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Venison Bao Buns Recipe

Create your own fluffy, Chinese-style bao buns at home with this recipe! Fill them with tender, braised venison shoulder or any other wild game meat you'd like.

Venison Bao Buns Recipe

Enjoy delicious bites of dim sum at home with this Venison Bao Buns Recipe. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

Print Recipe

These bao buns are Chinese style, a nod to the char siu pork buns you’ll likely find in dim sum. To accommodate for the sinewy nature of venison shoulder, the meat was not barbecued like traditional char siu pork. Instead, I seasoned and braised the shoulder until tender, and then glazed the meat in a pan with ingredients you would typically find in char siu – skipping the red food coloring, of course.

Store leftover bao buns in an airtight container and refrigerate. To reheat, simply cover them in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 30-45 seconds – instant breakfast or lunch! You can also re-steam them for about 5 minutes. Use the bun dough recipe below as a base for your own bao bun creations. They can be filled with anything.

Yield: 8 venison bao buns
Prep time: 4 hours
Cook time: 20 minutes

Meat Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of venison shoulder
  • ¾ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Half an onion
  • 1 quart beef/game broth
  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Half a medium shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Bun Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups bread flour, plus more
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅔ cup warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Special equipment:

  • Food steamer
  • Parchment paper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub venison shoulder with Chinese 5-spice powder and place into a heavy, ovenproof pot. Add onion and cover with enough broth to submerge. Cover with lid and bake for 2 ½ hours, or until venison becomes tender. Flip the meat halfway through and add more broth as necessary.

    venison bao buns recipe shoulder
    Bake seasoned venison shoulder for 2 ½ hours. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)
  2. Meanwhile, make the dough for the buns: In a small bowl, stir together warm water, yeast and sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes.

  3. Stir in canola oil. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in the wet ingredients until dough forms. Sprinkle flour onto your work surface and pour the dough onto it. Knead until dough is smooth, place in a floured bowl and cover with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rise for about 2 ½ hours or until it doubles in size.

    venison bao buns recipe dough
    The dough is ready once it doubles in size. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)
  4. When meat is tender and cool enough to handle, remove it from the broth and cut into small pieces. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté shallot and garlic until soft. Add the meat and stir in oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow meat to cool.

    venison bao buns recipe pan
    Add oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar to venison pieces and stir. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)
  5. Cut parchment paper into 8 (4x4) squares, set aside. Add flour onto work surface and punch down the dough. Divide the dough into 2, roll each into logs and evenly divide into 4 for a total of 8 pieces. Move pieces to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a towel while you work.

    venison bao buns recipe dough balls
    Evenly divide dough into eight pieces. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)
  6. Bring about 1-2 inches of water to a boil in the steamer. If you’re using a Chinese steamer, use a wok as your base. Meanwhile, add more flour to work surface as necessary. Flatten out the dough with your palm to make circles about 4-5 inches wide. Fill with the venison, and then pinch and twist the edges together at the top of the bun. Place each bun on top of a piece of parchment paper.

    venison bao buns squares
    Fill dough balls with venison filling and then place each bun on a piece of parchment paper. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)
  7. When the water is at a rolling boil, carefully place the raw buns into the steamer basket, making sure they’re not touching each other or the sides of the steamer – steam in batches if you need to. Cover and steam buns for 7-9 minutes or until dough becomes fluffy and set. Carefully transfer the buns to a cooling rack with a spatula. Enjoy warm.

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