Looking for a new twist on traditional bao buns? Try making these vegan chickpea bao buns! Made with chickpea flour, these steamed bao buns are not only nutritious, but they also have a soft and fluffy texture that complements a variety of savory dishes like chickpea curry and more! They're also easy to make and perfect for pairing with your favorite Chinese-inspired dishes.
Why I love this Recipe
- Soft and fluffy
- Easy to make if you have a stand mixer
- No eggs, no milk, no dairy needed!
- higher in fiber, to keep you fuller longer, thanks to the added chickpea flour
- lower calorie and lower carb
- makes the best breakfast and snack
Ingredients Used to Make Vegan Chickpea Bao Buns
**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 🙂
- Bread Flour - I used bread flour for this recipe (I use King Arthur Bread Flour most), which I prefer and highly recommend for the best texture and structure. Please read the note on the substitution section below if using other flours.
- Chickpea flour - chickpea flour is a gluten-free, protein-rich flour that is made from finely ground dried chickpeas. It is a staple ingredient in many traditional cuisines around the world, including Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean, and can be used as a healthier alternative to wheat flour in many recipes. Chickpea flour is also a good source of dietary fiber, iron, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
- Instant Yeast - you can find instant yeast in the baking section near the flours. My favorite is SAF Instant Premium Yeast, which works quickly and consistently produces great results. I recommend using instant yeast over active yeast for this recipe since active yeast (unlike instant yeast) needs to be activated in water, which we don't add until the very end.
- Sugar - I used raw cane sugar, but you can use regular granulated white sugar, or healthier alternatives like coconut, date, or maple sugars which are less processed and more natural. I also sometimes like to use honey powder.
- For yeasted breads, I would not recommend using sugar-free substitutes such as monk fruit sweetener or stevia powder since they can cause the bread to not rise properly. If you prefer a lower sugar recipe, you're welcome to leave out the sugar. The bread might taste slightly plain, but it will not significantly impact the shape or texture of the bread.
- Salt - Pink Himalayan salt is what I have at home, so it’s what I use, but you can use any kind for this recipe.
- Baking Powder - helps to puff up the dough during the steaming process.
- Olive Oil - I like using light olive oil since it has a neutral flavor, but you can also any cooking oil of your choice like coconut oil, or avocado oil instead
- I used a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough. You're also welcome to use a bread machine, or knead the dough by hand.
Step by Step Guide
How to Make Vegan Chickpea Bao Buns
Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, chickpea flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, baking powder) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Add the water to the dry ingredients, and start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, until all the ingredients are mostly combined.
Add the olive oil next, and continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, supple ball.
Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Let rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled in size.
When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Divide into 12 equal sized pieces and roll each piece into balls
Use a rolling pin to roll each piece into an oval shape, making sure to turn over the dough once to get olive oil on both sides of the dough. This helps to prevent sticking and also makes it easier to open up the bao buns after steaming.
Fold each oval in half. Place each bun on a parchment square or steamer paper. Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
Place each bun on a parchment square or steamer paper. Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
Transfer the buns to the steaming pan and steam the buns for 15 minutes. Enjoy!
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
- Add color to the buns - turmeric powder, paprika powder, etc
- Other than coloring you can also add different flavorings to the dough before cooking. For example, you can add either a teaspoon of onion powder or garlic powder.
What are some vegan-friendly bao filling ideas?
There are many delicious vegan-friendly bao filling ideas to choose from. Some popular options include:
- BBQ Jackfruit: a sweet and savory filling made from shredded jackfruit and a tangy BBQ sauce.
- Tofu and Mushroom: a savory filling made from crumbled tofu and sautéed mushrooms, flavored with soy sauce and garlic.
- Spicy Szechuan Eggplant: a flavorful filling made from diced eggplant tossed in a spicy Szechuan sauce.
- Cauliflower "Buffalo" Bao: a spicy and tangy filling made from roasted cauliflower tossed in buffalo sauce and topped with vegan blue cheese dressing.
- Sesame Ginger Tempeh: a flavorful filling made from marinated and sautéed tempeh tossed in sesame and ginger sauce.
- Vegan "Pork" and Cabbage: a classic bao filling made vegan with the use of plant-based protein crumbles and sautéed cabbage.
These are just a few ideas, but the possibilities for vegan bao fillings are endless!
How to Store Vegan Chickpea Bao Buns
- These steamed buns can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the fridge inside an airtight container for 3-5 days.
- For longer storage, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, re-steam buns in a steamer for about 10 minutes.
NOTE ON SUBSTITUTIONS
- Unfortunately, gluten-free flours cannot be substituted for bread flour in this recipe.
- All-purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour, but will produce softer, less chewy steamed buns.
- Weigh your flour for the best results. 1 cup of bread flour = 120 grams / 4.23 oz. This is recommended since scooping the flour directly from the bag can can pack the flour into the measuring cup, and this means you’ll end up with more flour than what’s called for in the recipe. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can measure the flour by spooning pre-sifted flour into the measuring cup, then using the straight end of the spoon to level the flour across the top to sweep off the excess.
- To make this recipe in the bread machine: add all the dry ingredients into the machine, stir briefly before adding the wet ingredients. The machine can be set for basic. Check the dough for consistency and adjust by adding additional water (or flour) before the end of the first kneading cycle. If you want to add additional nuts or dried fruits, leave them aside, and only them 3 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle.
Chickpea Steamed Bao Buns
- Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, chickpea flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, baking powder) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Pour water into the dry ingredients. TIP: Heat the water in the microwave for 40-60 seconds if using cold water
- Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, until all the ingredients are mostly combined.
- Add the olive oil next, and continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, supple ball.
- Note: Additional 1-2 Tablespoons of water (or additional bread flour) may be necessary depending on the protein content of the flour, as well as the humidity and temperature of the kitchen.
- Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes***
- When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a surface greased with olive oil
- Divide into 12 equal sized pieces and roll each piece into balls
- Use a rolling pin to roll each piece into an oval shape, making sure to turn over the dough once to get olive oil on both sides of the dough. This helps to prevent sticking and also makes it easier to open up the bao buns after steaming.
- Fold each oval in half.
- Place each bun on a parchment square or steamer paper
- Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil water and prepare the steamer
- Transfer the buns to the steaming pan and steam the buns for 15 minutes
- Note: You can store these steamed buns, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 day. For longer storage, you can place them in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and freeze up to 3 months, then defrost them at room temperature or steam them again for just 10 minutes to enjoy them just like fresh.