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Healthy Snack Korean Chicken Bao

Korean Chicken Bao - Are you looking for an amazing and grown-up party food? Soft and fluffy steamed miniature bao buns filled with crispy Korean poultry would be the answer! Everyone raves about them once I create them.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
proving time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs
Course: Appetizer, low calories, low carb, Party Food, Snack
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: finger food, Game Day, handheld food, Party Food
Servings: 20
Calories: 289kcal
Author: Feodora Nastashia


Bao Buns:

  • 3 3/4 cups 450g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 tbsp caster-sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp equivalent-to-one-packet-or-7g instant-dried-yeast
  • 3 tbsp whole-milk
  • 3/4 cup + 2tbsp 210ml altogether-warm-water
  • 3 tbsp unsalted-butter-very-soft
  • 1 tbsp olive-oil

Chicken and marinade:

  • 4 chicken-breasts-sliced-into-bite-size-chunks
  • 1 cup 240ml buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white-pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic-salt

Crispy Coating:

  • 1 1/2 cups 180g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground-black-pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic-salt
  • ½ tsp celery-salt
  • 1 tsp dried-thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp baking-powder
  • 1 tsp chilli-flakes
  • vegetable-oil-for-deep-frying-at-least-1-litre/four-cups

Korean Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp gochujang-paste
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp brown-sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy-sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic-peeled-and-minced
  • 2 tsp minced-ginger
  • 1 tbsp vegetable-oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame-oil

To Serve:

  • 1 small-red-onion-thinly-sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber-chopped-into-small-pieces
  • Small-bunch-of-fresh-coriander-cilantro roughly-chopped
  • 2 tsp black-and-white-sesame-seeds


  • Start by making the bao buns.
  • Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix.
  • Add the milk, warm water and butter to a jug and stir together until the butter melts. Stir the liquid mixture into the flour mixture at first with a spoon, and then with your hands. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can do this in a mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover (with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in size - about 90 minutes - 2 hours).
  • Meanwhile, start on the Korean Chicken. Place the chicken in a bowl. Add the buttermilk, salt, pepper and garlic salt—Mix, cover and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  • After the dough has proved, tip it out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Knead the dough again and split into 20 balls. Place a piece of baking parchment on your work surface and roll each ball into an oval on top of the parchment, using a rolling pin – approx. 6cm x 9cm.
  • Brush the ovals with the olive oil and fold each oval over, using a chopstick in the middle to fold over to leave a little space in the fold (so the oil is on the inside of the fold). Remove the chopstick and place each bun onto a small piece of baking parchment.
  • Place the buns on the trays - still on the baking parchment - as this will help you to move them later. Cover each dish with clingfilm or a carrier bag (ensuring the clingfilm doesn't touch the dough - or it will stick) and leave to prove for a further hour, until puffed up.
  • Preheat the oven to a low heat (to keep cooked chicken warm). Heat a large pan of vegetable oil (or preheat your deep fat fryer) until hot (you can test by dropping a small cube of bread in there, if it rises immediately to the top and starts to bubble rapidly, it's hot enough). You'll need at least 1 litre (4 cups) of oil.
  • Mix the crispy coating ingredients in a small bowl. Take the chicken out of the fridge. Lift a piece from the buttermilk and allow the excess to drip off. Dredge the chicken in the crispy coating mixture – ensuring it's fully covered. Place on a tray and repeat until all of the chicken is coated.
  • Once the oil is hot enough, add in 10-12 of the chicken pieces. You can add more or less depending on the size of your pan, be sure not to overcrowd the chicken. Cook for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and cooked in the middle. You can check this by cutting open a piece of chicken, if it's no longer pink in the centre, it's cooked.
  • Place on a tray in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the chicken.
  • Meanwhile, put a large steamer pan on to boil. Working in batches, place the buns in the steamer (you can keep them on the baking parchment and steam for 10 minutes. I use a double layer steam pan - placing four buns in each layer. I once steamed, place on a warm plate.
  • While the chicken and bao buns are cooking, make the sauce. Place the gochujang, honey, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vegetable oil and sesame oil in a saucepan and stir together.
  • Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.
  • Place all of the cooked chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over the chicken. Toss together to coat. You can leave the chicken chunks whole, or slice up if you prefer.
  • Carefully open the steamed bao buns and stuff with the Korean chicken. Top with slices of red onion, cucumber, fresh coriander (cilantro) and sesame seeds before serving.


Can I make this recipe ahead?
Yes - you can make and cook the crispy chicken, make up the sauce and cook the bao buns ahead of time. When you're ready to eat, heat the chicken in the oven and heat the sauce in a pan. Then toss the chicken with the sauce. Reheat the buns (in a steam pan or microwave) and assemble everything right before serving. See tips below on making each element ahead of time, including storage and reheating.
Tips on making the bao buns ahead:
Yes, make the buns, then quickly fresh, cover and refrigerate (for up to 2 days). Allow coming to room temperature before reheating. You can warm (keep them covered) in the microwave for 15-20 seconds each bun. Or you can steam them for 4-5 minutes to reheat.
Can I freeze the Bao Buns?
Yes, make the buns, then quickly fresh, cover and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before reheating. You can warm (keep them covered) in the microwave for 15-20 seconds each bun. Or you can steam them for 4-5 minutes to reheat. You can also heat the bao buns from frozen, by placing them in the steamer for 5-6 minutes, until hot throughout.
Tips on making the Korean fried chicken ahead:
I prefer this Korean fried chicken served right away, as that's when the chicken will be at it's crispiest. However, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the Korean fried chicken (for up to a day), then reheat in the oven (covered) for 10-15 minutes at 190C/380F, until piping hot throughout. If you want to keep the chicken crispy, then thoroughly cook both the crispy chicken and sauce, then cool and cover (keep the sauce separate from the chicken) and refrigerate for up to a day. Then reheat the chicken in the oven, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes at 190C/380F, until piping hot throughout. Reheat the sauce in a pan until piping hot and then toss the chicken in the sauce.
I have a steam oven - can I make bao buns that rather than a steam pan?
So long as it's a full-steam oven (not a combi-steam), then yes. Place the mini buns on trays lined with baking parchment and steam for 8-10 minutes on 100C/210F full steam until puffed up. If your steam oven has a bread proving function, you can also use this function to determine the buns too. This will take 30 minutes for the first show and 20 minutes for the second prove.
Nutritional Information is per Korean Chicken Bao and is approximate. Note - it's challenging to work our the amount of oil used during the in-depth frying process, so I've estimated that 1/2 cup (120ml ) of oil was used/absorbed altogether for 20 servings.