Steamed Kimchi Buns ~ Savory Simple

Guess who’s got her oven back?  THIS GIRL.  I’m very happy about it and you can expect some baked goodies later this week.  But over the past couple of weeks I had to get very resourceful at times.  Not that there aren’t plenty of things to be made without an oven, but basically- I had to outsmart myself. You see, I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed.  It’s mostly just that I’m terrible at multi-tasking, yet I never seem to have a choice.  There’s always SO much to do!

So last week I had a friend over for dinner.  The meal I had planned felt too disjointed and I wanted something to pull it all together.  Aha, I thought!  Dinner rolls!  I made the dough.  I left it for the first rise and went back to work.  An hour later I punched down the dough.  I looked at my oven and did a double take.  I HAD NO OVEN.  I wondered if any of my neighbors wanted dough.  Then I remembered my bamboo steamer!  I bought this thing several years ago after having some amazing pork buns at Momofuku and then promptly forgot about it.  I figured what the hell. Into the steamer went my dinner buns.  And you know what?  They came out perfect.  Crisis averted (though the buns were a bit odd with my decidedly non-Asian themed meal).

I’ve been wanting to make kimchi dumplings on the site for awhile but steamed kimchi buns seemed like the new obvious game plan.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, kimchi is a fermented Korean dish made from vegetables and seasonings.  I’m very lucky because I live in an area with numerous Asian markets that sell fresh kimchi.  There’s also a vendor who sells it at the farmer’s market I frequent every Sunday.  If you can’t find ready-made kimchi there are many recipes online.  You can also go in a different direction and fill the buns with BBQ pork or sauteed veggies.  The one trick is to make sure you’re filling isn’t too wet or it will effect the dough.  The farmer’s market kimchi has a lot of liquid, so I squeeze most of it out before using.  This recipe might be very different from what’s traditionally used in dim sum, but I loved the results!  They’ll be good with plain soy sauce but I’ve included a recipe for a simple. tasty dipping sauce.

Steamed Kimchi Buns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8 buns
kimchi buns:
  • 1¾ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1½ tablespoons nonfat dried milk
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • ⅓ cup lukewarm water
  • ¼ cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 cup kimchi, chopped
dipping sauce:
  • ½ cup soy or tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • a drop of chili oil (or more to taste)
  • optional: cilantro, chopped
  • optional: ¼ teaspoon curry powder
  1. Place all ingredients except the salt and kimchi in a stand mixer with the dough attachment. Start on low speed to allow the ingredients to mix. After a minute sprinkle in the salt (it can hinder the yeast if added too soon).
  2. Turn the speed up to medium and allow the dough to kneed for several minutes until smooth.
  3. Remove the dough and lightly oil the inside of the mixing bowl.
  4. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let rise for 60 minutes.
  5. Deflate the dough and cut into 8 even pieces (start by cutting it in half, then those pieces in half, etc).
  6. Use paper towels to drain some of the excess moisture from the kimchi so it doesn't saturate the dough.
  7. Lightly oil an 8x8 or 9x9 cake pan.
  8. To make the buns, stretch one piece of dough in your hands to about 4-5 inches in diameter, leaving the center a bit thicker. It should look like a large ravioli. You can press the edges with your fingers to help thin them out. You want the ends to be thin because they're going to overlap to create the bottom of the bun.
  9. Place a tablespoon of kimchi in the center of the dough. Pull the ends over the kimchi and pinch the bottom together. Flip the bun over, gently reshape it into a proper circle if necessary and place in the cake pan. Repeat until you have 8 buns.
  10. Cover the cake pan and allow the dough to rise for another hour.
  11. Place squares of parchment in the bottom of a bamboo steamer. Lay out the buns and place the steamer over a wok or large sauce pot.
  12. Steam the buns over simmering water for 25 minutes. Be careful when you remove them from the heat, the steam gets very hot!
  13. To make the dipping sauce, whisk together all ingredients.
  14. Best served hot or warm.
Bun recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

    Dude, this is AMAZING! I need to make this for Jason’s parents – they are going to be over the moon for these!

  • daisy

    I love this! I’ve been meaning to make steamed pork buns, and I’m adding this recipe to try as well. Definitely must try this!!


  • Joy (enjoywithjoy)

    I love steamed buns and kimchi but together that is brilliant! We have similar back in the Philippines usually stuffed with pork or chicken, we call it “Siopao”. I have to try this :-)

  • Roger Stowell

    They look wonderful. I haven’t eaten those for years. I remember going to a little Korean restaurant in London years ago. It was situated in Denmark St, otherwise known as Tin Pan Alley where all the music publishers had their offices. Kimchi is delicious and your picture is excellent.

  • Choc Chip Uru

    These little Asian buns are my must order at restaurants – nice to know they can be made at home so wonderfully :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Valerie

    They look wonderful! And congrats on being reunited with your oven!!

  • Jenn and Seth

    oh my gosh these are fantastic! love this!

  • MouseChow

    Oooh, I have a jar of kimchi sitting in my fridge that was just waiting for your inspiration. Beautiful!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    You’re too clever! Great idea making steamed buns with the bread dough and stuffing them with kim chi :D

  • Cathy @ Noble Pig

    Smart move. I have never tried kimchi, what am I waiting for?

  • claire @ the realistic nutritionist

    I had these for the first time in Portland and I looooooovvveeeee them. What a great recipe, Jen!

  • Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel

    Oh jeez… Steamed buns are one of my die-hard FAVE things to get at Asian restaurants. I love how delicate and pastry-like the outside is (like a donut) and the yummy, gooey, salty filling in the middle. Totally rockin’! I think it’s dangerous that I now know how to make my own.

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Yay for your oven! I really enjoyed steamed buns when I spent time in China a few years ago – these look like little puffs of goodness!

  • Jackie @ Domestic Fits

    I’ve been thinking about making these for a while, but they’re a little intimidating! You make it look so easy.

  • Jill

    I’ve never had anything like this before, it looks so good! Good for you to figure out what to do with dough without an oven. I’m impressed. :)

  • natalie


    Call me naive, but I didn’t realize you could steam regular rolls?? lol …

    • Savory Simple

      I had no idea, either! I just figured I had nothing to lose by trying and it worked!

  • Rachael {SimplyFreshCooking}

    Oh wow, these sound very good!

  • Purely.. Kay

    These steamed buns are definitely calling me to make these very soon. I can just see myself enjoying these on a nice, relaxing day :)

  • Laura Dembowski

    Those look great, and kudos to you for figuring out how to cook your dough :)

  • Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet

    How creative! I had no idea you can steam buns! I would love to try this method. PS: Yay for having the oven back!

  • Natalia @ Hot, Cheap & Easy

    these are sooo interesting. I usually have Korean students in the classes I teach; will have to bring this one up with them!

    • Savory Simple

      I’m guessing the dough isn’t very authentic :}

  • yummychunklet

    Yum! These bao look delicious.

  • Laura

    Kudos to you! I’m seriously impressed! And they look fantastic!

  • Amy Tong

    I love KimChi but never thought of putting it in a bun! :) What a creative way to enjoy kimchi.

  • Baker Street

    Kimchi stuffed buns sound like such a fantastic idea! Love the recommendation of curry powder in the dipping sauce. :)

  • Jennifer @ Mother Thyme

    These are so creative and look amazing! Glad to hear you have your oven back! :)

  • Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi)

    What a unique item to stuff in these buns. I can just imagine how great they are. I absolutely love the idea of making these at home! I bet they are delish!

  • Mad Dog

    You certainly turned an almost disaster into a great success! I’d be lost without an oven.

  • Kathryn

    Life without an oven is too scary to contemplate even if it does force you to think outside the box and make delicious dishes like this!

  • fabiola@notjustbaked

    I love Kinchi. I love steamed buns. SO I love these. I can put Kimchi on just about anything, so buns=carbs, and carbs are my friend.

  • Rosa

    Those look fantastic! Great choice of filling.



  • Amy (Savory Moments)

    These look delicious! What a great idea. We really enjoy kimchi so I know these would be a hit!

  • Stephanie @ 52 Kitchen Adventures

    Hooray for having your oven back! I love steamed buns but I have yet to attempt making them. Now that I’ve seen yours, I’m sold. I think I also have a bamboo steamer that I’ve never used. I’ll have to find it!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen

    I’ve wanted to make these forever but without a bamboo steamer and my general aversion to making anything Asian other than an easy stir fry, it hasn’t happened yet. They look so perfect!
    The dough incident reminds me of when you lose electricity and go to do something and then realize (after you’ve flipped that switch or tried to turn the tv on) that duh, that requires electricity. Or maybe that’s just me? ;)

    • Savory Simple

      Clearly it’s both of us :D

  • rebecca

    pure genius maybe it was a blessing your oven wasn’t working and have fun in NYC

  • The Newlywed Chefs

    This recipe looks awesome, Jen. Reminds me of the dish often served at Dim Sum!

  • Lisa H.

    Irresistable… I love kimchi and never thought of this.
    Brilliant Jen :D

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  • Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings

    Hmm, ver interesting way of having kimchi – something I haven’t tried before but am tempted to make some soon. This is quite a coincidence actually, I just made a fuji apple kimchi salad for a party last weekend. I have some leftover kimchi so….

  • Tracy

    These are beautiful! Can you believe I’ve never tried kimchi before? I’m going to have to, and then I’m definitely going to have to save some to make these buns. Yum!

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Seriously!!!! You made kimchi buns!! I love buns…grow up with them, still loving them, kids loving them, and basically that tells me that I need to make them. Very happy to hear you got your oven back!

  • amy @ fearless homemaker

    These look AMAZING! I love buns like this but have never even considered making them myself. That seemed too daunting. I might actually have to give them a try now!

  • Mark Wiens

    These look great, I know that added touch of kimchi would make these so flavorful!

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  • keelymarie

    I LOVE steamed buns. I find them so rewarding to make too. They come out so good and it’s strange to me they cook that way when steamed.

  • Carolyn Chan

    What a great idea!

  • tracy @ peanut butter and onion

    I have always wanted to try this. thanks