How to make fluffy homemade hamburger buns

by Kristen on February 19, 2014 · 39 comments

in Yeast Bread

How to Make Fluffy Homemade Hamburger Buns

Several years ago, I posted a recipe for homemade hamburger buns, but of late, I’ve been slightly modifying the dough from my honey-glazed rolls to make buns because I think they’re slightly fluffier and more delicious.

In fact, these are so good, I might almost prefer one over a doughnut.

fluffy homemade hamburger bun

Seriously delicious.

They’re good for hamburgers of course, but also work very well for BBQ beef or sloppy joes or lunch meat sandwiches.

And they’re awfully good just toasted with butter and jam.

In fact, fresh from the oven, they’re delicious all by themselves!

This is all you’ll need.  It’s kind of surprising how little bread requires, isn’t it??

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Just a few ingredients and somehow, they turn into a pile of buns.

This is why homemade bread can beat the price of even super-duper cheap bread.

baked homemade hamburger buns

I’m going to give you a recipe for 24 buns, because while you’re at it, you might as well make a bunch. If you don’t eat them in a few days like we do, you can always freeze some for later.

Feel free to halve the recipe, though, if 24 buns is way too many for you!

So, in a mixer bowl, combine 3 cups of flour and two packages of yeast (that’s 4.5 teaspoons.)

adding the yeast

Then heat together your milk, fat, sweetener, and salt until it reaches 120° F.

You can use whatever kind of fat you prefer…butter is the tastiest, but vegetable oils work fine too (if you use coconut oil, use the refined kind so your buns don’t taste super tropical!).

You can also vary the sweetener. Sugar works, but so does honey.

heated milk for hamburger buns

Add the hot liquids to the flour/yeast and beat for two minutes.  This will make a really thin batter.

thin yeast dough batter

Next, add two eggs, and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough (the recipe calls for 7 cups total and at this point I’d added a little shy of six cups.)

soft yeast dough

Don’t err on the side of adding too much flour-this is probably the most common mistake beginning bakers make.  Tough yeast dough won’t rise well because the yeast isn’t strong enough to push against really stiff dough.

Tough dough is the enemy of fluffiness.

Flour your counter and dump the dough out.

dough ready to knead

FYI, I could have made this dough a hair stiffer than I did.  If you’re new to kneading, you might want to add just a bit more flour than this before you knead or you’ll have difficulty handling the dough.

A bench knife/dough scraper makes the process way easier. Mine is almost exactly like this one, which sells for $5.99.

dough scraper

To start the kneading off, I run the dough scraper around the edge of the dough, folding the floury edges into the middle.

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Once I do that, the dough is usually quite manageable.  I knead my dough for about three minutes or so, only adding flour to the underside/outside of the dough, never to the middle.

It should look something like this when you’re done.  See how it flattens out a bit?  Your dough should be soft enough to do that.  If it stays in a tall round ball, it’s too stiff.

dough after kneading

You should need right about 7 cups of flour, with a little extra for dusting the counter.  However, the amount of flour you need will depend a bit on the humidity levels in your home, so if you need to use a little more or a little less, don’t worry about it.  Yeast baking isn’t terribly exact when it comes to flour.

Put the dough back into the mixing bowl (I don’t bother washing mine!) and cover it with a wet tea towel.

cover bread dough with a tea towel

Let it rise in a warm place for an hour.

risen bread dough

Once it’s risen, punch it down, turn it out onto the counter, and divide it into 24 pieces.

dividing bread dough

Shape each pieces into a ball, and then flatten the ball slightly.

To shape my dough into balls, I place a piece of dough in my hand and pull the outer edges to the middle.

You can sort of see how I did that if you look at the third dough piece in the picture below.

shaping hamburger rolls

From left to right, there’s a piece of unshaped dough, the top of a shaped ball, the bottom of a shaped ball, and a flattened dough ball.

Place the buns onto two greased baking sheets (I have two Vollrath baking sheets, and I totally dig them.  So incredibly sturdy.)

homemade hamburger buns ready to rise

I do cover my dough with a towel in other circumstances, but sometimes, the towel can stick to small items like buns, so I like to put these into my oven, uncovered, with a bowl of steaming water below them.  This keeps the air warm and moist, which is the point of the tea towel anyway.

how to keep rising dough warm

This also is a handy way to give your dough a warm place to rise during the winter, when the air in your house is a little on the cool side.

The buns will probably take about 45 minutes to rise, although if you’re making them in the summer, they could be done rising in as little as 30 minutes.  It all depends how warm the air is.

They should look like this when they’re done rising, though.

risen hamburger buns

About 10 minutes before the buns are done rising (take them out of the oven first!!!), preheat your oven to 350°F.  Once the oven is hot, bake the buns for 13-15 minutes, or until they’re nicely browned.

Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

On wire racks: I used to own two cheap and terrible racks, but I now own two of these Professional Cross Wire Cooling Racks.  I love them because they should last forever and because they fit perfectly in my half-sheet pans. And the cross-hatch pattern of the wires means nothing can sag between them.

baked homemade hamburger buns

Here’s what the inside of a roll should look like…soft and fluffy.

fluffy homemade hamburger bun

Fluffy Homemade Hamburger Buns

Printable Homemade Hamburger Buns Recipe

7 cups all purpose flour (my favorite is Gold Medal Unbleached)
4.5 teaspoons (two packages) active dry yeast (I buy mine in bulk at Costco)
3 cups milk
1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar or honey
3 teaspoons salt
2 eggs

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 cups of flour with the yeast.  In a separate bowl, combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt, and heat (stovetop or microwave) to 120°F.

Add hot liquids to flour/yeast mixture and beat for 2 minutes.  Add eggs and mix to combine.  Add enough additional flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 3-5 minutes.  Place dough in bowl, cover with wet tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Turn dough out on to floured surface and divide into 24 pieces.  Shape each into a ball and flatten slightly.  Place on greased baking sheets; cover baking sheets or place into oven with a bowl of warm water below.  Let rise 30-60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Remove rising buns from the oven and preheat oven to 350° F.  Bake buns, one sheet at a time, for 13-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

Leave a Comment

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Juli E. February 19, 2014 at 8:24 am

Yum! I can’t wait to try these! Thanks for sharing!

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2 ann a February 19, 2014 at 8:44 am

I’m totally going to try these. Thank you for the tip about too much flour. I’ve been scared to make yeast breads since the one time I tried as a newlywed…yummy little golf balls, they were. Now I’m motivated!!

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3 Laura D. February 19, 2014 at 9:21 am

These look delicious! For now I am dairy-free (I am nursing and my daughter seems to be lactose intolerant), do you know if substituting another liquid (water?) for the milk would work? Thanks so much!

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4 Kristen February 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

Could you use lactose-free milk? Alternatively a dairy-free milk (almond milk, for example) might work, or you could always use water as well. Water will give you a slightly less soft product, but it should still be pretty darn delicious!

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5 Laura February 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I’ve successfully used almond milk in almost any recipe that calls for milk. Muffins, pancakes, you name it. No one in my family was the wiser. ;)

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6 Dawn February 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

These look wonderful. Yum!

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7 Jen S. February 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

We have dairy (and nut) allergies at our house. I usually substitute soymilk for the milk or ricemilk. We use earth balance as well for spread and that works fine instead of butter. I find that oil works good for small amounts, say 1-2 TBSP, but if there is more than that called for in a recipe, I usually use the Earth Balance (or Smart Balance).

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8 Kris February 19, 2014 at 11:32 am

Two questions for ya:

How do you make your 24 rolls have the same amount of dough? Whenever I make rolls I have varying sizes–which is ok for rolls but not for hamburger buns.

And …

Have you ever subbed in some WW flour and did it work well in this recipe?

Thanks!

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9 Kristen February 19, 2014 at 11:35 am

This is a great question-I never thought to explain that!

First I divide the big hunk of dough in half, then I divide each half in half, and then I divide those halves in halves, and then finally, I divide each chunk into 3.

So then the only really guess-filled part is the last, where you’re dividing a hunk of dough into three parts.

I’m positive mine aren’t exactly equal, but as you can see from the photo, this method gets me pretty close.

I haven’t used whole wheat flour in this particular recipe before. You could try subbing up to 50% whole wheat. The end product will definitely be denser, though.

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10 Kris February 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Thanks. I read SandyH’s comment below about weighing her dough–honestly, when I eyeball things I am SO far off! I have the same problem with cutting cake slices evenly so I must just be proportion-impaired. This would be one time when my “good enough” tendencies might be improved by weighing it out so I get fairly close to the same size buns.

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11 Sarah February 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I’m going to have to give these a try. Baking bread in any form except in loaves gives me absolute fits!

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12 Kristen February 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

That’s so interesting, because I usually feel like big loaves are more complicated than small breads for most people…it just seems like there are more rising/baking issues to face with a big lump of dough than a small one.

I really hope these work out well for you! Just don’t add too much flour and be patient with the rising time, and they should be nice and fluffy.

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13 SandyH February 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm

My perfection-hungry self uses my digital kitchen scale to weigh the dough, at least for the first cut in half.. I’m amazed at how far off I’ve been by eye balling it. Now I have to say I only bother when it’s Thanksgiving and/or I’m taking the rolls for a special event…for “just us” eyeballing is what I do…mostly…

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14 Kristen February 19, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I always think, “Oh, I should weigh my dough!” and then when it comes down to it, my not-very-detailed self just doesn’t want to bother with getting out the scale.

A perfectionist I am not. ;)

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15 holly February 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm

oh Kristen! Your site is always the highlight to my day! I have crockpot BBQ pork on the menu this week but had no buns/rolls so was just going to go with a baked potato or such for our starch. My rolls have not turned out very fluffy in the past so I have shied away from making them. The product always ends up coarse and dense. Your awesome tutorial has re-inspired me (as you always do!) and I am going to try these tomorrow. Thank you for saving me (hopefully!) from a trip to the store.

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16 Kristen February 20, 2014 at 7:29 am

Yay! I hope yours turn out great.

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17 Randi February 21, 2014 at 8:38 pm

You could also use half the amount of instant yeast and let it have an overnight rise in the fridge. That’s how I prefer to make bread, I think it has a better flavor, less yeasty( if that makes sense).

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18 Holly March 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Wow!! These are seriously delish. Thank God I did 1/2 sweet buns and the other sandwich tolls bcz I’d be making another batch right now for sandwiches otherwise. SO soft and light. Thanks!!
So easy I will make these for a party. Everyone loves “my” (your breads mostly) but we host 45-60 at our family gatherings! Now these, I can do all at once;)

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19 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 7:43 pm

They’re so good, aren’t they? Heavenly.

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20 Hanna June 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Hi Kristen,
Thank you for the recipe. Do they freeze well?
Hanna

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21 Kristen June 13, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Yes, indeed! I freeze mine in heavy duty plastic bags and when I’m done, I just shake out the crumbs and put the bag in the drawer to use again.

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22 Theresa June 27, 2014 at 11:25 pm

These were AMAZING!!!! Delicious and my kids (including my super picky one) loved them. Thank you!

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23 Jill July 16, 2014 at 7:34 pm

These are the best hamburger buns I have ever made. Fantastic recipe!

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24 Diane Wright July 25, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I just took them out of the oven! They are so beautiful and feel so light! I can’t wait to taste them. I can tell that these rolls will be better than any others I’ve ever made. Thank you for this fabulous recipe!

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25 Diane Wright July 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I had to send another comment. I just tasted one of the rolls, and they are the best, lightest tasting rolls I have ever made! Just gorgeous. I used that Platinum yeast made by Red Star and the dough rose so well, thank you again for this recipe.

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26 Kristen July 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Yaaay! Always so glad to hear of success with a recipe.

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27 caitlin July 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm

I just attempted these buns and my dough didn’t rise at all.
I halfed the recipe, which included the yeast. Do you think that may have been my issue? Not enough?

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28 Kristen July 28, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Nope, halving it should have been fine. :)

Is your yeast expired? Were your liquids too hot? Liquids that are too hot will kill the yeast.

Another possibility is that you added too much flour. Yeast can’t lift dough that’s really stiff.

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29 Lisa M July 31, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I have the dough rising on my counter as I type this. This is my second time making them and it will be my go-to recipe from now on. Love them! Its time consuming but well worth the effort. Thanks so much for the detailed directions and pictures. I really enjoy your blog—thanks for all the time and work you put into your posts!

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30 Stacy T. August 14, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Awesome!! I halved the recipe and used the dough cycle on my bread machine, then baked in the oven (Cuz sometimes I’m lazy like that.) We had them with hamburgers last night, and I may, or may not have eaten one just slathered with butter. Love your blog, thanks Kristen!!

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31 Holly September 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Wow! These really are fluffy! As fluffy maybe fluffier than the store kind with no preservatives or conditioners!! Woot!!
I thought it impossible but low and behold they taste great too.
My skinny kids age 6-ate 4 and age 2 ate 3!!
With a good portion of protien, veg and milk. 6-year old pleaded for one in her lunch tomorrow.
Normally, i do not get the full number a recipe says because I like big buns (and I cannot lie! Lol) anyway…. These did 24 large buns. I cooked all at one time on 350 convection, switched racks and turned around in middle. Took 3 extra minutes. Thank you. My new go-to bun. I think the store lost a custoner on these.
Note: i gave extras to neighbors. The dough was difficult to work with by hand. Use the scraper or metal spatula. I used about an extra cup flour during knead. My rise times were short in oven on warm.

Defrosted bread usually not great. Do I really want to freeze extras? Not sure. So thats why my neighbors got lucky. They raved about it.

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32 Diane Wright September 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I make these once or twice a month and freeze most of them. Since we are a small family, I just thaw what I need and leave the rest in the freezer, They taste as good as they do out of the oven!

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33 Debbie Wiltfong September 27, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Really good

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34 Emily September 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I just tried this recipe, my dough is in a bowl on the counter right now,hopefully rising. I have to say, it was a little complicated. Everything was going great until I poured my dough onto a floured surface and tried to knead. I swear, everything looked just like your pictures up to that point, including the dough I poured out onto the counter. That’s when the trouble started. No matter how much flour I kept trying to fold in with my spatula, it was just way too sticky and wet. When I tried to knead it was just a wet, sticky mess. I had dough everywhere! I finally had to pour everything back in the mixing bowl and add more flour. I’m now hoping I didn’t add too much flour and the buns will still be soft. Did anyone else have this problem?

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35 Emily September 29, 2014 at 10:30 am

Update:
Just wanted to let you know regardless of the mess with the dough, the buns turned out great! My kids loved then! We had them for supper last night with a Lentil Cauliflower soup recipe I made. Then we all took sandwiches for lunch today. I froze the leftover buns and plan to take out only as many as needed for lunches on a daily basis, otherwise I fear my kids will eat them all up in a day!

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36 Jeanette October 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I finally had a chance to make these yesterday, and my family thanks you. These are wonderful. I was concerned about adding too much flour or over kneading, and I was sure I had messed them up, but no! They worked and they are delicious! Right out of the oven they taste amazing with a bit of butter. With a hamburger, oh wow, they compliment the flavor perfectly. My family LOVED them and I will be making them regularly from now on. Thank you for the recipe and the blog post, it really helped in the making of them.

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37 Kristen October 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Yay! I’m so glad they turned out well for you.

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38 Anna October 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Wow. All I can say is… Wow. I kneaded a little long (forgot to add the sugar and salt during the mixing process) but it still turned out gorgeous. So fluffy with just the right amount of chew and excellent flavor. I think with just a touch more kneading this could make a pretty respectable sandwich bread, too. Looking forward to making some whole wheat buns when my boyf and I polish these off.

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39 Robin October 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I’m on my 3rd year of bread making. I must say; these buns are awesome. I’m so happy to have found the recipe. My search is over. Ty so much for sharing!!!

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