What To Serve With Bao Buns (+Bao Bun Fillings)

Buns are versatile dishes you can manipulate into creating a perfect recipe either for lunch or dinner. The fillings are delicious and often come down to your taste buds. Bun recipes are usually popular during summertime as it is a perfect grilling time.

Pairing buns with other dishes is pretty much simple. They make a good accompaniment to several other dishes, which requires fewer preparation procedures.

Like many other homemade dishes, homemade buns are the best-tasting because you can manipulate them by making them to your taste and preference.

Here are some ideas on what to serve with buns. The good news is you can try several techniques on how to serve buns. Also, you can get creative and use other dishes to serve these chewy and meaty buns.

What is bao 

Vegan Dim Sum buns

Bao buns go with several different names and vary based on region, countries, and cultures. Often, you will find these buns referred to as baozi, mantou, bao, pou, pow. However, the most popular name is steamed buns or bao.

These buns have been in existence for over a hundred years. It is one of the most dominant dishes in Chinese cuisine, and it is prepared with variations of ingredients.

The traditional ingredients used are pork, potatoes, and a variety of vegetables. That said, the use of ingredients varies from one region to another as other ingredients have been used to make these buns besides the traditional ones.

Bao buns are often fluffy and airy, with different stuffing all enclosed within a delicious white dough. Many people have been confusing bao buns with dumplings which are considered cousins to bao.

However, these two differ when it comes to flavor. Bao buns are usually sweeter than dumplings which is a primary difference.

cha siu bao 2

Bao buns are popular in many regions across Asia with slight variations based on the region prepared. These buns are generally enjoyed for breakfast and have gained popularity over the world.

As a result, many people learn how to prepare this recipe and use it for breakfast and the main course.

1. Mini meatball subs 


If you plan to prepare spaghetti for dinner, you can use the leftover meatballs to fill your buns. They make your buns super delicious, and you can enjoy them whether cold or hot.

The good news is you can prepare the meatballs in advance, especially when you are busy throughout the week.

2. Red-cooked pork sandwich 


The pork in this recipe is usually very tender and juicy, which comes from the slow cooking of the meat. It makes just the perfect filling for the buns. Using vegetables and especially green onions will add an extra robust flavor to the buns. 

The good news is you can use the cooking liquid to braise the pork the next day you prepare this meat. The cooking liquid for this pork gets richer with frequent use. Here’s how to prepare it.

3. Steamed BBQ pork buns


This recipe comes in two different versions. It is either prepared through steaming or baking, and both are super delicious with unique flavors.

What makes this recipe unique is the soft texture and fluffiness of the buns. The bao wrappers from the Nothern and Southern regions of China vary. The buns from Southern China are usually sweet and pillowy.

Homemade steamed pork buns are usually the best-tasting. You can omit whatever ingredients you don’t love and use your favorite to fit your taste buds. Here is how to prepare this dish.

4. Asian popcorn shrimp bao 


It only takes 20 minutes to prepare a classic restaurant-style Asian popcorn shrimp bao recipe. It is the perfect dish for those busy weeknights because of how quickly you can put it together. The Asian flavor from this recipe is usually delicious, especially with various ingredients used to prepare this dish.

The popcorn shrimp dish is usually baked in an oven before being added to the spicy sauce, after which it is then served with the bao buns. It is a versatile recipe, and using other ingredients to recreate your version of this dish is possible. Popcorn shrimp is the perfect dish to prepare if you are short on time or during busy weeknights.

Here’s the recipe 

5. Turkey burgers with cranberry ketchup and grilled shallots 


If you thought that turkeys are only for thanksgiving, then you should try out this recipe. It is a super easy recipe to fix with several unique flavors. The cranberry ketchup is essential for this recipe, especially because it has both sweet and savory flavors.

The tartness from the cranberries and vinegar, which creates just the perfect adds spiciness and sweet flavor. You can also use fresh cranberries fruits if you can’t find the sauce. 

Making a dent in the middle of the burgers using your thumb just before grilling them will make them bake evenly. Here’s how to prepare this dish.

6. Brocolli rabe and provolone hot dog 


Sausages tend to blend well with several other toppings. Broccoli rabe is a perfect topping for Italian-design classic sausages, and the addition of provolone cheese and red peppers gives it an extra unique flavor. If you love Italian recipes, you must have come across sauteed broccoli rabe. 

Sauteed broccoli rabe is prepared by cooking garlic and crushed red pepper in olive oil lightly. It is a popular ingredient when preparing Italian sandwiches. The beef flavor from the hot dogs tends to complement the spicy crushed red peppers and intense provolone cheese.

It makes another perfect alternative of how you can serve the buns. Here is how to make this recipe 

7. BBQ chicken sliders 


It is relatively easy to put this meal together, especially when some ingredients are prepared in advance, like the chicken. However, sliders are versatile, and you can use them anytime during the day, whether as a snack or even dinner. 

You can readily substitute the ingredients with your favorites. Coleslaw comes in handy for this recipe, es[ecially if you are looking to make it crunchy. You can use the store-bought salads or prepare your salad.

Remember not to overcook the chicken and the ingredients as they will lose the crunchy texture. Here is how to make this recipe 

8. Korean chicken bao 


This recipe is the best alternative if you are hosting a grown-ups home party. These Korean chicken bao buns take a longer time to prepare than standard bao buns, but it’s worth the time taken to prepare each of these buns. Unfortunately, the steps involved in preparing this recipe are quite tedious, which increases the preparation time.

Remember not to omit the gochujang sauce, which usually elevates this recipe by adding a spicy flavor. It comes in two different versions, either a paste or sauce. If you are looking for extra flavor, go for the paste. 

Depending on the brand, this sauce might vary in taste and flavor. Here is the recipe 

9. Stir-fried Gai Lan 


This is a Chinese-style broccoli recipe usually made with common ingredients such as garlic and soy sauce. It is sometimes called Chinese kale and falls in the family of vegetables with different ingredients used to prepare these vegetables.

Generally, Gai Lan is a Cantonese word that means blue-green vegetables, which most people love because of how thick the stems are and the flower buds. Stir-fried Gai Lan assumes a glossy, shiny surface once cooked and usually has both sweet and bitter taste. As a result, these vegetables are dominant in Asian markets.

You can use these vegetables as wraps or as a side dish for your bao buns. It is a 15-minute recipe that involves simple and common ingredients for its preparation. Here is how to prepare the Gai Lan vegetables.

10. Spicy Szechuan noodles with garlic chili oil


The flavor from this recipe is usually on another level, especially with different high-quality ingredients used for its preparation. The good news is it only takes 10 minutes to put it together, which makes it a perfect dish for busy weeknights. 

For the noodles used for this recipe, you can use any type, whether flat, wide, or wheat noodles, as it all depends on your preference.

The noodles can either be served cold or warm. You only need to rinse your noodles with cold water and drain all the water thoroughly. On the other hand, hot noodles will require you to drain the water then toss the garlic oil almost immediately.

Lao gan ma is an essential condiment for this recipe if you want to add extra flavor to the noodles. Here is how to prepare this delectable noodles.

11. Pulled mushroom bao


There is no better way of impressing your guest than by preparing this sticky pulled mushroom bao. Asian flavors blend well with vegetarian dishes, which are brought by the different layers of flavors and fresh ingredients. 

It is a healthy recipe, and the mushrooms are prepared using soya sauce or oyster sauce should you want to replicate a meaty flavor.

The difficulty level of putting this meal together is straightforward because it only requires three vital ingredients. 

The blend between the tender and soft bao, the meat-tasting mushrooms, creamy mayonnaise, and the Macha sauce is on another level. You can substitute the buns with bread if you cannot access the buns. Here is how to prepare this recipe  

12. Egg drop soup 


This recipe gets its name from how the soup is prepared. Making this soup is straightforward as you only need to drop the raw eggs in hot soup. Generally, egg drop soup means egg flower soup in Chinese because the swirls it creates in the soup usually resembling a flower pattern. The swirls are usually in different sizes, relatively large.

Egg drop soup comes in different variations, which mainly is brought by using different ingredients. This soup variety is usually made with minimal ingredients but packed with flavor.

This soup is often very thick and rich, primarily because of the cornstarch thickening agent. It is always mixed with cold broth and whisked to prevent the formation of lumps in the soup.

The good news is you can customize this soup to your liking by using the ingredients of your choice. It is a 15-minute recipe, and you don’t have to worry about the ingredients as they are readily available. Here’s how to get the best of this soup.

13. Thai red curry milk pork 


Braising pork meat will always guarantee a tender pulled pork meat. Thai flavors are usually spicy enough when used to prepare this meat, making it just the perfect fillings for your bao buns. It takes a long time to put this recipe together, but only if you had prepared the Thai paste in advance.

If you don’t have enough time to prepare your version of the buns, you can readily get them from an Asian market in the freezer.

This recipe requires minimal ingredients, but the time to prepare the whole thing might take extra long. However, it’s worth every process because of how good it turns out.

It is essential you double your recipe as one can never be enough. Here is how to prepare this dish 

14. Instant pot char siu 


This dish is one of the most popular in Chinese restaurants. The difficulty level of this recipe is easy, which means you don’t have to go to China just to enjoy this dish.

It usually is packed with sweet and savory flavors with a soft texture that a single bite will not be enough for your taste buds.

This recipe is primarily of Cantonese origin, and it is traditionally prepared using pork belly. However, recently pork shoulder and pork butt have been used to prepare this recipe with significant success. The pork shoulder cut is one of the best because it has the right fat and is best for pressure cooking.

The aroma of instant Chinese BBQ pork is usually delicious, and your guests and family will always scream for more of this recipe. However, it’s a wise idea to go overboard and double the recipe. Here is how to make this Chinese delicacy.

15. Vegan hoisin chicken bao buns 


Nothing tastes better than this recipe. It is a must-try, especially when used as stuffing for the bao buns. The good news is you don’t have to disturb yourself by making the buns if you aren’t in the mood to bake some. They can readily be found in local Asian stores, and all you need to do is steam them and add your favorite fillings.

You only require a handful of ingredients for the preparation of this recipe. You get to decide on what ingredients to use, especially that it is a vegan dish. Fresh herbs, mayonnaise, hoisin sauce, and seitan chicken are some of the ingredients you need to get the best of this dish.

You must serve this recipe hot because the buns tend to lose the fluffiness and texture when reheated. If you are wondering how to make this dish, here is the procedure.

16. Sloppy joes


There is no denying how good sloppy joes, especially after dinner. The sweet and savory flavors of this recipe are undeniably one you cannot go without enjoying. Although there are several methods to prepare the sloppy joes, you will find spicy, sweet, and savory varieties. 

It is easy to prepare sloppy joes, and it only takes about 20 minutes to put this recipe together. The sauce is essential in this recipe, and finding the perfect seasoning will make this recipe taste even better. There is nothing complicated about the sloppy joes recipe.

The beef is usually browned and blended with pepper and onions. The last bit is to simmer browned meat in tomato sauce.

Adding the browned beef makes just the perfect stuffing for your buns. It’s worth a try, especially with several flavors from both the bun and the meat. Here is how to prepare the sloppy joes.

17. Garlic bok choy 


This garlic recipe bursts with several flavors and makes the perfect side dish for your buns. The good news is it is a straightforward recipe and takes about 10 minutes to it. This vegetable recipe is popular in Chinese restaurants primarily because they are super healthy and requires a few minutes to put together.

To get the best of this recipe, you need to add oil to the water right before blanching the vegetables. Adding oil to the vegetables helps retain their color and makes the vegetables soft. 

The sauce is an essential ingredient in this dish and does add sweet and savory flavors to the recipe. Here is how to prepare garlic bok choy with oyster sauce.

18. Crispy fish sandwich 


There is no denying how good this recipe from Mc Donalds is prepared. However, it is possible to prepare this recipe from the comfort of your home. The fish is often battered with beer to infuse savory flavor adding uniqueness to the whole dish.

The type of fish you use is all up to your preference. The fish is usually tucked between the buns and other ingredients such as jalapenos, lettuce, and mayonnaise.

The procedure might take longer, but it’s worth the wait. Some people find fish on buns to be weird. That said, you can substitute it with flaky fish or any ingredient of your choice. Here is how to prepare the crispy fish sandwich.

19. Slow-cooker braised brisket 


This beef cut is often tender and delicious. However, it takes longer to prepare it, and you need to be patient when preparing it. Braising the meat under medium heat for longer periods leads to the release of succulent and delicious juice. The juiciness of this meat makes it a perfect filling for your sandwich.

The best part is that this beef cut is that it is less expensive and easy to prepare. Here is how to prepare this recipe.

20. Pickled red cabbage


The vibrant color of red cabbage gives your plate an attractive look. Pickling the cabbage gives it a savory vinegar flavor that complements the flavor of bao buns. The good news is you can get a ready-made version of pickled red cabbages right from your local stores if you don’t have quality time to prepare yours.

However, the best pickled red cabbages are homemade, and the best part is that preparing this cabbages is straightforward. In addition, you get to add quality ingredients that might be missing in cabbages gotten from local stores or supermarkets. Here is how to prepare this dish.

22. Ham and cheese omelets 


The good thing about omelets is you get to make them to the size you desire. Often, omelets have been served as dinner, especially in many regions of Asia. Small-sized omelets are the best for dinner as this will give room for your guests and family to try different varieties of foods.

Bao buns can readily be used as an accompaniment to your omelets. The ingredients used in making the omelets are important as they will blend well with the buns. Use onions, prawns, mushrooms, and sour sauce as the toppings for the omelet. Here is how to prepare this recipe.

23. Chicken noodle soup 


There is no perfect marriage than soup and sandwiches. This combo is usually epic, bursting with several flavors, all perfectly balanced. The good news is you can prepare your version of Asian-inspired noodle soup using your favorite ingredients.

The buns are a perfect match for your noodle soup, provided the ingredients are perfectly balanced. It is a classic method of noodle preparation and is usually rich and creamy with delicious, unique flavors. It’s worth a try, and here is the procedure of how to make it.

24. Steamed pak choi


Pak choi is a Chinese dish that includes several vegetables, usually stir-fried, super crunchy, and delicious. The best part is it goes well with most Asian-inspired dishes. Of course, you can also steam the veggies if you don’t love stir-fried recipes, but you shouldn’t overdo it because the crunchiness tends to get eliminated.

This dish is usually jam-packed with several vitamins and minerals essential for the growth and development of the human body. Combining them with bao buns creates just the perfect dish packed with loads of nutrients

25. Instant pot chicken fried rice 


The best part about preparing this recipe is the short time it will take to fix. Traditionally, this recipe will take longer to prepare than expected, especially when not using an instant pot. Also, it always is a hassle to prepare the rice then the chicken differently then mixing them to finish off.

The recipe takes a pretty short time, and the good news is you can customize it to match your taste buds. That said, white or brown rice, fresh or frozen vegetables, or shrimp in place of chicken will come out just as delicious. You can never go wrong with this recipe. Try it on your buns as fillings and enjoy the goodness of this dish.

26. Spicy Chinese stir-fry beans 


If you are looking for the perfect side dish for your buns, this recipe is just the perfect option. The beans in this recipe are usually packed with several flavors from the ingredients used during its preparation. The beans are often fried in ginger, garlic, coconut oil, and chili sauce, giving them a distinctive taste.

This recipe is easy to prepare, and the number of ingredients needed to fix it is a handful. You can customize the recipe to fit your taste buds. Using Thai chili will add an extra kick to this dish. You don’t want to miss the flavors that come with this recipe. Here is how to make this dish.

How do bao buns taste?

The stuffing used in making bao buns does influence the taste of these buns. There is no consistent flavor of bao which is primarily because of the different ingredients used as fillings. However, the flavor is usually balanced between slightly sweet and savory. 

There are several ways to prepare bao, and one of them is by omitting the fillings. This bao type with no fillings is often referred to as mantou. It has a similar flavor and smells to fresh bread with a soft and chewy texture. 

Mantou or plain type bao buns are often used as an accompaniment to other dishes. They go well with saucy recipes and dishes such as braised tofu and fried eggplants.

Bao bun fillings

Bao bun traditional fillings include pork and vegetables. This recipe has recently become popular, and different fillings have been used as substitutes for classic fillings. Finding the best fillings for these buns is not a simple task because of their recent diversity.

Besides the classic and authentic traditional fillings, you can use several other stuffing for your bao buns. Regardless of the variety of the buns, many ingredients tend to blend well with this buns without eliminating the sweet-savory flavor from the buns. 

Here are some delicious fillings you can use for your bao buns; 

Sesame paste, red beans, and custard- Bao buns come in two sweet and savory variations. These filings are sweet and combine perfectly with the buns to create a weel balanced sweet-savory recipe. Whether you eat the buns as a snack or use them for your dim sum, it does not disappoint.

Char siu(BBQ pork) is one of the most common traditional fillings for the bao, and the flavor is usually on another level. The pork is responsible for the savory flavor of marinating the tender and roasted pork in a savory sauce. This is one of the best fillings you can use with just the perfect taste.

Minced meat and veggies- These ingredients are often used in the preparation of dumplings. However, they make a perfect filling for your bao buns too. You should try it out as it does not alter the flavor of the buns, and there is no intense preparation of these ingredients.

Are bao buns healthy?

Like many other recipes, you get to decide whether your dish becomes healthy or not. Bao buns being healthy dishes depends on what you use as your fillings. The versatility of the dough used in the preparation of these buns means you can use a variety of ingredients for your fillings, and it’s all up to you to choose healthy products.

Whether you decide to go the traditional way with the fillings or go for vegetarian-based recipes, it all comes down to what you desire. Nevertheless, bao is not considered the healthiest snack available because it uses various ingredients that are not fully considered healthy.

The best way to enjoy these sweet buns is to occasionally integrate them into your diet and not use them as a constant base meal for every dish you prepare.

how to eat bao buns

This snack is pretty much popular on the streets of China and in many parts of the world. These buns are often eaten in restaurants, but you can still order take-outs or get them from the streets and enjoy them as you head to work. They usually are sold in small sizes but can be made in large sizes using the same preparation procedures.

Bao buns come in different varieties, sizes, and stuffings based on the region in which the buns are prepared. They also are eaten differently depending on the varieties. Some bao buns are eaten straight from the hand bite after bite while holding them in your hands. 

Here are some of the bao buns varieties and how they are eaten; 

Zhimbao- This bun variety is generally extra sweet than other varieties. It is relatively smaller than many other buns, and it usually is steamed and stuffed using sesame paste. Many people tend to enjoy these buns as a dessert or sometimes after the main meals.

Xiabao- These buns are sometimes referred to as small buns, and often they are sold in restaurants, but you can readily order takeaways. The buns are usually served with soy sauce, dark vinegar, or chili paste condiments in which the bao buns are dipped by the use of chopsticks. They usually are served in three pieces.

Xianglongbao- This bao bun variety is pretty much common in Shanghai. It is relatively small and usually served with a delicious soup and a straw. The soup is the first to be taken, after which you can eat the bao using chopsticks.

Dabao- These buns are also referred to as big buns because of their large size. Dabao is often served individually and usually fluffier than most of the other buns. The fillings comprise pork, meat, and vegetables and usually comes in two versions. Either the salty or sweet (stuffings include red beans) version, both with different stuffings. These buns are eaten directly while holding them on your hands, bite after bite.

Final thoughts 

The rise in popularity of this dish has led to the growth of several variations of these buns with unique stuffings added to several eateries and restaurants. Preparation of these buns takes a little bit more time than expected, usually up to five hours. However, the length of time spent preparing the buns is worth it.

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