Pan fried beef buns (生煎牛肉包) recipe

Posted on August 5, 2013


I love pan fried buns. It’s the combination of the crisp exterior, inner layer of fluffy dough and meaty filling in the centre that is the appeal. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like fried dough?

So this is another recipe from the dim sum book I picked up in Hong Kong. I’m super pleased with this recipe, the dough turned out fantastic; it had both lightness and a bit of elasticity. Perfect texture for this dim sum! I’ve seen some other recipes for pan fried beef buns that doesn’t use yeast, but I think it’s worth the little bit of effort using yeast to get the extra lightness in the dough.


I did make a few changes to the original recipe, most notably replacing lard for vegetable oil and omitting MSG. I’m not against using lard, I just don’t have it in my fridge. Dim sum purists, feel free to use lard in the dough mixture if you wish. Also, if you don’t like beef, you could change the filling to a protein of your preference or even make it vegetarian. These buns can be made a couple of days in advance prior to cooking. Just keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.

RECIPE – Pan fried beef buns (生煎牛肉包), makes 16

Adapted from An illustrated guide to dim sum


  • 160g bread flour sifted
  • 160g plain flour sifted
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ~160mL warm water


  • 350g beef mince
  • 2 spring onions chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour or potato starch
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • a decent amount of cracked white pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, yeast, salt and oil. Make a small well in the centre and add warm water. Mix to form a dough. Knead dough until it is relatively smooth and is no longer sticky. Cover dough with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for ~30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes, the dough should have almost doubled in volume. Divide dough into 16 equal portions (I do this by continually halving the dough until I get 16 portions). Roll these portions into individual balls, cover again with damp cloth and allow to rest for a further 10-15 minutes.dough
  3. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling by mixing together all the ingredients for the filling.IMG_7029
  4. Once ready to use, roll a single portion of dough into a flat disc. Place about 2 tablespoon of filling mixture into the centre of the disc. Gather edges of the dough to the centre and pinch close. Repeat process until all the dough and filling has been used up. (As you will see below, I wasn’t very good at sealing the buns. But I’m just going to pretend that it was the look I was going for. It’s rustic look no? ;))IMG_7032
  5. To cook, heat an oiled heavy based flat bottom pan on low heat. Place beef buns into hot pan and fry on low heat for approximately 3 minutes or until a light golden crust develops on the base of the bun. Try not to overcrowd the pan; I cooked mine in 2 batches. You should aim for a crust that resembles the picture below.  It’s ok that the crust looks rather undeveloped, the base will continue to cook for a while and you don’t want the base to burn before the filling cooks through.panfriedbeefbuns
  6. Add in 2 tablespoons of water and cover pan (be careful as there will be a bit of spitting when you add water into the pan). Steam buns for about 5 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Flip buns over and pan fry the other side for a couple of minutes until you get a golden crust and the filling has cooked through. The total cooking time is about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Serve hot with a side of black rice vinegar.IMG_7047

I don’t work with dough very often, so there was quite a sense of achievement that these little pan fried buns turned out as well as they did. It has also made me like my Illustrated guide to dim sum that much more. So much, I might actually buy the other cook books in this series – there’s a guide to Hong Kong snacks that’s particularly tempting…Don’t worry, you’ll definitely know about it if I do get my hands on that book!

Posted in: Dim sum, MissC cooks