Brown Sugar Burger Buns


Nothing sings summer more than an outdoor barbecue…the beaming sun shines brightly, a warm breeze floats kites high overhead, and children frolic on the lawn under a Water Wiggle. Remember those? Though Mother Nature has been fickle in the weather department lately, serving up extra portions of late spring rain in my neck of the woods, that didn’t stop me from unveiling the BBQ grill from under its cover this past Memorial Day holiday. Gauging from the smoke signals pluming here and there, my neighbors were on the same wavelength evidenced by the aroma of hickory, mesquite and apple wood in the air.

 Fresh baked Brown Sugar Burger Buns by Cakewalker

You may not know this, but I have a savory side to me that’s nearly as insatiable as my sweet side. My first kitchen job was as a Garde Manger working with fresh herbs and vegetables for cold dishes and grilling up duck skin to a crispy perfection, then used as a bacon-like garnish. The adjacent building is where the restaurant’s pastry kitchen was housed. You know I was taking a gander at the action going on there every chance I could get. As the years went on, I found myself working at various stations behind the lines of my employer’s kitchens, always keeping my eye on the pastry area, chatting up my comrades working there.

 Brown Sugar Burger Bun Ingredients

If you’ve been following my Facebook fan page, you may have seen the picture of the bread buns I posted there recently. To my surprise, they were a hit! A couple of friends even requested the recipe. This got me thinking that just maybe I could share a glimpse of my savory side, a momentary departure from baking pans and buttercream. I hope you won’t mind the indulgence…I promise it will be delicious!

 Brown Burger Sugar Buns Dough Ball


There’s so much talk these days about clean, sustainable eating and the farm-to-table concept is gaining in popularity. And I say it’s high time people took an interest in the locality of the food they consume. Have you seen the ingredient label of a commercially produced package of burger buns? Most contain ingredients whose multisyllabic names keep me tongue-tied and wondering if it’s something I really want to consume. 

So when I was challenged to a burger recipe contest, I wanted to rise to the occasion with a delicious bun made from fresh, simple, recognizable ingredients—one that would handle a piled-high stack of burger components without slipping and sliding into a mushy mess. The end product had to have good structure, a certain malty quality to it, and just a tad sweet. After all, it was intended for a specific burger recipe where all the flavors were considered, including a pairing with pale ale. To my delight, these Brown Sugar Burger Buns not only met my expectations, they exceeded them! A bun built for a burger, yet ideal for sandwiches and more.


Brown Sugar Burger BunsRepublished from June 6, 2011 


Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes

Yield: Makes 6 buns

Serving Size: 1 bun


As you gear up for the season and summer grilling gets underway at your home, consider making these buns—you’ll be a BBQ rock star when you present a burger to your family and friends on one of these!


  • 3/4 cup milk (heated to 120-130˚F)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/4 cup bread flour + more for the work surface
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast


  • Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine one cup of the flour, yeast and sugar. Add the heated milk to the dry ingredients (be sure the milk is within specified heat range) mixing on low speed until combined. Add the butter; then beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg; beat for an additional minute. Switch to the dough hook and scrape the bowl. Gradually stir in the remaining flour. Knead on medium-low to medium speed for about 7 minutes—the dough ball will swipe the sides of the bowl clean and likely climb the hook. Dough should be smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise undisturbed until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
  • Punch the dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough evenly into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball folding any edges under. Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, seam side down and evenly spaced. Press each ball with the palm and flatten to a 4-inch diameter. Cover; let rise until nearly doubled (about 45 minutes).
  • Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until nicely browned on top. Cool in pans for a couple of minutes; then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. May be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days. When ready to use, slice in half horizontally with a serrated knife.


There’s wiggle room here, so if you’d like to health them up a bit more, try swapping out ¾ to one cup of the bread flour for whole wheat flour. You can reduce the sugar measurement too, but I’d go no lower than 1 packed tablespoon of brown sugar—the yeast needs it to excite its leavening action. Salt concerns? Eliminate it entirely by substituting unsalted butter in the same amount. Just remember, any alterations will yield different results.





  1. Thanks for the inspiration, again Brooks. This sounds silly but I never even considered the possiblitly that buns could be made at home. I actually love this idea and would love to give these a shot and hone my baking skills at the same time. Great post!

    • Brooks Walker says

      You’re welcome Dan. I hope you’ll give them a shot—consider trying the options listed in the recipe notes for whole wheat versions. It’s a pleasure to have you here and happy baking!

  2. Christiane ~Taking On Magazines says

    I love home made buns. My biggest problem with them is thinking about making them early enough to get them done in time for the meal. I love the idea of brown sugar in the dough, Brooks.

    It’s good to see your savory side Brooks, especially since I have such a small sweet side but love savory. Welcome to the dark side.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Thank you Christiane! I told myself when I brought the blog back I’d diversify the entries and I’m glad you’re enjoying it. The nice thing about the dough, once you’ve done the first proof you can stow it in the fridge in a plastic bag for a day or two. That way if you’re thinking about it on Thursday you can make the dough, then bring it out for shaping, 2nd proof and bake off on Saturday morning in time for the BBQ.

  3. Thatz a beautiful write up before coming to the point of making homemade burgers. Enjoyed reading. The recipe and instructions are clear and concise.Thank you.
    For now I don’t have a stand mixer – but any suggestion on the alternative to stand mixer. Would appreciate your response. Thanks.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Much obliged Tehmina, I’m glad you stopped by. You can do this with a hand-held electric mixer up until just after the egg is added and beat in. Then switch to a sturdy spoon while you add more of the remaining flour. At some point, the mixture will become too difficult to hand stir. Just turn the partially mixed dough onto a board and begin kneading it by hand while adding the last of the flour. Be sure to knead for a good 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should spring back when you give it the Pillsbury Doughboy poke.

  4. I’m with you Brooks. I don’t want to eat anything with multisyllabic names! These hamburger buns look awesome and I sure your burgers were too!

  5. Oh my gosh! Brooks, your buns are beautiful! I mean, I just want to hold your buns in my hands and nibble on them. Okay, I have to stop or I’ll be here all night getting fresh with your buns. In all seriousness, they are gorgeous. I have not yet mastered “How To Not Kill Yeast” so I will put these on my list of things to overcome for the betterment of mankind. Thanks for sharing them. I love this savory side of you!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Jeanne, you’ve got me laughing. Thanks for the smile and kind words. I have complete faith you’ll nail yeast proofing. Give the recipe a try while TCP tends to the grill. Cheers!

  6. These buns sound delicious! I love what brown sugar does to a bread recipe…it adds such good flavor. Thank for sharing…I will be trying these soon!

    • Brooks Walker says

      I love the flavor brown sugar imparts too. Thank you for the lovely comment, Jodee, and best wishes on baking the buns!

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