If you love BLTs and Japanese pork buns as much as we do, I think you’ll love this ultimate and very delicious BLT. One part American classic and two parts Asian deliciousness makes one of the best BLTs ever. Super-soft homemade bao buns, slathered with a quick sesame-soy spicy mayo, slices of vine-ripened tomatoes, and your choice of crispy fried Prosciutto di Parma, Speck di Asiago, hickory-smoked bacon, or pan-seared tender braised pork belly, all topped off with crunchy shredded lettuce. This BLT sandwich recipe is 100% made from scratch, but you can make them in just about 15 minutes if you use store-bought bao buns.
I’ll eat a BLT or Japanese pork buns any time of year so when I make homemade bao buns, I always save enough to make at least 3 or 4 of these mini BLT’s. If you’re not familiar with Japanese pork buns yet (various homemade pork buns below), head over here to check out that post.
What are Japanese-Style BLT Pork Buns?
Pork buns come in many different forms and have an endless number of delicious fillings (usually comprised of braised pork or ground pork filling) with a fluffy white bun. Pork buns originated in China, but have been deliciously adapted in Japan and made famous worldwide in NYC by Momofuku and Ippudo. BLT Pork Buns use a fluffy, homemade yeasted and steamed bun (aka bao or mantou) stuffed with slices of pan-seared crispy braised pork, or crispy fried prosciutto, thin slices of tomatoes, crispy shredded lettuce, and a spicy sesame-soy mayo. It’s everything great about a Japanese pork bun with the ease and deliciousness of a traditional BLT.
Why We Love This BLT Recipe
- Homemade super soft bao buns are even better than fluffy white bread
- If you use store-bought bao buns, these mini BLT’s can be ready in 15 minutes
- It’s creamy, crunchy, and filled with delicious flavors
- Use just about any kind of crispy fried pork in this recipe
- The sesame-soy mayo is loaded with umami and just a little bit spicy
- It’s a great way to use up extra bao buns when you make pork buns
- The bao buns can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months
If you’re interested in making BLT pork buns using this braised pork belly (above), head over here to check out that post.
Japanese-Style BLT Bao Bun Ingredients
There are just 7 basic ingredients used to make the actual buns. I use a special ingredient and a special technique not usually found in bao bun recipes which makes these naturally extra soft and squishy. And they taste great with just about any kind of fried pork (I’ve used everything), so use what you’ve already got, or what you most enjoy.
Extra Soft Bao Bun Ingredients
- cake flour or 00 flour
- instant yeast (or active dry)
- dehydrated potato flakes (sub potato flour)
- dried milk powder
- baking powder
- baking soda
Sesame-Soy Mayonnaise Ingredients
- soy sauce
- storebought or homemade mayonnaise
- toasted sesame seeds
- Japanese togarashi chili pepper mix
- Pork of your choice (Proscuitto di Parma, Speck di Asiago, bacon, braised pork belly)
- vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced thinly
- iceberg lettuce, sliced thinly
How to Make Extra Soft Homemade BLT Bao Buns
These steamed bao buns are really easy to make. And in order to make them even softer than most recipes, I’ve used the tangzhong method for this yeasted dough along with some dehydrated potato flakes. Not in the mood to make the buns? Buy them online or from a well-stocked Asian grocery store and this recipe can be made in just 15 minutes.
- Make the tangzhong. (*If you are using storebought bao buns, skip to step #5). 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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 pull up the bun and 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.
- 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.
- Make the sesame-soy mayo & fry the pork. While your buns are steaming, mix all of the ingredients for the sesame-soy mayonnaise together and set aside. Fry thin slices of Prosciutto di Parma, Speck di Asiago, or bacon in a skillet until crispy and remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Assemble the BLT Pork buns. Remove steamed buns to a platter. Working with one bun at a time, smear the sesame-soy mayo on both sides of the bun, add sliced tomato, and crispy-fried pork, and top with shredded lettuce and serve, Enjoy!
Bao Buns (Momofuku & Ippudo-Style pork buns) step-by-step recipe photos
How to Store Homemade Bao Buns (for Pork Buns or BLT 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.
3 Ways to Reheat Bao Buns
- Add the buns to a steamer basket each on a square of parchment paper and steam them for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and super soft. Make sure the buns never have contact with the water.
- If you don’t have a steamer basket, place buns on a large sheet of aluminum foil add two damp (not sopping wet) paper towels to the tops, close the buns in the aluminum foil to seal completely, and place in a preheated 350°F176°C oven for 15 minutes or until warmed through and soft.
- Make a DIY steamer basket out of 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.
Looking for More Delicious Sandwiches to Make?
If you’re looking for a few new sandwich recipes, below are a few of our favorites that are mostly super quick and easy to make.
- Best Smoky Shake Shack Shroom Burger (smoky, cheesy crispy mushroom burger)
- Toasted Sesame Egg Salad Sandwich (Tamago Sando たまごサン Inspired)
- How to Make Extra “Beefy” Above + Beyond® Burgers
- Garlic-Ginger Shaved Beef Steak Sandwich
- Wild Yellowfin Sesame-Scallion Tuna Salad Sandwich
- Fluffy-Soft Homemade Pork Buns (Momofuku & Ippudo-Style)
- Deli-Style Prosciutto, Turkey & Provolone Sandwich w/Sautéed Zucchini Ribbons
- Easy and Delicious Cheeseburger Quesadillas (+Bacon Cheeseburger & Vegetarian options)
- Crispy Prosciutto and Sun-Dried Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Wild Yellowfin Sesame-Scallion Tuna Salad Wrap
Let’s get started!Print