How to make Soft Burger Buns

Discover the secret to fluffy burger buns with Tangzhong. Transform your burgers with soft, pillowy buns that will elevate your dining experience

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Burger buns with Tangzhong are a delightful variation of the classic burger bun recipe that incorporates a Japanese bread-making technique called Tangzhong. Tangzhong involves cooking a small portion of the dough to create a roux-like mixture, which is then added to the rest of the dough. This technique results in burger buns that are incredibly soft, fluffy, and have a longer shelf life.

The burger buns with Tangzhong have a golden-brown exterior with a slightly glossy finish. When you bite into them, you’ll experience a pillowy texture that is both light and moist. The Tangzhong method enhances the overall structure of the buns, allowing them to hold up well to hearty burger patties and various toppings without becoming too dense or falling apart.

The taste of these burger buns is subtly sweet and buttery, providing the perfect complement to any type of burger. They can be easily customized with different seasonings or toppings, such as sesame seeds or poppy seeds, to add an extra layer of flavor and visual appeal.

Whether you’re grilling up a classic beef burger, a juicy chicken sandwich, or a flavorful veggie burger, burger buns with Tangzhong are an excellent choice to elevate your culinary creations. They are versatile, easy to make, and will undoubtedly impress anyone who takes a bite. So next time you’re preparing a burger feast, consider giving these Tangzhong burger buns a try for an unforgettable dining experience.

Short history

Burger buns with Tangzhong, also known as “Hokkaido milk buns,” have gained popularity in recent years for their soft and fluffy texture. The use of Tangzhong, a roux-like mixture of flour and water, is the secret ingredient that sets these buns apart. Here’s a short history of how this delicious combination came to be:

The origins of Tangzhong can be traced back to Japan, specifically the Hokkaido region, known for its rich dairy products and unique bread-making techniques. In the 1990s, a Chinese cookbook called “65°C Bread Doctor” by Yvonne Chen introduced Tangzhong to the wider public.

Tangzhong is made by cooking a small amount of flour and water together into a thick paste or roux. This mixture is then added to the bread dough, resulting in buns that stay moist and tender for a longer period. The gelatinized starch in the Tangzhong absorbs and retains more moisture, creating a light and airy texture.

The popularity of Tangzhong spread quickly, and home bakers and professional chefs around the world began experimenting with it in their bread recipes. Eventually, Tangzhong found its way into the realm of burger buns, where it transformed the humble bun into a pillowy delight.

The unique texture and taste of burger buns with Tangzhong caught the attention of food enthusiasts and quickly became a trend in the baking community. People loved the softness and lightness of the buns, which enhanced the overall burger experience.

Today, burger buns with Tangzhong are widely enjoyed in various culinary settings, from home kitchens to artisanal burger joints. Bakers continue to experiment with different flavors and fillings, making them even more versatile and appealing.

In summary, the history of burger buns with Tangzhong is relatively recent, originating from Japan’s Hokkaido region and popularized through Yvonne Chen’s cookbook. This technique has revolutionized the way burger buns are made, providing a soft and fluffy texture that elevates the burger-eating experience.

Recipe variations to explore

Tangzhong is a technique used in baking to create soft and fluffy bread. It involves cooking a portion of the flour and liquid into a roux-like mixture, which is then added to the dough. Here are some variations for burger buns with Tangzhong:

1. Classic Tangzhong Burger Buns:
– Prepare the Tangzhong: In a saucepan, mix 1/4 cup bread flour with 1/2 cup water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens to a paste-like consistency. Remove from heat and let it cool.
– In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups bread flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, and the cooled Tangzhong mixture.
– Gradually add 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup water while kneading the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.
– Shape the dough into a ball and let it rise in a greased bowl, covered with a damp cloth, until it doubles in size.
– Punch down the dough and divide it into equal-sized portions. Shape each portion into a bun and place them on a baking sheet.
– Let the buns rise again until they double in size. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
– Brush the buns with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds on top if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
– Let the buns cool completely before slicing and using them for burgers.

2. Whole Wheat Tangzhong Burger Buns:
– Follow the same steps as the classic recipe but replace half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour.
– Adjust the liquid quantities as needed to achieve the right dough consistency.
– The whole wheat buns may require slightly longer baking time, so keep an eye on them while they are in the oven.

3. Sesame Tangzhong Burger Buns:
– Prepare the Tangzhong as mentioned in the classic recipe.
– After shaping the dough into buns, brush them with water and sprinkle sesame seeds generously on top.
– Allow the buns to rise and bake them as per the classic recipe.

4. Cheese and Herb Tangzhong Burger Buns:
– Prepare the Tangzhong and dough as mentioned in the classic recipe.
– Before shaping the dough into buns, knead in 1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or your choice) and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, or thyme).
– Shape the dough into buns, let them rise, and bake as per the classic recipe.

Feel free to experiment with different flavors, fillings, or toppings to customize your Tangzhong burger buns according to your preferences. 

Serving options

When it comes to serving burger buns made with Tangzhong, there are several options you can consider. Tangzhong is a technique that involves cooking a portion of the flour with water to create a gel-like mixture, which helps to retain moisture and increase the softness of the buns. Here are some serving options for burger buns made with Tangzhong:

1. Classic Burger: Use your Tangzhong burger buns to assemble classic burgers with your favorite patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Add cheese if desired.

2. Gourmet Burgers: Get creative and experiment with gourmet burger combinations. Consider adding toppings like caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, avocado, bacon, fried egg, or specialty sauces such as barbecue sauce, chipotle aioli, or truffle mayo.

3. Sliders: If you prefer smaller portions, turn your Tangzhong buns into sliders. Make mini-burgers using various meats or vegetarian options, and add a variety of toppings for flavor and texture.

4. Pulled Pork or Chicken Sandwiches: Tangzhong buns can also work well for pulled pork or chicken sandwiches. Slow-cooked, tender meat combined with barbecue sauce, coleslaw, or pickles can create a delicious combination with the soft and fluffy buns.

5. Veggie or Plant-Based Burgers: Consider using your Tangzhong buns for veggie burgers or plant-based patties. Add fresh veggies, vegan cheese, and flavorful spreads to enhance the taste.

6. Asian-Inspired Burgers: Give your burgers an Asian twist by incorporating flavors like teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, or Asian slaw. Pair them with Tangzhong buns for a unique fusion experience.

7. Gluten-Free or Alternative Diets: If you need gluten-free or alternative options, you can modify the recipe to use gluten-free flour or alternative flours like almond flour, coconut flour, or chickpea flour to make Tangzhong burger buns suitable for your dietary needs.

Remember to toast or lightly grill the Tangzhong buns before assembling your burgers for added flavor and stability.

How to store

To store burger buns with Tangzhong, you can follow these steps:

1. Allow the burger buns to cool completely before storing them. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the storage container and making the buns soggy.

2. Place the burger buns in an airtight container. You can use a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid or a resealable plastic bag. Make sure the container is clean and dry.

3. If you’re storing a large batch of burger buns, you can layer them with parchment paper or wax paper to prevent sticking.

4. Before closing the container, you can add a piece of paper towel or a food-grade moisture absorber to help absorb any excess moisture. This will help maintain the texture of the buns.

5. Store the burger buns in a cool, dry place. The ideal temperature is around room temperature or slightly cooler. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near sources of heat.

6. Check the buns periodically to ensure they remain fresh. If you notice any signs of mold or staleness, discard them immediately.

7. When you’re ready to enjoy the burger buns, you can reheat them in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for a few minutes to freshen them up. Alternatively, you can lightly toast them on a grill or in a toaster.

By following these steps, you should be able to store burger buns with Tangzhong and maintain their freshness for a few days.

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burger buns

Burger Buns

Burger buns are soft, round bread rolls specifically designed to hold and complement the ingredients of a burger. These fluffy buns typically have a slightly sweet taste and a light texture, making them the perfect vessel for juicy patties, fresh vegetables, savory sauces, and various toppings. Burger buns provide a balanced and satisfying eating experience, ensuring that every bite of your favorite burger is a delicious blend of flavors and textures.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine Asian
Servings 9
Calories 152 kcal


  • Mixing Bowl: A large bowl to mix and knead the dough.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: To accurately measure the ingredients.
  • Whisk or Fork: To mix the Tangzhong ingredients and incorporate them into the dough.
  • Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer (optional): Useful for kneading the dough if you prefer using a machine instead of kneading by hand.
  • Dough Hook (if using a stand mixer): A hook attachment to knead the dough.
  • Bench Scraper or Spatula: To scrape the dough off the counter and fold it during the kneading process.
  • Rolling Pin: To roll out the dough to the desired thickness.
  • Pastry Brush: To brush the tops of the buns with an egg wash or other glaze, if desired.
  • Baking Sheet or Tray: To place the shaped buns for proofing and baking.
  • Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Mat: To line the baking sheet and prevent sticking.
  • Oven: To bake the burger buns.


For Tangzhong

  • 45 ml water
  • 45 ml milk
  • 18 gr flour

For the Dough

  • 350 g Bread Flour
  • 5 g Instant Yeast 7g Active Dry Yeast or 17g Fresh Yeast
  • 18 g Sugar
  • 7 g Salt
  • 35 g Soft or melted Unsalted Butter
  • Tangzhong Mixture
  • 140 g Lukewarm Milk
  • 1 Large Egg


  • Start by making the Tangzhong. In a small pot, combine water, milk, and flour. This mixture pre-gelatinizes the starch in the flour, allowing the dough to absorb moisture better. Stir continuously using a balloon whisk over medium heat until a smooth paste forms. Set it aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, add lukewarm milk, sugar, yeast, egg, and melted butter. Give it a quick stir to combine.
  • Add the bread flour and salt to the bowl. Mix everything together until a shaggy dough forms.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  • Grease a bowl with a little oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean kitchen towel and let the dough proof for 60 minutes in a warm, draft-free area until it doubles in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough into 100g pieces and shape each piece into a round ball. Place the dough balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, leaving 2-3 cm of space between them.
  • Cover the tray with a clean towel and let the dough balls proof for another 30 minutes, or until they double in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F) or Gas mark 5.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together an egg with a splash of milk to create an egg wash. Brush the risen dough balls with the egg wash, and sprinkle your favorite seeds on top for added flavor and texture.
  • Bake the buns in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until they turn golden brown.
  • Remove the buns from the oven and brush them with melted butter while they are still warm. This step adds a beautiful shine and enhances the flavor.
  • Let the buns cool slightly before serving. They can be enjoyed as is or filled with your favorite ingredients, such as burgers, pulled pork, or even as breakfast sandwich buns.


Keyword buns, burger

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