Holy Cow, It’s Bao

steamed chinese buns known as bao

One of my favorite foods are bao. If you’ve never heard of them, they’re Asian buns that are filled with any number of fillings and steamed. When they’re served hot, the dough becomes cooked but deliciously chewy, and the inside adds flavor to the bite. They really are my favorite on-the-go foods.

During college in downtown Chicago, I’d always stop for some at the Wow Bao near my campus (what a great name). My kryptonite was their coconut custard flavor. It was so creamy and sweet; I still love them. I never figured out how to make bao, until now (mind the rhyme). Read on for the easiest and most delicious bao recipe I could come up with, plus it uses a can of refrigerated biscuits and a rotisserie chicken to make things even easier!

Steamed Chicken Bao
Yield: 8 bao
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 
25 minutes
(Note: you’ll need a bamboo steamer for this. They’re very inexpensive, usually under $10, and can be found at your local international or Asian supermarket.)


1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 C. green onions, sliced thin
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. garlic, minced
3 Tbs. teriyaki sauce
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 16-oz. can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

Preheat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add cabbage, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender but firm and still retains its color. Add the shredded chicken, teriyaki sauce, and vinegar and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until it is heated through and well-combined, approximately 5-8 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside.

Set a bamboo steamer in a saucepan filled with at least 1-inch of water and bring to a boil.

Separate the 8 buns in the can and mash them with your hands until they’re about 1/2 inch thick. Spoon an equal amount of filling into the center of each biscuit. Bring the sides up and together, and use a pinch-and-twist motion to seal them. Set them into the steamer with the seam side down and steam for about 15 minutes, or until they have puffed and set.

Serve with a side of teriyaki sauce, spicy Chinese mustard, or sweet and sour sauce. Makes a great appetizer or main dish. Can even be made vegetarian/vegan for those with dietary restrictions.

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