Asian BBQ Pulled Pork Buns

A plate filled with Asian BBQ pork buns.

Stop into any Asian Gastropub and you’ll find a myriad of vegetarian, beef, shrimp and pork bao buns on the menu. We can’t get enough of those fluffy steamed rolls with all types of wonderful fillings. These pulled pork buns use leftovers from this Asian BBQ pork shoulder recipe to make the best Chinese bbq pork buns for snacks, appetizers, or even an easy dinner.

This post contains affiliate links which means when you make a purchase, you don’t pay more and I receive a small commission. Win-win!

steaming asian buns in a bamboo steamer basket.
Before and after steaming the Chinese bao buns. See how they puff up?

One of our favorite dining spots in Boca Raton is KaPow! A funky little indoor/outdoor Asian style gastropub with amazing bites, great happy hours and pretty much the best pork bao buns anywhere in South Florida. I like them so much, I created my own version of their Chinese bbq pork buns that I could make anytime at home (and so can you). The pulled pork buns are sweet, tangy and spicy with fresh toppings that brighten up every bite. Trust me, you will LOVE them.

Ingredients for pulled pork buns

I admit, one of the main reasons I made that Asian Pulled Pork recipe was because I KNEW it was going to make the perfect filling for steamed bao buns.

Newsletter Signup
Join our community of food lovers!

Get my latest recipes, helpful kitchen tips and more good things each week in your inbox.

Making Bao buns from scratch tends to be a project best left for a rainy Saturday, but once you’ve done it, you’ll end up with a BUNCH of soft, sweet bao buns just begging for a tasty filling.

Since it’s a project, I freeze the bao so that I can pull out a few anytime I’m hankering for Chinese bbq pork buns. Like now.

If you don’t have a freezer full of these spongy little vessels, you can also buy them already made and ready to steam at your local Asian market.

a plate of Asian BBQ pork to fill the bao buns.

Special equipment for pulled pork bao

Chinese steamed buns (a.k.a bao buns) are cooked in a steamer. I recommend using a Chinese bamboo steamer {shameless affiliate link} because you can add several layers to a bamboo steamer (kind of like a tower), which means you can steam more buns at one time instead of in several batches. Bamboo steamers are really inexpensive and they’re useful for much more than just BBQ pork buns.

Other uses for bamboo steamers

Use bamboo steamers to steam vegetables, seafood even delicate fish without marring the skin or flesh by having to turn it. Steaming surrounds the food, cooking it gently, while keeping the food moist. Because you’re literally cooking with steam, this method doesn’t add any calories to the food, so it’s also great for diets. Bamboo steamers are uniquely equipped to steam food and absorb the excess water instead of dripping the evaporated droplets back onto the food and they dry out quickly while holding their shape and integrity.

How to steam buns

  1. To use a bamboo steamer, add about ½” of water to the bottom of a large pot or pan (that the steamer will easily fit into.)
  2. Place cabbage leaves or lettuce leaves on the steamer “grates” (this will prevent the Asian buns from sticking to the bamboo.
  3. Add as many buns to the steamer as will fit (and stack as high as you need to)
  4. Bring the water to a boil and steam the buns for 7-8 minutes or until they’re puffy and light. They’re ready to fill.
fresh grated carrots and julienned radish for topping pork bao buns.

Pork bao buns are like Asian tacos

I consider these Chinese bbq pork buns to be the Asian equivalent of a taco. The steamed bao is a soft, puffy conduit to transport the pulled pork and your favorite toppings directly to your mouth.

Aside from a heaping spoonful of Asian pulled pork, we also like grated carrots, matchstick radishes, tangy pickled onions, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of the leftover dipping sauce.

Add the condiments to your bao as you would stuff a taco, then hunch over your plate and gobble it up.

a jar of pickled red onions.

Of course, you can add other savory toppings to your pulled pork buns. Just look in the fridge to see what you’ve got on hand.

Other fun pulled pork bao toppings

  • Thinly sliced cucumbers or quick pickled cucumbers
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Kimchi
  • Pickled ginger
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Tart Granny Smith apple, julienned
  • Asian pear, julienned
The ingredients to assemble the BBQ bao buns.

When I make these Chinese style pork bao, everyone gets excited.

They love the assertive flavors that pop with every bite of the Asian pulled pork stuffed buns. The zingy marinade hits every part of your tongue, and the tender, warm Chinese bbq pork is so unctuous your eyes will roll back in your head. At least, that’s been my experience.

A plate of BBQ pork bao buns with toppings.
A closeup picture of stuffed Asian buns with BBQ pork.

C’mon, doesn’t that look good?

Picking up a pork bun to eat.

More Asian-inspired appetizer recipes to serve with pulled pork buns:

Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.

Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.

We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!

Asian BBQ Bao Buns on a wooden serving board.
Print Pin
3.40 from 5 votes

Asian Pulled Pork Bao Buns

Soft, airy buns filled with tangy, sweet slow-roasted Asian style pork, carrots, radishes, cilantro sesame seeds and a special sweet, spicy Gochuchang sauce. Great with pickled onions too.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Asian Inspired
Keyword asian, bao, Korean, pulled pork, steamed buns
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 4


  • bamboo steamer or other steamer insert


  • 12 Asian steamed buns recipe on this site (or purchase at an Asian Grocery)
  • 3-4 large cabbage leaves or lettuce leaves
  • 2 cups Asian Slow Roasted Pork warmed through recipe on this site
  • cup reserved marinade from slow roasted pork
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • 4 radishes thinly sliced or julienned
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup pickled onions recipe on this site


  • Add about 1/2″ of water to a large stock pot that will comfortably hold a bamboo steamer. Line the steamer baskets with cabbage leaves and place buns on the leaves. Depending on the size of your steamer, you may need to do several batches.
  • Stack the bamboo baskets on top of each other and secure with the lid. Bring the water to a boil in the pot and carefully set the bamboo steamer into the pot. Cover with the lid and steam the buns for 7-8 minutes or until puffed and light.
  • Divide the slow roasted pork between the buns and top with a sprinkle of carrot, radishes, pickled onions, cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds. Drizzle reserved dipping sauce over the buns and enjoy immediately.


Calories: 370kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 51mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 3269IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 4mg

Pin “Asian Pulled Pork Bao” for later!

Bao Buns on a serving board

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    This reminds me of our double date night! Especially during Covid times I am very excited to be able to make these at home – yum!