If you every go to a Chinese restaurant for dim sum you are bound to have tried a char siu bao (Chinese bbq pork steamed bun).

I thought I would do a little twist on the char siu bao by making it with pretzel dough. 

I’m not too sure if any one has thought of making this before but if you are like an American friend of mine who loves his pretzels and his roast meats you are going to love these buns!

The bun is soft and fluffy, plus you got the bonus of the juicy char siu filling.

It’s pretty easy and fun to make, so you can get the kids involved.

So here is my……….

Char Siu Pretzel Buns

Serves: 12 buns

Total time: Approx 3 hours

      To make the dough :- 

  • 360ml warm whole milk
  • 2 ¼ tsp dried instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ¾ cups of plain flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

      To make the filling:-

  • 1 onion – finely diced
  • 250g char siu – diced
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 1/2 light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • cornflour mixture (combine 1 tbsp cornflour & 2 tbsp water)


  • medium pot full of water (see video)
  • 100g bicarbonate soda
  • approx 20g butter – melted
  • 10-15g black sesame seed
  • syrup mix (combine 1 tbsp honey & 1 tbsp water)

In a large mixing bowl add warm milk and dried yeast. Mix well and leave to stand for a minute.

Add vegetable oil, brown sugar, salt & lightly whisk. Swap over the whisk for a wooden spoon or spatula and gradually add the plain flour approx a cup at a time – mixing in between. Make sure that all the ingredients are mixed together into a slightly soft dough and no loose flour left on the bowl.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Shape dough into a smooth ball and placed into a greased bowl (with olive oil). Cover with a cling film and leave in a warm place for 2 hours to proof.


Whilst the dough is proofing you can start making the filling.

Peel and finely dice the onion. Dice the char siu into slightly smaller than 1cm cubes.

Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to a hot wok. Add diced onions into the wok and stir fry for a minute on a medium heat. Add diced char siu and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Add light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and stir fry a minute so sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour mixture and stir fry till the liquid thickens. Transfer the hot char sui mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.

After dough has proofed for 2 hours, remove cling film and gently punch the dough to release some air. Place dough on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Reuse the cling film to cover your dough pieces to stop it from drying. Take one piece of dough, flatten it into approx 10cm circle using your thumbs, index and middle fingers (check out the video). It doesn’t have to be perfect but make sure there are no holes in the flat piece of dough as your filling will leak. Place 1 tbsp of the char siu filling in the centre. Seal the dough over the filling using your thumb and index finger then shape into a ball – again make sure it is sealed completely and no holes in the dough, if not the filling will leak out – you can use a little water to seal the dough together if the dough does not come together easily. Now make the remains 11 buns.

Line a 12” x 9” rectangular baking tray with baking paper. Start preheating the oven to 205c.

In a medium pot fill 3/4 of the pot with water – the depth should be more than the height of the buns. Heat water till boiling. Turn down to a to the boil water and mimed. Make sure the water does not froth over. If the water is really frothy turn down the heat a little bit more. You’ll now partially boil each buns one at a time. Carefully drop 1 or 2 buns into the hot water and cook for approx 30 seconds – you’ll need to use a slotted spoon/ladle to constantly turn the buns in the water. Use the slotted spoon to scoop up the partially cooked buns. Raise the slotted spoon above the pot and shake a little to remove excess water. Place the buns onto the lined baking tray. Repeat with the remaining buns. 

Make two diagonal shallow slashes on top of the each buns using a very sharp knife or bread lame.

Brush the melted butter over the buns. Then sprinkle a generous amount of black sesame seed on top.

Bake the buns in the oven for 25 minutes or till golden brown. As soon as the buns are baked take out the over and brush over with the syrup mix.

Leave to cool just a little bit. These are best served still warm.

These buns should keep for 3 days once cooled and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Just warm them up in the oven before eating.

*Just a note that this recipe will take around 3 hours to make – this includes the 2 hours resting the dough plus the 25 minutes baking time*