I used to love bao buns when I was eating out, but that was before I realised how easy it was to make them at home – not to mention cheaper – and they can be on the table in 30 minutes! In my Crispy Chicken Bao Buns recipe, the chicken is first coated in a simple but flavoursome spiced flour, soy sauce and egg mixture, then fried until irresistibly crunchy and golden. You then stuff the chicken into pillowy-soft steamed bao buns along with fresh veg and herbs, and I love serving them with a drizzle of sriracha mayo and extra fresh chilli on top.

Crispy Chicken Bao Buns
Delicious crispy chicken loaded into bao (soft, fluffy buns that can be found in the freezer section of the supermarket) with crisp vegetables and a drizzle of sriracha mayonnaise.

You can find bao buns in the freezer section of many supermarkets and at Asian grocery stores, and they can be either steamed in the microwave or using a steamer basket. Another thing you’ll love about this recipe is that it’s so customisable. You can adjust the level of spice to your liking and you can even add your favourite veggies to the filling. You can find this recipe in my cookbook, The Simple Dinner Edit, which is a collection of 80 easy, delicious dinner ideas and time-saving tips Click here to order. 

Where can you buy bao buns?

Bao buns can be found in the freezer section of many supermarkets and at Asian grocery stores. They are traditionally steamed in a basket over boiling water for 7–8 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer basket, place three bao buns at a time on a large dinner plate with a mug or small bowl filled with 1/2 cup (125 ml) of water beside them (on the same plate). Cook in the microwave on High in 2-minute intervals until soft and fluffy. Steaming on the stovetop is my preferred method. I use a three-tier steamer basket and find that I can cook the bao buns more quickly this way (they are also more fluffy).

What oil should I use to cook the chicken?

Vegetable oil and canola oil are best for a light, even crumb. Good-quality olive oil can also be used for frying, but it produces a denser, heavier crumb. Use a deep, heavy-based frying pan. It needs to be filled at least 3 cm (1¼ inches) deep with oil.

What else could I add to the buns?

The following ingredients are delicious to add to the bao buns with the chicken: shredded red cabbage, store-bought coleslaw; sliced red radishes, sliced spring onion (scallion), capsicum (bell pepper), Asian greens. Or try these sensational veggie combos (or create your own!):
·       Cucumber, spring onion (scallion) and hoisin sauce
·       Grated carrot, kimchi and mayo (ideally Kewpie mayo)
·       Avocado, cucumber and spicy mayo
·       Roasted eggplant (aubergine), coriander (cilantro), peanuts and chilli sauce

What are some other easy family-friendly recipes with Asian flavours?

If you enjoyed these Crispy Chicken Bao Buns you’re sure to enjoy:
Sticky Pork Bao
Crispy Sweet Chilli Chicken
Pork Tonkatsu
Chicken Satay Skewers
San Choy Bow

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Crispy Chicken Bao Buns

Crispy Chicken Bao Buns

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4.9 from 8 reviews

Ideal family fare, and fun to eat with your hands, these Crispy Chicken Bao Buns taste just as good as the restaurant variety, and are quick and easy to make.

  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tbsp tamari or all-purpose soy sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp freshly minced garlic
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) pieces (see note 1 for chicken breast) 
  • 1 ½ cups (225 g) plain (all-purpose) flour (see note 2)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • Oil, for frying (see note 3)
  • 16 bao buns, steamed as per the packet instructions (see note 4)
  • 2 carrots, julienned or shredded
  • 2 cucumbers, cut into batons
  • ½ bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves picked
  • ½ cup (125 g) sriracha mayonnaise (or regular mayonnaise for littles)
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies or 1 long red chilli, sliced to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the tamari or soy sauce, garlic, eggs and chicken in a medium bowl. Toss to coat the chicken.
  2. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a separate large bowl. Drain the excess egg mixture from the chicken, then toss the chicken in the flour to coat. Ensure the chicken is fully coated on all sides.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based deep frying pan over medium heat (see note 4). Cook the chicken in batches for 6–8 minutes, turning once halfway through, then set aside to drain on a paper towel.
  4. Serve the bao buns topped with the crispy chicken, carrot, cucumber, coriander, sriracha mayo and a drizzle of tamari or soy sauce. Add the chilli (if using).

Notes

Note 1 – Although not as juicy as thighs, you can definitely use boneless, skinless chicken breast, but cook it for 5–6 minutes only.

Note 2 – The recipe calls for a generous amount of flour as it makes it easier to coat the chicken pieces. You will have some flour left over.

Note 3 – Vegetable oil and canola oil are best for a light, even crumb. Good-quality olive oil can also be used for frying, but it does produce a denser, heavier crumb. Use a deep, heavy-based frying pan. It needs to be filled at least 3 cm (1¼ inches) deep with oil. Learn how to clean and reuse your oil here. 

Note 4 – Bao buns can be found in the freezer section of supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find them anywhere, soft white dinner rolls could be used. Bao buns are traditionally steamed in a basket over boiling water for 7–8 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer basket, place three bao buns at a time on a large dinner plate with a mug or small bowl filled with 1/2 cup (125 ml) of water beside them (on the same plate). Cook in the microwave on High in 2-minute intervals until soft and fluffy. Steaming on the stovetop is my preferred method. I use a three-tier steamer basket and find that I can cook the bao buns more quickly this way (they are also more fluffy).

MAKE AHEAD

The vegetables can be prepared 24 hours prior to serving. The chicken and bao buns are best prepared and cooked immediately.

LEFTOVERS

Crispy Chicken Bao Buns are best prepared and enjoyed immediately. However, leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat the chicken in a 200°C (400°F) (180°C/350°F fan) oven for 10–15 minutes to retain its crispiness. Not suitable for freezing.

  • Author: Nicole
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Appetisers , Appetizers , mains , starters , entrees , side dishes , soups , stews , salads , sandwiches , burgers , pasta , rice , seafood , vegetarian , desserts , baking , drinks , snacks , breakfast , gluten-free , dairy-free , low-carb , grilling , barbequing , barbecuing , holiday favourites , vacation favourites , batch cooking , meal planning , budget-friendly , quick and easy , one pan , freezer friendly , chicken , beef , pork , lamb
  • Method: Barbequing-grilling , barbecuing , BBQ , roasting , baking , frying , sauteing , boiling , simmering , steaming , slow cooking , grilling-broiling , braising , pan
  • Cuisine: Chinese, Vietnamese, Asian