Sheng Jian Bao: Pan-fried Vegetable Buns

sheng jian bao

Last Updated - January 12, 2023

Shanghai bun is a type of pan-fried soup dumplings, and it is one of my favorite Chinese street food. They are half crispy and half-soft and filled with goodness inside. If you never had them before, they taste very similar to potstickers. They are super easy to make and beyond delicious. To make them, you will love my easy step by step recipe guide for these vegetarian-friendly pan-fried vegetable bao buns.

What is Sheng Jian Bao

Shanghai bun, or called sheng Jian bao in Chinese, literally translates into a fried raw bun. It is a type of pan-fried baozi or steamed buns. Made with a yeast dough bun that is soft and fluffy and fills with goodness. This tasty shanghai style dish has evolved from Shanghai tea house refreshment to street food.

The traditional bun that you can find in China is filled with ground pork, spring onion, and various seasonings. And there are a various types of pan-fried pork buns today. But there are also countless combinations you can fill the bao buns without going using pork.

The Steps by steps To Make Sheng Jian Bao

If you have made dumplings before, you will find that making these buns is very straightforward.

  1. Making the dough wrapper. This is a simple yeast dough that uses flour, yeast, and water. If you don't have time to make your dough, you can use store bought large dumpling wrappers.
  2. The filling. I used a mixture of eggs, wood ear mushroom, carrot, chives, and vermicelli noodles for my vegetarian-friendly sheng jian bao. Even though my recipe is filled with veggies, it is as delicious as those pork buns.
  3. Shape the buns. This is the hardest part of making sheng jian bao. But once you get the hang of it, it will be easy breezy.
  4. Pan-fry the buns. The perfect sheng jian bao will have a crispy bottom and fluffy and airy on top. To achieve this texture, first crisp the bottom of the bun in hot oil. Then pour water into the frying pan and cover the lid. The heat and water will create a steam effect and will help cook the bun and the filling.
  5. Sprinkle the garnish and serve with dipping sauce. This is optional, but who doesn't like to add some beautiful garnish to finish off the dish. There are many garnishes you can use. Including sesame seeds, spring onion, or everything but the bagel seasoning. Not only will these garnishes make your sheng Jian bao look pretty, but they also add an extra flavor to the bun. And as for the dipping sauce, I love a good vinegar with chili oil sauce.

Sheng Jian Bao: Pan-fried Vegetable buns

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Passive Time: 1 Hour

Serving Size: 20-25 Buns

sheng jian bao


1 Tablespoon of avocado oil for frying
1 cup of water

Yeast dough ingredients (Or use store bought Dumpling Wrappers)

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 packet of instant yeast
9 tbsp lukewarm water

The Filling

3 eggs Scrambled and finely chopped
0.75 lb of chives Finely chopped
1 Large carrot stick Finely chopped or grated
1 stick of Vermicelli noodle Finely chopped
1 Cups of wood ear mushroom finely chopped
2 tablespoon Coconut Aminos
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
A pinch of Chinese five-spice powder

Garnish (optional)

Toasted sesame seeds
Everything but the bagel seasoning
Green onions


The wrapper dough

  1. In a large bowl, mix water and yeast together. Stir well, and you should see bubbling. If nothing happens, your yeast may be too old, and the yeast is no longer active, or your water was too hot and killed all the yeast.
  2. Add in your flour and knead until smooth and elastic dough forms. Then cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm area for the proofing process. Allow it to proof for at least an hour.

The Filling

  1. In a stir fry pan, scramble your eggs and then finely chopped.
  2. In a boiling pot, cook your vermicelli according to packaging instructions and then chop them into about 1-2 cm long after it is done.
  3. Finely chop your chive, mushrooms, and shred your carrots into small pieces.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients together and mix well.

Assemble the buns

  1. Add some flour to your work surface, and knead the dough back to its original size.
  2. Divide the dough into 20-25 sections. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a 12 cm diameter thin disk-like wrapper. It should be as thin as your dumpling wrapper.
  3. Place the wrapper in the palm of your hand, and then place 2-3 tablespoon of filling in the center. You want to make sure you place enough filling, but not to the point you can't fold it. Use your other hand and fold the edge anti-clockwise by pinching with thumb and index finger until the bun is sealed.
  4. Once you are done, place them on the side and let it rest for 15 for the dough to rise again. Allowing the bun to rest at room temperature will start the proof processing again and result in fluffier texture buns. If you don't let your dough rest, you will notice the bun to be denser.
sheng jian bao

Fry The buns

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan in high heat. You want to make sure your pan is coated with oil, so the buns don't stick to your pan when you are pan-frying. Once your oil starts to dance, place your buns in the pan.
  2. When the bottom of your bun becomes golden brown, pour in water and then cover your pan with a lid and keep your eyes on it.
  3. Once the water evaporates, sprinkle your toppings (toasted sesame seeds, green onions, or everything but the bagel) and let it cook for another 1 minute to crisp up.

Recipe Notes

  • Use Dumpling Dough: If you don't have time to allow the dough to rise, you can make dumpling dough without yeast. Dumpling dough will work just fine. With dumpling dough, you will get a different texture experience. Yeast dough will give a fluffier and softer texture.
  • Watch you buns. You will need to keep a close eye on your buns while they are cooking because you can easily burn the bottom, especially when you if your wrapper is thin.
  • Don't remove the lid too early. If you are unable to see through your pan to see if all the water has evaporated or not, listen to your pan. If you start to hear a sizzling sound, the water has evaporated. DO NOT remove the lid after you place the water because you want to create an ideal environment for the bun to steam. If you remove the lid too soon, your bun won't be cooked through.
  • Cook One Side Only. You only need to pan fry one side. There is no need to flip your buns over at any time because the remaining part of your bun will be cooked by steam.
  • Wood Ear Mushroom. This type of mushroom I only found at an Asian market. If you are unable to find it, you can swap for other kinds of mushrooms.
  • Shop For All The Ingredients. Most ingredients can be found at most grocery stores and can definitely be found in the Asian market. If you are unable to find the ingredients, you can check out Sayweee.
  • For vegan option, swap out the egg with tofu. 
sheng jian bao

Why You Will love my vegetable buns


  • While the classic Shanghai pan-fried pork buns are super delicious, veggie filling buns are much healthier. They are lower in calories, fat and more nutritious than traditional pork recipes, so you can feel good about indulging just a little more.
  • Traditionally, vegetable oil and canola oil are used as the cooking oil to pan-fry. Unfortunately, these types of oil are highly refined and processed, making them less nutritious. When pan-frying, use a healthier oil like avocado oil or sesame oil with a high-temperature smoking point and less refinement. Go for cold-pressed and organic options if possible.
  • For a lower sodium option, swap soy sauce with coconut aminos. Coconut aminos are soy-free and add great umami flavors to your dish. 


Even though my bao buns are filled with fresh vegetables, it is as delicious as the classic pork filling buns. Unlike the pork buns, which are greasy and juicy, veggie buns offer various textures and umami flavors all in one bite.

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