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Bao Buns with Mushrooms Two Ways

Incredibly addictive, these delicious bao buns are pillowy soft and piled with a divine sticky mushroom filling.

Boa buns

Welcome to day 9 of the Lockdown Chow Down.

Join me (almost) daily as we reconnect with one of life’s most simple pleasures, food!

This recipe can be viewed as a cook along on the Culinary Cartel Instagram, by clicking here, or by viewing the “Bao Wow ” highlight on Instagram stories.

I am a small plates kind of eater; in that I love having lots of different flavours and textures in front of me. It is no wonder that my favourite cuisines focus on this kind of eating. In the spirit of that, today I will show you two styles of mushroom filling for our bao, which both come together super quickly.

Should you wish to make only one filling, simply double the ingredients below so that it fills all your bao.

Bao buns are all over restaurant menus now, but with everything being closed I bet its been a while since you had your bao fix! I am happy to tell you that bao are very simple to make at home (in a stand mixer and by hand) and once cooked, freeze amazingly. On that note I would double or even triple the recipe and store a couple of bao in the freezer to be steamed and reheated for a speedy dinner or future date night.

I also want to encourage you to experiment with your own fillings. Really the options are endless if you think of all the things that can be delicious in a simple bread roll. In essence a bao is simply a steamed roll! 

The golden rule for a successful filling is something rich, something crunchy, and something fresh/acidic to cut the richness.

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel and #lockdownchowdown on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. Happy cooking!

boa buns with mushrooms

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this vegan?

This dish is vegetarian. To adapt it to vegan use a plant-based fat and milk when making your bao bun dough.

What else can I put into my bao buns?

Be creative! Fill your buns with contrasting textures and flavours for best results. Fried chicken, peanuts and pickles are lovely. Be sure to always add peanuts for crunch and pickles for acidity to contrast the filling. Ive also filled my bao with pulled beef rendang, BBQ jackfruit, and pulled crispy duck confit.


boa buns 2 ways
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easy quick bao bun recipe

Bao Buns with Mushrooms Two Ways

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
  • Yield: 10 - 12 Buns
  • Diet: Vegan



For the Bao

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (dairy/soy or other high protein vegan alternative)
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp sugar (use white for super white buns)
  • 2 Tbsp fat (butter, duck fat, vegan margarine, coconut oil)

Sticky Mushroom Filling (fills 6 bao)

  • 250g large button mushrooms, sliced 1/2cm thick
  • 4 Tbsp Hoisin
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp soy
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the Crispy Mushroom Filling (Fills 6 Bao)

  • 100g large brown mushrooms sliced 1/2 cm thick
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/8 tsp or a small pinch of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup iced water (or better – ice cold soda water)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • oil for frying

For serving

All of the items below are optional, but make for really yummy bao

  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • chopped peanuts
  • fresh coriander for serving
  • thinly sliced fresh cucumber
  • Pantry Hero Cucumber Pickles
  • Sriracha mayo/Sriracha sauce/Kewpie mayo
  • 12x10 – 11cm squares of pre-cut baking paper for steaming your buns


  1. Add the warm milk and water to a bowl. Test the temperature of the liquid by placing a clean finger lightly into the mixture. The milk should be just warm, or blood temperature. This means it should feel neither warm nor cold when you dip your finger in. Blood temperature is the ideal temperature for yeast growth. Liquid that is too warm can kill the yeast, and liquid to cold will just make everything take waaay longer.
  2. Sprinkle the yeast into the milk mixture, and gently whisk it in with a fork. Set it aside to become happy and foamy for about 10 minutes
  3. Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl or stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture and knead until the dough just starts coming together and no streaks of flour remain. Add the butter and knead the dough until it is soft and elastic, which will take about 12 minutes by hand, and 3-4 minutes in a stand mixer.
  4. You know the dough is ready when it bounces back quickly after being pressed firmly with a finger. If the indentation remains in the dough, keep kneading for a bit longer.
  5. Once kneaded, cover the bowl with a just damp towel, to prevent the dough from drying out and set the dough aside to prove until doubled in size. This can take between 40 minutes-1 hour depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Pop the dough in an oven with only the light on, to speed the process up a bit by creating a nice warm environment.
  6. While the dough proves, make the sticky mushrooms.
  7. Mix all the sticky sauce ingredients in a bowl and set this aside until needed.
  8. Add a small drizzle of oil to a frying pan and pan fry the sliced mushrooms over a high heat, until golden brown on both sides. Once brown, add the garlic and fry for 1 minute more. Add the hoisin, soy and sugar and continue cooking until the sauce has reduced and glazed the mushrooms. Take the mushrooms off the heat and set them aside for reheating later.
  9. Once the dough has proved, punch it down a few times, and remove the dough from the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a neat round shape. Using a rolling pin or empty wine bottle, roll the dough out into a large sheet just over half a centimeter thick, scattering over more flour as needed to prevent the dough sticking.
  10. Using a 9 or 10cm cutter, cut out as many circles of dough as you can from the sheet and set these aside on your individual squares of baking paper. Take the scraps of dough, and dust off as much flour as you can. Form the scraps back into a dough ball, and repeat the process above once more. You can only do this about twice before the dough becomes hard to work with, so try get as many circles out of your dough as you can on your first and second attempts.
  11. Lightly brush the dough circles on one side with canola or sunflower oil. To form the circles into bao place a chopstick/kebab stick down the middle of an oiled dough circle, and gently fold the dough into a half moon, without pressing down on the dough. Gently slip out the chopstick and repeat the process until all the bao have been folded.
  12. Optional step: To achieve a nice, smooth finish on the top of the bao, use a lightweight rolling pin or glass to gently roll the folded bao out a little. Rolling once or twice from the fold to the rounded edge. This will also help you achieve a more oval, traditional shape than a half-moon
  13. Cover the bao with a just damp towel and allow to prove for 20 – 30 minutes.
  14. While the bao proves, make the crispy mushrooms. Heat an oven to 100C to keep everything warm while you steam the bao. Heat your oil to 180C on the stove in a large high sided pot. The oil is ready when a drip of batter dropped in fizzles and rises to the surface.
  15. Add the flour, baking powder, and iced water to a bowl and whisk them together until just combined (don’t worry if there are a few lumps).
  16. Toss the mushrooms throught the batter to coat them evenly. Working in batches, pop the battered mushroom slices into the oil and fry until they are crisp and just golden. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, onto kitchen paper to allow the excess oil to drain off. Place the mushrooms in the oven, in an even layer, to stay warm.
  17. Heat a pan of water over high heat to steam your buns. You can use the steamer insert (the thing that fits inside your pot and looks a bit like a colander), bamboo steamer or colander and lid to steam your buns. If using a colander I suggest a quick google for a few creative ideas to use one to hack a steamer,
  18. Working in batches, place the buns flat inside the steamer leaving a 1cm gap between them (most steamers won’t fit 12 bao at once). Place the steamer over the boiling water, making sure the water level is below the level of the steamer basket. Pop the lid on the steamer and steam the buns for 6 minutes. Repeat with the remaining buns until they are all cooked.
  19. Keep the cooked buns under a lightly damp, clean dish towel in the warm oven while the rest cook.
  20. To assemble the buns gently split them open, fill them with a mushroom filling of choice, then add a few optional toppings, like sriracha mayo, peanuts, spring onions, Pantry Hero Cucumber Pickles, and fresh coriander.


To freeze: Simply allow your buns to come to room temperature, place them in a container with their baking paper bases to stop them sticking together, and freeze. To reheat, defrost them fully, then steam for 2 minutes until warm and fluffy.

  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Steam
  • Cuisine: Asian-inspired


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 248.55kcal
  • Sugar: 7.34g
  • Sodium: 285.14mg
  • Fat: 12.75g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.49g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.47g
  • Trans Fat: 2.05g
  • Carbohydrates: 29.04g
  • Fiber: 1.62g
  • Protein: 4.98g
  • Cholesterol: 8.06mg
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