How to Make Brioche Hamburger Buns

These buns slice like cake. So rich. So buttery. So delicious. They can handle thick juicy burgers or grilled whole chicken breasts and all the condiments without falling apart on you so easily. This is the recipe that deserves a place in your bread repertoire. After all, you’re not looking at any old sandwich buns; these buns are made out of Nancy Silverton‘s brioche dough – the same dough with which she created the famous brioche tart, also known as the brioche tart that made Julia Child cry.

I still remember it like yesterday. It was towards the end of an episode of Baking with Julia on PBS featuring Nancy Silverton and her tart made with brioche dough, baked together with crème fraîche-based custard, topped with the so-called “secret sauce” (wine-infused caramel-based sabayon), and warm compote of dried fruits. Julia took a bite out of that brilliant ensemble and got so choked up with tears of joy (and gratitude?) that she could barely speak.

I was much younger back then and, though interested enough to watch cooking shows, not very much involved with anything culinary. (Let’s just say that if someone had told me back then I would someday get crazy enough to write a food blog, I would have burst out laughing.) But I knew enough about who Julia was, and to see her respond in such a manner to a tart really impressed on my heart something I haven’t been able to label, something that has propelled me towards the kitchen — something not so different from the way I felt when I saw Babette’s Feast for the first time.

Having said all that, the reason I wanted to make these brioche buns is actually much less romantic and much more practical. I just got my cash-strapped self a refurbished KitchenAid professional stand mixer for 40% less than what it retails for. (Yes, I have lived thus far without one.) Great deal, I know, but the catch might be in the warranty which is good for only a year. I needed to find out soon if this thing works well or not. When I saw the instructions for Nancy Silverton’s brioche dough in Baking with Julia book, I knew this recipe would be a perfect strength test for my newly-refurbished machine.

The instructions are written with the assumption that you own a heavy-duty mixer. Kneading manually is not an option due to the softness and stickiness of the dough. The dough is so sticky that it wraps itself around the dough hook while slapping the sides of the mixing bowl loudly as it turns. A copious amount of butter is also supposed to be added to the wet dough which does not seem like something that can be done manually. In fact, only after hours of chilling will this dough be firm enough to handle by hand. Without a stand mixer, these instructions would be completely useless.

If you don’t have a heavy-duty mixer, you can also use my old stand-by brioche recipe which can be done manually. (Be sure to substitute 2 teaspoons of dry yeast for the fresh yeast.) In fact, the instructions even state that in the course of kneading this dough, even a heavy-duty mixer will heat up considerably. This seemed hardcore enough for a test recipe.

As it turns out, my mixer did a very good job handling the sticky dough. The brioche buns are delicious, toasted or untoasted. And if you’re one of those people who prefer your hamburger or sandwich buns richer and more buttery, you will definitely like these. I know I will be making these brioche buns for as long as my stand mixer shall live.

Brioche Hamburger Buns
Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s brioche dough in Baking with Julia
Makes 12 large buns or 24 smaller buns for mini burgers
Printable Version

In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix together one beaten large egg, 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, and 1/3 cup of warm milk. Sprinkle another cup of all-purpose flour on top of the sponge mixture. Let it rest, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. When the sponge is ready, you will see that the flour coating has cracked.

Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 4 beaten large eggs to the sponge. Set the bowl into the mixer. With the dough hook, mix on low for 2 minutes until the dough starts to come together. Add another 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and mix on medium for 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.

During this time, the dough will be very sticky. If it appears too wet and soft, you can add more flour to it, up to 3-4 tablespoons. If the dough wraps itself around the dough hook and slaps the sides of the bowl quite loudly, you’re doing it right.

After 15 minutes have elapsed, the dough should look like a napping caterpillar. Continue to mix on medium speed while gradually adding 1 1/2 sticks of butter to the dough, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Allow about 1 minute or so between each addition. The smooth dough may look like it is on a verge of falling apart, but pretend you’re not concerned and continue to mix. Everything will be okay once all the butter is fully incorporated. You will again see a soft smooth dough that clings to the dough hook and slaps the sides of the bowl passionately. Let it mix a couple of more minutes.

Transfer the dough from the mixing bowl to a greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

After the first rising, deflate the dough gently. Replace the plastic wrap and chill the dough 6 hours or overnight. After the chill, the dough is ready to be shaped.

With lightly-floured hands, shape the dough into 12 balls. (You want to work quickly as the dough is the easiest to handle when it’s still cold.) Place the balls on two large parchment-lined baking sheets, allowing 1 inch space between the balls. Flatten them with your palm until they become 1/4-inch thick discs that are about 4-4.5 inches in diameter. Cover the dough discs with kitchen towels and let them rise once again for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Glaze the dough balls with one beaten whole egg. You can sprinkle some poppy or sesame seeds on the glazed buns, if desired. To keep the seeds in place, reglaze the buns with the egg wash after the seeds have been sprinkled.

Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, rotating the sheets once to ensure even browning. When the buns are done, they should feel hollow when tapped. Transfer the finished buns to a cooling rack and let them cool under kitchen towels. Use right away or freeze for later. These buns freeze beautifully.


  • Use the highest quality all-purpose flour you can find. King Arthur works well.
  • Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before you start the recipe.
  • The butter should be soft, but not oily.
  • The dough may look disturbingly soft, but do not be tempted to add more flour to it. Towards the first 15-minute round of mixing, it will come together and form a smooth, albeit wet, dough.
  • Do not skimp on the mixing time. Mix for a full 15 minutes.
  • Add no more than a couple of tablespoons of butter at a time.
  • If you’re not going to use the dough right away, you can freeze it after the second rise. Just deflate it, wrap it well in a piece of plastic wrap, put it in a ziplock bag, and freeze up to one month. The frozen dough can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight and used directly out of the fridge.
    1. Yum yum yum yum yum! Did I say yum? I love brioche for sandwiches, but never thought to make them into buns for burgers! And, what lucky burgers they would be! Beautiful work, as usual!

    2. I’ve always wondered how to make brioche. Now I know. Those looks really great. They are a perfect match for burgers and any type of sandwich.

    3. Brilliant stuff Leela! They look perfect! I made brioche buns for hamburgers for Australia Day (which is usually a BBQ) and they were such a hit. If you’re looking for a hamburger Wagyu recipe, I posted on for Wagyu burgers which go really well with the brioche.

    4. you did such an amazing job – they are so golden and perfect – there is a place in brooklyn called Dumont Burger that uses the brioche bun – yours look better!

    5. Oh man… they look so good, but if only I had one of those fancy Kitchenaid mixers! :( One day…

      Enjoyed the post, will be stopping by often~

    6. I’ll have to seek out that episode with Julia Child and Silverton.
      Sad to say that this is one recipe I can’t try at the moment because I am KA-less :(

    7. I just finished making this recipe and it turned out quite well. Looks pretty much just like the picture. My only comment is that the 3rd rise of 45 minutes may not be long enough depending on how much the dough got manhandled. I’d suggest letting them rise until they’re at least 50% taller than when originally formed. Some of mine didn’t rise very much before baking (and I gave them 45 min + the preheat time of the oven) and turned out a little flatter than I’d prefer – others turned out just right.

      We’ll see how they taste tonight.

    8. OMG, this is so easy and wow are they ever fantastic for pulled pork buns, thank you for the recipe

    9. I tried the recipe today, but my dough looks nowhere near as sticky as yours did, but they came good nonetheless..awesome job!

    10. I added this post to my favorites a long time ago, eagerly awaiting the time when I would have a stand mixer. I received a new Kitchen Aid for Christmas and today was the day to make the gorgeous buns! Well, it killed my mixer. Badly. It makes all sorts of noises now and can’t even mix up a basic brownie batter. I think it was broken from the beginning though, because it has always seemed a bit loud and less powerful than others I’ve used. The good news is that I called Kitchenaid and they’re replacing my mixer free of charge. Hurray! I don’t think I’ll be trying this with my new one though. Now–what to do with the half mixed dough…

    11. Rachelle – Ouch. Sorry to hear that. Mine is a heavy-duty one, although the original recipe doesn’t say it needs to be heavy-duty. Perhaps I need to add a note to the post. Thanks!

    12. Why is the downloaded version in another language? How do I get an English version?

    13. Thank you for this recipe! I made it for a party I hosted and everyone loved them — they couldn’t believe they were homemade! :) Quick question for you — you say that they freeze beautifully — I am catering a party for 73 people and I’m hoping to make them in advance — how would you suggest freezing them? If I just put them in a large zip-lock bag, is that good? Or should I individually wrap them with saran wrap first? And when you take them out of the freezer, do you just let them thaw out naturally? And they stay moist?

      Thank you so much for your help!

    14. A – Oh, glad you and your guests liked them! When I freeze these buns, I just throw them 3-4 into a freezer bag and let them thaw out overnight in the refrigerator. To serve, I either split one up and toast it or wrap each in a slightly-moistened piece of paper towel and microwave it on medium briefly.

      However, in a catering situation, you may want to be extra careful. I would wrap the buns individually with Saran wrap, freeze them in a zipper bag (don’t crowd the bag or the buns get squished and lose their shape. Then thaw them, wrapped, in the fridge overnight. This prevent the buns from sticking together while they freeze and thaw which could result in the surface peeling off.

    15. Oh dear I really want to make these rather badly but I only have a food processor and a hand mixer. I might attempt it with the hand mixer in a much smaller batch and report back.

    16. A. Perry-Burns – Depending on what you mean by complications. As far as mixing the dough, unless you have a professional Hobart-type mixer, there will definitely be complications, i.e. mess and overheating of the motor since my 5-quart Kitchenaid bowl can’t handle any more dough than this and the motor (Kitchenaid heavy duty series) is already struggling with just this amount of dough and this much mixing.

      But if you can solve all of those mechanical issues, I think it should be fine. Professional bakers make large amounts of brioche dough all the time, and this recipe is developed by a pro baker, so it should work fine. Then again, I have never tried it.

    17. So I made these into slider buns. Again my dough was not sticky at all after the sponge andit was very hardto encorporate all that butter. How long should I bake the slider buns for?

      • Try measuring the flour by spooning it into the measuring cup without packing it down, then leveling off the top with the straight side of a butter knife. That’s the only thing I can think of. This dough recipe by Nancy Silverton is notoriously sticky, so sticky I had to pause my heavy-duty KitchenAid a few times during mixing for fear of wearing out its motor. (See Rachelle’s comment above.)

        How long to bake the sliders depends on how big they are. I’ve never made them into slider buns, so I have no idea. These hamburger buns takes about 20-25 minutes, so my guess is that it would be half that amount of time, or less (?).

    18. Hey leela, looks fantastic … Just a quick clarification: you don’t use any water at all in the sponge? I’ve just made the sponge and it looks disturbingly dry. Will the 4 eggs give me all the liquid I need to make that wet dough?
      Many thanks!

      • Yes, no water in the sponge — just the milk. When the sponge is ready, it will crack on the surface. This is Silverton’s method which is different from others I’ve seen. The dough becomes disturbingly wet especially after you’ve added 1 1/2 sticks of butter which provides both fat and extra moisture to the dough. Try it; you’ll see that it’s very wet.

    19. Do not try to make these with the Magimix Dough Blade. Even with the strongest engine it overheated. I’m not quite sure why they say that you can make dough in them because it overheats every time.
      Time to invest in a Kitchen Aid

    20. Well after having Brioche burger bun at The Back Abbey in Claremont CA I couldn’t wait. My poor Kitchen Aid struggled but I held onto it. Everything seemed ok until this second rise…. Nothing? I see another post said wait longer so I will, but they are little cold discs so far……

    21. it looked perfect in the refrig after 12 houers. i went back to get the dough after about 18 hour in refrig, it deflated a little, they did rise and bake well, backed for 22 min, the tops looked lie the pictures in the article but bottoms burned maybe its my oven?

      • mike – Could be. Or the baking sheets. Mine are double-layered baking sheets — the kind that doesn’t buckle in the oven.

    22. Hello,

      emailing from little old UK here! Finally got to grips with Cups, but how much is a stick of butter?? We do it by weight, and all packs are different sizes.

      Many Thanks!

    23. Why did mine look so much like volcanoes?? (ie, v. pointy in the middle) just waiting for them to cool to taste but they smell delish.

    24. i am trying bread flour instead of all purpose, added a little more milk and a few additional table spoons of butter to counter the higher absorption rate of the flour
      I will report the difference.

      also using the double layered sheet pan as suggested by Leela.

      volcano? maybe use a higher gluten flour, King Arthur is the best, a

    25. hello,

      thanks for your reply Mike. I wondered if it was something to do with:

      A. sugar (when you make a victoria sponge and it’s too sugary it peaks in the middle)

      B. The way I was making the balls? I only used some of the dough and froze the rest so just took it off the top which would be harder..etc..

      I don’t know what king arthur is? I’m in England!



    26. Thank you for the great recipe! I made them for a family hamburger cookout. Leftovers were turned into Brioche French Toast.

      • Mine also didn’t rise during the 45 min on the cookie sheet before baking, but I probably didn’t have my kitchen warm enough. I had windows open and a nice Spring breeze. When I remember I put my oven on warm for about 20 min then turn it off before putting the dough in to rise. I did that the night before for the first rise and the dough rose nicely.

    27. I made these on back to back cookouts, first for burgers and then for steak sandwiches. The recipe is flawless! People are still remembering the buns. Brilliant when lightly coated with butter and toasted on the grill. Thanks!

    28. My Kitchen Aide, not the professional model, did the job but wanted to dance all over the counter. It got somewhat warm but is just fine after the mix. I held on to it for dear life…..

      Great Rolls!