Soft and fluffy golden hamburger buns that come out of your very own oven will make you wonder why you ever bothered with those ubiquitous buns in a bag.
Well, of course, buying hamburger buns isn’t labor intensive so go ahead and use them for your random neighborhood barbecue, but make THESE to treat your family or friends to a totally different experience when you have more personal gatherings this summer.
In fact, even for the novice baker these are easy enough to make. A stand mixer with a dough hook does all the heavy lifting.
If you don’t have a stand mixer yet, here is a guide to help you choose the best mixer for all of your baking needs.
Homemade Hamburger Buns
The ingredients—flour, butter, honey, egg, yeast, and buttermilk—have a homey, comforting feel. Baking bread for the first time can be a stressful process. There are so many factors and variables. Has it risen enough? Can I get it out of the pan? But buns are low on the anxiety meter. The stakes are not so high with little orbs on a baking sheet.
You mix about half the flour with the liquid ingredients and beat them together with the paddle attachment to start the gluten action that makes the dough stretchy and gives it structure.
Once you’ve gradually added the most of remaining flour (you hold back a few tablespoons to add if the dough seems very sticky) the dough hook goes to work. Then, all you have to do is wait.
Once the dough rises, you shape the buns and let them rise again on the baking sheet. Fifteen minutes in the oven and you have gorgeous bronzed rolls that are ready for any grilled burger you cook up. You can also eat these rolls toasted with butter and jam (seriously!) or fill them with your favorite sandwich filling tuna salad, egg salad or pulled pork. Life is good!
How to Divide and Shape Hamburger Buns
Here is how to shape hamburger buns:
- Turn the dough onto a floured board and cut it into 8 wedges like a pie. If you have a scale, weigh the dough and then divide the weight by 8 to determine the weight of each roll. If you don’t have a scale, here are a few brands we recommend.
- There’s a neat trick you can use to shape the dough into balls by rotating each piece with your cupped hand on the work surface. If you’ve never done it, it takes a little practice. The alternative is just to shape the dough into balls by stretching the edges of the dough into the center and pinching them together. That’s an easier approach!
- Before flattening the dough on the baking sheet, space the rolls about 3 inches apart. You want to give the rolls enough space when they rise.
A Note About Yeast
For ease of preparation, I use instant yeast because it is designed to be directly added to flour, while active dry yeast must be hydrated first. Yeast keeps a long time in the freezer (I usually buy instant yeast in a 1-pound package).
If you're concerned that your yeast is old and may not be active, proof it first by stirring it into 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand for about 10 minutes, and if it foams and bubbles, it is still active. If it isn’t, then discard it.
For more information about the different types of yeast and how to proof it, check out A Guide to Yeast.
Ways to Top Homemade Hamburger Buns
For shiny, golden tops, egg wash is essential. You can leave them plain, or you could sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or everything bagel seasoning. The egg wash helps them stick to the buns and gives the final baked bread a golden brown hue.
Hamburger Bun Adaptations
I urge you to follow the recipe as it is written if this is the first time you’ve made buns. Once you have the basic recipe down then you can experiment with a much better likelihood of success.
Here are a few ways to tweak this recipe:
- Mix up the flours: Try whole wheat pastry flour or use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat pastry flour.
- Be ready to adjust: When swapping wheat flours for white flours it's important to keep in mind that wheat flour absorbs more liquid than white flour, so you will need to adjust the ratios to get the correct level of hydration.
- Go small: Use this recipe for homemade slider buns! Rather than cutting the dough into 8 wedges cut it into 16. You’ll have smaller hamburger buns perfect for slider patties.
To Store, Freeze, and Thaw Hamburger Buns
To Store: The buns will keep on your counter for up to three days. Just store them in a zip top bag but only once they have cooled completely. If you bag them too soon you get condensation in the bag.
To freeze: I like to wrap each roll in plastic and then freeze in a zip top freezer bag for up to 3 months. To thaw, unwrap them and let them sit at room temperature on a rack for about 20 minutes, or pop them in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.
Homemade Hamburger Buns
- 3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons (42g) honey
- 1 cup (224g) buttermilk
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups (390g to 420g) all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon (9.3g) instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (8.5g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (4g) vegetable or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15g) water
Melt the butter and combine the wet ingredients:
In a Pyrex measuring cup, add the butter and honey. Cover it with a paper towel (butter can superheat). Microwave in 10 second intervals for about 40 seconds, or until the butter melts.
Add the buttermilk and 1 egg to the measuring cup with the melted butter. Using a fork, whisk until blended.
Combine the dry ingredients and yeast:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt. Turn the mixer on stir or low and mix them together.
Mix and knead the dough:
With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture, all at once to the flour mixture in the stand mixer and mix until the liquid and dry ingredients are thoroughly blended. The dough will look soft and sticky.
Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 1 minute, or until the dough is soft and stretchy.
Switch to the dough hook. On low speed, gradually mix in 3/4 cup of the flour.
(You’ll be left with 1/4 cup of flour to use to add to the dough if it is too sticky, but you may not need it.)
Knead the dough, for 8 minutes, or until the dough forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Stop the mixer occasionally to push down any dough that creeps up on the dough hook.
If the dough seems very sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is soft and firm to the touch it, but still slightly sticky. Form the dough into a ball.
Into a large bowl, add the oil and swirl it over the bottom of the bowl. Add the dough ball and turn to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Shape the rolls:
On a lightly floured board, turn out the dough and press it gently to deflate it. With a knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, cutting them into wedges like a pie. Move all of the wedges to one side of the board so you have room to shape the dough.
Hold a piece of dough in one hand and draw the edges in toward the center to form a ball. Pinch the edges to seal, turn the ball over with the seam side down, and place it on part of the board with very little or no flour. You will need a little stickiness to gain traction as you finish shaping the roll.
Cup your fingers on one side of the roll and move it in a circular motion, drawing your cupped hand toward your thumb and using the friction on the board to shape it into a ball. Wipe off excess flour with a damp cloth if the rolls are not sticking to the board. Repeat with remaining rolls.
Final shaping and rise and preheat the oven:
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Flatten the rolls so they are about 3 inches across and place them on the baking sheet 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Brush with egg wash:
In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon of water with a fork until thoroughly combined. Using a light touch to keep from deflating the dough, brush the rolls with the egg wash using a pastry brush.
Bake the bread and cool:
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden. You can also check for doneness with an instant read thermometer.
Your buns are done when the thermometer inserted into the center of the bun reaches 190°F. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Slice and serve at your next cookout!