Meat Buns Recipe


The art of making meat buns, particularly the steamed version, holds a fascinating history that traverses through various Asian cultures, showcasing their culinary richness and diversity. Originating from China, where they are known as Baozi, these buns have been a staple food item for centuries, symbolizing sustenance and prosperity. The tradition of steaming buns, packed with savory fillings, dates back to the Eastern Han Dynasty, where they were initially introduced as a means to feed the army. Over time, these buns evolved, spreading across Asia, taking on various forms and fillings, reflecting local flavors and preferences. Their widespread appeal lies not only in their delicious taste but also in their role as a cultural connector, embodying the communal spirit and the shared joy of eating. Today, steamed meat buns are celebrated in numerous Asian festivals and gatherings, signifying unity and bringing a sense of comfort and nostalgia to those who partake in their delightful flavors.

Types of Meat Buns

Meat buns, especially the steamed variety, are revered for their versatility in fillings and their regional adaptations that cater to a myriad of palates. The most common fillings include pork, beef, and chicken, each bringing its unique taste and texture to the bun. In China, the traditional Baozi is often filled with juicy, savory pork mixed with scallions and ginger, while in Japan, the Nikuman – the Japanese adaptation of the Chinese Baozi – often contains a pork blend but with added ingredients like shiitake mushrooms and boiled eggs for extra flavor. Beyond these, variations abound; from the spicy and aromatic fillings popular in Sichuan cuisine to the sweet, red bean paste fillings found in some buns, the diversity is endless. Each region adds its signature twist, making meat buns a fascinating culinary exploration of Asia’s rich food heritage.

The Dough: The Foundation of Every Bun

At the heart of every steamed meat bun is its dough – the canvas that holds the masterpiece together. The dough for steamed buns primarily consists of all-purpose flour, water, a leavening agent (usually yeast or baking powder), and sometimes a touch of sugar to feed the yeast and add a slight sweetness. The preparation involves mixing these ingredients to form a smooth, pliable dough, followed by a crucial step: proofing. Proofing allows the dough to rise, creating a light, airy texture that is characteristic of a perfectly steamed bun. The key to achieving the best texture lies in the second round of proofing after the buns are shaped and filled. This step ensures the dough is sufficiently aerated, leading to a fluffy, tender bun that beautifully complements the savory meat filling inside, making the steamed meat bun an irresistible treat.

The Filling: A Flavorful Heart

The soul of a steamed meat bun lies in its filling, a savory mixture where the choice of meat and its fat ratio plays a pivotal role. A balanced lean-to-fat ratio, often around 70:30, is crucial for ensuring the filling is moist and flavorful, without being overly greasy. Pork, with its inherent richness, is the most traditional choice, though beef and chicken are also popular, each lending their unique taste profiles to the bun. Seasonings are equally important; ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and oyster sauce are common, each adding layers of flavor that echo the culinary traditions of their regions. In some areas, ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, or water chestnuts are added for texture and depth. Notably, the meat filling is cooked prior to being encased in the dough. This step not only ensures food safety but allows for the flavors to meld together, creating a rich, cohesive taste that is the hallmark of a perfectly crafted meat bun.

Steaming: The Cooking Technique

Steaming, as a method of cooking meat buns, is chosen for its ability to cook food evenly and gently, preserving the delicate texture of the dough and the intense flavors of the filling. This cooking technique, favored in many Asian cuisines, allows the buns to expand without drying out, resulting in soft, fluffy exteriors encasing juicy, flavorful interiors. To achieve perfect steamed buns every time, it’s essential to allow adequate space between each bun in the steamer to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking. Starting with cold water and then bringing it to a boil ensures the dough rises properly, contributing to the bun’s texture. Additionally, a cloth can be placed under the lid of the steamer to absorb excess moisture, preventing water droplets from settling on the buns and affecting their texture.

Serving and Enjoyment

Steamed meat buns are traditionally enjoyed hot, straight from the steamer, often accompanied by dipping sauces such as soy sauce, vinegar, or chili oil, which complement the rich flavors of the filling. Pickled vegetables or a light broth can also accompany the buns for a balanced meal. In modern culinary practices, chefs and home cooks alike have begun experimenting with serving these buns in innovative ways, incorporating unconventional fillings like pulled pork or vegetarian options, and even integrating them into fusion dishes. Whether enjoyed in their traditional form or with a modern twist, steamed meat buns remain a cherished food, symbolizing comfort and culinary craftsmanship. The act of sharing these buns, whether at family gatherings, festive celebrations, or casual meals, continues to be a source of joy and communal bond across cultures.

Making Meat Buns at Home

Crafting meat buns at home is a rewarding process that allows for a personalized touch to this beloved Asian dish. Begin by preparing the dough, mixing flour, water, yeast, and sugar until a smooth consistency is achieved, then allow it to proof until it doubles in size. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by sautéing your choice of ground meat with aromatics and seasonings until fully cooked. Divide the proofed dough into small balls, flatten them into discs, and spoon the filling into the center. Pleat the edges together to enclose the filling, then let the buns rest for a secondary proofing. Steam the buns over boiling water for about 10-15 minutes, or until they’re puffy and cooked through. For first-timers, remember patience is key, especially during the proofing stages. Ensure the meat is fully cooked before filling the buns to avoid any health risks, and don’t overcrowd the steamer to allow the buns to expand and cook evenly.


  1. Can meat buns be frozen for later use? Yes, steamed meat buns freeze exceptionally well. Cool them completely after cooking, then store them in an airtight container. Reheat by steaming or microwaving with a water cup for moisture.
  2. What can I use if I don’t have a steamer? A makeshift steamer can be fashioned with a pot, a trivet, and a heat-proof plate. Ensure the water doesn’t touch the buns during steaming.
  3. Can I make vegetarian meat buns? Absolutely. Substitute the meat with mashed tofu, mushrooms, or a mix of finely chopped vegetables for a vegetarian version. Adjust seasonings as needed to complement the filling.
  4. How do I ensure my buns are fluffy and not dense? Proper proofing of the dough is crucial. Allow enough time for the dough to rise and become airy. Also, steam on high heat to ensure the buns cook thoroughly and puff up.

Health and Nutrition

Steamed meat buns are a nourishing option, providing a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, especially when lean meats and whole grain flours are used. To make a healthier version, consider using whole wheat flour for the dough to increase dietary fiber content, and lean meats like chicken or turkey to reduce fat. Adding finely chopped vegetables to the filling can boost the vitamin, mineral, and fiber content of the buns, making them more balanced and nutritious. Additionally, opting for low-sodium soy sauce and other seasonings can help manage the salt content, making the buns heart-friendly. While steamed meat buns can be part of a balanced diet, moderation is key, especially if managing caloric intake, as the buns can be quite filling.

Storing and Reheating

To maintain the freshness of steamed meat buns, cool them completely before storing in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. When reheating, steaming is preferred to preserve the buns’ moisture and softness. Frozen buns can be steamed directly without thawing, for about 10-15 minutes, ensuring they return to their original tenderness and warmth. For a quick alternative, microwaving with a cover and a small cup of water for moisture can also revive the buns effectively, although the texture may slightly differ from steaming.

Cultural and Festive Significance

Steamed meat buns hold profound cultural and festive significance across Asia, symbolizing wealth, prosperity, and family unity. In China, they are a staple during the Lunar New Year celebrations, representing a full and affluent life. In Japan, consuming Nikuman during the cold seasons is a tradition, offering warmth and comfort. These buns are also a common offering at temples, embodying wishes for good fortune and health. Their round shape is symbolic of completeness and harmony, making them a preferred food during significant events and gatherings. The act of making and sharing these buns strengthens bonds among family and friends, showcasing the deep-rooted cultural importance that transcends mere culinary delight.


Steamed meat buns, with their rich cultural heritage and delightful flavors, are more than just a meal; they are a celebration of Asian culinary traditions and communal values. This journey through the history, making, and enjoyment of meat buns reveals the depth and diversity of Asian cuisine, inviting us to explore and appreciate its complexities and nuances. Whether for a festive occasion or a simple family meal, meat buns offer a unique blend of taste and tradition. By encouraging home cooks to venture into the art of making meat buns, we open doors to creating and sharing moments of joy and cultural appreciation. Embrace the challenge, and let the warm, savory goodness of homemade meat buns bring a touch of Asian tradition into your kitchen.

Meat Buns (Steamed version)

Discover the art of making traditional Steamed Pork Buns at home. This recipe guides you through creating soft, fluffy buns filled with a savory, juicy pork mixture. Perfect for any meal of the day or as a delightful snack, these buns are sure to impress your family and friends.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Dish, Snack
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Servings 12 buns
Calories 250 kcal


  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Rolling Pin
  • Steamer or steam basket
  • Parchment paper


For the Dough:

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 10 g sugar
  • 5 g active dry yeast
  • 270 ml lukewarm water

For the Filling:

  • 300 g ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the Dough:

  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and yeast. Gradually add lukewarm water and mix until a dough forms. Knead until smooth. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

Make the Filling:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Mix well to ensure the seasonings are evenly distributed.

Assemble the Buns:

  • Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten into a disc. Place a spoonful of filling in the center, gather the edges, and pinch to seal.
  • Place each bun on a piece of parchment paper in a steamer. Leave space between each bun to allow for expansion.

Steam the Buns:

  • Steam over boiling water for 20 minutes, or until the buns are puffed and cooked through.

Serve and Enjoy:

  • Serve hot, with soy sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.


  • For a healthier version, you can substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
  • Feel free to adjust the filling according to taste, adding vegetables or substituting pork with chicken or beef.
  • Leftover buns can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month. Reheat in the steamer or microwave before serving.
Keyword Asian Cuisine, Baozi, Homemade Buns, Steamed Pork Buns