gua bao with slow cooker hoisin & ginger pulled pork

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gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

Yes, this gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork is definitely right up there amongst the tastiest and most interesting things I’ve made in a while. The pork cooks in a slow cooker for about 9 hours, so virtually no effort is required. It pulls apart into its own completely delicious sweet and spicy sauce. The steamed buns need a little effort, but after two tries, both successful, I will definitely be making these again.

gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

I made the pulled pork in the Breville Slow Cooker and was the first recipe I have ever made in such an appliance. I am sold. You put all the ingredients into the pot; turn it on low and go to sleep. When you wake up the next day, your house smells like something amazing happened and all you do is turn it off and you are ready to go.

This makes more pulled pork than the recipe for 12 buns requires. I feel it’s worth making a bigger portion as it’s so delicious. You could double up on the buns, or freeze off any leftover pork. It lasts for days and there are so many exciting ways to use it up.

gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

On my first test, I used a 3.5kg bone-in shoulder of pork or Boston Butt. The second time it was about 3kg, trimmed and without the bone. Both are awesome, but I think it’s easier to just ask the butcher to do all the work. I tweaked the seasonings for my second test and am happy to say I have arrived at a perfect recipe for me. I love the flavour the hoisin delivers and I have kept it fairly mild with only one teaspoon of dried chilli flakes. I actually used smoked dried chilli flakes, but you could add more, or chilli powder if you wanted to ramp up the heat levels.

I made the steamed buns in my stand mixer using the paddle attachment and dough hook. It pretty much does all the dirty work. It then just requires two separate proving stages. The milk powder is important, although on my second test I left it out by mistake. The buns still rose but the texture changed somewhat and I prefer the results with the powder. I steamed the buns in the Breville Multi Chef using the steamer basket. Easy peasy.

gua bao dough - steamed buns

gua bao dough

gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

Print Recipe
gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork


Pulled pork with hoisin and ginger

  • 1 x 3kg – 3.5kg pork shoulder / Boston butt fat trimmed
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes or smoked chilli flakes
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger about 10cm piece of ginger
  • 6 – 8 cloves garlic sliced
  • 300 ml hoisin sauce
  • 250 ml 1 cup ginger beer
  • Serve with a lightly dressed cabbage slaw slices of fresh cucumber, pickled carrots, fresh coriander and hot sauce such as Sriracha

Slaw + dressing

  • 2 Tbsp lime huice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage

Steamed buns – gua bao dough

  • 200 ml water at room temperature
  • 10 gm instant dry yeast I sachet
  • 300 g all purpose wheat flour cake flour
  • 10 gm milk powder
  • 4 Tbsp caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda


  • Rub the pork generously with salt, pepper, five-spice, chilli, and ginger. Place in the main pot of the slow cooker and allow to marinate for about an hour.
  • Pour over the hoisin sauce, ginger beer, and add the garlic. Turn it onto slow, cover, and cook for about 8 – 9 hours depending on the size of your pork. Once cooked, turn off and allow cool. Remove the meat, place it on a tray, and shred it with forks. It will literally pull part.
  • Pour the sauce over it and keep anything leftover in a pot for later if desired.
  • To make the slaw, mix all the dressing ingredients together and toss with 2 cups of finely shredded cabbage.
  • To make the dough, add yeast to the water in the bowl of the stand mixer and allow it to activate for about 10 minutes.
  • Use the paddle attachment, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix briefly until you have a dough. Scrape the paddle, attach the dough hook and continue kneading for about 5 minutes. Remove from the bowl onto a floured surface and briefly knead to form a round dough ball that is springy to the touch.
  • Place this in a greased bowl, cover it with a sheet of greased cling film and allow it to prove in a warm place for about an hour. It should double in size.
  • Pinch back the risen dough on a floured surface and roll this into a log shape. Divide this into 12 equal parts. Roll each of these parts into a ball and place it on a floured tray. Cover with a tea towel and allow to prove for a second time for around 30 minutes. It should double in size again.
  • While this is proving, cut out twelve 8cmx8cm squares of baking paper. Fill the Breville steamer with water and set it to STEAM.
  • Roll a bun into an oval shape, dip a chopstick into a bottle of oil and fold the two pieces over this stick, which you then slide out. Place this folded piece of dough on a piece of baking paper. Repeat with all 12 pieces.
  • Steam the buns 3 at a time in the steamer for 5 minutes. They will be firm to the touch and cooked through. Repeat until they are all cooked.
  • To assemble the gua bao, add sliced cucumber and pickle to the bottom of the bun, fill with pulled pork, and finish off with the dressed slaw and fresh coriander Add a drizzle of hot sauce if you like.
Author: Sam Linsell

**This post has been sponsored by Breville South Africa. I’m working with the Marketing team on a wonderful project to develop recipes for these incredible appliances.

You might also like:

Pork carnitas tacos

Instant pot crispy pork belly

Slow roasted pork belly with ginger beer – Jamie Oliver

Easy pork pies with sage & apple



I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.

Visit my Drizzle and Dip Facebook page or Pinterest  and Instagram



  1. Beautiful work and they look so divine!
    I am going to try out that ginger pulled pork as well – sounds right up my alley

  2. Oh my goodness Sam, this is just too much for me to handle on a Monday.
    I’m speechless, and drooling on my keyboard.
    Utter brilliance! Those buns!!

  3. Yum…definitely going to try this one!

    I have a piece of pork in the freezer that has been waiting for inspiration – yaye! Loving the flavour combos, dare i say it I was getting fed up with bbq flavour!

  5. Thanks Sune. It seems complex but is really rather easy

  6. Awesome Gemma enjoy. Hoisin is at least a nice Asian flavour BBQ. A little different.

  7. Thanks Lori, have you used a slow cooker before? Im now a fan of this appliance.
    s x

  8. I lit up when I saw this recipe–looks absolutely wonderful. I always thought that since the bulk of the meals I prepare that aren’t from my classes are vegetarian (the rest of my family is vegetarian),that I really don’t need a slow cooker. I might be wrong on this though…

  9. Hi Victoria, I think it’s mainly for meat, but I reckon a lot of vegetables will do with some slow braising. I’ll investigate.

  10. Carolie de Koster says:

    This is stunning Sam! You are such an artist never mind chef and photographer! Will have to make it soon!

    C xxx

  11. These look incredible! Your photography is over the top amazing. 🙂

  12. These look amazing, Sam. I was working on a similar recipe (though with more of a char siu style flavour) a while back but haven’t nailed it yet. I think I should try your version!

  13. Hi Jason, I love char siu and also dying to make with pork belly. I think this might be a little easier.

  14. Thanks so much Alanna 🙂

  15. Thanks so much Carolie, that is very kind
    Sam xx

  16. hi sam, looks and reads so tasty. i’ve adding this to my to-do list for the week.
    3kg – 3.5kg pork shoulder seems like a lot of meat for the 12 buns. was there a lot leftover?

  17. Hi Tony, yes correct. My sense is you need to do a big pulled pork if you are going to fill the slow cooker, so yes, it uses up about half. I froze off a few leftover portions, but really its too delicious to nibble on leftovers. If you did a 3kg bone in – there wouldnt be as much left over, but I find hte deboned and trimmed much better value. I will also add this into the post.

  18. Dianne Bibby says:

    Hi Sam. Looks utterly delicious as always. So clever the handy tip on dividing the bun!

  19. loving returning to your site as i always pick up new and delicious recipe ideas. i definitely will be recreating these gua bao buns tonight, they take me back to my childhood when my chinese grandfather used to make them for me! thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Oh my!!! The photos look amazing, would love to try one of those!!

  21. Thanks Gaby 🙂

  22. Hi Sam,

    I have made your pulled pork from your Drizzel and Dip book ( I use all the time) and am going to do it for my daughters engagement party in two weeks, now i have seen this reciepe of yours and am panicing, is it better than your other one?
    also the slaw looks great, might change that part ?
    kind regards

  23. Hi Wendy, Im so very glad to hear you are enjoying my book and like my pulled pork. The recipe for hoisin is modelled around that but the Hoisin gives it a more Asian flavour, and a sticky sweet BBQ sauce element. I also did that in the slow cooker. Both are nice. The book one is a little lighter.Why dont you give hte hoisin one a try and see which is better?

    let me know if you do, Id love to hear.

  24. hi Sam
    Thanks for taking the trouble to reply,
    I dont have time to try the new one, if I add the Hoisin Sause to your original recipy, will that work? love the idea of the stickyness, and love your flavors in the first one,you really are a brillant cook:)

  25. Hi Wedndy – you could add a bottle of hoisin if you like. Im sure it wold be delicious.

  26. itsssmonica says:

    HI! Where is this baseboard/background from? They are so, so gorgeous!!!!

  27. Sam, this site has been my ‘go to’ site for years. Your recipes just work and this one is no exception. I made it for the book club girls on Thursday night and it was a real hit (in fact I’ve never seen them eat so much before 🙂 I loved it) A few of the girls could not wait to make this for their families on Sunday. One even sent me a photo of her pulled pork and it had me wishing that I still had some left overs in the fridge…… Thank you for sharing and being so generous.

  28. Thanks so much for he lovely comment and Im so glad you all liked my recipe as much as I did. The pleasure is all mine.
    best xx

  29. I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious. Today I need to figure out what to make with the left over pulled pork. The pressure is on as last nights was so good. Thanks!! X

  30. Glad you enjoyed it it Steph and found some uses for the leftover pulled pork.

  31. I don’t have a slow cooker, do you think I could put it into a Wonderbag or cook it in the oven? If so, what oven temp would you recommend?

  32. HI karen. I have no idea as I havent teste this recipe in the wonder bag. You could give it a go.

  33. I only made this yesterday. Wish I’d done so much sooner. Made exactly as per the recipe (even the steamed buns) and was DELICIOUS. Thank you, Sam!

  34. Hi Wendy,
    We are interested in trying this recipe. Do you think we can make it a day ahead and then just warm it in the slow cooker the next day to serve? if that doesn’t work, to save time do you think we can marinate it over night? Thank you for your help.

  35. Hi, yes, you could definitely make this before. But why not just start the cooking the number of hours before you need it? this cooks itself which is the awesome part.

  36. Hi. I loved your recipe as soon as I saw it on Pinterest! I know it’s been few years but maybe You’ll see my comment. I just have two questions. Are buns freezer friendly? And second did You maybe had a chance to try it in the oven? I come from a country where slow cookers aren’t really popular and I wanted to try it in my normal oven.

    Have a lovely day

  37. Hi Marta, thanks so much and glad you like it. Yes, the buns freeze very well after steaming (like all bread) – perhaps just separate with pieces of baking paper to prevent sticking, or freeze in a single layer first then you can bag them and they won’t stick.
    I have cooked something similar in the oven. Keep the same rub, then use 750ml (3 cups ginger beer) and I cup hoisin sauce then cook at 170C for 7 hours. Loosely cover with tin foil to prevent over browning. When the pork has cooked, the sauce would have reduced and thickened. Pull the pork off the bone in strands and then pour back the sauce over. I hope you love it

  38. Thank You sooo much!! I’m doing it tomorrow! Fingers crossed 🙂

  39. Quick question. When it first says to let marinate for 1 hour, is that just with the dry spices on or with added wet ingredients?

  40. Hi Nate. Yes, you toss the meat in the dry spices, allow to marinate for an hour (you could also do this longer or overnight in the fridge for even more flavour penetration) then add the other ingredients

  41. Hello,

    I’m wanting to try this in my pressure cooker rather than slow cooker. Would you suggest any adjustments to the recipe? The cook time? Amount of liquid?


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