GF sourdough baked BBQ pork buns (char siu bao)

GF sourdough baked BBQ pork buns (char siu bao)

These baked BBQ pork buns are bursting with sweet and savory flavor. A Cantonese classic made gluten-free, commercial yeast-free, dairy-free and egg-free!

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Baked V.S. steamed BBQ pork buns

Cantonese barbecue pork buns are such great memories from my childhood in Hong Kong. From the big baked BBQ pork buns that are almost size of my face at bakeries, to smaller delicate ones with brushed honey on top served in dim sum restaurants. They mostly use a sweet enriched wheat dough with fat and eggs incorporated. Recently there are also some creative crossover recipes with sweet cookie crust on top, borrowed from the “pineapple bun” recipe.

two baked bbq pork buns on a square plate with a pair of chopsticks on the side

However for my parents, they always go for the steamed version. Unlike the baked counterpart, you tend to find less variety in the Cantonese steamed barbecue pork buns. They are usually similar in size and appearance. You will often find them in the signature burst look of a perfectly white wheat dough.

Speaking of steamed food, the variety in texture and flavor in Cantonese steamed dishes and treats will blow your mind! Check out this Cantonese Steamed Minced Patty with Radishes, as well as black bean steamed ribs and more!

Allergy-friendly baked BBQ pork buns

Back to baked BBQ pork buns, I have always wanted to make a gluten-free sourdough version for husband. Therefore there should be no wheat flour, no eggs and no commercial yeast in the bun, and no conventional char siu sauce in the filling.

To make the allergy-friendly barbecue pork from scratch, I adapted the char siu recipe from the Woks of Life with some substitutions.

When choosing the cut of meat, stick with the pork butt (also called pork shoulders) for the best flavor and juicy meat. However if you are only making the char siu for the bun filling and prefer less fat, pork tenderloin would be a nice accessible alternative.

Crosssection of baked bbq pork buns close up landscape

For the commercial yeast-free bread dough, my go-to recipe has always been this gluten-free sourdough recipe from bakingmagique. From there, you can create an enriched dough, I added fat to the dough. You can also add a bit of turmeric powder to resemble the color of an egg dough.

New to gluten-free sourdough baking? Check out my tips and tricks in making a gluten-free sourdough starter!

The dough seems a little gummy here in the pictures as the forgetful pregnant self left it proofing for too long… Make sure to sop at 1.5 times in size and not beyond for bulk rise!

Can I freeze baked bbq pork buns?

Definitely yes! I actually made a batch near the end of my pregnancy and tucked them in the freezer. They became the go-to snack for my hubby during his paternity leave!

No time to make char siu from scratch?

As you may suspect, buying ready-made char siu is popular among Cantonese families. It is a quick addition to a lazy weekday dinner, convenient protein for a quickly-put-together lunch, as well as a decent dish to bring to someone’s house for potluck! You can buy them fresh and warm at Asian supermarkets, Cantonese restaurants and takeout stores specialize in Cantonese BBQ meats.

Gluten-free concern aside, you can even make your own easy char siu in the oven or the grill with ready-made char siu sauce off the shelf. Be sure to watch it closely as the sauce burns easily!

bbq pork and it's marinade ingredients

Extra BBQ pork fillings?

Here are some ideas to use up your extra bbq pork fillings easily:

bbq pork sliced and arranged in a row

Looking for more Asian gluten-free dairy-free treats?

Green tea lovers? Make sure to check out the Green tea graham crackers and Green tea mochi with adzuki bean filling!

Don’t miss out the variety in dessert bowls too like this indulgent Grass jelly dessert bowl and this nourishing Apple and snow fungus tea!

Check out the Belated recipe collection for more inspiration!

Gluten-free sourdough baked BBQ pork buns

These baked BBQ pork buns are bursting with sweet and savory flavor. A Cantonese classic made allergy-friendly from dough to filling!
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Proofing time4 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 6 buns
Author: Brenda


BBQ Pork filling

  • 1/2 lb cha siu bbq pork made from scratch or store-bought, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp light-tasting cooking oil
  • 4 shallots finely diced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Sourdough Lavain

  • 80 g brown rice flour
  • 140 g sourdough starter
  • 110 g water filtered, boiled and cooled

Sourdough bread dough

  • 325 g water filtered, boiled and cooled
  • 20 g psyllium husk
  • 10 g ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 60 g Sorghum flour
  • 60 g oat flour
  • 60 g cornstarch
  • 60 g potato starch
  • 60 g brown rice flour
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 2 tsp water


  • The night before bake day, in a mixing bowll prepare lavain by combining the lavain ingredients
  • Cover the mixing bowl and let sit overnight in room temperature
  • The next day, mix the water with ground flaxseed and psyllium husk
  • Using a spatula, mix the dry ingredients with the wet flaxseed psyllium husk mixture. It should become loose dough bits with some crumbs. Let sit for 10 mins
  • Using a hand mixer with the dough hook attachment, mix lavain from the previous night into the dough mixture until it form a consistent dough
  • Cover the mixing bowl with a cling wrap or a wet kitchen towel, let sit in room temperature until 1.5 times in size. Do not let it double in size or it will be over-proofed
  • Meanwhile, prepare the BBQ pork filling. Prepare a saucepan, sauté shallots with cooking oil over medium heat
  • Once the shallots are translucent and fragrant, add in the remaining filling except diced char siu. Stir until combined and thickened.
  • Turn off the heat and add in diced char siu. Stir until char siu pieces are well coated with the thickened sauce
  • Preheat oven to 350F°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Dust the working surface with brown rice flour. Flip over the mixing bowl to place proofed dough on the counter.
  • Divide the proofed dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a ball
  • Take a dough ball, flatten with dusted hand or rolling pin
  • Place a tablespoon of filling mixture into the center of flattened dough. Gently close the dough by pinching the surrounding together
  • Place assembled bun seam side down on baking sheet. Brush the top with molasses water mixture
  • Bake at 350F° for 25 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

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