Vegan bao bun on a plate

Vegan spelt bao buns w/ shiitake mushroom filling


What are bao buns?

Bao buns are soft, fluffy, squidgy, bundles of joy that melt in your mouth.

More specifically, they are buns, made using flour, yeast and baking powder, mostly steamed. They can be filled using pretty much anything – sweet and savoury.

Sometimes they have filling in the middle and sometimes they are filled after steaming, sandwich style. 

What cuisine are bao buns?

Bao Buns (or baozi) originate from China. Although, you will find different versions of Bao in many Asian countries. 

They have taken the world by storm, so you will now find them all over. Most people will know them from Wagamamas

How do you eat bao buns?

Bao Buns are best eaten with your hands. Serve with a side of soy sauce to dip them in for extra sauciness. 

Gobble them whole, or take dainty bites – that’s down to you. 

Are bao buns vegan?

veggie fillings! If you do happen to be hangin’ about Asia right now, look out for sweet bean filled Bao and don’t be put off by the ‘bean’ bit, they are goooood. 

If you make them yourself (which you definitely should – cause yum!) then you can fill them with whatever you fancy, vegan or not. 

Why use spelt flour in these bao buns?

Bao Buns are normally bright white due to the use of white flour. However, I have a sensitive tum and white flour is not my friend. Spelt on the other hand, as an ancient grain, leaves me with a rather happy tummy. It causes me no issues and also it tastes good, as it hasn’t been bleached to smithereens. 

vegan bao bun with shiitake filling on a plate

Vegan spelt steamed bao bun with shiitake filling

lucy johnson founder of edible ethics vegan recipe hubLucy Johnson
A vegan take on the traditional Bao, using spelt flour for sensitives tums.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Asian
Servings 10 Bao


Bao Dough

Pickled Topping

Shiitake Filling


Bao Bun Dough

  • Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, baking powder and salt)
  • Gradually mix in the wet ingredients (plant milk and maple syrup)
  • If using a mixer, knead for about 5 minutes. If using your hands, knead for around 10 minutes. Until it takes on a bouncy texture and has a smooth appearance
  • Put the ball of dough into a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (approx. 1 hour)

Pickled Courgette

  • Mix together the syrup, lime juice and vinegar
  • Mix in the sliced chilli and the sliced courgette
  • Cover and set it aside until you are ready to serve

Shiitake Filling

  • Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, vinegar, almond butter, crushed garlic, and sriracha until fully incorporated
  • Heat the Rapeseed oil in a wok
  • On a high heat cook the mushrooms with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, making sure to stir often
  • Turn down the heat and add the sauce into the pan, mix, and add water if needed (nut butter sauces are prone to sticking)
  • Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft
  • Set aside and allow the mix to cool

Cooking the Bao Buns

  • Cut 10 baking paper squares
  • Using a rubber spatula or a dough scraper, get the dough out of the bowl on to a well-floured surface and deflate the dough using your finger tips
  • Divide the dough into 10 equal sized pieces
  • Shape the dough so that they resemble flat discs of about 1cm thickness
  • If you prefer your filling to be in the middle of the bao, spoon in the shiitake mix and pickled courgettes to the centre of your dough disc and bring the sides in and squeeze together the dough at the top to fully encase the mix
  • If you prefer your bao to be open and to fill them afterwards, fold your discs into half moons
  • Place the bao onto the paper discs
  • Loosely cover the bao with the damp tea towel and leave to rise for another 30 minutes
  • Heat up a small amount of water in a saucepan with a steamer on top. Once the water is boiling add the bao into the steamer. Make sure they aren't touching and that they have space to expand (depending on your steamer size you may have to do quite a few batches). Cook for 8 minutes
  • Take the bao out of the steamer. If you've already filled your bao, eat straight away with some soy sauce on the side for dipping.
    If you've made half-moon bao, open up the bao with a metal knife, or your fingers (if you have asbestos hands). Now fill to your heart's content!
  • Serving suggestions: dip in soy sauce

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2 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed making these. Never thought about using spelt flour before but these upset my tummy a lot less than normal flour. Thanks for sharing!

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