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Fluffy steamed buns are slathered in hoisin sauce and stuffed with tender shiitake mushrooms in sweet and savory garlic sauce, quick pickled veggies and crunchy peanuts to make these scrumptious vegan bao buns!

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for over a year. And that’s kind of a shame because these buns are so good!

So why the wait? Well, I guess I haven’t been sitting on the entire recipe. I developed the recipe for the shiitake mushroom filling last summer after spotting frozen bao buns (that just happened to be vegan!) at an Asian market.

Sometimes I do that: I see some hard-to-find ingredient that I’ve been longing for and develop a recipe around it only to realize most people won’t be able to get ahold of it and won’t get to make the recipe.

In this case, fortunately, that ingredient was one you can make yourself. I just needed to develop a bun recipe to go with my filling.

If you can get your hands on some frozen vegan buns and just want to make the filling, go for it. The whole process of making these will be a lot easier.

But if you can’t, fear not: making your own vegan steamed buns at home really isn’t that tough.

Jump to:
  • Ingredients You’ll Need
  • How They’re Made
  • Leftovers & Storage
  • More Vegan Chinese Recipes
  • Shiitake Mushroom Vegan Bao Buns

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Active dry yeast.
  • Water.
  • All-purpose flour. The recipe might work with other types of flour, like whole wheat, but I haven’t tested the recipe with anything but plain old white flour, so use another variety at your own risk.
  • Salt.
  • Baking powder.
  • Canola oil. Another neutral oil could be used if needed. Peanut oil, corn oil and vegetable oil are all good options.
  • Rice vinegar. This is available in the international aisle of most supermarkets.
  • Sugar. We’re using organic sugar to keep the recipe vegan. Conventional sugar is processed with animal bone char in many regions.
  • Cucumber.
  • Carrot.
  • Jalapeño pepper. You can leave this out if you don’t like spicy food.
  • Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if needed.
  • Maple syrup.
  • Sambal oelek. This spicy chili paste is another ingredient you can get in the international section of the supermarket. It’s also another one that adds heat, so leave it out if that’s not your thing.
  • Toasted sesame oil. This is a flavoring oil. Pick up a bottle while you’re grabbing that rice vinegar and sambal oelek in the international section of the store.
  • Liquid smoke. This smoky flavoring is totally vegan and can be found near the barbecue sauce at the grocery store.
  • Shiitake mushrooms.
  • Hoisin sauce. One more condiment from the international aisle. Last one, I promise!
  • Peanuts.
  • Scallions.
  • Cilantro. Cilantro-haters can obviously leave this out.

Tip: If you’d like to use premade buns instead of making your own, you’ll want to look for them in an Asian market. Be sure to check the ingredients, as they’re not always vegan.

How They’re Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

The buns start with a yeast dough that’s not that much different from one you might use to bake bread. To make the dough, dissolve some yeast in warm water and let it sit while you mix up some flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the liquid to the yeast and form your dough.

You’ll knead the dough for a bit until it’s smooth and elastic, then, just like with bread dough, let it rise until it’s about doubled in size.

Split your dough up and roll it into balls. Then, roll each ball into a little circle with a rolling pin.

Fold and steam your buns until they’re soft and fluffy.

Tip: A bamboo steamer is the best tool for steaming homemade bao buns. It’s worth the small investment and is also great for steaming veggies. I love mine!

While the dough rises, prepare some quick pickled veggies. Toss some cucumber, carrots and jalapeño slices in a zippy rice vinegar marinade.

And finally, prepare the shiitake mushroom filling. Slice the mushrooms nice and thin, so you can pile a bunch into your buns after they’re cooked.

Briefly brown the mushrooms for a few minutes on each side, then add some sauce. Let it cook for a few more minutes, until the sauce forms a thick, sticky coating on the mushrooms.

To serve, slather the steamed buns with hoisin sauce, then stuff with the mushroom filling, pickled veggies, peanuts, scallions and cilantro.

Tip: To save time on the day you serve your vegan bao buns, prepare the sauce and pickled veggies up to a day ahead of time. You can also make the buns a day ahead, or make them well in advance and freeze them.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan bao bun filling and pickled veggies will keep in separate airtight containers in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. The buns will keep in a sealed bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

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