Bao Dough

Our guide to perfectly fluffy Chinese buns
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How to Make Bao
Photo: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table

Johanna Ware of Smallwares in Portland, Oregon, fills these Chinese-style buns with a variety of delicious things. Ware steams the buns to fluffy perfection, but you can also fry them, should you feel so inclined. Fun fact: When cooked plain, the buns are called mantou, while the filled buns are called baozi.

To learn more, read "Breaking Bao."

Bao Dough

Recipe adapted from Johanna Ware, Smallwares, Portland, OR

Yield: 12 to 14 buns

Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus proofing time

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 28 minutes, plus proofing time


⅔ cup warm water

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1¼ cups bread flour, plus more for if needed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, yeast and sugar until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture sit until the yeast starts to get foamy and bloom, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the oil and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, sift the bread flour, salt and baking soda together. Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula. If the dough looks sticky, add 1 additional tablespoon of flour at a time until it is less sticky.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours. Punch the dough down to flatten it.

4. Portion the dough into balls that are 2 inches in diameter and let rest for 5 minutes. Flatten each ball into a disk 3 inches in diameter.

5. Fill the buns with your filling of choice and wrap by gathering the edge and twisting slightly. Cover with a damp kitchen towel to keep the bao from drying out.

6. Place the buns in a steam basket lined with parchment paper and steam until the buns have expanded, 7 to 9 minutes. Serve.

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