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a tray with four pork buns each with two pieces of braised pork belly, quick salt and sugar pickled cumbers, sesame-soy-mayo, hoisin sauce, and scallions topped with a little shredded lettuce

Easy Steamed Pork Buns (Momofuku & Ippudo-Style)

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  • Author: Kelly
  • Total Time: 27 hours
  • Yield: 16 Pork Buns 1x


This Momofuku & Ippudo-style pork bun recipe includes the best, most tender-soft homemade bao buns (aka Gua Bao or Baozi) and slow-braised pork belly which is basically a set-it-and-forget-it kind of dish with otherworldly deliciousness. As for the pork bao (the buns), I use a special ingredient and method for the dough to ensure they’re extra pillowy, unlike many recipes I’ve tried and they are better than any recipe I’ve tried (including David Chang’s own recipe). Try it and see for yourself. *As always, find the step-by-step recipe photos in the main post. 



Braised Pork Ingredients

Brining Liquid

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds pork belly, skin removed (1 to 1.15kg)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (100g)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (130g)
  • 4 cups water (945g)
  • 1 scallion

Braising Liquid

  • 1/2 cup water (118g)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock (118g)
  • 1 scallion (leftover from brining liquid)

Extra Soft Bao Bun Ingredients

Tangzhong Bao Dough Starter

  • 1/4 cup water (60g)
  • 1/4 cup cake flour or 00 flour (33g)

Remaining Bao Bun Dough

  • 3/4 cup warm water (177g)
  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour or 00 flour (435g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (or active dry) (2.3g)
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated potato flakes (sub potato flour) (7g)
  • 2 tablespoons dried milk powder (20g)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (45g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (2g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (2g)

For Serving

  • hoisin sauce
  • scallions
  • iceberg lettuce or cabbage, shredded
  • salt & sugar pickled cucumbers (recipe follows)
  • soy-sesame mayonnaise (recipe follows)

Sesame-Soy Mayonnaise

Mix everything together in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (14g)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 45g)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, crushed or whole (9g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional but recommended) (2g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Japanese Nanami Togarashi chili pepper mix (optional) (1g)

Salt & Sugar Pickled Cucumbers

Mix everything together in a bowl and allow the cucumbers to rest for 15 minutes. Use right away or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.

  • 1 to 2 cucumbers sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (5g)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (12g)
  • 1 dried chili (optional)
  • 1 drop of toasted sesame oil (optional)


MAKE THE BRAISED PORK (one day in advance)

  1. Make the pork belly braising liquid. In a liquid measuring cup, add all of the ingredients (except the pork belly) and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.  
  2. Brine the pork belly. Add the pork belly and the scallions to a sustainable plastic bag, or other air-tight container and add the brining liquid. Seal it up being sure the pork is completely covered in the brining solution and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  3. Braise the pork belly. Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Remove the pork belly and scallions from the brine and discard the liquid. Place the pork on top of the scallions in an oven-proof baking dish. Stir the water and chicken stock together and pour it over the pork belly and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours until the pork is tender. Turn the oven temperature up to 450F/232°C, remove the foil, and continue baking until the top is golden brown about 30 more minutes. You may turn on the broiler function after about 20 minutes if you want to speed up the browning process but watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool in its juices. Refrigerate the brining liquid. 
  4. Refrigerate the braised pork belly. When the pork belly has cooled, remove it from the braising liquid and place it into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. Strain the braising liquid and add it to a glass jar and refrigerate. Remove the chilled pork belly from the fridge and slice it into 1/4 or 1/2-inch slices. You may reheat the slices by dipping them into a pot of reheated braising liquid, or by pan-searing them on each side until just warmed through or until they’re golden brown, Enjoy!


  1. Make the tangzhong bao dough starter. In a small pot add 1/4 cup of water and bring it almost to a boil over high heat, slowly add 1/4 cup of flour while whisking the mixture with a fork constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring constantly for a couple of minutes more until the mixture starts to ball up around the fork. Remove it from the heat and place the tangzhong in a small bowl to cool completely to room temperature. 
  2. Make the bao bun dough & let it rise (1st rise). Add the flour, yeast, sugar, powdered milk, potato flour, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment and whisk the ingredients well to combine. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly and steadily add the warm water to combine. Stop the machine and add the cooled tangzhong pinching off small pieces into the bowl. Turn the mixture back on to medium-low speed and continue kneading and mixing for approximately 12 minutes stopping the machine periodically to pull the dough back down off of the hook (because it will climb). Once the dough has been kneaded and is smooth, remove it and shape it into a round. Lightly oil the mixing bowl and place the dough round back into it and turn it over to coat all sides with a little oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 to 1.5 hours). 
  3. Portion the dough & let it rise (2nd rise). Once the dough has risen, punch it down and form it into a log, and cut 16 equal pieces (about 48g each). Keep the dough covered while you work with one piece at a time to roll them into small round dough balls. Place the rounded dough balls onto a parchment-lined tray, cover loosely with sustainable plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for about 30 more minutes. While the balls are rising, cut out 16 pieces of 4×4-inch squares of parchment paper (this will make adding them to the steamer basket a cinch without damaging the risen buns).
  4. Shape the buns & let them rest (3rd rise). Working with one dough ball at a time, press the ball down with your hand and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into an oval shape about 1/4-inch thick. I don’t use flour on the work surface in this step because I roll them out on stainless steel and the dough doesn’t tend to stick so much to the surface that I need flour. Just a light tugging is needed to get the rolled dough to pull away from the surface.  Brush the top of each oval with vegetable oil, place a chopstick in the middle, and fold the top over the bottom using the chopstick to form a bun and make it easy to gently transfer it to a cut square of parchment paper. Keep all the buns and the dough covered while working so the dough doesn’t dry out. Let the buns rest covered for 30 more minutes to rise just slightly. 
  5. Steam the buns. Set a steamer basket over a pan with enough water to steam the buns for 10 minutes. Do not place the buns where they will be in contact with any water. Add the buns on the parchment squares to the basket making sure the buns do not touch. Cover and steam for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the hot buns from the steamer basket and use them immediately, or allow them to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
  6. Assemble the pork buns. Heat the pork belly slices by using a kitchen torch or pan-searing them on both sides in a skillet. Add a little hoisin sauce, sugar-and-salt pickled cucumbers, a few scallions, and Sriracha sauce to each bun and place 1 or 2 slices of pork belly and serve. You may also add homemade mayonnaise, lettuce, cabbage, or any other toppings you desire. Enjoy!



  • You can add more aromatics to the brining liquid or the braising liquid if desired. 
  • You can braise pork belly with the skin on which is delicious, but when it’s time to brown it under the broiler, it splatters a lot so you’ll need to be careful and you’ll need to clean your oven afterward.
  • You can scale this recipe up to make the most use of energy consumption because this pork freezes extremely well. Slice and freeze it for easy meals.
  • You can reheat sliced braised pork belly 3 ways:
    • use a kitchen torch to sear it on both sides
    • pan-sear it in a skillet on both sides until warmed through, or golden brown
    • reheat the braising liquid and add sliced pork to the pot until warmed through


  • Depending on the humidity absorption potential of the flour you’re using and the environment you’re working in, the weight (grams) of the measured flour may vary. Use the level and scoop method to measure the flour in cups and it works perfectly every time.
  • If using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, be sure to dissolve the yeast into the warm (105-115°F) water allowing it to sponge for about 10 minutes before using. Do not use water that’s too hot or it can kill the yeast. 
  • If you don’t have dehydrated potato flakes, use potato flour, or simply omit them from the recipe.
  • Dehydrated potato flakes are not the same thing as potato starch. Do not use potato starch in this recipe. The potato flakes are the same thing you find in boxes at the supermarket and are used to make instant mashed potatoes by mixing butter and milk with them. 
  • I used dried skim milk powder, but you can use whole milk powder if that’s what you have on hand.
  • If you don’t have a steamer basket, place a metal colander over a smaller pot with water in it and once the water is boiling, add the pork buns but make sure they do not touch. Cover with a lid (any lid that won’t touch the pork buns) and steam. Even though I have many bamboo steamers, this method is what I often use to reheat the buns when I’m making a small amount like 3 or 4 buns. It’s easy and less to clean.

How to Store Braised Pork Belly

Braised pork belly can be made 2 or 3 days in advance and stored sliced in the refrigerator until ready to reheat and eat. Or you may slice it and freeze it for up to 3 months. In this case, I like to add parchment paper or freezer paper in between each slice so I can easily remove just what I need for a recipe and put the rest back. 

How to Reheat Braised Pork Belly For Pork Buns

You can easily reheat sliced braised pork belly in three different ways:

    • use a kitchen torch to sear it on both sides
    • pan-sear it in a skillet on both sides until warmed through or golden brown and crispy
    • reheat the braising liquid and add sliced pork belly to the pot until warmed through

How to Store Homemade Bao Buns (Pork Buns)

Once the buns have been steamed and cooled completely to room temperature, place the square of parchment paper between each bun, wrap them in a larger piece of parchment paper (if storing for a long time), and store them tightly sealed in an airtight freezer bag. If you’re storing them in something other than a freezer bag, be sure to wrap them well with sustainable plastic wrap before adding them to the container which will help keep any frost off of them. Buns can be stored for up 3 months (even longer if wrapped well) and removed from the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or they can be steamed from frozen but will take a few minutes longer. 

4 Ways to Reheat Bao Buns (The Bread Part)

  • Re-steam the buns. Add the buns to a parchment-lined steamer basket set over a wok or pot with about 2 inches of boiling water and steam the buns for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and soft. Make sure the buns never have contact with the water.
  • If you don’t have a steamer basket, make a DIY steamer basket using a small pot and a metal colander. Place the buns in the colander set atop a pot with a little boiling water and place a lid on top of the colander being sure not to allow the buns to have contact with the water. Steam for several minutes until warmed through and fluffy.
  • Reheat them in the oven by placing the buns on a large piece of aluminum foil and adding two damp (not soaking wet) paper towels to the tops of the buns, close the aluminum foil to seal it completely, and place them into a preheated 350°F176°C oven for 15 minutes or until warmed through and soft.
  • Microwave the buns. Wrap the buns in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, or until steaming hot.
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 180 minutes
  • Category: Dim Sum + Dumplings
  • Method: Steamed
  • Cuisine: Asian


  • Serving Size: 2 pork buns
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