Cha Siu Bao Recipe
Cha Siu Bao (also spelled as Cha Siu Bao or Char Siew Bao) is one of the signature dishes in dim sum restaurants around the world.
Called 叉烧包, or cha shao bao in Chinese, they are a Chinatown classic!
Originated from Guangzhou in mainland China, Cha Siu Bao is a delicacy.
These Cantonese steamed pork buns are found in many Cantonese-Chinese restaurants serving dim sum.
Imagine soft, fluffy white steamed buns filled with savory char siu or Chinese BBQ pork filling in a sweet and savory char siu sauce; they are absolutely delicious!
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How to Make Cha Siu Bao?
For soft and fluffy homemade steamed buns, you need a mixture of low-gluten flour and wheat starch.
The low-gluten flour is called Hong Kong Flour in Malaysia and you can get the flour from supermarket.
If you can’t find Hong Kong flour, you may use cake flour as the substitute.
The end result will be softer and fluffier steamed buns compared to all-purpose flour.
Cook’s Tips for Steamed Pork Buns
To make dim sum restaurant quality char siu bao or steamed pork buns, please following the cooking tips below:
- If bigger bun is desired, divide dough into 12 equal portions.
- There is no need to rest the char siu bao dough after adding in the baking powder. If time allows, rest it for 10 minutes to get fluffier buns.
- Add Chinese hite vinegar into the steaming water to produce whiter buns. This is an optional step.
- The steamer must be preheated before steaming the buns. They will not rise properly without the hot steam.
- Spray the surface of the buns with water mist will help to produce steamed buns with beautiful and smooth surface.
- DO NOT open the steamer’s lid during the steaming process.
- If there are yellowish spots on the steamed buns, it means the baking powder is not properly dissolved.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Freeze Steamed Pork Buns?
I don’t recommend freezing but you can certainly keep them in the refrigerator.
Pack the leftovers in a plastic bag and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
To serve, just reheat them in a steamer or microwave for 1 minute.
For the filling, use homemade char siu for the best results. You can also use char siu from restaurants.
How Many Calories per Serving?
Each bun is only 193 calories.
What to Serve with This Recipe?
Serve this dish with other Cantonese dim sum or Chinese appetizers. For a homemade dim sum meal, I recommend the following recipes.
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Char Siu Bao (Steamed Pork Buns)
Char Siu Filling:
- 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 small onion (diced)
- 250 g char siu, diced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1-2 drops red food color (optional)
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 150 ml water
Char Siu Bao Dough:
- 280 g low-protein flour (Hong Kong flour), cake flour or all-purpose flour
- 100 g wheat starch
- 90 g powdered sugar
- 8 g active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 160 ml lukewarm water
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese white vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
- 30 g vegetable oil
- 10 g baking powder
- 10 ml cold water
Char Siu Filling:
- Heat oil in pan, sauté onion for 1 to 2 minutes. Add in char siu, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil and red food color, if using. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes and add salt to taste.
- Mix corn starch and water together, add to the filling. Simmer on low heat until the sauce is thickened.
- Remove the filling from pan. Let cool.
- Divide the filling into 16 portions. Set aside.
Char Siu Bao Dough Recipe:
- Sift the flour, wheat starch and powdered sugar. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the yeast, lukewarm water and vinegar or lemon juice, if using. Gently dissolve the yeast with the water. Slowly bring together the flour mixture and add in the vegetable oil.
- Knead with hands for 15 minutes or until a soft dough is formed. It should be smooth and shiny on the surface.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rise for 60 - 90 minutes or until it expands in size.
- Dissolve the baking powder with the cold water, sprinkle over the dough and knead until well combined. For fluffier buns, rest the dough for 10 minutes after baking powder is added.
- Cut and divide the dough to 16 equal portions.
- Using a rolling pin, roll and flatten each dough ball to a 3” circle. Place a portion of the filling in the middle.
- Wrap and fold the dough up.
- Pinch and twist to enclose the opening. Make sure the char siu bao is sealed tight at the top. Place it on a 2" x 3" piece of parchment paper. Repeat the same until you make 16 buns.
- Arrange the buns on a steamer, leave about 1” gap in between buns. Spray water mist over buns, and steam in a preheated steamer on high heat for 10 minutes. (You may add 1 teaspoon of Chinese white vinegar to make the char siu bao white.)
- Remove buns from the steamer, serve warm.
2. To make bigger buns, divide the dough into 12 equal portions.
3. To make char siu bao white, add 1 teaspoon of Chinese white vinegar in the steaming water.
4. The water must be boiling in the steamer before you steam the buns.
5. Spraying water mist over the buns will ensure a smooth surface on each bun.
6. DO NOT open the lid during the steaming process.
7. If there are yellowish spots on the steamed buns, it means the baking powder is not fully dissolved. Recipe Contributor: My Kitchen
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.
I made your recipe today and it turned out pretty well. The bbq pork was delicious and the bao tasted delicious. The bread was not as light and fluffy as I would have liked. It wasn’t bad but was just a little dense. I used cake flour and followed the recipe as directed. I weighed my ingredients. I noticed that my dough did not expand and at the 60-minute mark looked just a tiny bit bigger (10%) Thoughts? I kneaded the dough for at least 15 minutes, probably a little bit longer. If I used a low protein regular flour, would that have helped? Possible the cake flour doesn’t have enough protein? Still searching for a tender, fluffy mantou bao recipe!
Can I use dumpling flour instead of wheat starch?
I think it’s fine.
I am excited to make this as in Hawai’i we call this manapua and it is one of my favorites. My char sui is marinating and I have been to our grocery stores. Of course I can’t find Hong Kong flour so I will be using cake flour and I was unable to find wheat starch. I see it says cornstarch can be used. Do you agree with this and do I use the same amount? If you don’t what would you suggest? I am super excited to try this.
Yes, it should work fine.
hi there, just wondering if there’s any substitute for wheat starch? I can’t find any wheat starch here :(
You can try corn starch.
thank you so much, would you know what does the wheat starch do to the dough?
It makes the texture better.
Is powdered sugar castor or icing sugar? If I do not have Chinese vinegar is it okay to use white wine vinegar?
Icing sugar. Yes, should be fine.
We would have loved to try your recipe but there too many foreign (grams, etc.) measurements to tinker with.
I think we’ll use your “Cook’s Tips” and apply them to another recipe.
Doug, the reason why grams are used in some recipes are for precision. These recipes have to be very precise, it’s about the texture of the buns, soft, fluffy, everything needs to be spot on. You can’t use cup measurement, it’s not accurate and the results vary. Just do an experiment, weight a cup of flour, and then try again. You will NOT get the same weight every single time, sometimes you are off by a lot. That’s why cup measurements are really not great. Please buy a digital kitchen scale. You can get it for $10 range and it will be the best tool in the kitchen.
Regarding: “… That’s why cup measurements are really not great. ”
Understood, it’s that I’ve been using American measurements for 80 years. Might it be possible for you to include “ounces” to your “grams” measurement ?
Great Recipes… I like your Mantou best . The “flour” measurement was specified with “grams” and American measurements.
Made it and they were fluffy, fluffy, fluffy. The next day I briefly reheated in the microwave and they were still fluffy, fluffy, fluffy ?
Hi Doug, I try to include both measurements in my recipes (oz and grams) but if I don’t, please use this converter on my site: https://rasamalaysia.com/conversion/
I just looked at the recipe again and noticed there are now lots of “measurements” (except ‘water’) I’m accustomed to. Will now give it a whirl. Thank You !!!
Awesome! Yes I updated the recipe to make it clearer.
hi!! I follow your blog and always come back here to look for recipes ever since I moved out of Asia 4 years ago. I miss Asian food. I have not found one for the pork egg Pau online. Could you post one one day? Thanks so much.
What is pork egg pau?
I’m not “LISH”.
I googled “pork egg pau” and found several different varieties.
Perhaps “LISH” can clarify which one he/she refers to ???
Thank you for sharing! This is exactly what I’ve been searching got. I made this over the weekend and it was a big hit with the family. Thank you! Thank you!
Does the bao recipe make those fluffy steamed buns?
Yes it does, just like the pictures.
OMG finally I achieved baozi success! Thanks so much
Made these baos today and they came out soft, and good to the bite! I had wheat starch (Tang Mien), so I decided to give this recipe a try. I have always used my favourite pao recipe and they are just as good but requires certain steps. This recipe is great as I love the chewy and soft texture! The only thing I did differently was to knead 40 mins in my bread machine then according to sequence and added the baking powder accidentally with the flour. However, it came out just as nice and fluffy! Thanks for this recipe!