Love and Olive Oil

Homemade Poppy Seed Burger Buns

Homemade Poppy Seed Burger Buns

Am I the only one that’s disappointed by the serious lack of beautiful burger buns available at grocery stores these days? It’s aisle after aisle of plastic wrapped buns; deflated, limp little things with as much flavor and texture as a cotton ball.

They are not cover worthy, that’s for sure.

Last summer Taylor and I found ourselves in need of some stunning buns for our book cover. And don’t give me any of that true beauty is on the inside nonsense, we’re talking about burger buns here. And sorry, but ugly buns just wouldn’t do. We searched high and low, bakeries and groceries, and every bun was uglier (and bigger) than the next.

Apparently I have very high standards when it comes to buns.

Making our own seemed to be the only viable option.

Homemade Burger Buns

The recipe we ended up using for our burger hero shot (and many times since, including yesterday’s lamb burgers) comes from King Arthur Flour, although it took me a few tries to really get the results I was looking for. While they suggest you brush the buns with butter before and after baking, I found that an egg-white wash worked better with the poppyseed topping (butter just isn’t sticky enough), and it gave the buns a shinier overall appearance.

When making these buns, you can choose to make larger, standard-sized burger buns, or smaller, slider-sized buns. I have a thing for slightly smaller burgers and loved being able to custom-size my buns to my exact liking.

I can’t help it, I like little buns (and I cannot lie).

But beauty is only skin deep, so enough about looks, how do they taste?

So good, you’ll never buy store-bought again.

With a thin, chewy outer crust, and a soft and pillowy inside with just enough structure and density to handle a big, juicy burger. These buns won’t fall apart in your hands like a store-bought bun might. Buttery and flavorful, with a delightful crunch from the poppy seeds, they are most definitely worth the extra effort.

Poppy Seed Burger Buns

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2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 large egg, plus 1 egg white for brushing
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
poppy seeds or sesame seeds


Combine butter, egg, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water and, using the paddle attachment or a large spoon, mix until well combined. Add more water, a teaspoon or two at a time, as needed (if you live in a dry climate you might need up to 1/4 cup additional water). Switch to the dough hook and knead (or by hand) until it forms a soft, smooth dough.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise in a warm spot for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough with your fist, and divide it into 8 even pieces (10-12 for smaller, slider-sized buns). I found it helpful to use a kitchen scale here to be sure all the pieces were even in size. Shape each piece into a round ball; flatten slightly to about 1-inch thick. Place the dough rounds on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel, and let rise for about an hour, until noticeably puffy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small dish, whisk egg white with 2 tablespoons of water. Brush the buns with the egg white mixture, then sprinkle with poppy seeds. You could also brush the buns with butter if you prefer, but the seeds will not stick to the top as well nor will the buns be as shiny.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden. Place pan on a wire rack and let cool before slicing.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour.

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  1. Thanks for sharing the recipe, only i used fresh yeast n its ok too, i wish i could show u the pic of the bun i made based on your recipe. Anyway thanks again.

  2. Thank you for inspiration and recipe. My brother-in-law asked me to teach him to make these over the weekend while he was visiting us. Such a great recipe for a first time yeast baker. We were both quite pleased and proud of our finished product.

  3. Hi there, the buns look gorgeous! Are they freezable? Thanks!

  4. I made a double batch, weighed them with the scale and got 17 buns that were 3.5 ounces. I had a quarter sized piece of dough left over but they were all even so I was happy! I put poppy seeds on 9 and sesame seeds on 8 and the egg wash really kept them on well. Once they rose and baked they were the perfect size for my 5 ounce burgers. Thanks for sharing this great recipe :)

  5. Can this recipe be successfully doubled?

  6. I am in the process of making these buns right now, but the dough is tough…I think I over-kneaded it. Is there any way to fix this problem? I’m assuming the dough should be relatively light and bounce-back when pressed lightly?

    • I think it’d be hard to over-knead this. Possible you didn’t have enough water and the dough is dry. But give it a try, maybe let them rise a bit longer than usual and I’d think it’d puff up nicely.

    • Thanks. I let it rise for 3 hours before I formed them into the bun shape, followed by another hour rising on the pan. The turned out DELICIOUS. My husband ate a bun straight off of the pan…no burger in sight! I used the egg wash like you suggested and they look great too. Thank you :D

  7. These look amazing! How long do they keep?

    • They’re best enjoyed within a day or so, but they can be frozen! I’ve frozen both the dough (pre-rise) as well as the finished buns with decent results. :)

  8. It must be perfect for a breakfast. I can imagine how delicious it is :)

  9. These look perfect. I like the idea of smaller buns.

  10. Oh my goodness, these look perfect! Everything is better when it’s homemade :)

  11. These look gorgeous!!! Cheers to homemade!

  12. You are right about the buns at the store. My husband and I moved to Arizona and we have been unable to find the perfect bun here! These look beautiful!

  13. No, you’re totally right–the buns at the ordinary grocery store always look more than horrendous. Inedible levels of horrendous, really, Your buns look amazing, though!

  14. No, I am also very disappointed in store bought burger buns. I actually think they stink. Have you ever smelled them? Therefore I also made my own the other day and you know what? I decided to put poppy seeds on top. What a coincidence! I shaped mine like Kaiser rolls. Yours look more like regular burger buns. Great recipe!

  15. I’ve never been successful making buns without blooming my dry active yeast first…..any secrets?!

    • Try using instant or rapid rise yeast instead of plain active dry. Most yeast brands have both, and I always use the rapid rise instead. Doesn’t need that extra bloom step. :)

  16. These look so good! I am always disappointed in the sad, little bun selection at the grocery store. I will definitely have to make these! Thanks!

  17. I love making my own burger buns, but I haven’t found the perfect one yet. Maybe these are the ones!

  18. YUM! Those look so squidgy and delicious!

  19. These are just the most lovely things ever! Definitely cover-worthy – and especially great because you know they have to taste as good as they look! Definite winner.

  20. You’re so right! And these are just gorgeous! I can’t stand making a beautiful burger, then sliding it onto a limp, ugly bun to serve to…anybody. Beautiful job!

  21. BEAUTIFUL BUNS!! The best bun I have even seen, Seriously. WOW! I am so making these for my next burger. I mean I bet they taste great, but they look even better!

  22. Totally agree with you on the lack of good burger buns. I usually make a brioche bun from Smitten Kitchen that I love, but I love the poppy seeds on this one! Pinned to try!

  23. Absolutely gorgeous buns, Lindsay! (The only appropriate excuse I’ll ever have to say that is this recipe – ha!) Really, though, this is a lovely recipe and you did such a nice job. I bet this takes a burger to another level!

  24. Wowww these are sooo pretty and delicious looking! I never thought about making my own burger bun~haha. But I agree, they’re not always the prettiest things at the grocery store.

  25. I love KAF, and this is on my list of recipes to try!

  26. I completely agree,. Finding good buns is a problem. The buns sold in stores are in such deprivation, there is a bun epidemic going around. I was looking for some ideas for dinner tonight and was debating whether we should have burgers. Now I know what I’m making :)

  27. I recently made burger buns myself and just like pita bread I doubt I’ll ever buy them from the store again. Yours look perfect.

  28. Thanks. You’re very kind and generous.
    With love from Canary Islands, Spain ;)

  29. Beautiful. I’m a total bun snob, too, and these look like they would totally make the cut. There’s been so many good things in the blogisphere this week, I guess I’m going to spend my entire weekend in the kitchen.

  30. those look awesome!! i never have instant yeast on hand, would regular old yeast work as long as i mixed it and let it sit with warm water first?

    • Are you referring to the active dry/rapid rise yeast in the little packets? That is what I mean by instant yeast and what I used in my buns. :)

  31. These are so pretty- I would have never guessed that they were homemade!

  32. These are just beautiful Lindsay, really perfect!

  33. Beautiful buns! :) When it comes to hamburger buns, homemade is always worth the effort!

  34. totally agree – homemade buns ruin anything storebought even more!

  35. These look perfect!

  36. Beautiful buns! :) Seriously they are just perfect little golden domes and the seeds are the perfect touch!

  37. So funny that you posted this! I was literally just looking up homemade burger buns and found the one from KAF. Plan on making them this weekend!

  38. I was SO excited when you responded to my comment yesterday and told me these were homemade – genius!!! They seem pretty attainable too, even better!

    Also weird side note (sorry it’s Friday and I’m a little psychitzo) are we doing another challenge for May? May is my bday month so let’s make it good! lol

    beautiful photos as always! :)

    • That’s the plan! Haven’t 100% decided on the topic yet, but I will be announcing it on Wednesday. :) So happy to hear you’re excited already!

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