Sheng Jian Bao (Pan-Fried Pork Buns)

These Taiwanese pork buns are savory, pillowy and crisp.

Sheng Jian Bao

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
1 dozen bao

These Taiwanese Sheng Jian Bao created by Tiffany Chen are pillowy, savory, and crispy. The light, tender dough creates a fluffy bao that Chen says is one of her favorite breakfast dishes. They are packed with rich flavors from the pork, dashi powder, oyster sauce, and green onions. Best of all, when you pan-fry these bao, they become crispy on the bottom for a delectable textural contrast.  

Timing helps make this recipe easy. Make the dough first, then prepare the filling while the dough rises. When you roll the bao, leave the centers of each round a bit thicker than the edges to give the filling a solid base and to help keep the dough from tearing as you fold it. If you’re new to folding bao, remember to twist the tops so seal them on top — practice makes perfect. As long as the dough seals in the filling, you’ll have the desired outcome: a steamy, deeply flavorful bun wrapped in a chewy dough. Keep in mind that these buns expand quite a bit while they cook; space them at least an inch apart in the pan, and cook them in two batches if needed. 

You can make these buns ahead of time and freeze them (filled but uncooked) until you are ready to eat; add five minutes to the steaming time if cooking frozen bao. Use any leftover pork filling to make meatballs, as an addition to soup, or in a stir-fried rice or noodle dish.


  • 2 cups (about 8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2/3 cup water, plus more for skillet

  • 8 ounces ground pork

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce

  • 1/2 tablespoon dashi powder (such as Hon Dashi)

  • 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from 1 [1 1/2-inch] piece)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1 cup chopped scallions (from 4 medium scallions)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Chili oil or soy sauce for dipping


  1. Stir together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add water; using a chopstick, stir water into flour mixture until dough is flaky, about 2 minutes. Knead until a smooth ball forms, about 4 minutes. Cover dough, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

  2. In a separate large bowl, stir together ground pork, egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, dashi powder, ginger, and white pepper until well combined.

  3. Uncover dough (it should be soft and smooth), and roll on a well floured work surface into an 18-inch-long cylinder. Cut dough evenly into 12 (1 1⁄2-inch) pieces.

  4. Using your hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 3 1⁄2-inch round, keeping center of each round at least 1/8-inch thicker than outer circumference. (This helps prevent dough from tearing when filling and wrapping.)

  5. Place a pinch of scallions into center of each dough round, and top with a heaping tablespoonful of pork filling. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch and fold dough to close; twist top to seal. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Any leftover filling can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator, and reserved for another use.

  6. Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet with a lid over medium-high. Place pork buns in skillet, flat side down, spacing at least 1 inch apart. (Do not overcrowd skillet. If all 12 buns do not fit in skillet, cook in 2 batches.) Cook, undisturbed, until bottoms are slightly brown and release from pan when moved, 1 to 2 minutes.

  7. Carefully add water to skillet, covering buns halfway up sides. Cover pan with lid, and cook over medium-high until water fully evaporates and a thermometer inserted in center of buns registers 160°F, about 15 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate, and serve immediately with chili oil or a soy dipping sauce.

To Make Ahead

Bao can be made ahead of time and frozen (filled but uncooked) until you are ready to eat. Add 5 minutes to the steaming time if cooking frozen bao.

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