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Are Bao Buns Gluten Free | Are Bao Buns Healthy?

Updated: Nov 15

In recent years, bao buns have gained immense popularity, captivating the palates of food enthusiasts around the world. These delightful, pillowy steamed buns, typically filled with a variety of savoury or sweet ingredients, have become a trendy culinary sensation. However, for those with dietary restrictions or health concerns, the question of whether bao buns are gluten-free and healthy is paramount.

What Are Bao Buns?

Before we delve into the specifics of bao buns, let's first understand what they are. Bao buns, also known as baozi or mantou, are a traditional Chinese dish. They are produced with a straightforward yet adaptable dough that consists of yeast, water, and wheat flour. The dough is rolled out, folded, and then steamed, resulting in a soft, slightly sweet, and fluffy bun. These buns have gained worldwide recognition, and their popularity has extended beyond China's borders. In fact, Bao Nine Philly has contributed to the global recognition of these delectable delights. The fillings for our bao buns can range from succulent meats and vegetables to sweet custards, making them a versatile choice for both savoury and sweet lovers.

The Gluten-Free Dilemma

One of the most pressing questions surrounding bao buns is whether they are gluten-free. Wheat, barley, and rye all contain gluten. For celiac people who have gluten sensitivity or consume no gluten, it may have adverse health effects. Bao buns are traditionally made from wheat flour, which means they inherently contain gluten. It can be a cause for concern for those who need to avoid gluten.

Gluten-Free Alternatives

The good news is that there are gluten-free versions of bao buns available. These alternatives typically use gluten-free flour, such as rice flour, tapioca flour, or a blend of gluten-free flour to replicate the texture and taste of traditional bao buns. These gluten-free bao buns have gained popularity in response to the increasing demand for gluten-free options and are often found in speciality stores or gluten-free restaurants.

Nutritional Profile of Bao Buns

Now that we've addressed the gluten-free aspect of bao buns, let's turn our attention to their overall nutritional profile and whether they can be considered a healthy choice.

  • Calories and Fat

The calorie and fat content of bao buns can vary depending on their fillings. Steamed bao buns themselves are relatively low in calories and fat. They are typically steamed and not fried, which makes them a healthier alternative to many other types of bread or buns.

  • Carbohydrates and Fiber

Bao buns are primarily composed of carbohydrates, given their wheat flour base. Despite the fact that carbs are a critical source of energy, it is essential to take into account the kind of carbohydrates they include.

Whole wheat bao buns may provide more fibre, offering a slower release of energy and keeping you feeling full for longer. However, many traditional bao buns are made from refined wheat flour, which can lead to quicker spikes in blood sugar levels.

  • Protein

Bao buns usually contain a modest amount of protein. The protein content varies depending on the filling, with meat-filled bao buns having more protein than their sweet counterparts. Protein is essential for muscle maintenance and overall health.

  • Vitamins and Minerals

Bao buns may not be a significant source of vitamins and minerals. However, the fillings can add various nutrients. Vegetable fillings can provide vitamins and minerals, while meat fillings can offer protein and some essential vitamins and minerals.

  • Sodium

One aspect of bao buns that may raise concerns for some is their sodium content. Many fillings and sauces used in bao buns can be high in sodium. Excessive sodium intake is associated with health issues like high blood pressure. Opting for fillings with lower-sodium options or controlling the amount of sauce can help mitigate this concern.

Are Bao Buns Healthy?

Whether bao buns are healthy or not depends on how they are prepared, what fillings are used, and how they fit into your overall diet. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

1. Choose Whole Wheat Bao Buns: If you have the option, opt for bao buns made with whole wheat flour to increase their fibre content and nutritional value.

2. Mind the Fillings: The fillings in bao buns can significantly impact their nutritional value. Select fillings that are rich in vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

3. Portion Control: Bao buns are often served in multiple portions. It's crucial to consume them in moderation to prevent consuming too many calories and sodium.

4. Watch the Sodium: Be cautious about high-sodium fillings and sauces, and consider limiting or asking for reduced-sodium options.

5. Gluten-Free Alternatives If you need to avoid gluten, seek out gluten-free bao buns and inquire about their preparation to prevent cross-contamination.

Why Choose Bao Nine?

Bao Nine is not just your average dining experience; it's a culinary journey that transcends traditional flavours. This Asian fusion restaurant in the heart of Philadelphia draws its inspiration from the irresistible Taipei street-style Gua Bao: tender, delicious bao buns.

The experience of savouring our dishes can be best described as sinking into a soft and dreamy pillow, where each bite takes you to cloud nine. Bao Nine aims to create a sense of happiness that extends far beyond the ordinary.

Returning to our roots in the city of brotherly love, we've crafted flavour combinations that reflect and inspire our Philly neighbours hailing from all corners of the globe. So, what's in a name? We call this elevated sense of culinary delight "Bao Nine." Because we're not just any bun, and we believe that's just how you like it.


Bao buns, with their soft, fluffy texture and versatile fillings, are a delightful culinary experience. However, their gluten content can be problematic for those with dietary restrictions or health concerns. It's essential to be aware of gluten-free alternatives and the potential for cross-contamination.

The healthiness of bao buns depends on various factors, including the type of flour used, the fillings, and portion control. By making informed choices and being mindful of ingredients, you can enjoy bao buns in a way that aligns with your dietary and health goals. Whatever you choose to eat—traditional bao buns or gluten-free alternatives—remember that moderation is vital to maintaining a healthy diet and way of life.

Visit Bao Nine for Elevated Bao Buns

Bao Nine Philly is a popular restaurant that serves elevated bao buns with a variety of flavorful fillings. Whether you're looking for a traditional bao bun or a more unique flavour combination, Bao Nine has something for everyone.

Bao Nine Philly

38 S 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA

Phone: 215-999-6822


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