Bánh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns)

By: MeganPosted: 18/07/2023 Updated: 28/11/2023
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 2 hours 30 minutes
Make your own soft and pillowy banh bao or Vietnamese steamed pork buns for breakfast or a quick snack on the go. These steamed buns filled with juicy pork, boiled eggs, and Chinese sausages are a classic nostalgic treat.
Bánh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns)

Make your own soft and pillowy banh bao or Vietnamese steamed pork buns for breakfast or a quick snack on the go. These steamed buns filled with juicy tender pork, boiled eggs, and Chinese sausages are a classic nostalgic treat.

A banh bao sliced in half sitting on whole steamed pork buns.

There is nothing better than biting into a pillowy soft bánh bao, or Vietnamese steamed porked bun, and tasting a savory, juicy pork and egg filling. Whether enjoyed as a snack on the go or a satisfying breakfast to jumpstart your day, this banh bao recipe will guide you step-by-step on how to make the most perfect bao bun.

Nothing is more nostalgic than eating a warm, ultra-soft, and satisfying banh bao. I would always enjoy one on the weekends with my parents and devouring this Vietnamese bao was always the highlight of the day. My aunt created this Vietnamese steamed buns recipe after countless trials and errors to get the most perfect and satisfying bao bun. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. It is my absolute favorite!

This bao bun recipe is a true labor of love as it takes time to create the dough, but the end result is truly worth the effort. If you are looking for more bao buns inspiration, check out our steamed egg custard buns, baked char siu baos, and chocolate steamed buns.

A bamboo steamer filled with vietnamese steamed pork buns.

What is Bánh Bao?

Bánh bao is a Vietnamese steamed pork bun that is based on the Chinese steamed baozi buns that were brought to Vietnam by Chinese immigrants. The Vietnamese steamed buns are round-shaped and usually consist of ground pork, hard-boiled eggs, and slices of Chinese sausage. The pork bao filling is then lightly wrapped in a light-yeasted dough and then steamed.

These Vietnamese pork buns are now a staple food within Vietnamese cuisine. The steamed buns are typically enjoyed for breakfast or a snack and are usually served with a cup of tea.

A steamer filled with banh baos.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Delicious. With this banh bao recipe, I will unveil the secret to making the most perfect, fluffy, and soft dough, and the most delicious and authentic pork bun filling.
  • Fool-proof Detailed Recipe. Whether you are a seasoned cook or a beginner, this step-by-step pork buns recipe will empower you to masterfully craft these Vietnamese steamed pork buns.
  • Versatile. These Vietnamese pork buns are extremely versatile! They can be eaten as a breakfast meal or a quick snack on the go.
Two vietnamese banh bao sitting on a plate.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Kitchen Scale: this banh bao recipe is very precise and requires the correct ratio of ingredients for the perfect rise and taste. A kitchen scale will ensure you have the exact measurements for each ingredient.
  • Mixing Bowls: you will need to organize all of the ingredients for this steamed buns recipe. I love using my nesting glass mixing bowls for all my recipes. They come in a set of 9 or 10 and are very durable and dishwasher-safe.
  • Thermometer: if you haven’t worked with yeast before, it can be a finicky ingredient. Using a thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk before you add the yeast will ensure that the yeast will bloom and not die.
  • Stand Mixer with Dough Attachment: you will use an electric stand mixer to knead the bao dough together. You can alternatively do this by hand but it will require a lot of arm strength!
  • Small saucepan: a small saucepan will be needed to boil your eggs.
  • Parchment Paper or Cupcake liners: you will need small 3×3 inch squares of parchment paper or cupcake liners to place the Vietnamese bao buns on to steam.
  • Steamer: you will need a steamer to steam the pork bao buns. You can either use a bamboo steamer or a stainless steel steamer. I used a 5-quart stainless steel steamer for this bao buns recipe.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this banh bao recipe at your local Vietnamese, Chinese or Korean grocery store. I’ve linked to some of the ingredients you can find online as well!

Bánh Bao Filling

  • Bean Thread Noodles: bean thread noodles are thin glass noodles made from mung beans they add texture to the steamed pork bun filling.
  • Ground Pork: ground pork is the main protein in these Vietnamese steamed buns.
  • Shallots: shallots are the main aromatics for the pork bun filling.
  • Vegetable Oil: vegetable oil adds moisture, and juiciness to the ground pork which tends to be a leaner protein.
  • Baking Soda: baking soda tenderizes the pork and makes it softer and juicier when steamed.
  • Salt and Pepper: salt and pepper season the filling.
  • Sugar: granulated sugar adds a hint of sweetness that will balance out all the other flavors in the bao bun filling.
  • Chicken Bouillon Powder: Chicken bouillon powder is a common ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. It adds a savory flavor to the bao bun filling.
  • Soy Sauce: soy sauce seasons the filling and adds a salt, sweet, and savory flavor.
  • Fish Sauce: fish sauce adds umami, salty, and caramelly sweetness to the steamed pork bun filling.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: a drizzle of toasted sesame oil adds a slightly nutty savory flavor to these Vietnamese pork buns.
  • Eggs: you will need 1/2 a hard-boiled egg for each pork bao bun.
  • Chinese Sausages: each Vietnamese bao will need a piece of Chinese sausage for a secret surprise!
All the ingredients for the filling for banh baos.

Bánh Bao Dough

  • Whole Milk: Using full-fat whole milk is key activate the yeast as well as moisturizing and binding the bao dough together. Make sure to warm the milk to 110°F or 43°C degrees in order to activate the yeast.
  • Instant or Active dry yeast: You can use either instant yeast or active dry yeast for this recipe. For this steamed buns recipe, I explained how to activate either instant or active dry yeast in the warmed milk and sugar.
  • Granulated Sugar: a dash of granulated sugar will aid the milk to activate the yeast.
  • All-purpose flour: combining all-purpose flour and wheat starch together forms that beautifully soft and pillowy bao bun dough.
  • Wheat starch: keep in mind wheat starch is NOT the same as wheat flour. Wheat starch is what makes the dough soft. You can find wheat starch online or at any local Asian grocery market.
  • Powdered Sugar: powdered sugar flavors the Vietnamese steamed buns by adding a subtle sweetness to the dough.
  • Salt: a dash of salt seasons the bao dough.
  • Vegetable shortening: vegetable shortening is a fat agent used to moisturize and tenderize the dough without adding too much moisture.
  • Baking Powder: baking powder gives the dough its soft rise which creates tiny air bubbles inside the dough.
  • Lemon Juice: a dash of lemon juice will activate a portion of the baking powder which will so aid in the rise and softness of the Vietnamese steamed buns.
  • Large egg white: the egg white binds the dough together and aids in the rise of the dough.
  • Vegetable oil: vegetable oil helps liquify the egg and also keeps the banh bao dough soft and prevents it from drying.
All the ingredients to make banh bao dough organized and labeled.

Substitutions and Additions

This bao buns recipe can be customized with the following substitutions or additions that I’ve listed below.

  • Wood Ear Mushrooms: most Vietnamese buns have wood ear mushrooms in them for added texture. If you want to add the mushrooms, add 1/3 cup of finely chopped wood ear mushrooms to the bao bun filling.
  • Quail Eggs: instead of regular eggs you can use quail eggs as an alternative.
  • Water chestnuts: if you’d like more texture in your bao bun filling, you can also add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped water chestnuts.

How to Make Banh Bao

Here are all the steps on how to make this banh bao recipe. I recommend reading through the steps and the tips section once through before you begin.

Pork Bao Bun Filling

  1. Soak the bean thread noodles. Soak the bean thread noodles in hot water for 1 minute. Drain and cut the noodles into 1/2-inch pieces.
  1. Mix the filling. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground pork, minced shallots, vegetable oil, baking soda, salt, black pepper, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, and bean thread noodles. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Mixing together pork meatballs for banh bao in a large mixing bowl.

Banh Bao Dough

  1. Prepare the yeast. Warm the milk to 110°F or 43°C. Mix in the yeast and granulated sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and bloom for 3-4 minutes for instant yeast or 10 minutes for active dry yeast.
Yeast activated inside a mixing cup.
  1. Sift the dry ingredients and vegetable shortening. In the bowl of your stand mixer with a paddle attachment, sift the all-purpose flour, wheat starch, powdered sugar, salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Then, mix on low until combined. Next, add the shortening and continue mixing until the shortening is broken up into small pieces.
Sifting dry ingredients into a larger stand mixer bowl.
  1. Activate the baking powder with lemon juice. In a separate small bowl, combine lemon juice with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder. Let it fizzle for 5 min.
Lemon juice and baking powder activating in a small bowl.
  1. Liquify the egg in oil. In another separate bowl, combine the room-temperature egg white with vegetable oil. Incorporate by pulling up the egg yolk with a fork a few times until combined.
Liquifying egg whites and oil inside a small mixing bowl.
  1. Mix all the mixtures together. While the stand mixer is on low speed, add the milk mixture, then add the egg and oil mix, then lastly add the baking powder mix for 30 seconds.
  2. Switch to a dough hook and knead the dough. After 30 seconds, switch out for the dough hook and mix on level 2 speed for 2 minutes or until it forms into a ball in the mixer and is no longer sticking to the bowl. The dough should be tacky but not overly sticky. Take the dough out and gently knead the dough by hand for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it into a lightly greased large bowl.
  1. Proof the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area (100°F or 38°C) for about 1-1.5 hours or until double in size

Assemble

  1. Divide the meat. Divide the meat into 10 equal parts and form them into meatballs with one Chinese sausage piece in the center. Microwave the meatballs for 45 seconds and drain any excess juices. Place 1/2 an egg on top of each meatball. Set aside.
  1. Divide and roll out the dough. Once the dough has doubled in size, deflate the dough and divide it into 10 equal pieces and roll it into smooth balls. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying. Then, roll out the dough into 6-7 inch discs using a rolling pin with thinner edges and a thicker center.
  1. Add the filling and form the bun. Add the meatball and egg filling. Wrap the dough around the filling to form a ball. Tightly pleat by pinching the dough in a circle and seal. When you reach the end of the disc continue pinching around the center two or three times to fully seal the bao. Shape the bao into a round circle on your workspace.
  1. Let the buns rest. Place parchment paper squares or cupcake liners underneath the buns, cover them with a tea towel, and let the buns rest for 15 minutes.
Banh baos on a tray ready for final proofing.
  1. Steam the buns. While the buns rest, prepare add water to your steamer and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam the buns in batches 1-2 inches apart for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Banh baos in a steamer after being steamed.

Tips for the Best Banh Bao

  • Use a kitchen scale: this banh bao recipe is incredibly precise and requires exact measurements down to the gram. The best way to ensure a foolproof bao bun is to use a kitchen scale. I also like using a kitchen scale to divide the fillings and dough to ensure they all are uniform.
  • Always use fresh yeast. Fresh yeast is crucial for a light, fluffy rise. I like using single-use packets for the freshest yeast.
  • Measure the temperature of the milk. The temperature of the milk should be at around 110°F or 43°C. This is the perfect temperature for the yeast to bloom. Any hotter and the heat will kill the yeast.
  • If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it becomes tacky and doesn’t stick to the bowl.
  • If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time until it reaches a tacky consistency. You don’t want the dough to be too dry, the seam will not properly seal when you pinch if it is and the filling will ooze out during the steaming process.
  • Proof the dough in a warm dark place. If you have a proofing function on your oven, use it. The proofing function allows the dough to grow at an ideal 100°F temperature. Make sure the dough has doubled in size before dividing it.
  • Pinch to seal the dough. Make sure to tightly pinch the dough when shaping, to prevent the dough from splitting open during the steaming process.
  • Make sure to rest the buns for 15 minutes after shaping. This is crucial for that slight rise and fluffiness in the bao bun. Be careful not to wait too long because the yeast will over-proof and create a gap between the dough and the filling.
  • Wrap the lid of your steamer with a dishcloth. Wrap your steamer lid with a dishcloth to prevent condensation from dripping down into your steamed pork buns and making them wrinkly.

Storage Instructions

Wrap each banh bao with plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Re-heat: you can either re-steam them until warm or leave the pork bao buns in the plastic wrap and microwave until warm

Freeze: if you want to make this bao buns recipe in advance and freeze them, you can allow the buns to cool to room temperature and freeze them on a baking sheet until frozen then place them in a freezer-proof bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before re-steaming. Keep in mind the egg may be a bit rubbery once you re-steam them.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

How is banh bao different than a Chinese steamed bun?

Banh bao and Chinese steamed buns both have the same light and fluffy dough on the outside with a pork filling on the inside. However, the fillings are flavored differently. Vietnamese baos are seasoned with fish sauce whereas Chinese baos use five spice.

How do I know when the banh bao dough is done proofing?

The dough should be double in size and feel really light and airy to the touch. When you gently push on the dough, it will leave an indentation and spring back slowly. If it springs back right away, it needs to be proofed a bit longer. If it never springs back, then you have over-proofed the dough.

Why are my Vietnamese pork buns wrinkly and/or collapsed?

There are a few reasons why your steamed pork buns came out like this.

  • You could have over-proofed the dough. Over-proofing the dough weakens the dough structure and so when you steam it may collapse.
  • Air bubbles when shaping the dough. When shaping the dough make sure you squeeze out all the air bubbles before you rest the dough for 15 minutes. If you leave the air bubbles in the dough they will yield weird indents in the bun.
  • Steaming too hot. When you steam the Vietnamese bao buns over high heat, the steam makes the buns grow too quickly and so when you take them out of the steamer they immediately shrink and become wrinkly.

Can I make different-sized steamed pork buns?

Yes of course! You can make smaller or larger pork buns based on your preferences. Make sure to divide the fillings and the dough accordingly.

Other great Vietnamese recipes to try

Did you make this Banh Bao Recipe?

If you made this dish and loved it, please leave a review and comment below. We would greatly appreciate it!

Share your dish with us on Instagram, and tag us @takestwoeggs—we’d love to see and share your delicious creation!

Hungry for more? Follow us on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and Facebook for more tasty creations and updates 🍜

A sliced open banh bao on a pile of banh baos.

Bánh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns)

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Proofing Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Make your own soft and pillowy banh bao or Vietnamese steamed pork buns for breakfast or a quick snack on the go. These steamed buns filled with juicy pork, boiled eggs, and Chinese sausages are a classic nostalgic treat.
Servings: 10 bao buns
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Pork Filling

Banh Bao Dough

Instructions

Pork Filling

  • Soak the bean thread noodles. Soak the bean thread noodles in hot water for 1 minute. Drain and cut the noodles into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Mix the filling. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground pork, shallots, vegetable oil, baking soda, salt, black pepper, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, and bean thread noodles. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Bao Dough

  • Prepare the yeast. Warm the milk to 110°For 43°C. Mix in the yeast and granulated sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and bloom for 5 minutes if instant yeast or 10 for active dry yeast.
  • Sift the dry ingredients and vegetable shortening. In the bowl of your stand mixer with a paddle attachment, sift the all-purpose flour, wheat starch, powdered sugar, salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Then, mix on low until combined. Next, add the shortening and continue mixing until the shortening is broken up into small pieces.
  • Activate the baking powder with lemon juice. In a separate small bowl, combine lemon juice with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder. Let it fizzle for 5 min.
  • Liquify the egg in oil. In another separate bowl, combine the room-temperature egg white with vegetable oil. Incorporate by pulling up the egg yolk with a fork a few times until combined.
  • Mix all the mixtures together. While the stand mixer is on low speed, add the milk mixture, then add the egg and oil mix, then lastly add the baking powder mix for 30 seconds.
  • Switch to a dough hook and knead the dough. After 30 seconds, switch out for the dough hook and mix on level 2 speed for 2 minutes or until it forms into a ball in the mixer and is no longer sticking to the bowl. The dough should be tacky but not overly sticky. Take the dough out and gently knead the dough by hand for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it into a lightly greased large bowl.
  • Proof the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area (100°F or 38°C) for about 1-1.5 hours or until double in size

Assemble

  • Divide the meat. Divide the meat into 10 equal parts and form them into meatballs with one Chinese sausage piece in the center. Microwave the meatballs for 45 seconds and drain any excess juices. Place 1/2 an egg on top of each meatball. Set aside.
  • Divide and roll out the dough. Once the dough has doubled in size, deflate the dough and divide it into 10 equal pieces and roll it into smooth balls. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying. Then, roll out the dough into 6-7 inch discs using a rolling pin with thinner edges and a thicker center.
  • Add the filling and form the bun. Add the meatball and egg filling. Wrap the dough around the filling to form a ball. Tightly pleat by pinching the dough in a circle and seal. When you reach the end of the disc continue pinching around the center two or three times to fully seal the bao. Shape the bao into a round circle on your workspace.
  • Let the buns rest. Place parchment paper squares or cupcake liners underneath the buns, cover them with a tea towel, and let the buns rest for 15 minutes.
  • Steam the buns. While the buns rest, prepare add water to your steamer and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam the buns in batches 1-2 inches apart for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use a kitchen scale: this banh bao recipe is incredibly precise and requires exact measurements down to the gram. The best way to ensure a foolproof bao bun is to use a kitchen scale. I also like using a kitchen scale to divide the fillings and dough to ensure they all are uniform.
  • Always use fresh yeast. Fresh yeast is crucial for a light, fluffy rise. I like using single-use packets for the freshest yeast.
  • Measure the temperature of the milk. The temperature of the milk should be at around 110°F or 43°C. This is the perfect temperature for the yeast to bloom. Any hotter and the heat will kill the yeast.
  • If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it becomes tacky and doesn’t stick to the bowl.
  • If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time until it reaches a tacky consistency. You don’t want the dough to be too dry, the seam will not properly seal when you pinch if it is and the filling will ooze out during the steaming process.
  • Proof the dough in a warm dark place. If you have a proofing function on your oven, use it. The proofing function allows the dough to grow at an ideal 100°F temperature. Make sure the dough has doubled in size before dividing it.
  • Pinch to seal the dough. Make sure to tightly pinch the dough when shaping, to prevent the dough from splitting open during the steaming process.
  • Make sure to rest the buns for 15 minutes after shaping. This is crucial for that slight rise and fluffiness in the bao bun. Be careful not to wait too long because the yeast will over-proof and create a gap between the dough and the filling.
  • Wrap the lid of your steamer with a dishcloth. Wrap your steamer lid with a dishcloth to prevent condensation from dripping down into your steamed pork buns and making them wrinkly.

Nutrition:

Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 658mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 3mg

Rate & Review What did you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating