Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns Recipe

Leave the store-bought buns in your past.
Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

The perfect grassfed burger needs a worthy bun—and good ones are hard to find. To make this whole-wheat bun, I called on my bread baking training in France and Mel Darbyshire, head baker of the Grand Central Baking Company in Portland. It is tender to the bite and moist but stands up to a substantial burger. The user-friendly dough can be mixed by machine or hand. It rises once before you pat it flat and stamp out rounds—just like making biscuits. The second rise occurs in short order before baking, cooling, and splitting them to eat within a day, or to freeze for up to one month. (Reprinted from Pure Beef, Running Press, 2012)

Whole-Wheat Hamburger Buns
Makes 8 (4-inch) buns

2 cups (9 ounces) whole-wheat flour
2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm milk (75°F to 80°F)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
2 teaspoons flax seeds or sesame seeds

1. To mix the dough, whisk the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, a food processor, or a large mixing bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, oil, and egg. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir together with a few strokes of a rubber spatula to form a rough dough.

2. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. The dough will clean the sides of the bowl, but may stick to the bottom. Using the spatula, scrape the dough hook and the bottom of the bowl to collect the dough into a ball.
If using a food processor, use the dough blade and pulse the machine until the dough comes together in a ball. Run the machine for 1 minute to knead it.
If kneading by hand, work the spatula firmly through the dough to collect as much of the flour as you can. Scrape the dough onto an unfloured countertop. Set a kitchen timer for 12 minutes and knead rhythmically but not hurriedly. The dough will become very elastic and will be tacky. Using the spatula, collect the dough, including any scraps from the counter and your hands, into a ball. Flour your hands and place the dough back into the bowl.

3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the dough doubles in volume.

4. To shape and bake the buns, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust the counter with flour and tip out the dough, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula to release it in one large clump. Flour your hands and press the dough 3/4 inch thick. Dust a biscuit cutter about 31/2 inches in diameter to cut out 8 circles, collecting the dough and patting it down again 1 to 2 times until all the dough gets used. Space them onto the baking sheet and press them with your palm so that they are 4 to 41/2 inches wide.

5. Let them rise uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes until they are about 11/2 inches high.
Preheat the oven to 350°F with the racks centered in the oven. Brush the tops of the buns with water and sprinkle with the flax seeds.

6. Bake until they are golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool to room temperature before splitting with a bread knife and store at room temperature or in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag.

28 Responses to Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns Recipe


July 6, 2012 at 9:08 am

This was an awesome recipe. I made them for the fourth of july. We were out of buns and i thought that our local market was closed so i made these.meveryone liked them and my husbnad especially like that his hamburger buns actually had flavor. Thank you for sharing. 🙂


Gretchen M. Stone

August 5, 2012 at 10:06 am

These hamburger buns were delicious; we won’t be buying store-bought buns again. It amazes me that it’s so easy to make more flavorful food at home, using a few simple ingredients, when grocery store food is packed with preservatives, corn syrup and sodium. The extra time in the kitchen is worth it. Thanks so much Lynne!



August 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm

So glad you like ’em! I just made these over the weekend myself–slider sized–and it reminded me what a snap they are to make. Even in the summertime, when we don’t think about baking, these buns are worth it. (Hint: I bake them in the cool of the evening.)


September 3, 2012 at 9:47 am

Labor Day burgers planned for dinner, and I forgot to buy rolls. I just finished making these and they are amazing! There was a 1/4 burger size piece of dough after making 8 rolls so I made into a sample. looking forward to the full size versions at dinner.

FYI, I made 1/2 with sesame seeds instead of flax so my teen will eat them. Worked perfectly.



September 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm

That’s very resourceful of you to make them yourself instead of dashing out to the store on a holiday weekend. Hope you–and your teen–enjoyed the full-sized version.


September 5, 2012 at 10:18 am

Would you recommend using all wheat flour for those of us who are trying our best to cut out processed foods? Would 4 cups of the whole wheat flour still work?



September 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Thanks for asking. I wish it was that simple–bread baking never is. Unfortunately, using 100% whole wheat flour will likely make these rolls somewhat dry and certainly heavy. I understand your commitment to making wholesome choices. There are some excellent sources of white flour that is locally grown and stone-milled with the germ and bran sifted out, so that it is far more nutritious than big brands. If you give my recipe a try–or find a different recipe for 100% whole wheat buns that you like–I hope you will write back and let me know.


January 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I’m doing your receipe but I don’t get it, if it’s a 2 of 1/4 teaspoons of yeast or 2 and 1/4 teaspoons. Please help!



January 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I made this recipe yesterday. I cut it in half since it was just for my husband and I. I decided to make 2 buns and use the rest of the dough for cinnamon rolls. Both turned out fantastic. This will definitely be a go to recipe for me.



January 30, 2013 at 9:14 am

Great idea: whole wheat cinnamon buns! For future reference, these buns do freeze really well and on a hectic evening, I depend on having a stash. Of course, fresh baked is always best!

Kathy R.

February 27, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Hi, I was just making this dough using a 7-cup Cuisinart food processor. After about 25 seconds (to kneed), my machine started smoking. I’m pretty new to bread making and perhaps should have known this was not a powerful enough food processor to kneed dough…?? Just a head’s up… 🙂



April 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Wow. I’ve made dough in a lot of different food processors (generally Cuisinarts) and never had any trouble. This does not sound normal, especially given the brand. Have you considered contacting Cuisinart?


May 31, 2014 at 11:30 pm

I tried this recipe today in my new 14 cup Cuisinart on the dough cycle. It did the same thing. It stopped working and I could smell it burning. This is only the second time I have used my new processor. I am bummed out! This is why I bought it, so I could mix dough now and then.

So word of caution when using a food processor for this recipe, I think it is a little too gooey and heavy for the food processor.

I finished up the dough by hand and the rolls came out quite nice!


March 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Thanks for a great recipe! I have tried other recipes for whole wheat buns before that just didn’t turn out. These were perfect, no modifications necessary. This is recipe is definitely a keeper. Also, I love that you listed the weight of the flour. I am relatively new to measuring by weight, but I really like the idea. I only wish that there were more American cookbooks that used that method of measuring. Hopefully it will catch on! Thanks again!



March 13, 2013 at 9:19 am

I *do* so depend on my scale for baking, especially. It saves so much time and it far more accurate, so you can get the same results time after time. I also use my scale for making coffee (by the gram) in our French press.


May 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Oh my! I just made these and they’re fantastic! Thank-you so much for sharing! My daughter can’t eat glucose-fructose and corn syrup and these are perfect for BBQ time! THanks!!!



May 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog so i came to “return the favor”.
I’m trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!



June 19, 2013 at 11:51 am

Hi Lynne-
Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe! I made them yesterday and they turned out great. I needed a bun that would handle shredded BBQ beef and they definitely did that without being too heavy or dense. My husband liked them so well he started talking about making dinner rolls with it! I also like that it uses whole wheat flour and flax seed so there’s added fiber.



June 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Thanks, Nancy. These do the trick, don’t they? This week, I shaped the dough into hot dog rolls. Pretty versatile all around!

Rob Hill

August 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Love this so much! This was the first time I ever tried making anything with yeast. I’ve always been afraid to try it because I’ve heard/read so many horror stories about how it didn’t work or somehow the recipe was messed up and the bread didn’t rise properly. I’d already bookmarked a cpl recipes for buns and was going to try them this evening but for some reason I just wasn’t “feeling” them so I went to Google to search for a whole wheat recipe for buns and came across this. I combined these with a recipe for Turkey Spinach burgers from epicurious and it was amazing. The buns by themselves were awesome tho! Thank you so much for sharing this!



August 23, 2013 at 8:52 am

Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe. I live in Belgium and finding basic things such as hamburger buns can be difficult. I am absolutely in love with this recipe. The buns taste amazing and they are so very easy to make. Hubby made pulled pork and the buns were perfect. Thank you so much!



August 29, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Made a batch today and they are AWESOME! My kids loved them too. I’m allergic to eggs, so substituted ground flax seed and it worked perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing!


Tracy S

March 6, 2014 at 10:15 am

This is an awesome recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it. I didn’t have a cookie cutter so I had to improvise and found that my large canning jar ring was exactly 3 1/2″ across. I will never buy burger buns again!!



June 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Used 1 Tb of honey instead of sugar. Also used dry milk and water in place of milk to save money. Worked out great. Burgers tonight!



June 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Can i leave the dough to rise for more than 2 hours, around 3 and a half hours? Can’t wait to try them tomorrow!!! 🙂



June 26, 2014 at 7:04 am

Hi Eleanora,
If you need to leave the dough for more than 2 hours, I recommend letting it rise for 90 minutes, then refrigerating it until you’re ready to finish the buns. Or, you could put the dough in a cool place (55-60 degrees F) to rise for that length of time. Let me know how it works out for you.

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