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Sheng jian bao (pan-fried pork buns) don’t get enough love. The cousin to the more popular xiao long bao (soup dumplings), sheng jian bao hail from Shanghai, where they’re typically enjoyed as breakfast, lunch, and street food. With their tender pork filling, savory hot soup, and slightly thicker, fluffy wrapper that’s complete with crispy golden bottoms, these pan-fried pork buns are ready for their turn in the spotlight.
In this recipe, I’ll walk you through how to make (and pleat!) your own restaurant-worthy sheng jian bao at home. Don’t fret if your pleats aren’t perfect the first time around. Because the pork buns are traditionally cooked with the pleat-side down, as long as they’re well-sealed, that’s all you need. (And, according to the recipe tester, even the badly pleated ones are good!) Once you get the hang of it, switch to cooking pleat-side up to show off your skills.
Key Ingredients in Sheng Jian Bao
There are other varieties of sheng jian bao that include mushrooms or napa cabbage (here’s a handy guide to the different types of cabbage), but this recipe does without those ingredients to deliver the purest pork flavor.