The Best Vegan Steamed Bao Buns

yield: 12 prep time: 5 MINUTES cook time: 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES total time: 1 HOUR 35 MINUTES

Bao buns are fluffy, steamed rolls stuffed with a savory or sweet stuffing. Our bao buns are stuffed with a combo of sweet and sour flavor, pickled veggies, tofu, and a delicious sauce. You really don’t need a special occasion to make these hand-held treats in your Instant Pot, so go ahead and make them tonight!


For Bao buns

  • Active dry yeast – 1 packet (1 1/4 teaspoons)
  • Warm water – 1 cup + few tablespoon
  • All-purpose flour – 3 cups
  • Organic granulated sugar – 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons oil, divided.
  • Baking paper (about 10x10cm) – 12 squares

For the Pickled Veggies

  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Rice vinegar – 1/4 cup
  • Organic granulated sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Medium carrot julienne cut – 1
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Medium cucumber, julienne cut – 1/2
  • Medium jalapeño pepper, sliced – 1

For the tofu Filling

  • Soy sauce – 1/3 cup
  • Rice vinegar – 2 tablespoons
  • Maple syrup – 2 tablespoons
  • Sambal oelek or to taste (optional) – 2 teaspoons
  • Sesame oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Oil (or high heat oil of choice) – 2 tablespoon
  • Firm tofu, pressed ,sliced into strips – 12 oz

For Serving

  • Hoisin sauce – 10 tablespoons
  • Chopped roasted peanuts – 1/2 cup
  • White and black sesame seeds – 1 tablespoon
  • Chopped cilantro – 1/2 cup


Make the dough

  1. First, add flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, oil, and water to a large stand mixer bowl.
  2. Next, use a dough hook to mix everything on medium speed. You will need to add a little more warm water to add a bit more moisture to the dough once it comes together.
  3. Next, let it knead on medium speed until the dough turns glossy and soft. It should also feel smooth to the touch. The kneading will take around 5 to 7 minutes
  4. Empty out onto a work surface and knead for 1 minute or until smooth. Add extra flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks to the palm of your hand.
  5. When the dough is ready, lightly grease the inner pot with some oil and place the dough in the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Next, cover with the lid and press the yogurt button and proof the dough for 60 minutes
  6. Once it has risen, punch down the dough in the center. Next, transfer the dough to a work surface and dust with flour and knead it for 5 to 10 minutes. The goal is to remove as many air bubbles as possible from the dough.

Prep and steam the buns

  1. Next, divide the dough in 12 equal parts and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about a 1 cm thick circle.
  1.  Once the dough circles are made, lightly spread the oil over the surface of the dough. Next, use an 8 cm diameter pastry cutter or a plastic cup of the same diameter to cut out rounds from each piece of dough
  2. Remove the excess dough.
  3. Next, fold the rounds in half and flatten slightly with the rolling pin and then place the round on a square of baking paper and place directly into a large bamboo steamer or onto a tray.
  4. Repeat with remaining dough (excess dough can be re-rolled and used). 
  5. Next, prepare the Instant Pot to steam the buns by pouring in 1 cup of water into the inner pot and placing a trivet inside. Once the water is added, arrange the buns in a bamboo steamer and place it in the pot. You will need to steam the buns in batches.
  6. Finally, close the lid and steam it for 10 minutes. Once done, open the lid carefully and remove the bamboo steamer. Once they are steamed, you can fill them up
  1. In a pot or deep pan over high heat, combine the water, sugar, rice vinegar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add the vegetables the brine. Stir to submerge, then remove the pot from the heat. Let it sit for 20 mins, while you sear the tofu and steam the buns, then drain.

Tofu filling

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and sear on one side until deep brown in color.
  2. Flip and cook on the other side until deep brown, 5 minutes more.
  3. Remove the tofu from the pan. Add all the sauce in the same pan and reduce until it thickens (5 minutes ) add in the tofu to the pan and stir to coat with the glaze.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat.

Assembling the bao buns

  1. To serve, slather the inside of the bao buns with hoisin sauce, then, glazed tofu, the pickled vegetables, cilantro, peanuts and sesame seeds.
Nutrition Information

Yield12Serving Size1Amount Per ServingCalories280Total Fat11gSaturated Fat1gTrans Fat0gUnsaturated Fat9gCholesterol0mgSodium954mgCarbohydrates38gFiber3gSugar9gProtein9g

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