When it comes to hamburgers, you’ll spend hours crafting the perfect pile of toppings…but have you given any consideration to the bun? Probably not, unless you’ve gone face to face with a particularly terrible slab of bread that crumbled at the first drop of beefy juice to hit its surface. Instead of making the outer layer an afterthought, first ask yourself: What are the best buns for burgers? Then, read on—we’ve found them.
The Best Buns for Burgers, Whether You’re a Potato Head or a Brioche Lover
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What Type of Bread Is a Burger Bun?
A classic burger bun is a soft, yeast-risen bun typically made from white flour. But that’s not the *only* bun you can use to house a burger. Potato buns are another popular choice, as well as brioche and sesame seed buns. They all share a few characteristics, like a soft, even, interior crumb and yielding outer crust.
What’s the Difference Between Burger Buns and Bread Rolls?
When you think of a burger bun, you probably picture a squishy, puffy piece of bread that you wouldn’t necessarily eat plain. It’s neither savory nor sweet and primarily serves a functional purpose as a vehicle for meat and toppings. Bread rolls or dinner rolls, on the other hand, are meant to be enjoyed on their own, perhaps slathered with a thick layer of butter. They have more going on in the flavor department, whether that’s a buttery glaze or chewier crumb.
What Is the Best Bun for Burgers?
It really depends on your personal preference—some people like sesame seed buns, others love potato buns and some are brioche diehards. But we think all the best buns for burgers share a few qualities, namely that they are the correct size for the burger patty (not too big or small) and they hold up to all those delicious burger juices. They shouldn’t overpower the burger, but it can be nice if they bring something special to the flavor profile, whether that’s the sweetness of a Hawaiian roll or the chewy bite of a pretzel bun.
The 10 Best Buns for Burgers (and 1 Honorable Mention)
1. White Bread Buns
Dave's Killer Bread
White bread burger buns are the plainest option of the bunch, but they’re a standby for good reason. They’re sweet but not overly so, will please picky eaters in the bunch and offer a blank slate for any burger topping you can dream of. We find they’re most structurally sound when toasted or grilled, otherwise the burger juices risk causing a soggy mess.
2. Potato Buns
Even if you’ve never heard of potato buns, it’s likely you’ve eaten them. They’re made from a dough that’s fortified with either potato flour or whole potato, which gives it a slightly yellow color and thicker texture than a traditional white bread bun. The potato flavor is subtle, but the slightly savory edge makes these buns a favorite among hamburger afficionados. (We’ll take ours toasted, please.)
3. Brioche Buns
Brioche is another type of yeast bread like white or potato, but it’s a little more special than your everyday bun. It’s an enriched bread, which means it contains added fats, sugar and dairy in addition to the basic flour, water, salt and yeast. This gives it rich flavor, extra color and a super buttery, tender crumb. As long as you toast it (and accept that it will inevitably sog out), it makes a great burger bun for fancier meals (less drive-thru handheld, more craft burger bar).
4. Pretzel Buns
Sturdier and chewier than other burger buns, pretzel buns combine the texture of a roll with the shiny, chewy crust and salty topping of a soft pretzel. They’ll hold up to the thickest of patties and tons of toppings, whether you’re loading on the mustard or melting a few slices of cheese. Want to try your hand at making them? Follow our easy recipe.
5. Sesame Buns
TBH, sesame buns are basically just plain burger buns with a sesame seed topping for *sparkle.* But that doesn’t mean we’ll stick up our nose when they’re on the menu. They’re familiar and nostalgic, structurally sound and easy to love, making them an ideal pick for the best buns for burgers.
6. English Muffins
An unconventional choice, certainly, but we think English muffins make excellent (and underrated) burger buns. They toast well and are sturdy enough to hold up to a hefty meat patty with all the fixings, plus those craggly bits and pockets make easy work of catching juices and condiments.
7. Kaiser Rolls
Kaiser rolls have a fluffy interior and a firm (but not rock hard) outer shell. They’re typically larger in diameter than traditional burger buns, making them a prime choice for hefty backyard burgers piled high with toppings. They’re not the most common option, but these days you can find good grocery store kaiser rolls and skip the trip to the specialty bakery.
A crackly crust and airy interior set ciabatta buns apart from the crowd, and while they’re not the most popular burger encasement, they’re a good choice when you want to deviate from the usual ketchup-and-mustard routine. The light inner crumb will yield to dripping juices, but the outer crust will resist falling apart. At the same time, these rolls aren’t so sturdy that you’ll risk tearing up your mouth taking a bite.
9. Hawaiian Buns
We know we said the best buns for burgers aren’t too sugary, but sometimes sweet works. Take the Hawaiian roll (aka Portuguese sweet bread), which is often sweetened with pineapple juice and is typically reserved for Cuban sliders. It adds a touch of sweetness to an otherwise savory sammie.
365 by Whole Foods Market
It’s not technically a bun, but we think pita is underutilized as a burger holster. The yeast-leavened bread has the perfect pocket for housing a patty and plenty of toppings, and it basically eliminates the need for napkins.
Honorable Mention: The Lettuce Wrap
For those who eschew carbs, the most popular burger bun substitute is the lettuce wrap. We have to give it up for the hardworking green, because whether it’s iceberg, Boston or butter, she’s putting in the hard work and probably fighting an internal battle of imposter syndrome. She’ll never live up to a fluffy potato bun or sweet brioche roll…but she tries. And that’s worth something.
Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.