Beautiful buns

I did something I don’t often do last night. I sat down to a juicy burger for supper.

Let me amend that. I often have a hamburger for supper. A nicely browned or grilled patty, lying beside a healthy stir-fry of gingered green beans, maybe a salad, perhaps some grilled zucchini. No bun; just protein. I’m trying to keep my carb count low. And working all day here in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen, forcing myself to sample fudge brownies, and buttercream-iced cupcakes, to say nothing of cheese-stuffed focaccia… well, you can just imagine. Kermit says it’s not easy being green; for us test bakers, it’s not easy being lean.

But my son, recently returned from 5 months in Africa and a steady diet of rice and fufu (pounded yams), asked for a special supper: hamburger, smoked provolone and cheddar, Italian seasoning, lettuce, and tomato on a bun. But not just any bun; one of those soft, squishy, supermarket packaged air-buns. The Prodigal Son effect pushed aside my better judgment, and I went to the store and bought a bag of buns.

And they were just as I’d remembered. Hey, I’m not dissing squishy white rolls; I actually like them. But I really do prefer homemade. Supermarket buns are just too flimsy. Unlike my homemade buns, they’re unable to stand up to a full load of thick burger and layers of cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, AND condiments. Especially the condiments. One good dollop of green relish, and these insipid buns are history, soggy and ready to shred at your first bite.

But not homemade buns. They not only have body, the ability to stand up to everything you can throw at/on them—they have soul. Because what’s better than a burger bun that you’ve shaped by hand, flavored to taste, and pulled fresh out of your own oven—at maybe 1/3 the cost of a purchased bun? Add a hungry family (or one son newly home from Africa), and you’ve experienced, once again, the reason so many of us bake: to make people happy, one bite—one bun—at a time.

These Onion Buns are perfect for burgers—just in time for grilling season.

OK—everyone into the pool! Er, everything into the bowl.

The dough should come together nicely—not too dry, not overly sticky.

After kneading (about 7 minutes at second speed in a stand mixer), the dough will be smooth and soft, and just a bit tacky. For purposes of these photos, I always knead in a stand mixer; but if I’m not photographing, I knead in a bread machine. It’s easier (I can walk away and forget about it), and does a super job.

Place the dough in a container large enough to let it at least double in bulk…

…and about an hour later, it should indeed have just about doubled in bulk.

Stretch the dough onto a lightly greased work surface.

Once it’s rolled into a 12” x 17” rectangle, sprinkle the dough with minced dried onion, and use a rolling pin to press the onion into the dough. Can you use fresh or sautéed onion rather than dried? Yes; but the buns will probably unravel, due to the moisture in the onion.

Roll the dough, starting with a short end.

Seal the side seam and the ends. There—a nice (albeit not very smooth) log.

Next we’re going to cut the log into 1 1/2” slices. I find a pair of scissors the easiest tool for this task. Use a knife, dental floss, monofilament fishing line, or whatever cutting implement you prefer.

You can already see the nice spiral of onion in the buns.

Place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let them rise for about an hour.

As you can see, they’ll become nice and puffy.

Brush the buns with beaten egg white, and sprinkle with seeds. Or don’t; seeded buns are a tasty option, but certainly not required!

Bake till golden brown.

Grill burgers, split buns, add lettuce and tomato—enjoy!

Read our complete recipe for Onion Buns.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Supermarket onion rolls, 23¢/ounce.

Bake at home: Onion Buns, 7¢/ounce.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Steven Longo

    I wonder what the cab count is with these buns. I miss having a bun with my hot dogs or burgers. Does Kin Aurther know what the carbs are. Do they have low carb bread recipes?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Steven! If we have the nutrition information for recipes, it’ll be linked in the “At a Glance” box. This recipe, Onion Buns, does have that information for you to check out. At this time, we haven’t developed bread recipes to be low-carb. Annabelle@KAF

  2. Christine

    I took a lot of “artistic license” when making rolls with this dough recipe last night. I had some leftover red onion and about 8 scallions in the refrigerator. I diced, sliced and sautéed them in about a tablespoon of bacon grease, because, well, bacon. When the onions were done I dumped them into the dough as it was kneading in the KitchenAid mixer. I had to add about a tablespoon more flour because of the moisture. The dough wanted to slide around the bowl so I used a silicone spatula to keep pressing it against the dough hook. I also took 4 oz. of Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese and cut it into 1/2 inch pieces and dropped it in. After about 5 minutes of kneading I portioned it out into 12 dinner rolls. After about 40 min. rising I brushed them with egg wash and sprinkled with sea salt flakes. Baked for around 25 min. Beautiful! Wonderful flavor! My granddaughter says she hates everything onion, but eats everything in which she doesn’t see onions. She came in the kitchen when I took them out of the oven and said “They smell so good! Can I have one?” She let it cool 5 min, tore it apart and ate the whole thing. When she was finished she said “I knowed there was onions in it cause I sawed them, but it was so good I had to eat it anyway.” That, my friends, is high praise.

    Thank you KAF for everything.

  3. Gene Dunn

    OK, first of all I am a 76-year-old guy who loves to bake. Unfortunately, life did not allow me to seriously bake bread for many years until several months ago. I have been working to perfect an oatmeal walnut bread that was inspired by Alton Brown’s left over oatmeal bread but has now evolved far beyond his recipe. It now makes wonderfulI toast and is great with orange marmalade. Just a few more tweaks. I have always used King Arthur flour when I could, but after reading the history of it and the fact that you are an employee owned company I will absolutely not use any other brand from now on. I just discovered your site with all your wonderful recipes a week ago. Now all I want to do is bake!

    I just made these onion buns and they turned out fantastic. And the fragrance from the oven was delicious! As a lover of onions I am going to increase the onion granules ( I do not have any onion powder ) and the onion flakes next time. I just made a wonderful Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, tomato and Romain lettuce sandwich using a locally made hickory mustard as soon as the bun was cool enough and it too was fantastic. I will never buy another hamburger bun! These are so superior and easy to make. Now onto the next KAF recipe on my list.

    I want to thank you for a wonderful site and tell you it has the most warm friendly feel of any site I have ever visited. You all come across as family. I’m hooked and I thank you for being here for us! Great company, great site, great people!

    P.S. I live in Santa Fe New Mexico at a home elevation of 6450 feet. So far no high-altitude issues.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gene, we’re touched by the amount of passion you put into each and every recipe you bake. It sounds like you sure are one of us! 🙂 We appreciate your kind words and hope you’ll keep us updated as you venture on in your baking journey. (And remember, we have a on our website to help guide you, should you need it.) Keep up the great work, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Courtney

    I make these at least once a week. They are one of my family’s favorites. They are wonderful when made as directed. Some times I switch things up a little though. This weekend instead of the cinnamon roll method I rolled them into balls and stuffed each one with a little piece of mozzarella and sprinkled the onions on the top. This recipe is so versitale and so simple. I thank you and my family thanks you too!

  5. Allison MacKay

    I use Mary Goldman’s recipe for lunchbox onion rolls. She sauteed the onions. I do this without any added liquid and just briefly. I then wait for the second rise (stand mixer for both rises) and add either sharp cheddar or pepper jack once the onions are mixed in. This is a little tricky because the cheese disappears if needed too long so dough should be almost to the tacky point. I let the dough rise again and shape into knots. Press down to flatten, egg wash and seeds then rise a bit and bake. Could scale to any size but usually a 3-4 oz roll. Still came out higher than I’d like.
    Even so these sold like crazy at our farmer’s market! Used to sell as dinner rolls (75 gram) and also burger bun (125 gram) sizes
    I’m going to try this with your roll out and
    slice method. Oh, I add some flax meal and wheat bran to the initial mix and let that soak a bit before adding bread flour. I’m intrigued! Thank you for some inspiration.

  6. Crackerssouth

    While attending high school in the 60’s I used to work part time in a Jewish deli. We used to have pastrami on onion buns, this sandwich was called a “Big Moe”. It was huge. This weekend I’m making my own pastrami and instead of rye bread, I’m going to make these. Have to let you know how they turn out.

  7. Gambles

    I have been really wanting to try these buns for hamburgers, but I’m a little concerned because I have a kind of quirk. I always cut hamburgers and sandwiches into 1/4’s. I also do this with cinnamon rolls, and they do tend to come off in layer pieces. The description says these are very sturdy and there is nothing “slushy” in the roll, but I just wanted to ask if you thought the bun would stay together if cut in quarters??

    That also brings me to: If I leave out the minced dried onions altogether (ulcers) what would happen if I just baked them free form as one of the few pans that I haven’t purchased from KAF is the hamburger bun pan?

    This would be a perfect dinner for the National Championship Bowl Game tonight!

    Thanks for your help,

    btw: I usually read the entire Q & A after the blog just in case my answer if already there, but this time I was short on time and figured my 1/4 question was probably bizarre enough to be unique so I skipped that part. In other words, I apologize if someone did already ask either part of this question!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gentle baker – you CAN shape and bake these as you would rolls, or press out the dough and roll up for the swirl on top. Either way – this recipe should hold it’s shape whether they’re eaten whole, halved or quartered! Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  8. Amy_P

    Hi.. I stumbled on this blog searching for a burger bun recipe. Boy, I couldn’t be luckier. These buns are FANTASTIC. Didn’t use the dried onion because I didn’t have any in the pantry. I did use half whole wheat and made chia gel to substitute the butter.
    The result: buns from heaven!
    I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, where to find good bread is like finding needle in a haystack. Even for the fluffy ones in the good bakery, I can still taste a little chemical in it.. Perhaps too much use of improver?
    Anyway.. I’ll never buy a bun anywhere again!

  9. laryssa75

    I wish I had read your blog first. I made the recipe as stated, then read to mix for 7 minutes with the stand mixer. I mixed the dough just long enough to form a tacky dough.
    It is rising and am sure they will come out fine..I know for next

    Some bakers use the stand mixer to just mix the dough until the dry ingredients gather from the sides of the bowl. This is fine as long as you knead the dough by hand after that, striving for a soft, supple texture. If you use the stand mixer for all the kneading, you’ll still want to check the dough consistency. Flour your finger and press the dough as you would press a doorbell. If the dough springs back quickly, you’re done kneading! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF


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