Sourdough Burger Buns

I know it’s a little early to be thinking about BBQ season, but here in Toronto winter has been surprisingly mild. So mild, in fact, that we actually pulled out the grill out a couple weekends ago!

My husband really enjoys BBQ’ing, and one of his specialties is homemade burgers. It’s been my goal to find a homemade burger bun recipe to contribute to the mix, and this is it! I actually started making the yeast version of these awhile back, but now that my sourdough starter is nice and healthy I wanted to convert the recipe to SD. The sourdough adds a subtle tang, and also helps keep these buns fresh a little longer.

These buns are light brioche style, so they’re slightly eggy but not too rich. They’re soft, but sturdy enough to hold hefty fillings without disintegrating into a sloppy mess. I love them lightly toasted so you get the outside crunch plus the soft interior — the best of both worlds!

I’ve broken this recipe into a two day process, though you could probably start these in the morning and have them ready by dinner. In the bulk fermentation step, just let the dough roughly double in size before proceeding.

Sourdough Burger Buns

Makes 8

Ingredients

  • 354 g flour (I use half all purpose, half bread)
  • 110 g heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 110 g water, at room temperature
  • 37 g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 g salt
  • 35 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125 g mature liquid sourdough starter
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water or milk)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt and butter and autolyse (rest) for 1 hour. I find it easiest to combine the wet ingredients in a jug and mix it into the flour using a rubber spatula.
  2. Add salt, and knead dough until gluten is moderately developed. The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel quite smooth and stretchy. Add butter in two batches, mixing in the first completely before adding the second. Continue kneading until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test as demonstrated here. The dough should be smooth and supple (and quite lovely to handle!). This will take quite some time, especially if done by hand. Consider it your arm workout for the day!
  3. Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic, and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next day, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal parts, and roughly shape as balls. Cover with oiled plastic and allow to rest for 1 hour.
  5. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. When the hour is up, reshape each portion into a tight ball and flatten gently into a disc. Arrange on baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Cover again with oiled plastic and allow to rise again at room temperature until puffy and nearly doubled. (I needed to run some errands so I put the dough in a cool part of the house and let it go for 5 hours. In a warmer room I suspect it would take 3-4 hours.)
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F and set an old cookie sheet on the floor of the oven. Prepare the egg wash. Brush each bun with the egg wash, followed by a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
    Transfer the buns to the preheated oven and immediately pour a cup of hot water into the baking sheet on the bottom of the oven (be careful! Wear oven mitts and use a long-spouted kettle if possible). Bake buns for 18-20 minutes or until rolls are nicely browned on top, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Cool on a rack completely.

37 thoughts on “Sourdough Burger Buns

  1. I just tried your recipe! They tasted great, but the buns didn’t rise at all, so they turned out super small, and I had to use an entire bun for the bottom vs slicing one in half. Any ideas on what happened?

    1. Hi! Did your dough rise at all? If it didn’t, it’s usually because either the starter was not strong enough and/or the room was too cold.

    1. All purpose should work too though I might hold back about 10% of the liquid to start. You can always add it in later if the dough feels dry.

  2. Hi, I have made this recipe twice, as slider buns and it’s my favorite recipe, hands down! I am in the middle of making my third batch, as hotdog buns for my smokies. I can’t wait to try the finished product, tonight at dinner. The dough is a dream to work with, and I won’t ever have to search for a hamburger/slider/hotdog bun recipe again!

    1. I’ve made this subbing 25% of wholewheat flour several times and it works great without any other changes. I haven’t tried egg replacers in this recipe. I’d be inclined to just omit it and add a little more liquid to compensate, but that’s just me thinking out loud!

  3. I’ll at the kneading part and it is super wet and sticky! I’m not new to sourdough “stretch and fold” kneading. But this is REALLY wet and sticky. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Give it some time in the mixer and if it doesn’t come together add a little more flour a tablespoon at a time. Some stickiness at the beginning isn’t unusual, but it should eventually come together. If not, it could be due to using a weaker flour (like all all purpose instead of a mixture of bread and all purpose). In the future, try holding back 10-15% of the liquid to start.

  4. Hi, I wanted to say that I have made this recipe 4 times now and I absolutely love it! I even left the dough in the fridge for 2 days and the buns turned out beautifully. I have also made slider buns and hotdog buns with the dough and they are so good.

  5. Hi, just reading through the instructions and could use some help understanding, does the cup of hot water go in the bottom of the pan and surround the dough? Or does it go in a separate pan on the bottom and create steam?

  6. These turned out phenomenally. I have a very active sourdough starter, and am used to making Tartines high hydration country bread. This dough was WAY more wet somehow. It was super difficult to knead, and I ended up throwing in a lot of extra flour along the way. Probably an extra 1/4 cup all told. That said, given the proper time to rise and develop gluten they worked out perfectly. Patience is the key here.

    1. You could use 1 1/2 to 2 tsp. Rising times will be much shorter, more in line with a typical yeast dough recipe. If you plan on doing it over two days, refrigerate right after kneading.

  7. Have these in the oven right now and they look so FREAKEN GOOD! Can’t wait to try them. Thanks for the amazing recipe, I wanted sourdough burger buns and yours is one of the few that didn’t insist that I needed a stand mixer to make them. It was a lot of kneading but I think it will be totally worth it. Thanks again 🙂

  8. How might this recipe be altered to be vegan? I would love to have a recipe that can accommodate various dietary restrictions. Thanks!

    1. You can substitute non-dairy milk for the water and cream (I’ve used soy before without a problem), and room temperature coconut oil for the butter. I haven’t tried any egg replacers so I can’t speak to that from experience.

  9. Hey there. You state that if I start these in the morning I could have them ready at dinner time-I’d have to let the dough rise to double in the bulk fermentation step? I didn’t understand this. So do you mean let it rise at room temp instead of fridge bulk fermentation until it is doubled in size ?thanks

    1. Correct, you would let the dough double at room temperature and skip the fridge if you wanted to do this in one day.

      1. Thank-you. When is the best stage to freeze them? is it after overnight proofing? Or after overnight proofing and and just before baking (after proofing when formed in shape) or after baking?
        Thank-you for your help
        Moe

  10. Made this yesterday, managed to pull it off in one day. Best. Burger. Buns. Ever.
    My husband (who isn’t normally much of a bread eater) says “these are so good you could sell them!”
    So thank you for that!!

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