10 minutes. The goal is to remove as many air bubbles as possible from the dough.
  • Next, divide the dough in 12 equal parts and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about a 1 cm thick circle.

Prep and steam the buns

bao buns step by step instruction

  • Once the dough circles are made, lightly spread the oil over the surface of the dough. Next, use an 8 cm diameter pastry cutter or a plastic cup of the same diameter to cut out rounds from each piece of dough.
  • When the cuts are made, remove the excess dough from the edges. Next, fold the rounds in half and flatten slightly with the rolling pin and then place the round on a square of baking paper and place directly into a large bamboo steamer or onto a tray. Repeat with remaining dough. You can also use excess dough to make more buns. Cover it with a cloth and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Next, prepare the Instant Pot to steam the buns by pouring in 1 cup of water into the inner pot and placing a trivet inside. Once the water is added, arrange the buns in a bamboo steamer and place it in the pot. You will need to steam the buns in batches.
  • Finally, close the lid and steam it for 10 minutes. Once done, open the lid carefully and remove the bamboo steamer. Once they are steamed, you can fill them up.

bao buns step by step instruction

Prep the fillings

  • To make the pickled veggies, combine the water, sugar, rice vinegar, and salt in a pot or deep pan over high heat. Next, stir until the sugar dissolves and then bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, add the vegetables to the brine. First, stir to submerge, then remove the pot from the heat. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. This is a great step to do before starting the steaming process. Finally, drain before adding them to the bao buns.

bao buns step by step instruction

Tofu filling

  • To prepare the tofu, first heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu and sear on one side until deep brown in color. 
  • Flip and cook on the other side until deep brown or about 5 minutes more. Remove the tofu from the pan. 
  • Finally, add all the sauce in the same pan and reduce until it thickens which will take about 5 minutes and then add in the tofu to coat with the glaze. Remove the pan from the heat and stuff the bao with the veggies and tofu.

bao buns

Pro tips and tricks

Sometimes making baked goods can be intimidating. But making them with the Instant Pot is super easy and takes a lot of the stress out! Here are some tips for making the best bao possible:

  • Use a neutral oil when making the bao buns to avoid over-powering the flavor. 
  • Add water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too dry to prevent it becoming too moist. 
  • Let the dough rise in the Instant Pot with controlled temperature for the best results with the yeast.
  • Serve the bao buns warm from the steamer with the pickled veggies and tofu.

How to serve

To serve, slather the inside of the bao buns with hoisin sauce, then add the glazed tofu, the pickled vegetables, cilantro, peanuts, and the sesame seeds. These are the perfect handheld food and a great way to enjoy Asian inspired food without a need for chopsticks or other utensils.

Looking for fusion Ideas

steamed bao buns

How to freeze the Buns

You can freeze the buns after you steam them. Prior to freezing, allow them to cool completely. Once they are cooled, wrap each in a paper towel and place in a freezer safe bag. Before sealing the bag, squeeze as much air out as possible.  

When you are ready to serve, defrost them in the fridge overnight. You can reheat them in a steamer for a few minutes or until they are warmed through.

bao buns

Other bread ideas

Do you love poofing breads in the Instant Pot? You should also try our other favorite bread recipes, including:

Other Asian Fusion Recipes

We love Asian fusion recipes. They hit the spot when you want the flavors of Asia and don’t want to leave the house. If you are hungry for more mouthwatering Asian-inspired flavor, try out these recipes tonight:

Let us know what you think

If you make these fluffy bao buns, don’t forget to let us know what you think of these mouthwatering treats! Be sure to take a pic and tag us on Instagram @dbellyrulesdmind or Facebook @thebellyrulesthemind

steamed bao buns

The Best Steamed Bao Buns

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Bao buns are fluffy, steamed rolls stuffed with a savory or sweet stuffing. Our bao buns are stuffed with a combo of sweet and sour flavor, pickled veggies, tofu, and a delicious sauce. You really don’t need a special occasion to make these hand-held treats in your Instant Pot, so go ahead and make them tonight!

Ingredients

For Bao buns

  • Active dry yeast - 1 packet (1 ¼ teaspoons)
  • Warm water - 1 cup + few tbsp
  • All-purpose flour - 3 cups
  • Organic granulated sugar - 1 ½ tablespoons
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons oil, divided.
  • Baking paper (about 10x10cm) - 12 squares

For the Pickled Veggies

  • Water - ¼ cup
  • Rice vinegar - ¼ cup
  • Organic granulated sugar - 1 tablespoon
  • Medium carrot julienne cut - 1
  • Salt - ½ teaspoon
  • Medium cucumber, julienne cut - ½
  • Medium jalapeño pepper, sliced - 1

For the tofu Filling

  • Soy sauce - ⅓ cup
  • Rice vinegar - 2 tablespoons
  • Maple syrup - 2 tablespoons
  • Sambal oelek or to taste (optional) - 2 teaspoons
  • Sesame oil - 1 teaspoon
  • Oil (or high heat oil of choice) - 2 tablespoon
  • Firm tofu, pressed ,sliced into strips - 12 oz

For Serving

  • Hoisin sauce - 10 tablespoons
  • Chopped roasted peanuts - ½ cup
  • White and black sesame seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Chopped cilantro - ½ cup

Instructions

Make the dough

  1. First, add flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, oil, and water to a large stand mixer bowl.
  2. Next, use a dough hook to mix everything on medium speed. You will need to add a little more warm water to add a bit more moisture to the dough once it comes together.
  3. Next, let it knead on medium speed until the dough turns glossy and soft. It should also feel smooth to the touch. The kneading will take around 5 to 7 minutes
  4. Empty out onto a work surface and knead for 1 minute or until smooth. Add extra flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks to the palm of your hand.
  5. When the dough is ready, lightly grease the inner pot with some oil and place the dough in the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Next, cover with the lid and press the yogurt button and proof the dough for 60 minutes
  6. Once it has risen, punch down the dough in the center. Next, transfer the dough to a work surface and dust with flour and knead it for 5 to 10 minutes. The goal is to remove as many air bubbles as possible from the dough.


Prep and steam the buns

  1. Next, divide the dough in 12 equal parts and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about a 1 cm thick circle.
  1.  Once the dough circles are made, lightly spread the oil over the surface of the dough. Next, use an 8 cm diameter pastry cutter or a plastic cup of the same diameter to cut out rounds from each piece of dough
  2. Remove the excess dough.
  3. Next, fold the rounds in half and flatten slightly with the rolling pin and then place the round on a square of baking paper and place directly into a large bamboo steamer or onto a tray.
  4. Repeat with remaining dough (excess dough can be re-rolled and used). 
  5. Next, prepare the Instant Pot to steam the buns by pouring in 1 cup of water into the inner pot and placing a trivet inside. Once the water is added, arrange the buns in a bamboo steamer and place it in the pot. You will need to steam the buns in batches.
  6. Finally, close the lid and steam it for 10 minutes. Once done, open the lid carefully and remove the bamboo steamer. Once they are steamed, you can fill them up
  7. Prep the fillings

  1. In a pot or deep pan over high heat, combine the water, sugar, rice vinegar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add the vegetables the brine. Stir to submerge, then remove the pot from the heat. Let it sit for 20 mins, while you sear the tofu and steam the buns, then drain.

Tofu filling

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and sear on one side until deep brown in color.
  2. Flip and cook on the other side until deep brown, 5 minutes more.
  3. Remove the tofu from the pan. Add all the sauce in the same pan and reduce until it thickens (5 minutes ) add in the tofu to the pan and stir to coat with the glaze.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat.

Assembling the bao buns

  1. To serve, slather the inside of the bao buns with hoisin sauce, then, glazed tofu, the pickled vegetables, cilantro, peanuts and sesame seeds.
Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 280Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 0mgSodium 954mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 3gSugar 9gProtein 9g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. We are not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on TheBellyRulesTheMind.net should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though we try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of our ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

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