Steamed buns have evolved into a unique culinary experience. Their fluffy deliciousness and versatility make them a perfect snack or meal for any occasion. The variety of combinations you can create for the dough and filling is astounding. Whether you're looking for something savory or sweet, there's a steamed bun for everyone! So let's dive into the wonderful world of steamed buns, starting with 10+ savory steamed bun filling ideas for steamed buns.
NOTE: This post is for non-vegan fillings only. For vegan fillings, check out PART 3. To go to sweet steamed bun fillings, go back to PART 1.
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
1. Spicy Pork Belly
Pork is probably one of the most popular fillings for steamed buns, dumplings, spring rolls and other popular Asian dishes. And this filling of Korean-inspired gochujang pork belly slices are spicy, sweet and incredibly juicy. And it only requires 4 ingredients! They are packed with flavor, not too greasy but just enough to make them juicy and delectable.
To make, cook 1 lb of pork belly slices over medium heat with sliced onions (about 1 medium) until the onions are soft. Add 3 Tbsp of gochujang paste and ¼ cup of honey (or rice syrup) and cook until pork is completely cooked. Fills about 5-6 steamed buns. TIP: Pair this pork filling with my tofu steamed buns dough, here. The pork and tofu taste great together, and the extra protein in the tofu dough will help you feel full for hours!
2. Honey Buffalo Chicken
Full of flavor yet surprisingly light on fat and calories, this buffalo chicken steamed bun filling is made with chicken breast – a lower fat, lower calorie alternative to the traditional pork filling.
Just mix 1 lb of cooked shredded chicken breast with ¼ cup of buffalo sauce and 2-3 Tbsp of honey, to taste. That easy!
This filling can also be made with leftover chicken, breaded or plain. For the ultimate flavor experience, use spicy honey like this one!
3. Pizza Sauce & Cheese
Steamed buns may be Asian, but here are one steamed buns filling recipe that is inspired by Western flavors – pizza! This scrumptious West-East fusion filling is made with a combination of tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.
To make: Mix ½ cup of pizza sauce with 1 cup of diced fresh mozzarella cheese. Fills about 6 steamed buns. For the best stretchy cheese experience, use fresh mozzarella! Can also use vegan cheese if desired. Full recipe here
4. Sweet and Sour Shrimp
Sweet and Sour Shrimp is one of my go-to filling recipes because it can be ready in a jiffy with minimum effort. It's quick, easy, and sure to satisfy your craving for something savory that’s healthy yet still delicious! Made with shrimp, onions and sweet and sour sauce, this simple dish packs a flavorful punch that will have you coming back for more. Whether lunch or dinner - Sweet and Sour Shrimp is the perfect way to make your steamed buns special.
To make: cook sliced onions (about ½ medium) and shelled shrimp in a skillet over medium heat until the onions are tender. Add ¼ cup of sweet and sour sauce and continue to cook until the shrimp is cooked through. Try it with my 100% whole wheat steamed buns dough – check the recipe out, here!
For a sugar-free homemade sweet and sour sauce recipe, check out this recipe from Okonomi Kitchen!
5. Beef Bulgogi
Here’s another Korean-flavored steamed bun filling. Bulgogi in Korean literally means “Fire Meat“ and it’s a popular meat dish that comprises of thinly sliced beef that is marinated and cooked on a griddle. The beef slices are tender and coated in a delicious soy sauce marinade, and their flavor speaks for itself when it is used inside these no knead tofu steamed buns dough recipe.
To make the filling, marinate 1 lb of thinly sliced beef in 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 tsp minced garlic and 2 tsp of sesame oil – and store in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Cook the marinated beef over medium-high heat on a griddle or frying pan with sliced onions (about 1 medium) until the beef is cooked through.
For a more authentic Bulgogi recipe, try this recipe from My Korean Kitchen
6. Corn Cheese
We Koreans love pairing corn with bread and cheese, and here’s a cheesy and savory cornbread steamed buns recipe to show you just what I mean. The melty Korean corn cheese filling is ridiculously good with the cornbread dough, and its savory, cheesy and slightly sweet flavor has all the potential to become the versatile go-to recipe for anyone who loves to experiment with flavors that are special and unique.
To make: cook 1 ½ cup of corn kernels with 2 Tbsp of mayonnaise, and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and 1 Tbsp of parsley until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and sprinkle with 8 oz of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese. Can use vegan cheese if desired. Check out the recipe for corn steamed buns here
7. Teriyaki Salmon
This filling of teriyaki salmon will bring healthy, savory and sweet elements to your steamed buns recipe in a hassle-free way. The combination of savory soy sauce, smoky mirin and sweet brown sugar can provide a uniquely Japanese-inspired taste. It's easy to prepare, requires minimal effort and leaves you with a delicious teriyaki salmon filling that's perfect for steamed buns, but also great for sushi, and even tacos and burritos! Try it with this oatmeal steamed bun dough recipe!
To make: mix 8 oz of cooked and flaked salmon with 3 Tbsp of sweet soy sauce glaze. Can also use canned salmon or tuna.
8. Eggs & Chives
This simple yet tasty filling features fluffy scrambled eggs combined with freshly chopped chives. The eggs are lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, resulting in a delicate and satisfying flavor. The addition of chives adds a subtle onion-like taste and a touch of freshness to the filling. For a twist, you can sprinkle some grated cheese or add sautéed mushrooms to enhance the flavor further. Enjoy this filling for breakfast or as a quick and easy option for any time of the day.
To make: in a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. carefully crack 4 large eggs into the pan. While they cook, gently stir the eggs to form small curds. As the eggs start to set, sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of chopped chives, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper. Keep cooking and stirring the eggs until they are fully cooked but still moist. Use as steamed bun filling once cool enough to handle.
9. Mapo Tofu
Mapo Tofu is a tasty filling for Chinese steamed buns. It's made with tofu cubes cooked in a spicy sauce with ingredients like garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and chili paste. Sauté the garlic and ginger, then add the sauce and tofu cubes. Let it simmer until the tofu absorbs the flavors. The result is a flavorful filling that combines spiciness and savory taste. Spoon this filling into your steamed buns for a delicious meal packaged in one little bun!
10. Korean Spicy Stir Fried Squid
Spicy Korean Stir-Fried Squid is a delicious filling idea for savory Chinese steamed buns. The combination of gochujang, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, garlic, and olive oil creates a tangy and spicy sauce that coats the tender squid. This flavorful sauce makes the squid tastes just like Korean fried chicken (RECIPE COMING SOON)! Sauté the cut squid pieces, then mix the sauce ingredients and simmer it with the cooked squid. The result is a mouthwatering filling that blends Korean and Chinese flavors perfectly. Use this spicy Korean stir-fried squid filling to add an exciting twist to your steamed buns.
11. Butter Chicken or Chicken Curry
This savory filling is made with tender pieces of chicken cooked in a flavorful blend of aromatic spices, creamy tomato sauce, and a touch of butter. The chicken becomes incredibly tender and absorbs the rich flavors of the curry, resulting in a mouthwatering filling with a perfect balance of tanginess and creaminess. Pair this filling with a side of fragrant jasmine rice or enjoy it on its own for a comforting and satisfying bao bun experience.
To make: use a pre-made butter chicken simmer sauce instead of making the sauce from scratch. Simply follow the instructions on the package to cook cubed chicken in the sauce, and then proceed with filling the steamed buns.
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