Tim Ho Wan-Inspired Pork Buns

This Tim Ho Wan pork buns recipe is long and tough, but the results are a true testament to the fanfare these buns receive.
16 buns
Prep Time
2 Hrs
Active Time
1 Hr

These Tim Ho Wan Pork Buns are famous for good reason. The bread is soft and light, the top layer sweet and crumbly, and the pork filling is delightful. These buns are to blame for the long lines when the first Tim Ho Wan branches opened in Manila.

There are three main components to this recipe: the buns, the filling, and the topping. We're not going to mince words: this recipe is tough. Be prepared to carve out about three hours of your day, most of whwhich is waiting for stuff to rise, cool, or bake. But we promise the end result to be worth it—the recipe makes 16 buns too, so the effort really pays off.

Bun Dough

  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened


  • 2 cups pork belly, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup slurry (½ cup water + 1 tbsp cornstarch)


  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp water

Make the Buns


Combine yeast, sugar and warm milk in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, sugar, egg, and salt. Mix on low speed, then add the yeast mixture. Turn mixer to medium speed and knead for 2 minutes or until a rough dough forms.


Turn off the mixer and add the softened butter. Turn mixer back on to medium speed for 8–10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.


Remove bowl from mixer and cover in plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Make the Filling


Add oil and pork belly to a pan over medium-high heat. Cook pork until it begins to brown.


Add in soy sauce, hoisin, oyster sauce, and sugar, stirring to combine. Stir in ½ cup of water. Cover pan with a lid and cook until pork is tender, about 20 minutes.


Add water, then place a lid over pan and cook until pork is tender, about 20 minutes.


Remove lid and add slurry. Cook filling, stirring frequently, until very thick. Remove from heat and spread filling out in a single layer on a plate or baking tray. Let cool completely until solid but soft enough to scoop.

Make the Topping


Whisk together softened butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl until pale, fluffy, and light.


Add flour, cornstarch, egg, and water. Whisk until fully combined. Transfer mixture to a piping bag and set aside until ready to use.

Combine Ingredients


Turn dough out onto a floured surface and cut into 16 equal pieces.


Roll each piece into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. This will keep your dough from drying out while assembling the buns.


Working one piece at a time, flatten the ball into a circle and place a tablespoon of pork filling in the center. Gather the edges of the dough to the center and pinch shut, sealing the filling inside.


Roll stuffed dough into a smooth ball and rest on a lined baking sheet underneath plastic wrap. Repeat with all remaining pieces of dough.


Once all 16 pieces are stuffed with filling, cover lined baking sheet with parchment paper. Let dough rise for a second time unti doubled in size, about 40 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350°F.


Once the buns has doubled in size, pipe topping over each piece. Start at the center and pipe a spiral, working outwards until about halfway down each piece. Repeat until all buns have a topping.


Bake buns in preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, or until lightly golden.