Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

With all of the warm weather we’ve had here lately, I think grilling season is officially here.  It arrived a bit earlier than usual this year, but I’m not really complaining (though, I’m not entirely sure I’ve ruled out an April blizzard, either). I can come up with endless possibilities for grilling, but one of my favorites is the good old burger. They don’t have to be a fancy flavor or stuffed with cheese or bacon.  Just give me a standard hamburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayonnaise, and I am a happy girl.

The one part of the burger that I do tend to get a bit picky about, though, is the roll. While you won’t find me turning down burgers at a cookout because of an ordinary store bought roll, I definitely prefer homemade burger buns.  Most often, I make homemade buns using my light and soft dinner roll recipe (a family favorite passed on to me from my grandmother)… And, if you’re looking for regular white rolls, it is definitely a winner.

The thing is, I often prefer whole wheat rolls to white rolls.  So, I decided to work on a whole wheat version of the beloved dinner rolls.  I sweetened them a bit with honey (instead of the granulated sugar in the original recipe) since I thought it would pair nicely with the wheat flour. Since I did use 100% whole wheat flour (a blend of white whole wheat and traditional whole wheat flour), the rolls weren’t quite as fluffy and soft as their white counterparts… That said, I think they turned out beautifully.  Of course, I really tend to like the flavor and texture of whole wheat bread… But, if that’s not your thing, try using half whole wheat flour and half bread flour and adjust from there!

I was really pleased with the flavor of the rolls… The honey added a nice touch of sweetness to balance out the flavor of the traditional whole wheat flour. They would make great dinner rolls, but I thought they were especially delicious with some freshly grilled burgers on a warm afternoon!

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
Makes 12 rolls

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups traditional whole wheat flour
  • Additional 1 tablespoon of milk to brush on rolls

Combine the milk and butter in a microwaveable dish (or liquid measuring cup). Microwave on high for approximately 30 – 45 seconds, until the milk is warm, but not hot.  The butter will soften but may not be completely melted.

Transfer the milk and butter to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the honey and sprinkle the yeast on top of the liquids.  Stir to dissolve.  Add in the egg, white whole wheat flour, and salt.  Use a large dough whisk (or a wooden spoon) to beat the mixture by hand until a sticky, loose dough begins to form.  Gradually stir in the whole wheat flour until the dough thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Use your (clean!) hands to knead the dough, working in the remaining whole wheat flour and adding just enough to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.  Knead for about 6 – 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft.  Be careful not to add too much flour or the dough may get too stiff and tough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until it has just about doubled in size, and the imprint of two fingers remains in the dough.  Punch down the dough and let it rise until it has doubled again.

After the second rise, punch down the dough and divide it into three sections.  Divide each section of dough into four equal pieces.  Roll each piece of dough into a ball and then use the palm of your hand to flatten it into a smooth disk.  Place the shaped rolls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Cover the shaped rolls, and let them rise again until they get puffy and an imprint remains when you lightly touch the sides of the rolls.

As the rolls finish rising, preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush the rolls lightly with the remaining tablespoon of milk, then bake for about 12 – 13 minutes.  The rolls will be golden on top and sound hollow when tapped lightly.  Allow the rolls to cool on the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

24 Responses to Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

  1. We grill a lot of burgers throughout the summer. I’ve never made a home-made burger bun and love that you did these with whole-wheat. I must try my hand at your recipe soon.

  2. Incredibly beautiful, Jen, and you just reminded me that I want to learn how to make Fuddrucker’s buns. Did you know King Arthur Flour sells a hot dog roll pan? Been eyeing that up for ages, we love kielbasa and hot dogs on the grill in the summer.

  3. Nothing beats a homemade hamburger roll! I usually do half whole wheat flour and half white, but you’ve inspired me to give 100% whole wheat a try this summer.

  4. Oh my goodness – this is awesome! As much as I love baking, I can’t believe I never thought to make my own hamburger buns. We have to purchase a new grill this season, so I can’t try them today, but I am on that (like dirt to bare feet) as soon as we buy one!

  5. I tried my hand at burger rolls last year and am still working on perfecting them. Im with you on the classic burger though – does anything really beat it? I was trying to not get myself too excited for warm weather (still waiting on the last cold snap too) but with temps in the 80s and up this week grill season is here!

  6. Hi,
    I have just discovered your blog and I already love it! congratulations! it is a really good blog, I love the recipes, the pictures and your stories :-).
    I was wondering what is the difference between “white whole wheat flour” and “traditional whole wheat flour”. It is possible to use only one of them to make this recipe because I live in Denmark and Iam not sure if I can get both kinds of wheat flour. Thanks in advance.


    • Hi, Victoria – Thanks for stopping by! White whole wheat flour is simply a different variety of whole wheat flour (typically available from King Arthur Flour here in the US). Traditional whole wheat flour should work just fine.

      • Hi, thanks for your reply. I can get traditional whole wheat flour in the supermarkets here so I will try the recipe soon and I will let yo know the results :-).

  7. I made these for dinner tonight to go with fresh ground bear burgers (my husband got one in Canada). My whole family LOVED the buns – even my PICKY child! Thanks so much, we will be using this often!

  8. LOVE the blog! I am so excited to have this recipe. I have a first time batch covered and rising beautifully. Can’t wait to serve them with vegan sloppy joes tonight! I live in rural Mississippi and can not get bread here that is not made with a bunch of chemicals, preservatives and dough conditioners. I try and make all my own loaf bread and tortillas. Thank you for sharing!

  9. These rolls taste amazing but I don’t recommend them for hamburger rolls. They have a very yeasty flavor that almost over-powered the hamburgers. My husband and daughter agreed. So if you were to fill them with something tangy like pulled pork it might work better.

  10. About to start my third batch of these. I freeze them and they last about a month. We use them with hamburgers, veggie burgers, well, anything that goes on a bun! Thanks for the recipe!

  11. We loved everything about these buns. They are 100% whole wheat, they’re sweet and yeasty and they freeze well. We think they go fine with just about anything you can put in a bun. I even like to eat them with just some butter! Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  12. I just made these. I always make our bread from scratch but it never occurred to me to make my own buns…until today when I planned on having veggie burgers for dinner and we were out of buns. Well… I have never been more pleased with an outcome. Absolutely beautiful and perfect crumb. I topped mine with sesame seeds and they are wonderful!

  13. I’ve made these rolls several times now and they are always perfect. The only change I make is to use all white whole wheat — my kids love them and they are far better (and better for us) than anything we can get at the store. I can’t help but “test” one warm from the oven with a bit of butter each time I bake them. Got to make sure they are OK to serve! ;)