Char Siu Bao / 叉烧包

Char Siu Bao is one of the signature dishes in dim sum restaurants around the world. This irresistible little steamed bun is soft and fluffy, stuffed with slightly sweetened char siu filling.

It is a must order item whenever we visit a dim sum restaurant. My other half loves it too, but he usually eat only a quarter of a bun. He is a small eater, would not be able to eat other dim sums if he had a char siu bao by himself. Now, I am glad that I can share this yummy bun with my 14 month-old boy. Yes, I have made him a char siu bao lover too! 

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recipe updated March 2022

Char Siu Bao / 叉烧包

Ingredients (makes 16 buns):
4g instant dry yeast
160ml lukewarm water
½ tsp white vinegar or lemon juice (optional)

380g low-protein flour aka hong kong flour
50g icing sugar
20g shortening

10g baking powder
10ml cold water

250g char siew, diced
½ tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp sugar*
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp oyster sauce*
1 tbsp soy sauce*
1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 drops red food colouring (optional)

150 ml water
1½ tbsp corn flour
Salt to taste

*Some store-bought char siu comes with the sauce, use it for preparing the filling. Omit sugar, oyster sauce and soy sauce.



  1. Heat oil in pan, sauté onion for 1 to 2 minutes. Add in all other ingredients A, stir fry for 1 minutes.
  2. Mix together water with corn flour, add mixture into the pan and stir well. Simmer until gravy is thickened.
  3. Transfer to plate and allow to cool.
  4. Divide filling into 16 portions if desired, set aside for later use.
  1. Sift together the flour and icing sugar. Place sifted flour mixture in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Fill well with lukewarm water, vinegar and yeast. Use a spatula, gently stir the water to dissolve the yeast then slowly bring together flour mixture.
  3. Add in the shortening and knead for 10-15 minutes until soft dough is formed. It should be smooth on the surface.
  4. Cover dough with damp cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes. I used bread maker’s dough mode to prepare my dough up to this step.
  5. Dissolve the baking powder in cold water, sprinkle over dough and knead until well combined.
  6. Divide dough into 16 equal portions and flatten with a rolling pin to make a 3” circle. Then place a heap teaspoon of filling in the middle, wrap and pleat the dough to seal.
  7. Place it on a 1.5” square parchment paper, seal side up. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes or so.
  8. Arrange the buns into a steamer, leave about 1” gab in between buns. Spray water mist over buns, and steam in a preheated steamer on high heat for 12 minutes. Remove buns from steamer and cool on rack to prevent soggy bottom.

Cook's notes:
  1. If bigger bun is desired, divide dough into 12 equal portions in step 5.
  2. There is no need to rest the dough after adding in baking powder, but if time allowed, rest it for 10 minutes or so to get fluffier buns.
  3. Adding a few drops of vinegar into steaming water will produce whiter buns, but this is optional.
  4. Steamer must be preheated otherwise bun would not rise to the volume as it should be.
  5. Spray the surface of bun with water mist helps to produce buns with smooth surface after steamed.
  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.
Don't like char siew? Try red bean bao or meat bao.


  1. hi,
    I can't find Hong Kong flour here in the States.what can I use to replace it. your pau look so white and fluffy .my pass pau always have a yellowish tint to them.

  2. Diane,
    Some recipes called for cake flour, maybe you can try it. Adding some acid in the dough procude whiter buns... all the best!

    It sounds like what I said to John. :D

  3. Congrats on your featured recipe! Nice-looking pao and mouth-watering ingredients! Btw, what is the chinese translation for wheat starch?

  4. Food For Tots,
    Wheat Starch = Tung Min Fen or Cheng Fen (澄粉), usually use in making crystal dumpling.

    Welcome to My Kitchen and thanks for compliments.

  5. These buns look fantastic! I was wondering if you might go into more detail about the wrapping technique to create that beautiful pleating. I've always had trouble with that part of bun making and would really love some insight!

  6. Anonymous,

    It is hard to explain, will take some photos or video clip next time. Stay tuned.

  7. I tried the recipe and the taste is really great
    just what I was looking for
    Thanks for sharing

  8. Cloudy,
    You are welcome. Appreciate your time posting feedback here.

  9. Thanks Lydia for leaving a nice comment on my blog (Khooking Time). My hubby absolutely LOVES your char sao pao recipe. It turns out so well!
    I experimented 'mangkuang(jicama)+carrot+dried shrimp' pao with your bao dough recipe on last Sunday. Well, it was yummy as well! Thanks for your inspiration!

  10. kikiree:
    Glad that your bao making was successful. I like this recipe too, easy and always turn out nicely. Your jicama filling is similar to my mom's cai bao, she sometimes use dried radish instead of jicama. I think I will make bao again... soon, cai bao this time. :D

  11. I fell in love with bao when I went to Wow Bao in Chicago. We don't have anything like that here in my smaller town so I'd like to make them! Trouble is, I've never seen Hong Kong flour or char siew. Never heard of them, actually. Anyone know where to get them here?

  12. Hi! Just wanted to tell you I've been looking for a long time for a scratch Bao dough recipe and this is it! I unfortunately couldn't find Hong Kong flour, however I DID find wheat starch. Instead of Hong Kong flour I used AP flour with cornstarch. The texture is VERY similiar to what you get at restaurants! I will keep looking for HK flour as I know this is the recipe I've been looking for! Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. mangkuang char, interesting.

  14. Kayla and Jackie,
    If could not find HK flour, try using cake flour for it fine texture.

    Thanks for the feedback and glad that you like this recipe.

  15. hi... ur bao looks so good... i tried but my bao doesnt turn out like yours where there are some splits at the top of the bao, it makes the bao looks so nice and fluffy.. did i miss any step?

  16. Hi PN,
    Thanks for your feedback.
    I am not very sure what was the cause, could it be baking powder?

  17. Hi Lydia,

    Can i know how much is 10g baking powder? My lousy digital scale shows 2g when i weighed 1 tsp of baking powder. So 10g of baking powder equal to around 1 tbsp? I can't wait to try this recipe out. Please advise. Thanks.


  18. Sally,
    10g of BP = 2.174 tsp.... I used conversion feature on

    All the best!

  19. The bun looks fluffy n white...i'll try this recipe in halal version!

  20. Could you perhaps list what these measurements would be like in cups? I don't have a kitchen weighing scale but would love to try your recipe!

  21. Hi, I tried this recipe today. During the first kneading, I find the dough extremely crumbly. The only step I forgot to follow was mixing the yeast in the water first. I did add water to make the dough more pliable. Did you have to add water a little at a time, too? I will try the recipe again. It's the best one I've tried. Thanks for posting.

  22. Hi Julie, thanks for dropped by.

    There is no need to add water a little at a time. For new attempt of any bread/bun recipe (or using different brand of flour) I always reserve about 2-3 tbsp water to add in bit by bit depending on the softness of dough, maybe you can try this too.

    If the dough is too hard, you add in bit more water. Btw, if you are familiar of water roux or chilled starter bread making methods, try using it in this recipe.

    Happy steaming again!


  23. Hi Lydia,
    I love your CharSiewBao. Couldn't wait to try asap. Just wanna know if the instant dry yeast used in the recipe is the same as active dry yeast or instant yeast?
    Thanks heaps.

  24. Hi Jane,

    If using active dry yeast, sprinkle/mix in luke warm water and proof for about 10 minutes then make buns as usual. Instant yeast can be used without proofing in advance, add to the flour directly. Both types of yeast can be used in this recipe.

  25. Hi Lydia,
    Many thanks for your wonderful recipe! I've one question - if I am to use all low-protein flour, i.e. 380g low-protein flour instead of 280g LP flour + 100g wheat starch, will the final product turn out fine?

  26. Hi Yap,

    Thanks for dropped by.
    It will turn out fine too but not as fine as the one using wheat starch.

  27. Hi Lydia,

    What's the difference in using oil and shortening, besides the yellowish color of the bao if using oil? Which one will make the texture nicer or softer? Thank you.

  28. Good question. Shortening is a saturated fat while vegetable oil isn't so the result won't be the same.

    It would not have huge impact on the yellowish colour cos amount used in not a lot. Shortening makes nicer texture buns, if in baking bread the texture will produce moist and fine texture.

  29. Hi Lydia, My making of CSP turned out to be a disaster! There are brown spots on the pau surface, and it doesn't seems to rise like yours. I used instant yeast instead of instant dry yeast, same ingredients for the rest as well as method of making, not too sure what went wrong. It didnt seems to rise to double its portion after 30mins proofing. Please advise. Thanks.

  30. Hi Selbsy,
    Thank you for your comment and sorry to hear abt your csp.

    The yellowish/brown spots problem is caused by undissolved baking powder. The dough needs to knead well after adding in baking powder.

    I really have no clue why some people succeed in their first attempt and other hit by disappointment. If you have followed the recipe closely, do try again with different brand of flour or try to adjust the amount of ingredient(s) a little bit to get the right texture. Good luck.

  31. Hi, I am tempted to try making this pau. Do the paus need to proof again before steaming? If so, how long? Thank you.

  32. Hi Lydia,

    Thank you for your recipe. I made the char siew baos yesterday using cake flour instead of HK flour, the results were pretty good, the texture was soft and fluffy. My baos were a a little off white, they were nearly white but not yellowish.

    Just a question, is this the recipe for HK type of smiling char siew baos? Because my char siew baos all broke into a smile, and you can see the char siew sauce oozing out after steaming. :)

    Is the baking powder supposed to fizzle and become foamy in cold water? Mine did, and I had problems dissolving it, so I added a few extra drops of cold water and stirred continuously, I sprinkled the baking powder solution, give the dough a good thorough knead and let the dough rest for 10 min. Luckily there were no yellow specks on my buns.

    Miss B @ EEWIF

  33. Hi Miss B,

    Greeting from Kyoto!
    Yes, it is HK type of char siew bao.
    Based on your feedback, I think you have done a great job when adding in baking powder and glad that your baos turned out good.
    Baking powder solution not fizzy but a little foamy as we stirring it.
    You have just made me feel like making char siew bao today!!

  34. Hi Lydia,
    I finally posted my smiling char siew bao based on your recipe. Thank you once again for this great recipe!

  35. wheat starch in Japanese is ....?
    Thank you.

  36. I tried making the CSP today but the dough did not rise rough in size after more than 2 hours. After having them steamed, the texture was fine but kind of not fluffy like yours but more densed. What went wrong? Other than this, everything tasted superb.

  37. Hi Lydia. I just made some buns based on this recipe. The buns came out well risen and fluffy.Thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe.
    Keep enriching your life with your talent.
    BTW I will be in Japan soon for a holiday and will definitely visit Kyoto .
    Kind regards.

  38. Donna,
    Dough didn't rise after 2 hrs means there is something wrong with the yeast. Perhaps?

    That's very encouraging, I am so not in mood to update my blog recently. Thank you for your compliments and hope you have a great trip to Kyoto. Say hi if you see me on the street. :D

  39. Hi Lydia,
    I am quite pleased with your recipe! The buns were rather nice and authentic looking.

    I was wondering will it be ok to reduce the amount of the baking powder in the recipe? I find the aftertaste of the buns were rather strong...

  40. Hi, I would like to try this bao recipe but I don't have Crisco shortening. Only have another cheaper brand. Will it work the same?

    The texture of this bao will it be chewy and stick on the teeth since it uses quite an amount of wheat starch?

    Thanks in advance!

  41. Lydia. Thank you for your info & advice re Kyoto. Appreciate your kind effort in taking time to reply .My husband &I had a great time in Japan. Beautiful scenery, yummy food, helpful & courteous folks - will definite revisit. Will be trying out the recipes ,crockery & gadgets sourced . Always enjoy reading your blog,recipes & photos.Keep up the good work. God bless. Rgds Emily(last posted 26.03)

  42. Hi Lydia!

    I want to ask you some questions :
    1. How many tablespoons of yeast (8g) ?
    2. How much of flour and water to make enough water roux for this smiling pao recipe ?

  43. Hi Lydia,

    The bao looks yummy! I have questions about the baking powder though. Does it have to be added after the first rise? What happens if the baking powder is added when mixing the rest of the ingredients?


  44. Hi Grae,

    Mr google says 8g instant yeast is about 0.85tbsp, and sorry that I have not tried this recipe with water roux with yet.

    Bun will rise better after steamed if the baking powder is added after first proofing.

  45. Hi Lydia,

    Do we need to do second fermentation on this? I usually use premix for bao and before steaming, it require another round of fermentation for about 30 minutes with the filling inside (on top of 1st fermentation).
    Also, I just want to confirm the amount of the baking powder which seems to be a lot. In the baking powder manual it is said that 1 tsp is for about 500gr of dough. Is the baking powder here (which is around 2 tsp for about 600gr of dough) deliberately added more then the manual to achieve the "smile" effect? Thank you.



  46. Hi Steven,
    This recipe does not required 30mins of 2nd proofing before steaming as it contains baking powder, if you prefer airy buns, let it proof for 10 mins before steaming.

    Yes, extra baking powder is needed for that effect. All the best!

  47. Many thanks for sharing yr recipes. I made the bao and it was a successful. Skin was soft n fluffy. Really delicious. But when i store in fridge and re~heated by steaming again, the skin becomes pale yellow. The longer i re~steam the more yellow it gets. Wonder what's the element that can cos it to become yellow ? Thanks.

  48. Hi Huston,
    Glad to hear that!
    The yellowish is caused by the baking powder and steaming time.


    1. Thks, I will try double acting powder and add in during first kneading. Hope it's distributed evenly.

  49. tried your recipe with corn flour, but the baos came out hard. and it doesn't rise after proofing. I normally steam baos using another recipe, but decided to give yours a try as your picture looks good.

    I also had brown specks on my bao even though i already kneaded the baking powder solution in thoroughly. Nevertheless, i don't quite like the baking powder taste in the bao. It's too strong. 10gm is a lot of baking powder for a small batch. I've made the same amount of bao using only 3gm of instant yeast as the rising agent. And the baos came out fluffy and nice too.

    Thumbs up to you and the other readers that managed to make a successful batch! :)

  50. Thanks for sharing your experience.


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