Char siu bao (in Cantonese) or char shao bao (in Mandarin) is a typical Cantonese bun stuffed with diced barbecue pork. There are two versions of char siu bao, namely steamed and baked (also called chan bao in Cantonese). While the steamed buns version is white in colour the baked version is often toasted and glazed with egg wash and or honey and sometimes garnished with white sesame seeds before baking in the oven. Enclosed in the center of these savoury buns is tender and delicious roasted pork diced and mixed with the barbecue sauce from the slow roasting process. Both versions of barbecue pork buns are often served as dim sum in Cantonese yum cha restaurants. These char siu bao is a type of baozi, steamed or baked, filled bun or bread like bun in many different Chinese cuisines. There are many variations to the fillings of these baozi or buns and the fillings can be sweet or savoury. For my gluten free recipe, I am using barbecue pork fillets finely diced and wrapped in a dense and soft bread dough. My recipe is also dairy free, nut free and egg free. Soy flour is used in the Laucke easy bakers gluten free white bread flour I am using. This specific Laucke gluten free bread flour can also be purchased from Coles. You can use any gluten free white bread flour. For my gluten free recipe on how to make barbecue pork recipe (Char Siu) and barbecue sauce, refer recipe here.
Lean and trimmed pork is a nutritional source of low fat protein and naturally low in sodium. It is also a rich source of B group of vitamins including vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B12. Lean pork is also a good source of minerals like zinc, iron, selenium and magnesium. Health benefits of pork include: build strong bones and teeth; boost the immune system; support healthy eyes, hair, nails and skin; maintain muscle strength; encourage creation of normal red blood cells; promote metabolism and energy production; sustain normal blood pressure and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
Chinese Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)
- Gluten free flour for dusting work surface
- Baking or parchment paper cut into 2½ inch square pieces
For the Filling:
- 250 g 8.8oz gluten free barbecue pork, diced into 1cm cubes (refer relevant recipe)
- 3 tablespoons gluten free barbecue sauce refer relevant recipe
For the dough:
- 700 g 1.5Ib gluten free white bread flour (Laucke Easy Bakers)
- 2 teaspoon dry active yeast
- 30 g 1oz agave sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 350 ml rice milk
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
For preparing the dough:
- Warm the rice milk in a small pot for around 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Add in the extra virgin olive oil and agave sugar and mix well until all the agave sugar has dissolved.
- Place all the dry ingredients including the yeast into a large mixing bowl.
- Attach the mixing bowl to an electric mixer and then attach the dough hook. Using low speed, mix for about 30 seconds or until ingredients are well combined.
- Continue on low speed, gradually pour the warm rice milk mixture in step 1 into the well in the large bowl for about 2 minute.
- Stop mixing and then use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Mix on low setting for another 5 minutes or until you get a smooth dough.
- Divide the dough into 2 portions. Seal in ziplock bags and let the dough rest on the benchtop to rise for 30 minutes.
For rolling out the dough:
- Dust the work surface with some gluten free flour.
- Remove 1 bag of dough from the ziplock bag at a time, divide the dough equally into 13 large balls around 83g (3oz) each. Repeat until all the dough are finished.
- Flatten each ball into a disc or patty and shape each patty into 4 inch round dough with the middle thicker than the edges.
For filling the dough:
- In a small bowl, mix and combine well the barbecue pork pieces with the barbecue sauce.
- Place some pork fillings onto each dough and wrap and pinch the dough together. Ensure that they are tightly sealed and shape into a smooth ball.
For cooking the buns:
- Arrange each dough onto a piece of baking/parchment paper with the sealed side facing down.
- Heat up a wok with a steaming rack with some water and place the bamboo steamer on top of the steaming rack. Steam the buns for 20 minutes on high heat in batches. Ensure that there is sufficient water in the wok for the whole steaming process. Repeat until all the buns are cooked. You can use any type of steamer.
- Remove and place the cooked buns on a cooling rack. Best serve warm.
- You can also store the buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat by steaming on high heat for 5 minutes or in microwave for 1½ minutes or until buns are soft.
Disclosure Statement: I am NOT paid by Laucke Easy Bakers for this post!
22 thoughts on “Chinese Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)”
Can you freeze these?
If so would I have to steam them before I freeze them or can I freeze them without coming first?
Yes, you can freeze these buns.
You have to steam and cook them and let them cool on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Once cooled, transfer the tray to the freezer for around 1 hour so they will keep their shape and will not stick together. Once they are frozen, you can transfer them to freezer bags or airtight container and then return to the freezer. Keep up to 1 month. Reheat by steaming until soft and hot.
I used a gluten free bread flour blend but the buns still turned out hard – do you have any tips? Also, is there an alternative to rice milk (almond milk etc)?
You can try using a different brand of gluten free bread flour blend as they can vary. Alternative, you can use my Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) recipe using gluten free self-raising flour with yeast or Chinese Steamed Custard Buns recipe using gluten free self-raising flour with baking powder. You can also use any type of vegan milk like almond milk or soy milk instead of rice milk if you prefer.
Would this recipe work with bobs red mill gluten free baking flour?
So excited to try these thanks for the recipe! 🙂
You can use Bob’s Red Mill gluten Free Self-Raising Flour using my plain Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou) recipe. Don’t use gluten free All Purpose flour for this recipe as the buns will turn out hard. 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
These looks delicious and tasty. Its very Asian for me because of Dim sums, like siomai and dumplings and I loved Asian food so I’ll definitely try and cook this for my friends who are working in one of the
best restaurants docklands. I know they will love this, and maybe putting a twist like a sauce or ketchup inside the bun would be great.
Steamed BBQ porks buns are one of the many favourite dim sums. I love and miss a lot of the dim sums! You can add more than 3 tablespoons bbq sauce as stated in the recipe from my bbq pork recipe. Hope you and your friends enjoy this recipe! 🙂
Yeah. and for the sauce I just want a little sweet because combining it with pork, for me really delicious.
I have always wanted to try these. Unfortunately I was diagnosed before I had a chance to. I did get to try redbean buns made into pretty peaches. they were amazing. Any suggestions on a flour mix on amazon? I never buy gluten free breadflour so I have no go to for this.
Love red bean paste buns!
You can purchase King Arthur Bread Mix on Amazon as it is a good brand with good review.
Could I use normal white sugar? Or brown sugar? Is it the same measurement?
You can use either normal white sugar or light brown sugar. As agave sugar is sweeter than normal sugar, you may need more normal sugar, just adjust to taste.
I think its awesome they are gluten free!! This would make a perfect dish for some of my friends 🙂 NOM NOM!
Thanks NOM NOM ! These buns will definitely be a crowd pleaser. 🙂
Thank you so much for posting! I have been looking for a good bao recipe for a while 🙂
Enjoy the bao recipe! You may also like my other gf and vegan custard bun recipe https://www.healthygfasian.com/chinese-steamed-custard-buns/ 🙂
What a brilliant recipe and it’s gluten free, great idea. I must try making these.
This gluten free Char Siu Bao recipe is a must try recipe that closely resembles the gluten version. Enjoy the recipe. ☺
These looks so tasty! I really love Chinese pork buns and all kinds of dim sum too.
I love all the dim sum especially the different types of sweet or savoury buns. ????