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Pulled Beef Bao Buns recipe

Pulled Beef Bao Buns recipe

3.5 Stars (59 Voters)
These pulled beef bao buns are one of my favorite Asian dishes in all times! The steamed buns are so soft, light and pillowy. Filled with delicious and rich slow cooked pulled beef. This dish may seem like a complicated, but if you follow all steps you will learn how to make the best bao buns with the best meat filling.
4 Hours
40 Minutes

For the buns:

  • 3 1/2 cups (440g) Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Instant-dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1¼ cup (300ml) Milk
  • 2 tablespoon Oil

For the filling:

  • 1kg brisket beef or other cut *read recipe notes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups (480ml) Beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) Honey/brown sugar/white sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) Soy sauce
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Onions, sliced 
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger, grated  

For pickled veggies:

  • 2 Carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 Cucumbers (seedless), thinly slices
  • 1 Red onion, thinly slices
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) Rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Water
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt   
  1. Make the filling: Preheat the oven to (325°F) 160°C.
  2. Season the meat with salt and pepper generously on all sides. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Brown the joint on all sides over high heat and transfer to a large ovenproof dish.
  3. In the same pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté onions for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the onions and garlic to the meat, add beef stock, sugar/honey, soy sauce, BBQ sauce and ginger. Cover with an oven proof lid or a foil and bake for 3-4 hours, until the beef is very tender. Open the lid every hour and turn over the beef.
  5. Transfer the beef to a clean chopping board and `pull’ the cooked beef apart by securing the joint with a fork and shredding the meat with another fork. Place the pulled beef back into the dish and bake, uncovered for 15-20 minutes (this step is optional).
  6. Make the buns: in a large bowl or in a bowl of a stand mixer place flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix. Add milk and oil, whisk until dough is formed. Knead the dough for about 7-8 minutes.
  7. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
  8. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough gently to resale air bubbles and knead for 1 minute.
  9. Roll out the dough into 1/4-inch (1/2cm) thick. Then, using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut 3½-inch (9cm) circles. Gently roll the circle to an ovel shape, then lightly brush the dough with oil and fold. Gently roll/press the buns over the top. Take the leftover dough and repeat the process.
  10. Place the buns on a parchment paper squares. Then place the buns in the steamer. Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
  11. Cook the buns: in a large pan or a wok bring water to a boil. Place the steamer in the pan with the boiling water and cover with a lid. Steam the bao buns for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and leave the buns in the steamer, covered for 2-3 minutes.
  12. Make pickled veggies (optional): in a small saucepan heat water, vinegar, sugar, salt, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool, then pour the liquid over the veggies, seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. I would recommend making this step a day ahead.  

Frequently asked questions:


When it comes to slow cooker meat, there is no need to buy expensive meat cuts. The most popular meat cuts for slow cooker pulled beef are brisket, flank, skirt, chuck roast. My best tip for you is to ask your butcher what for the recipe you are planning to make.


Steamed buns may seem like a complicated recipe to execute, but it much easier than you think. Before you start, make sure you read the recipe from beginning to end. Prepare your steamer. You can buy a high-quality bamboo steamer here: bamboo steamer. Make sure you are using parchment paper. Do not over proof the buns un the second proofing. Usually 20 minutes is enough (depends on room temperature). Wrap the lid with kitchen towel to prevent from dripping over the buns.


Steam the buns, then let them cool completely. Placed cooled buns on a baking sheet and transfer to the freezer for 1 hour. After one hour they should harden slightly. Place then in a freezer container or a bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to serve steam the buns for 4-5 minutes and serve.


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