Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

These buns are everything you want in a delicious hamburger bun, fluffy on the inside but sturdy enough to hold your favorite burger or sandwich. These super soft buns use whole wheat flour, adding more flavor and nutrition. Trust me, you’ll never want to go back to store-bought again!

Whole wheat hamburger bun in bread basket

As the weather warms up, grills get fired up and the excitement for summer begins. We love to throw burgers on our grill about once a week in the summer for a quick and easy dinner. But these days, a nice juicy burger on a store-bought bun definitely leaves something to be desired, both in taste and nutrition. (Seriously, why do most commercial buns need to have high fructose corn syrup in them?) That’s why I typically double the batch and freeze some so we always have some on hand!

Bread baking gets a bad rap for being difficult, and using whole grains adds another dimension of trickiness as it’s notorious for ending up dense, flat, and dry. This definitely doesn’t have to be the case, though! We’ll talk about the ingredients and methods you should use to get a nice fluffy rise to your whole wheat hamburger buns. This recipe is fairly forgiving as far as bread goes, so even if you’re a total beginner to bread baking, I recommend giving these a try.

Tools You Might Need

  • Stand mixer with a dough hook (You don’t have to use a mixer, but it will make the process faster and your life a lot easier. I’m still using an heirloom 1960s Bosch mixer. It doesn’t have much for bells and whistles, but it gets the job done!)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowl
  • Baking sheets

Ingredients

We’re going to go in-depth here for those of you who might be beginner bakers. If you’re pretty familiar with bread baking, feel free to skim through this part.

  • Active dry yeast – Yeast is an essential part of bread baking, as it’s the ingredient that will allow the bread to rise. You want to make sure your yeast is quality and that it is still active. This is one instance where the expiration date on a package is extremely important. If it’s much past the date and you have not been storing your yeast in the freezer (which I highly recommend to keep your yeast as fresh as possible), then you will likely have to throw out and purchase new. The brand I recommend is Fleichmann’s, which can be purchased in most grocery stores in packets or jars. Since we bake a lot of homemade breads, I purchase larger packages for much cheaper on Amazon.
  • Water – It’s important to use only warm water when working with live yeast. Yeast thrives in temperatures between 80° and 110°. Cold water will not activate the yeast, and hot water will actually kill it. Yeast is kind of like Goldilocks; everything has to be just right.
  • Oil – Really any liquid vegetable oil will work well. I typically use canola. Avocado oil also works very well if you are concerned about consuming better omega 3 ratios.
  • Sugar – This recipe calls for plain granulated sugar, but honey can also be substituted in an equal amount and provides excellent results.
  • Egg – The egg adds moisture and a little additional rise.
  • Salt – Salt adds flavor and prevents the dough from over-proofing. Salt will kill yeast, so it’s important to add it in after you have added the other ingredients first.
  • Whole wheat flour – Use quality, high-protein whole wheat flour. Start with the amount listed in the recipe, but know that you may need to add more depending on the baking environment. (Higher humidity typically requires more flour than dry conditions in winter.) I typically end up adding ¼-1/2 C more, but it’s important that you watch the texture of the dough more than the amount of flour added. Too much flour will also lead to a dense final product. The goal is to add as little flour as possible while keeping the dough from being too sticky.
  • All-purpose flour – I do add all-purpose flour as a portion of the flour. This is to increase the rise of the dough and avoid a heavy final product. If you would like to use entirely whole wheat flour, these will still make delicious buns, but just know that you will be sacrificing texture to some degree.
  • Vital wheat gluten – As I have mentioned, whole grain products are notorious for baking up dense. Additional gluten, which is the protein wheat, is a key component in baking fluffy whole wheat bread. If you want to try baking with 100% whole wheat, you really can’t skip this ingredient without compromising how well your dough will rise and the final texture. It only takes a small amount to make a significant difference. I typically buy mine online, but it can be found in most grocery stores.

Okay, now let’s talk about the process.

Directions

Step 1:
In the mixer bowl, add yeast. Add warm water and a little bit of sugar, about a ½ tsp. This will activate the yeast and give it something to feed on. Let the yeast mixture stand for 5 minutes.
In this time, it should start to get bubbly.

Yeast in stand mixer

While you wait, mix your whole wheat, all-purpose, and gluten flour together in a bowl.

Measuring vital wheat gluten

Whole wheat bun flours measured in bowl

Step 2:
Add the oil, sugar, egg, salt, and 1/3 of the flour mixture. Pulse with mixer to form a soft dough. Dough should be moist and sticky at this point.

Whole wheat bun dough, pulsed to form soft, shaggy dough

Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. Keep adding flour 2 T at a time until the dough is no longer shaggy and sticky. Allow the machine to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about another 5 minutes.

Whole wheat bun dough, kneaded to form a smooth ball

Smooth ball of whole wheat bun dough

Step 3:
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. (To prevent the dough from sticking on your hands, you can coat your hands in a little bit of oil.) Then shape each piece into a ball by stretching the dough and tucking and folding it under the bottom. Place each ball 3” apart on a greased baking sheet.

Whole wheat buns, shaped on baking sheet

Step 4:
Cover with a light towel or cloth to prevent buns from drying out during the proofing process. Set in a warm place and let rise 60-90 minutes. Rise time will vary based on the temperature of the location. Ideally, buns should double in size.

Whole wheat bun dough, shaped and proofed

Then bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Whole wheat hamburger buns, baked

Can you make more than hamburger buns with this dough?

Yes! This recipe produces a very versatile bun dough. I have formed it into hot dog buns, hoagie-style buns, and smaller slider buns, all with great results. Just be aware that baking times may vary slightly.

How to shape dough for hot dog buns:

  • For hot dog and slider buns, divide the dough into 16-17 pieces instead of 12.
  • Shape into a hot dog form by rolling the dough between your palms to create a rope-like shape that is 6″ long and about 1″ in diameter. (Pretend like you’re 5 again, making a snake with play-dough.)
  • Place on a baking sheet about 1″ apart. Keep in mind that buns should double in size. It is our goal for the buns to touch after rising. This encourages the dough to rise upwards vs. outwards and gives tall, fluffy sides to the bun.
  • Bake at 425° for 8-9 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Whole wheat hot dog buns

How to shape dough for hoagie-style buns:

  • Divide the dough into 12 pieces.
  • Shape like a hot dog form by rolling the dough between your palms. Create a rope of dough that is 8″ long and about 2″ in diameter. Place on baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart.
  • Bake at 425° for 10-11 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

These buns are everything you want in a delicious hamburger bun, fluffy on the inside but sturdy enough to hold your favorite burger or sandwich. These super soft buns use whole wheat flour, adding more flavor and nutrition.
Print Recipe
Whole wheat hamburger buns

Ingredients

  • 2 T active dry yeast
  • 1 C warm water
  • C oil (vegetable, canola, avocado)
  • ¼ C sugar (or honey)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 T vital wheat gluten flour

Instructions

  • In the mixer bowl, add yeast. Add warm water and a little bit of sugar, about ½ tsp. This will activate the yeast and give it something to feed on. Let the yeast mixture stand for 5 minutes. In this time, it should start to get bubbly.
    While you wait, mix your whole wheat, all-purpose, and gluten flour together in a bowl.
  • Add the oil, sugar, egg, salt, and 1/3 of the flour mixture. Pulse with mixer to form a soft dough. Dough should be moist and sticky at this point.
    Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. Keep adding flour 2 T at a time until the dough is no longer shaggy and sticky. Allow the machine to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about another 5 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. (To prevent the dough from sticking on your hands, you can coat your hands in a little bit of oil.) Then shape each piece into a ball by stretching the dough and tucking and folding it under the bottom. Place each ball 3” apart on a greased baking sheet.
  • Cover with a light towel or cloth to prevent buns from drying out during the proofing process. Set in a warm place and let rise 60-90 minutes. Rise time will vary based on the temperature of the location. Ideally, buns should double in size.
    Then bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Notes

Slider Bun Instructions: Divide the dough into 16-17 pieces instead of 12 and shape according to recipe. Bake at 425° for 8-9 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Hot Dog Bun Instructions: Divide the dough into 16-17 pieces. Shape into a hot dog form by rolling the dough between your palms to create a rope-like shape that is 6″ long and about 1″ in diameter. Place on a baking sheet about 1″ apart. Bake at 425° for 8-9 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Hoagie-style Bun Instructions: Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Shape like a hot dog form by rolling the dough between your palms. Create a rope of dough that is 8″ long and about 2″ in diameter. Place on baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart. Bake at 425° for 10-11 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Servings: 12 buns

Looking for recipes to serve with your delicious homemade buns? Check out the recipes below!
Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

Did you try this recipe for Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns? We’d love to know! Leave a comment below telling us how it went.

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