These Chinese-inspired Tofu Steamed Buns have it all. A fluffy pillowy soft dough, finely chopped tofu filling, and a mouth-watering sweet and savory soy-based sauce. They’re so delicious and actually quite simple to make!
Steamed Buns are absolutely amazing, but in my experience, it’s hard to find vegan friendly ones. Thankfully they’re simple enough to make at home!
There are two components to this tofu baozi, the filling, and the dough. The dough is yeasted which makes for an extra soft and pillowy bun. The filling is finely chopped tofu that has been browned on the stove top and braised in the most delicious sweet and savory sauce.
History of Steamed Buns
Steamed buns originated in China and are very popular! Many different shapes and kinds of Bao can be found all across China but they all consist of the same ingredients: flour, salt, sugar, water and yeast.
The traditional filling for bao is pork belly but now it can be found with numerous different types of filling or no filling at all.
This tofu baozi recipe is my untraditional vegan version of the popular Chinese steamed pork buns also known as Baozi. While this recipe is untraditional, it is still very delicious and a great way for vegans to enjoy this delicious snack or meal!
You will need a steamer basket for this recipe. I used a bamboo steamer but a steamer that sits in the pot with a lid over it will work as well.
I prefer using the bamboo steamer because you can steam all of the buns at once because they usually have 2 layers. If you have a metal strainer you'll have to steam in batches.
- Extra Firm Tofu
- Red Onion
- Soy Sauce
- All Purpose Flour
- Instant Yeast
I don't recommend making any changes to the dough but you can change up the filling however you'd like. Make it spicer, sweet, and more vegetables. This recipe is very customizable!
Why you'll love this recipe:
- Fluffy, soft dough
- crispy browned tofu pieces
- Sweet and savory sauce
- easy but fun to make
- so so delicious!! (seriously, make these now!)
How to Make This Recipe
Making the dough is very very simple and comes together in just a few ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, water and oil.
Full ingredient list and written instructions down below:
Whisk together the ingredients by hand or in a food process. I like using my food processor because this dough is quite sticky at first and the processor speeds that mixing process up but it can be done by hand with no problems.
Once the dough is mixed and lightly kneaded, add to an oiled bowl and cover. Sit the dough in a sunny window or in an oven with the oven light on. It needs a nice and warm spot to rise.
Make the tofu filling by pressing out some of that excess water and chopping up the tofu in to small pieces. I like to do little tiny squares and some crumbled-up pieces. Brown in a pan.
Whisk together the sauce and add to the browned tofu and cook until the tofu absorbed all that sauce.
Divide the dough, fill with tofu and roll in to a ball or you can pleat the dough if desired.
Steam in a steamer basket for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and don't open the steamer for 5 more minutes. Then, enjoy!
How to Pleat Steamed Buns
I'm a disaster at pleating dumplings and buns so I opted for a simple design aka a ball. But if you're interested in pleating your steamed buns then I highly recommend going on YouTube or google a step by step guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Spoon and level off the flour! I can’t recommend this enough. Be sure not to over measure the flour or the dough will be dry and you’ll end up with a tough dough. Don’t scoop the flour out of the container or bag with your measuring cup, simply spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a knife. Do not pack the flour into the cup or bang the cup on the counter. This will make the flour settle and you’ll end up with too much flour.
Another tip is to not overproof. Only let it rise for 1 hour and then another 30 minutes after the dough is filled.
Yeast has to be a specific temperature in order to rise. I used instant yeast in this recipe and that must be 120° to 130°F. I recommend getting an inexpensive thermometer instead of guessing. Always want to make sure you are using fresh instant yeast and not expired yeast.
Yes and no. Definitely squeeze out some of the water and pat it dry. I use my tofu press and press for about 15 to 20 minutes. This helps brown the tofu faster so I prefer the results when the tofu is slightly pressed but that step is optional as long as you squeeze a bit out using a clean dish towel.
These tofu steamed buns can be served fresh or from frozen and reheated for a quick/tasty meal or snack. Store leftover steamed buns in the fridge or freezer. Reheat in the microwave by cooking for 1 to 2 minutes or alternatively, you could steam for 5 minutes. Thaw frozen buns and reheat the same way.
More Tofu Recipes
Tofu Steamed Buns
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 Packet of Instant Yeast 2 ¼ tsp
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¾ cup of Water heated between 120-130
- 1 tablespoon Oil
- 1 block Extra Firm Tofu
- ⅓ cup Red Onion minced
- ¼ cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 tablespoon White or Rice Vinegar
- 2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
- 2 teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce
- ¼ cup Organic Sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Chinese Five Spice optional
- Make the dough:Add the flour, instant yeast packet, and salt in to a large bowl or food processor. Pulse or mix a few times until combined.
- Heat the water on low or microwave for a minute or so until the water reaches the appropriate temperature. It should be approximately 120-130 degrees.
- Add the water and the oil to the dry mixture and stir a few times until combined. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
- Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes.
- Return the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for 1 hour.
- Make the filling: Drain the package of tofu and lightly squeeze out some of the water. Mince the red onion and chop the tofu in to very small cubes. I like to do tiny squares and some crumbled.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a pan heated on medium-high. Add the tofu and red onion and cook until the tofu is lightly browned and the onion is soft.
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl then add to the pan. Let the sauce simmer until the tofu has absorbed all of it. About 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
- Fill the buns: Punch the dough right in the middle to release air. Dump the dough out on to a clean surface and knead a few more times about 30 seconds and roll in to a log.
- Cut the dough in to 12 even pieces. Roll each piece in to a ball. Cover with a towel and let rest on the table for 10 minutes. Use a rolling pin and roll each ball of dough in to a flat circle between ¼in to ½in thick.
- Fill each bun with a heaping 2 tablespoons of the tofu filling and close the bun however you choose to. I simply sealed mine and rolled into balls. Place the filled buns on a baking tray.
- Cover and rest for 30 more minutes.
- Steam the buns: Use a steamer basket of choice: I used a bamboo steamer. Add water to the wok or pan and bring to a boil. Place the steamed buns in to the steamer basket with room in-between them- place lid on the steamer basket and then on to the water and reduce to a simmer. Steam for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat but let sit with the lid on for 5 minutes (don't open it!)