It Looks Like a Tangerine, But It’s a Bun.

These Chinese steamed bao look just like tangerines, but are in fact, fluffy buns filled with sweetened red bean paste. These bao are SO realistic, you can peel them as you would a tangerine. For reals. These magical buns were inspired by PrivateCitrus on Instagram and use her basic bao recipe.

Two tangerine bao on wood countertop.
4.75 from 8 votes

Tangerine Bao – Red Bean Filled Steamed Buns – Dou Sha Bao

These Chinese steamed bao look just like tangerines, but are in fact, fluffy buns filled with sweetened red bean paste. These bao are SO realistic, you can peel them as you would a tangerine. For reals. I first spotted these baos on PrivateCitrus' Instagram account and this recipe is an adapted version of her Basic Bao. Thank you, Carmen!
Prep Time1 hour 30 minutes
Active Time8 minutes
Resting and Proofing Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 38 minutes
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: bao, bread, buns, Chinese food, dou sha bao, red bean paste, steamed bao
Yield: 10
Calories: 127kcal


  • steamer
  • kitchen scale
  • Rolling Pin
  • parchment paper


  • 170 ml. whole milk
  • 6 g. instant yeast
  • 5 g. granulated sugar
  • 300 g. all-purpose flour I used a Pearl Orchid brand low-gluten (8% protein) wheat flour purchase at a Chinese market.
  • 2 g. baking powder
  • 1 g. Kosher salt 
  • 5 g. butter at room temperature
  • 1 can sweetened red-bean paste


  • Add the milk to a large bowl, reserving 20 ml. to add if needed.
  • Sprinkle the yeast and sugar on the surface of milk. Whisk to dissolve.
  • Whisk in the salt and butter.
  • Stir in the flour and baking powder and work into a shaggy dough. Add the remaining milk if the dough seems to dry. Form the dough into a ball and place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to rest for 15 minutes.
    A shaggy ball of dough.
  • Weigh out the red bean paste in to 10, 15 g. balls. Gently roll the balls in the palms of your hands to smooth out the surface.
    Small balls of red bean paste on a black and white geometric patterned plate.
  • Cut a 110 g. portion of dough, add 4 drops of orange paste food coloring. Knead until the food coloring is evenly distributed, cover with plastic wrap to rest for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Knead the remaining dough for 3-5 minutes or until the surface of the dough is smooth. Place into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Cut and weigh out the orange dough into 10, 11 g. balls.
  • Cut and weigh out the white dough into 10, 30 g. balls.
  • Take a ball of white dough and using a rolling pin, roll it into a 4 inch circle. Then use the pin to thin the edge of the dough circle, rolling and turning the dough around the entire perimeter.
  • Place a ball of bean paste in the middle and using your thumb and index finger pleat the dough to encase the bean paste. Turn the dumpling over on to the work surface and use your hands to cup the dumpling and round it out.
  • Take a of orange dough a roll out a 5 inch circle. Place the red bean paste filled dumpling and place it upside down on the orange dough circle. Pull up the edges of the orange dough to encase the dumpling, pinching to seal. Place on a square of parchment.
  • Place a toothpick in the middle of each dumpling. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof 15-20 minutes or until a scrap of dough floats in a cup of water.
  • Place the buns in a steamer and steam on medium heat for 8 minutes.
  • After 8 minutes turn off the heat and place a chopstick under the lid of the steamer to allow the steam to escape gently and to prevent the bao from collapsing.



Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 72mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg
Two steamed buns that look like tangerine, one is peeled revealing the interior.

What is a bao?

Bao is translated from Chinese as ‘bun’ and comes in so many wonderful varieties including; steamed, baked, filled, plain, sweet and savory – all of them, delicious. Dou sha bao are steamed buns that have a fluffy soft exterior and filled with a sweetened red bean paste.

A tangerine bao torn open displaying the red bean paste inside.
See, it really is a bao.
A tangerine bao with the skin peeled back.
You can peel the bao just as you would a tangerine.

5 thoughts on “It Looks Like a Tangerine, But It’s a Bun.”

  1. Hi! I’m thinking of making these today, but i don’t have red bean paste. Could I make them with a custard filling? Another option I can think of is making a sweet potato mixture, with aromatics like cinnamon or cardamom. I’m so excited to try them out!
    Thanks in advance ฅ(•ㅅ•❀)ฅ

  2. Can I make the dough a day before? Refrigerate a night and wrap the filling the next morning?

  3. 5 stars
    I did it! Thank you so much. Even though my skin is not as perfect as yours, but I’m excited and happy. Probably I didn’t wrap as good as you. There were bubbles.
    Question 1: Can I premade them a day ahead. Refrigerate them and steam them the next day?
    Question 2: Can I steam them. Cool and freeze them?
    Awesome recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

4.75 from 8 votes (7 ratings without comment)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


free email series

What Food Can Teach Us