How To Steam Bao Buns Without A Steamer

It’s not always easy to have all the kitchen cookware or appliances you need when you want to cook a meal.

So what do you do if you don’t have a steamer and want to make bao buns?

No problem! You can steam them without a steamer.

If you’re craving bao buns but don’t have a steamer, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to steam buns without using a steamer. 

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to steam bao buns without a steamer using five different methods. 

Let’s get into it!

5 Methods To Steam Bao Buns Without A Steamer

Steam bao buns without a steamer? You bet! There are several ways to do it, and it’s quite easy. All you need is a bit of creativity and some kitchen cookware.

How To Steam Bao Buns In A Pan

A metal pan is a great way to steam bao buns without a steamer because most people already have one in their kitchen.

However, the common problem with steaming with a pan with a glass or metal lid is that the condensation will drip down onto the bao buns.

But don’t worry. This can be avoided if you follow the right steps. To steam bao buns in a pan:

  1. Insert the sieve into the pan.
  2. Add enough water into the pan but ensure that the sieve is not submerged.
  3. Line the sieve with parchment paper (or greaseproof paper).
  4. Place the bao buns on the parchment paper. Don’t let your bao touch the sides, as the sides of the metal steamer can become quite wet. Also, ensure some spaces so that they don’t touch each other.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid and turn up the heat to high.
  6. Steam for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Enjoy your soft and fluffy bao buns with your favorite fillings while they’re still hot!

How To Steam Bao Buns In A Microwave

The microwave is another alternative to steam bao buns without a steamer if you don’t have an oven.

Steaming bao buns in the microwave is a quick and easy way to get them deliciously steamed.

Unlike steaming methods, like with a pan or an oven, you don’t need to have a water container to generate the steam from boiling.

To steam bao buns in a microwave:

  1. Dampen some clean paper towels and squeeze out any excess water.
  2. Then fully wrap each bao bun with the dampened towels.
  3. Place the bao buns on a microwavable plate and ensure they are evenly spaced.
  4. Close the cover and microwave at a high temperature for about 60 seconds.
  5. Take out and unwrap one of the bao buns to check whether they are cooked through.
  6. If necessary, steam for an additional 30 seconds until you satisfy.
  7. Remove and immediately unwrap the bao buns when fully cooked to prevent them from sticking to the towel.

Now they are ready to serve!

Remember that microwaves can vary, so you may need to adjust the cooking time to get the best results. 

Don’t cook too long or otherwise; the bao buns will become dry and hard.

How To Steam Bao Buns In An Oven

How To Steam Bao Buns In An Oven

If you don’t have a sieve or metal pan in your kitchen, there’s no need to worry. You can still steam the bao buns without a steamer using an oven.

If you have an oven at home, it is recommended to steam bao buns with it because it is fast and simple.

To steam bao buns in an oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 212°F (100°C) for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Apply some oil to the parchment paper to prevent the bao buns from sticking.
  4. Place the bao buns onto the parchment paper. Ensure that they are not touching each other.
  5. Add some water to another baking dish or a dish pan. Then place it at the bottom of the oven on the rack.
  6. Place the baking tray with the bao buns onto another rack above the pan with water.
  7. Close your oven and let it run for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

How To Steam Bao Buns With A Rice Cooker

If you have a rice cooker at home, you use it to steam bao buns. Most rice cookers in the market come with an aluminum steam tray, for example, this rice cooker model.

Follow these steps for steaming bao buns with a rice cooker:

  1. Fill the cooker with water about half.
  2. Place your bao buns in the steam tray and ensure they don’t touch each other.
  3. Put the steam tray inside the rice cooker and close it with a lid.
  4. Start the rice cooker and let it run for about 8 minutes to boil the water inside.
  5. Then change the setting to warm and let it there for about 8-10 minutes.
  6. The steam inside the rice cooker will slowly cook the bao buns.
  7. You should check them from time to time to ensure they are cooked through.

Did you know that you can use a rice cooker to steam dumplings too?

How To Steam Bao Buns In A Wok

If you don’t have any of the above appliances or steamers, you can still steam bao buns with a wok.

This method is relatively easy and simple to do at home. Follow these easy steps for steaming bao buns in a wok.

  1. Place your wok on the cooking stove.
  2. Place a small bowl in the wok and fill the wok with water until it reaches just below the bowl.
  3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a plate and arrange the bao buns on top of it.
  4. Then carefully place the plate with buns on the small plate.
  5. Cover the wok with its lid, boil over high heat, and reduce to medium-low heat for about 8 minutes or until cooked through.

For best results, use a dome-shaped cover so that when condensation forms, the steam won’t fall directly onto the bao buns.

You don’t want the bao buns to become soggy.

Related: Steaming Hot Dog Buns With And Without Steamer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do You Steam Frozen Bao Buns?

You can steam frozen bao buns in any one of the methods we mentioned above. You make sure that you do not cook it too long.

If you’re in a hurry, preheating the frozen bao buns in a microwave is the easiest and faster way to cook them.

How Do You Tell When Steamed Bao Buns Are Done?

When steamed bao buns are done, they will be puffed up and slightly shiny. The dough should be soft and slightly chewy.

You can test one by poking or pressing gently on the top of a bao bun with a fork or chopstick. If it springs back, then it is likely done.

What Happens If I Steam My Bao Buns For Too Long?

If you steam your bao buns for too long, they can become tough and dry.

How Long Should I Steam My Bun?

It depends on the size and thickness of your bao buns, but generally speaking, you should steam them for 8-10 minutes.

You can peek around the 5-minute mark to see if they are ready. If not, steam them for a few more minutes until they are done.


Steaming bao buns is an easy and delicious way to enjoy one of your favorite Chinese dishes. The process remains the same whether using a steamer, rice cooker, or wok. 

Just remember to keep an eye on them as they steam so that you don’t overcook them. If done correctly, you will be rewarded with delicious, fluffy bao buns ready to be enjoyed!

Enjoy your steamed bao buns! 🙂