Bao Vs Dumpling Vs Dimsum | Are They The Same?

Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It is famous for its hot pot, Peking duck, Kung Pao chicken, and dim sum. Moreover, it is widely popular for dough-wrapped fillings, such as baos and dumplings.

Yes, they both look the same and are often confused by the other. However, bao and dumplings are completely different in terms of dough, filling, and cooking process. You may have also spoken about dim sum, but do you know exactly what it is?

Luckily, you have come across a comprehensive guide on the differences between baos and dumplings.

This guide also tackles everything you need to know about dim sum. So the next time you go to a Cantonese restaurant, you’ll be well-informed and know what to look for.

What Is Bao?

Bao is also known as baozi, bao bun, or steamed buns. It is a main dish originating in the Northern Chinese city of Xi’an. Today, bao buns are available in Chinese restaurants in China, Taiwan, Asia, and many countries worldwide.


The texture of bao is soft and fluffy. It is light and airy that melts away in your mouth, making it easy to chew. As for the taste, it is typically savory and slightly sweet. You can order different variations of bao buns, including the following examples:


Bao is made with leavened dough usually made with yeast, wheat flour, sugar, and water. Some variations may also add milk to the dough. With the added yeast, it generally takes more time to rise. Moreover, it helps give it a light and puffy texture when steamed.


The taste will depend on the type of filling used. It is usually made with pork, but chicken and beef are also used as fillings. Some variations also stuff bao with seafood or vegetables. Generally, the filling of bao is finely minced to make it easier to fill a thin dough.

Cooking Process

Bao is cooked through steaming or baking, depending on the variation. It is usually steamed in bamboo steamer baskets, contributing to the bao’s woody scent.

What Are Dumplings?

Similar to baozi, dumplings are also balls of dough with a filling. It is typically best served with a dipping sauce, gravy, broth, or soup. Chinese dumpling is also known as jiǎozi.


Jiǎozi is more common in Northern China and is usually eaten at midnight on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

There are many types of dumplings, and one variety is wontons. This type of dumpling is more popular in Southern China and is cooked in broth or soup. In other countries, dumplings are considered dango and gyōza in Japan, mandu in Korea, and buuz in Mongolia.


Unlike bao dough made with yeast, dumpling dough is only made with wheat flour, water, and sometimes with egg. Since it does not have yeast, it is more dense, chewy, and thicker. The thickness makes it possible to handle boiling water without breaking.

Generally, the dough used for jiǎozi can be thin or thick. In contrast, wonton skins are typically thinner and have less elasticity than jiaozi.


Restaurants label their dumplings as shrimp dumplings, chive dumplings, chicken dumplings, pork dumplings, seafood dumplings, and vegetable dumplings. It is highly versatile as you can put your desired minced ingredient in the filling. The filling can be mixed with Chinese cabbage, garlic chives, spring onions, and scrambled eggs.

Cooking Process

Dumplings can be cooked by boiling, frying, steaming, baking, simmering, or pan-frying. It depends on the type of dumpling and recipe you are going for.

What Is Dim Sum?

Dim sum translates to “touch the heart”. The term dim sum is used to refer to small plates of dishes that go with tea. Some may think that dim sum is one dish but it is not.

Dim sum

In fact, dim sum is not just one type of dish but several dishes of different tastes, textures, and styles. It is a type of meal you have for the day that consists of several small dishes, usually laid out in baskets or small serving plates. Most people eat it for brunch, lunch, or breakfast.

It is typically paired with tea, such as green tea, oolong tea, and chrysanthemum tea. The types of dishes served can be fried, steamed, baked, or boiled, to name a few. Although there are several variations of dumplings, shrimp dumplings are more typical to find in dim sum restaurants.

It is also common to serve rolls like spring roll, tofu skin roll, four-treasure chicken roll, and rice noodle roll. Basically, you can have dumplings, rolls, baos or buns, steamed meats, fried seafood, vegetables, rice, cakes, and desserts at dim sum restaurants.

To Summarize

In summary, bao buns are made from fermented yeast dough, while dumplings are only made from wheat flour without the yeast. Since bao dough contains yeast, it needs more time to rise and results in thinner skin than dumplings. In terms of cooking, baos are usually steamed, baked, and sometimes pan-fried.

On the other hand, dumplings are cooked in many different ways, from steaming to boiling and frying. When it comes to similarities, both usually have the same type of filling made from meat or vegetables. Baos and dumplings use chicken, fish, pork, or vegetables.

Both dishes are commonly served in dim sum restaurants. As you already know, dim sum is a type of meal where a wide range of small dishes are served. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, or brunch and enjoy a hot plate of bao or dumplings.

Which do you like more for dim sum – baos or dumplings? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! If you like to learn more about Chinese or Asian dishes, follow me on Instagram and Tiktok where I share my love for food.

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