Baozi (Chinese: About this sound 包子) are a type of steamed, filled bun[1] or bread-like (i.e. made with yeast) item in various Chinese cuisines, as there is much variation as to the fillings and the preparations. In its bun-like aspect it is very similar to the traditional Chinese mantou. It can be filled with meat and/or vegetarian fillings.

Two types are found in most parts of China and Indonesia: Dàbāo (大包, "big bun"), measuring about 10 cm across, served individually, and usually purchased for take-away. The other type, Xiǎobāo (小包, "small bun"), measure approximately 5 cm wide, and are most commonly eaten in restaurants, but may also be purchased for take-away. Each order consists of a steamer containing between three and ten pieces. A small ceramic dish is provided for vinegar or soy sauce, both of which are available in bottles at the table, along with various types of chili and garlic pastes, oils or infusions, fresh coriander and leeks, sesame oil, and other flavorings.

History and etymology

According to legend, they were invented by the Chinese scholar and military strategist Zhuge Liang during the Three Kingdoms period (3rd century AD).[2]

包子(Baozi) is a variation of 馒头(mantou) — which was also invented by Zhuge Liang[3] — but with fillings. At first it was also called by the same name 馒头(mantou). By the time of Northern Song dynasty (960-1127 AD), the current name 包子(baozi) was used for the buns with fillings, as recorded in books of the Song dynasty.[4] Meanwhile, 馒头(mantou) remained the name of steamed buns without fillings.


Japanese variations
Making of baozi
English name Chinese name
Simplified / Traditional
Other names Description
Cha siu bao, Charsiu bau 叉烧包 / 叉燒包
caa1 siu1 baau1
manapua Filled with barbecue-flavoured char siu pork; typical of Cantonese cuisine (Guangdong province and Hong Kong)
Goubuli baozi 狗不理包子
gǒubùlǐ bāozi
a well known brand of meat-filled baozi considered characteristic of Tianjin, Northern China; Its name literally means, "Baozi ignored by dogs"
Xiaolongbao 小笼包 / 小籠包
a small, meat-filled baozi from Shanghai Containing a juicy broth. Because it is succulent and prepared only with thin, partially leavened dough, it is sometimes considered different from other bao types, and more closely resembles a jiaozi (dumpling)
Shuijianbao 水煎包 / 水煎包
Very similar to xiaolongbao, but pan-fried instead of steamed.
Shengjian mantou 生煎馒头 / 生煎饅頭
shēngjiān mántou
A small, meat-filled, fried baozi from Shanghai
Tangbaozi 汤包 / 湯包
a large soup-filled baozi from Yangzhou Drunk through a straw;
in other areas of China, it is small in size with rich soup
Doushabao 豆沙包
Hokkien: tāu-se-pau Filled with sweet bean paste
Lotus seed bun 莲蓉包
Filled with sweetened lotus seed paste
Kaya-baozi filled with Kaya, a popular jam made from coconut, eggs, and sometimes pandan in Malaysia and Singapore
Naihuangbao 奶黄包 / 奶黃包
filled with sweet yellow custard filling
Shāobāo, siopao 烧包 / 燒包
Philippine: siyopaw steamed, filled with either chicken, pork, shrimp or salted egg
Zhimabao 芝麻包
steamed, filled with a black sesame paste
Yacaibao (Beansprout-bao) 芽菜包
steamed, filled with a type of pickle, spices and possibly other vegetables or meat, common in Sichuan, China
Bah-pau 肉包
Hokkien: Bah-pau filled with pork
Big Pau 大包
large buns filled with pork, eggs and other ingredients
Baozza 包萨


well-known brand based in China famous for their fusion baozi, which are steamed and filled with a variety of pizza toppings
Gua bao 割包 / 刈包




Originated as Taiwanese street food. Unlike other types of Bao, Gua Bao is made by folding over the flat steamed dough and is thus open. Designed to fit easily in your hands and has a wide variety of fillings.


In many Chinese cultures, these buns are a popular food, and widely available.[1] While they can be eaten at any meal, baozi are often eaten for breakfast. They are also popular as a portable snack or meal.

The dish has also become common place throughout various regions of South East Asia due to longstanding Chinese immigration.

  • Due to the long history of Chinese overseas diaspora in Malaysia, the Malays have adopted these buns as their own. A particularly Malay form of the baozi (called pau in Malay) is filled with potato curry, chicken curry or beef curry that are similar to the fillings of Malay curry puffs. Some variants have a quail egg in the middle, in addition to the curry. Due to the Muslim beliefs of most Malays, these buns are halal and contain no pork. One can find Malay stalls selling the buns by the roadside, at pasar malams (night markets), highway rest stops, and pasar Ramadans (Ramadan food bazaars).
  • Similarly, in Indonesia the dish has been adopted into Indonesian cuisine through the integration of Chinese culture. It has been adopted through the Hokkien name of bakpao. In addition to meat fillings, local variants include: chocolate, sweet potato, and marmalade filling.
  • As a colonial influence from Indonesia, at supermarkets in the Netherlands one can easily find frozen bapao or bakpao wrapped in plastic, ready-made to be heated inside a microwave. The most prevalent filling is pork, although there is also a beef variant available. This food is culturally categorized as a quick snack or a fast-food item. Fresh forms of this steamed bun are not seen outside of the Chinese community within the country.
  • In the Philippines, their version of Baozi is called siopao brought by Chinese immigrants (Sangleys) prior to Spanish colonialism. A Filipino siopao filing contains meatballs, Philippine adobo, flaked tuna and pork, and sometimes chocolate and cheese.
  • A similar concept is also present in Thailand, called salapao.

Baozi is also very popular in Japan and is typically sold in convenience stores


  1. ^ a b Phillips, C. (2016). All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China. Ten Speed Press. p. 405. ISBN 978-1-60774-982-0. Retrieved November 5, 2016. 
  2. ^ See Etymology of "mantou"
  3. ^ 周达观(). 诚斋杂记. 孔明征孟获。人曰:蛮地多邪,用人首祭神,则出兵利。孔明杂以羊豕之内,以面包之,以像人头。此为馒头之始。 
  4. ^ 王栐(北宋). 燕翼冶谋录. “仁宗诞日,赐群臣包子。”包子下注“即馒头别名。”、“今俗屑发酵,或有馅,或无馅,蒸食之者,都谓之馒头。”