Boa buns originated in North China and are a popular delicacy throughout Asia. Traditionally, a white dough is stuffed with a filling and steamed. This recipe is nutrient-dense and suitable for a gluten-free diet.

Serves:  10

Dietary: Suitable for coeliac, nut, sesame, mustard, celery and egg-free diets.

Contains; milk (skimmed milk powder, sweetener), fish  (Worcester sauce), soya (Worcester sauce)

May Contain: sulphites (vinegar)

Preparation time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes


For the dough:
½ cup warm water
2 ½ tsp dried yeast
2½ heaped cups (350 g) gluten-free plain flour
3½ Tbsp skimmed milk
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

For the filling: 
½ onion, chopped
½ can (200 g) chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 tsp (5 g) granulated sweetener
1½ Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp gluten-free Worcester sauce
½ Tbsp tomato puree
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 pack (400 g) chicken livers, chopped into small, bitesize pieces.
5 cups (160 g) baby spinach leaves
4 spring onions, chopped
handful of coriander, roughly chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges

To make the dough

  1.  In a small bowl, add warm water and yeast, cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and milk to the flour mix to make a dough.
  4. Knead the dough until soft and shiny (approximately 5 minutes).
  5. Cover and allow to rise (1 hour).
  6. Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces.
  7. Roll into circles, not too thin.
  8. Fold in half with greaseproof paper between the fold and underneath the bun.
  9. Place in a steamer and cover.
  10. Cook for 16 minutes, until soft and fluffy.

To make the filling:

  1. Place onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, sweetener, vinegar, Worcester sauce, tomato puree and chilli into a saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Blend until smooth to make the spicy BBQ sauce.
  3. Rinse, drain, and dry the chicken livers on a greaseproof paper sheet.
  4. Place the chicken livers in a bowl and coat them with the BBQ sauce.
  5. Arrange chicken livers onto a baking tray and cover with foil.
  6. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes at 180˚C/160˚C Fan/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.
  7. Fill your Boa buns with spinach leaves, BBQ chicken livers, spring onions and coriander. Top with a wedge of lime.

This recipe has been donated by Angela Thorpe, a Student Dietitian at the University of Winchester


Per serving: 160 g
Total calories: 189 kcal
Fat: 1.3 g
 of which saturates:  0.3 g
Carbohydrate: 32 g
 of which sugars: 2.8 g
Fibre: 2.6 g
Protein:  10 g
Salt:  0.48 g


  • A portion of Boa Bun is a good source of Iron, which is needed for the normal function of the immune system, may help reduce tiredness and contributes to normal cognitive function.
  • It is low in fat, saturated fat and sugar.
  • This recipe is also an excellent source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin B (riboflavin, niacin, folates, B12 and Biotin) and a good source of phosphorus, vitamin K and B vitamins (thiamine, B6, pantothenic acid) and vitamin C.


  • This recipe can be altered to suit a vegan diet by swapping chicken livers for tofu pieces and using plant-based milk.
  • If chicken livers are not your liking, substitute with a meat you choose.


Consumer tested by Luke Maher, a Nutrition Student at Atlantic Technological University.

Checked by Sarah Foster, Registered Dietitian and Kathy Lewis Registered Nutritionist


© 2023 The Caroline Walker Trust