one recipe for any method
This recipe works for buns by hand, in standing mixer, or the bread machine and it will give you super soft hamburger buns every time. There is also the option to do wheat buns by following the easy substitution method in the recipe below.
Choose the method that works best for you when making this bun dough, whether that be in a bowl on the counter top, in a standing mixer with the dough hook, or in a bread maker on the dough cycle. It might come down to the type of equipment you do or don’t have in your kitchen, which is why this recipe is great for anyone. If the bread maker is the method of choice, be aware you’ll have to form the bun shape by hand. The dough cycle of the bread maker just takes care of the mixing of ingredients, kneading and first rise. The recipe card at the bottom includes very detailed photos of what the process, and the dough should look like.
You can easily make soft, homemade hamburger bun dough using no equipment whatsoever, other than a bowl and spoon. Combine all the ingredients until a nice, sticky evenly combined dough has been formed. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes. The kneading time is important. You don’t want to under knead, because you’ll have tough buns. On the other hand, over kneading can overwork things and cause the finished baked product to be dry and dense. So keeping an eye on the time is a good idea when kneading by hand.
kneading bread dough by hand
Not sure if you’re kneading correctly? On a well floured surface, push the dough with the heel of your hand (the bottom of the palm), fold in half towards yourself, give a quarter turn, and push with the heel again. Repeat this process over and over until dough feels elastic and soft. Kneading dough is so easy, and almost therapeutic! Take a look at the short kneading video below to get a better picture of what kneading looks like:
in a stand mixer
Adding all the ingredients to a standing mixer, and letting the dough hook combine everything on the lowest setting is a simple way to get the mixing and the kneading done in one bowl. Make sure you scrape the bowl every so often until all of the ingredients are fully combined. Then, the dough can be covered, and let to rise in that same bowl. Because the dough is a little bit more aggressive than the by hand method of kneading, 6-8 minutes is a good time to let the dough hook knead.
in a bread machine on the dough setting
The most hands off method, and perhaps the most accurate when it comes to kneading and rising time, is in the bread machine on the dough cycle. All of the ingredients are thrown into the machine and set to the dough cycle, where they will be combined, kneaded and let to rise for the perfect length of time at the perfect temperature.
forming the burger buns
Forming the burger buns is a simple process. This recipe makes 8 buns. Dividing the dough into 8 equal parts at the beginning ensures that you come out with evenly sized buns. (If you have a kitchen scale, you could determine the exact weight of each one by dividing the entire dough weight by 8, and separating it into 8 equally heavy dough portions.) I find that eyeballing it works well every time. Start by getting the dough into one even oval. Divide the oval first in half, then those two halves into equal halves, and again to yield 8 equally portioned dough sections.
Without working the dough too much, pull every edge together underneath one side, pinching it together on the bottom, revealing a smooth, even top. Flatten it with your fingertips, gently. Work each portion into a flat, 4-5 inch discs and lie them on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. The recipe card below has more visual instructions on what this process looks like.
this bun recipe can be customized!
Another reason why this recipe is so great is it’s versatility. They are great left untouched and baked as is. However, you could choose to top with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning, minced onion… you’re the boss here! They are also delicious brushed with melted butter. Brushing with a light egg wash before baking (which is just a beaten egg) will give you super golden, shiny bakery style looking buns.
Splitting the top before the second rise, so right after you place them on the baking sheet, gives a nice, tall split top bun. It also helps the dough to rise which means it’ll be slightly softer inside.
For additional information and how to make homemade bread of all shapes and loaf styles, check out my post on Bread for Beginners. It’s a super simple approach to homemade bread baking using one recipe for 3 different loaves, and visual instructions on how to make them!
However you like your burger buns, this recipe will definitely fit that need. Happy bun making!
Soft Burger Buns
- 3 cup all purpose flour, or 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast if using active dry yeast, the yeast needs to be dissolved into the water first and left to sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy on top
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 3 tbsp butter softened
- additional melted butter or egg wash, for brushing optional
- sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or minced onion, for topping optional
- Combine all ingredients (besides brushing and topping options) either in a bowl with a long handled spoon, or in a stand mixer using the dough hook. Alternatively, add all ingredients (except brushing and topping options to the bread machine and set to the dough cycle.) Make sure that dough is forming a soft ball. If it's dry add a tbsp. water at a time; if wet, sprinkle in more flour one tablespoon at a time. It needs to be as soft as possible, but able to hold a ball shape.
- Knead dough for 7-8 minutes in standing mixer, or 10 minutes by hand on a floured surface. Return dough to a greased bowl, cover.
- Let rise, covered, in a warm, non-drafty area of the house about 45-60 minutes. Check it at 30 minutes, especially on warm or humid days. Letting it rise too long can cause it to collapse and result in dense, crumbly bread.
- Once doubled in size, turn out again onto a floured surface and divide the dough into 8 equal portions. This can be eyeballed fairly accurately by dividing dough into equal fourths, and then dividing those fourths in half each.
- I have found that the best way to form a perfectly round burger bun is to turn the piece of dough inside out on itself, pinching each piece around to the other side. This forms a perfect ball with all the creasing on the bottom.
- Flatten each ball, crease side down into round disks, about 4 inches wide and 1/2 inch tall.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Choosing to split the tops with a sharp knife will give a "split top" roll, but they can be left alone. It's up to your preference.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Wait until cool to split through the center. Use with your favorite condiments for your favorite burgers and sandwiches!