Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr
10 servings (serving size: 1 bun)

These buns are a grab-and-go street food in China. They were also popular in our Test Kitchens, where they earned our highest rating. Use a multitray bamboo steamer so you can cook all the buns at one time. To make them up to two months ahead, fill the dough, and freeze unsteamed buns on a tray in the freezer before placing them in a freezer-safe zip-top plastic bag. Steam directly from the freezer for an additional five minutes. This Chinese recipe is proof you don't have to get takeout to enjoy the fine cuisine. Serve these for a meal or as a fantastic appetizer for entertaining. 

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare the filling, rub five-spice powder evenly over pork. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 18 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155°, turning pork occasionally. Remove pork from pan, and let stand 15 minutes.

Step 2

Cut pork crosswise into thin slices; cut slices into thin strips. Place pork in a medium bowl. Add onions and next 7 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate.

Step 3

To prepare dough, combine 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

Step 4

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Step 5

Punch dough down; let rest 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a clean surface; knead in baking powder. Let dough rest 5 minutes.

Step 6

Divide dough into 10 equal portions, forming each into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time (cover remaining dough balls to keep from drying), roll ball into a 5-inch circle. Place 1/4 cup filling in center of dough circle. Bring up sides to cover filling and meet on top. Pinch and seal closed with a twist. Repeat procedure with remaining dough balls and filling.

Step 7

Arrange 5 buns seam side down, 1 inch apart, in each tier of a 2-tiered bamboo steamer. Stack tiers; cover with lid.

Step 8

Add water to a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place steamer in pan; steam 15 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Chef's Notes

Kick up the spice level with some red chili peppers, cilantro, or jalapeños. Tiny cubed cucumbers make a fresh, crunchy addition to this Asian favorite. Hint: The beauty of this recipe is that you don't have to stick with pork. Make it a veggie, bean or even seafood bun.

Ratings & Reviews


September 11, 2015
 The flavor of this recipe is unbelievable. I used ground pork instead of tenderloin, and used 1/4 tsp of ground ginger instead of fresh, because I can never use a whole ginger root, but otherwise I followed the directions and the recipe came out PERFECTLY. I was really skeptical about steaming dough; I thought for sure it would be a soggy mess, but 15 minutes in the steamer and the buns came out done. They had a texture similar to a soft pretzel, and the buns were overall succulent and delicious. I will be making this one again and again! 

Dawnhille's Review

September 25, 2013

Costellojk's Review

September 10, 2013
Made this after watching a Jamie Oliver show on how to use leftover pulled pork. Took others recommendations to use some wheat flour to get some extra fiber and they turned great. There is a lot of work in making these from scratch if your not an astute baker, but a nice treat. Even better if you make extras ahead and put them in the freezer ready to go.

mzflorida's Review

June 15, 2013

ViennaVAfoodie's Review

October 24, 2012
Love it!! I usually use ground pork or turkey because its cheaper than tenderloin. This time I also used half WW flour. These are great to freeze and reheat later!!

RShewmaker's Review

February 25, 2012

LoriInNC's Review

October 17, 2010
These were delicious. I used a steamer insert in my spaghetti pot, and my electric steamer instead of a bamboo steamer. Instead of the pork tenderloin, I used 2 1/2 cups leftover Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast from Cooking Light, March 2006. We had five for dinner, and the other five are in the freezer for another night. It was very time consuming, but worth the effort once in a while.

Darian's Review

June 26, 2010
Unbelievably good! I use prepared pizza dough from our grocery store deli to make it easier and faster. Also, we don't have a bamboo steamer but our veggie steamer works just fine. My niece has used chicken instead of pork and those were delicious too.

MrsBunny's Review

March 29, 2010
Delicious! I added 4 oz of whole wheat flour and you could hardly tell it was there. These are simply wonderful. Perfect addition to a dim sum brunch at home.

redsox19762's Review

March 19, 2010
I have to admit - I was skeptical about the steaming aspect of these. I was going to just bake them. But I'm glad I tried it - they were awesome! I steamed them a little longer than specified. The only other changes I made were to use some dough that I had already made and stored in the fridge (it was dough made with semolina for italian bread) instead of the dough in the recipe. I also roasted the pork tenderloin for about 30 min at 425 instead of pan-grilling it. Delicious!! Can't recommend enough. Also used a metal steamer basket sprayed with cooking spray rather than a bamboo steamer. I served with sushi rice cooked with soy sauce, ginger and garlic and asparagus roasted with sesame oil, salt, pepper, garlic and soy sauce. Awesome meal.