Burger buns, specifically homemade soft hamburger buns that are almost like brioche, are the best in our book. These buttery, light, yet sturdy specimens are the most incredible we’ve ever had. The recipe comes from the baking geniuses at King Arthur Flour.
When King Arthur Flour first shared this recipe for homemade burger buns recipe online, the website was inundated with comments from home cooks declaring these lightly golden, sparely sweet, brioche-like buns “THE BEST.” We concur. (Literally. We had 17 of our recipe testers GUSH about them to us.) Without further ado, here’s how to make them.–Renee Schettler
HOW CAN I FINISH MY BURGER BUNS?
You have a few good options here. Butter will give your buns a soft, golden finish with just a bit of shine. Leaving them naked will give you a drier finish—flour-dusted almost. One final option is to brush them with egg whites. This will give your buns a darker, shinier finish. As well, if you want to sprinkle anything on those buns—sesame or poppy seeds, say—egg whites are what you’re going to want to use (see our Seeded Burger Buns variation below).
- 3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cold, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg
- 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted plus more for the baking sheet
- Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients except for the melted butter by hand, mixer, or bread machine until a soft, smooth dough forms.
- Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until it's nearly doubled in bulk.
- Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 12 pieces.
- Shape each piece into a round ball, then flatten it to a squat round blob about 2 1/2 inches (8 cm) across. (Another easy way to shape buns, besides rolling them into balls and flattening, is to gently deflate the dough and form it into a smooth 8-inch (20-cm) log. Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 12 pieces. Gently tug the edges of each piece underneath the ball of dough to form a squat ball.)
- Place the buns on a lightly buttered or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until noticeably puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Brush the buns with about half the melted butter and bake until golden, 12 to 18 minutes.
- As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the remaining melted butter, which will lend the buns a satiny, buttery crust. Place the buns on a wire rack to cool completely. Proceed as desired.
Seeded Burger Buns VariationIf you’d like sesame or poppy seeds sprinkled atop your buns, brush the buns with the egg wash rather than the melted butter prior to baking as it’ll make the seeds adhere. Sprinkle the buns with the seeds and bake as instructed. (When you separate the egg, feel free to add the extra egg yolk to the dough for slightly richer results.)
Bread VariationLeite’s Culinaria reader and food blogger Sarah of The Cook’s Life has tweaked this recipe into loaf form. According to her, “We call it bun bread around here.” Well, we call it brilliant around here. Sarah says to follow the recipe through the first rise. Shape the whole batch of dough into 1 loaf and bake it in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan for about 30 minutes at 350°F, or until it is browned, sounds hollow when tapped, and tests 190°F to 200°F in the middle. You may need to tent the top with foil if it starts to get too brown. And she mentions that if you don’t like sweet bread, you can reduce the sugar to 2 tablespoons or even 1 tablespoon with no other changes to the recipe. [Editor’s Note: Sarah makes a few other tweaks to the recipe, substituting white whole-wheat flour for some of the all-purpose. You can read about her changes in her comment below the recipe. We haven’t tested this variation yet, but we’re literally preheating our ovens now…]
Slider Buns VariationWe all know that one-size-fits-all cliché is a bunch of baloney. Take hamburger buns. Sometimes you need something that’ll accommodate a brontosaurus-sized burger. Sometimes you need something that’ll suit wee sliders. And sometimes you need something that’s perfectly in between. We understand. So do the folks at King Arthur Flour, who suggest that, for slightly larger buns, you divide the dough into 8 pieces instead of 12 and bake the buns for 15 to 18 minutes. And for those wee slider buns—about 3 inches in diameter–divvy the dough into 24 pieces and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
These burger buns were a big hit at our last barbecue. The recipe is so simple and easy to follow. No taking water temperatures or proofing, just stir, let rise, shape, and bake.
I used the roll-into-a-log-and-slice method for shaping the buns, and it couldn’t have been any more effortless. These burger buns bake up somewhere between a ciabatta roll and a hamburger bun. The tops of the buns are crunchy but the inside is light and airy. They’re very satisfying but don’t overpower the flavor of the burger itself. Everyone loved them.
This isn’t your grocery store bun. This burger buns recipe turns out dense, delicious, and beautiful buns for serious burger connoisseurs only.
About that dense part…they’re a little denser than what your average burger eater may be used to. My solution? A little toasting on the grill grates or a buttered skillet. I opted to make 12 buns instead of 8, which worked well for a 1/4-pound burger.
Originally published August 9, 2012