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Make Your Own: Hamburger Buns

In this new blog franchise, editors and test kitchen professionals will take on the DIY side of being a home cook to answer the question, "Is it really worth it?" In this update, editorial team member Hannah Klinger tackles making hamburger buns at home--just in time for National Hamburger Month.

We love to make our own pickles and French fries, even grind meat for our own patties. But when it comes to buns, we just grab a bag from the bread aisle. So, in the spirit of National Hamburger Month, I wanted to find out: Is it worth it to make your own buns?
 
No, not really. They’re about as labor intensive as any from-scratch bread, meaning a very sticky dough, lots of kneading, and a couple hours rising time. Also, homemade buns like to spread…a lot. Next time I could try baking in a large muffin tin, but this might prevent an all over sheen from the egg wash.
 
Texture is number one when it comes to buns: They should be soft, almost pillowy. Manufacturers have a magic formula for achieving this (Refined flour? Steamed Buns?), but my homemade buns were too dense and chewy. A brioche dough might be a solution, but I’d rather save my calories for the patty.
 
Pricewise, the savings aren’t there. A package of 8 costs around $2, and the ingredients for homemade (including yeast) run about that much. You might be able to control the size and shape—these monsters might suit a Hungryman contest—but again, too much bun just distracts from the burger.  
 
So if you’ve got the time and the gumption, go for it. But if you’d rather save a little time and sanity, stick to store bought. 
 
Fun fact: In China, McDonalds hamburgers are advertised with much larger buns and just a sliver of meat. McDonalds found that Chinese customers preferred more bread (akin to steamed buns, or baos, a popular snack) and cared little about the filling.