The Best Brioche Buns

The best brioche buns

In honor of Memorial Day I wanted to share this recipe for the best brioche buns. I started making these buns in Normandy and don’t think I’ll be able to go back to store-bought buns again. They’re a perfect cross-cultural food too because while brioche is 100% French, burgers and burger buns are 100% American.

The burger was invented in Texas and the burger bun was invented in Oklahoma (you can verify here). I have no idea where the brioche bun was invented, but major props to whoever initially made the discovery.

Brioche buns are great for burgers because they’re a little bit sweet, soft but still strong, and absorbant. These buns aren’t just for burgers – they’re great for fried chicken sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches with soft-scrambled eggs, pulled-pork sandwiches and more. The possibilities are really endless.

The First Time I Made the Buns

Full disclosure: I don’t have a mixer or a bread machine and we didn’t in Normandy. The first time I made these buns during the kneading process I said I’d never make them again. It was so sticky. It felt like forever and then some for it to come together. I wasn’t actually sure that it ever did come together. I was so close to giving up.

But Romain failed making a different brioche bun recipe the day before and his whole family was waiting to try these burgers, so I had to give it a shot. After literally slapping the dough on the counter for 45+ minutes with seemingly no change, Romain’s grandmother suggested I add just enough flour to get it into a ball and into a bowl to rise.

I’m glad I didn’t give up, because after I did that it was relatively smooth sailing.

Tips for the Buns

  • You have to give yourself time to make these buns. Start them the day before you want to eat them. They require about three hours on the second day, but it’s mostly resting time. They’re worth it.
  • Buy a food scale. It just makes things so much easier for this recipe and really any recipe, especially with baking, like with the Pierre Hermé Gâteau Suzy.
  • If you have a stand mixer, use it. There’s no reason to suffer through kneading by hand if you don’t have to. It’s a sticky dough so use the beater blade and not the dough hook. The easiest option of all would be to use a bread machine set to the dough cycle.
  • The dough freezes well. After you divide the dough into balls, double wrap the individual balls with freezer-safe plastic wrap, then place them all into a freezer bag. The evening before you want to make the buns, take as many as you need out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge. The next day you’ll just reshape them and let them rise again. 

Brioche Buns Equipment

None of this equipment is required except the baking sheet, but it’ll make your life easier!

Brioche Buns Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (512 g)
  • 2 tsp salt (10 g)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (10 g). If you’re using fresh yeast use 20g.
  • 2 tbsp sugar (28 g)
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water (300 g – or less, see notes)
  • 2 eggs (one for egg wash)
  • 1/3 cup milk (78 g)
  • 4 tbsp butter (57 g)

How To Make Brioche Buns

DAY ONE:

Brioche bun dry ingredients

First whisk together the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together one egg with the cold water. Heat the milk and butter together just until the butter is melted. Pour this hot mixture into the cold water and egg mixture. The combination of the two mixtures should be perfectly lukewarm.

Brioche bun dough mixture

Add the liquid mixture into the flour bowl and stir (a spatula is best) until you have a sticky dough ball. If you have a stand mixer, use the beater blade and mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes, scraping the dough into the center every so often. If you don’t, lightly flour a work surface (countertop or a large cutting board) and set a timer. You’ll be kneading for about 30 minutes. I use the slap and fold method. Continue kneading until the dough is soft and smooth.

Dough ball

Put the dough ball in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight (or for up to 18 hours).

DAY TWO:

Brioche bun dough after overnight rise

About three hours before you want to bake your buns, take the dough out of the refrigerator and deflate it. You can just punch it with your hand.

Cover a work surface lightly with flour and put the dough on your work surface. Divide the dough into eight portions. (If you have a food scale, weigh your dough before you start and divide. This makes portioning the dough very simple. Mine generally are about 125 g each).

Continue to add flour to your work surface as needed and roll each portion into a ball. Place the dough balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet (if you don’t have parchment paper just lightly grease the pan). Flatten the balls slightly using the palm of your hand or a dough scraper.

Let the dough rise fully. This can take from 90 minutes to three hours depending on the temperature in your house and outdoors. Don’t rush this part of the process. It’ll look like the dough balls are “lifting” off of the baking sheet when they’re ready. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C, with a rack in the center. If you don’t have a cooling rack be sure to take out an extra oven rack before you preheat the oven.

Applying the egg wash

Whisk an egg with one tablespoon of cold water and brush the resulting “egg wash” on the buns for color and shine. (If you don’t have a brush use a paper towel – just ball up the paper towel and soak the bottom corner in the egg wash and gently rub over the buns).

Seeds before baking

If you want, you can top with seeds for extra flavor and crunch. We use sesame seeds for burger buns, but go seedless for fried chicken sandwiches. You can’t go wrong here, it’s just personal preference.

Bake the buns for 18 to 19 minutes. You want them to be golden brown. I start paying close attention around 14 minutes because the buns brown quickly due to their high fat content and the egg wash. You can always tent the buns with foil if they appear to be browning too quickly. Whatever you do, don’t overcook the buns.

On cooling rack

Remove the buns from the oven and cool on a rack before slicing. Before serving I like to toast the buns cut-side down in a lightly buttered pan over medium-low heat.

Best Brioche Buns

Brioche Buns

The perfect brioche buns for burgers or any kind of sandwich. While the buns take a lot of time (make them in advance!) they are so delicious and worth it!
Prep Time 35 mins
Resting Time 10 hrs
Total Time 10 hrs 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, French
Servings 8 Buns

Equipment

  • Food Scale
  • Stand mixer
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Basting brush
  • A wire rack for cooling – you can use an extra oven rack

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (512 g)
  • 2 tsp salt (10 g)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (10 g – if you're using fresh yeast use 20g)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (28 g)
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water (300 g – or less, see notes)
  • 2 eggs (one for egg wash)
  • 1/3 cup milk (78 g)
  • 4 tbsp butter (57 g)

Instructions
 

Day One

  • Whisk together the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk one egg with the cold water. See notes for the quantity of water.
  • Heat the milk and butter together just until the butter is melted. Pour this hot mixture into the cold water and egg mixture. The combination of the two mixtures should be perfectly lukewarm.
  • Add it to the flour bowl and stir (a spatula is best) until you have a sticky dough ball.
  • If you have a stand mixer, use the beater blade and mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes, scraping the dough into the center every so often. If you don't, lightly flour a work surface (countertop or a large cutting board) and set a timer. You'll be kneading for about 30 minutes. I use the slap and fold method which I'll link a video to in the notes. Knead until the dough is soft and smooth.
  • Put the dough ball in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight (or for up to 18 hours).

Day Two

  • Take the dough out of the refrigerator and deflate it. You can just punch it with your hand.
  • Cover a work surface lightly with flour and put the dough on your work surface. Divide the dough into eight portions. (If you have a food scale, weigh your dough before you start and divide. This makes portioning the dough very simple. Mine generally are about 125 g each).
  • Continue to add flour to your work surface as needed and roll each portion into a ball. Place the dough balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet (if you don't have parchment paper just lightly grease the pan). Flatten the balls slightly using the palm of your hand or a dough scraper.
  • Let the dough rise fully. This can take 90 minutes to three hours depending on the temperature in your house and outdoors. Don't rush this part of the process. It'll look like the dough balls are "lifting" off of the baking sheet when they're ready.
  • Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C, with a rack in the center. If you don't have a cooling rack be sure to take out an extra oven rack before you preheat the oven.
  • Whisk an egg with one tablespoon of cold water and brush the resulting "egg wash" on the buns for color and shine. (If you don't have a brush use a paper towel – just ball up the paper towel and soak the bottom corner in the egg wash and gently rub over the buns).
  • Top with seeds if you want for extra flavor and crunch. We use sesame seeds for burger buns, but go seedless for fried chicken sandwiches. You can't go wrong here, it's just personal preference.
  • Bake the buns for 18 to 19 minutes. You want them to be golden brown. I start paying close attention around 14 minutes because the buns brown quickly due to their high fat content and the egg wash. You can always tent the buns with foil if they appear to be browning too quickly. Whatever you do, don't overcook the buns.
  • Remove the buns from the oven and cool on a rack before slicing. Before serving I like to toast the buns cut-side down in a lightly buttered pan over medium-low heat.

Notes

Water: Some people find this dough very wet and tricky to work with. If you live in a humid area, consider cutting some of the water back. If you are measuring with cups, hold 1/3 cup of water. If you are using a scale, hold 75 g of water. You can always add the water back in when you are mixing if it seems dry. 
Slap and fold kneading technique video 
The dough freezes well. After you divide the dough into balls, double wrap the individual balls with freezer-safe plastic wrap, then place them all into a freezer bag. The evening before you want to make the buns, take as many as you need out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge. The next day you’ll just reshape them and let them rise again. 
Keyword Brioche Buns, Brioche Burger Buns, Burger Buns

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