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Hot links, polish sausages, or hearty hot dogs are all perfect sandwiched between these homemade hot dog buns. Soft, fluffy interior and a chewy golden exterior make this freezer friendly bun delicious every time.
Am I the only one who’s always thought that store bought hot dog buns were…well…wimpy? They’re too soft, rarely large enough for hot dogs and toppings, and frankly have no real flavor.
It’s taken me years, but finally I’ve perfected my perfect homemade hot dog buns. They’re sturdy enough to make into chili dogs if you want, but also really delicious just on their own. The outside is chewy and golden and the inside perfectly soft.
They’re also ridiculously freezer friendly, so you can keep them on hand for those ‘I really don’t want to cook’ kind of nights.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Like most bread recipes, homemade hot dog buns don’t take a lot of ingredients. Here’s exactly what I use to get that perfect texture, and my suggestions for swapping in other things if you must.
- Bread Flour – I absolutely, 100% recommend buying good quality bread flour (Arrowhead mills, Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur) if you’re serious about making bread. It contains a higher protein content which gives you that essential ‘chew’ you want out of bread. That being said, all-purpose will work fine, but add a little less water, and expect a softer bun.
- Warm Water – I always start with warm water. It helps the yeast proof faster and everything moves along a bit faster. Of course, the longer the rise…the better the flavor! So feel free to use room temperature water instead if you’re prepared to wait more. But DO NOT go hotter than 110° (use an instant read thermometer) because that will kill the yeast and your bread will not rise.
- Honey – I like a little sweetener in the dough. It helps activate and feed the yeast, and flavor the hot dog buns. You can use honey, maple syrup, or granulated sugar.
- Salt – Don’t skip the salt! The buns will taste bland if you leave it out. I prefer a coarse kosher salt for most of my recipes.
- Yeast – I always use active dry yeast because I bake a lot and I can buy it in bulk for cheaper. Even though (spoiler alert) you don’t actually have to activate it (it will rise without the proofing and bubbling step), I usually do to get things moving along faster. You can use instant yeast in equal amounts, but this takes more than 1 packet. One packet is 2 ¼ teaspoons, and I prefer 1 tablespoons worth. If you use less, just know the rise time will be longer.
- Fat – Here’s the real secret ingredient, fat. It is entirely essential for texture and flavor and in my personal opinion, the absolute best one I’ve ever used for these homemade hot dog buns is rendered bacon fat. I know it sounds strange, but it lends a savory, amazing flavor, great texture, and overall pleasant workability to the dough. You can of course use softened (NOT melted) unsalted butter, lard, shortening, or olive oil.
Pro Tip – Bacon Fat vs. Lard
If you’d like to use bacon fat in your recipes (which I highly recommend not only for flavor but for reducing food waste), then get a fat storage jar and a fine mesh sieve or some cheesecloth. Then, whenever you cook bacon, strain the liquid fat through the sieve or cloth into the jar, close it, and pop it into the fridge. Whenever you’re ready to cook, pull the jar out and scoop out some of the soft, solid fat to use in place of oil or butter.
What’s the difference between that and lard? Lard doesn’t have the smoky, bacon flavor that you get from rendered bacon fat, but both will work!
How to Make Homemade Hot Dog Buns
There are three phases to perfect hot dog buns, but none of them are particularly difficult! I’ll walk you through the dough, shaping it, and baking off the buns below. Check out the video too for great visual tips!
Making the Dough
The secret to this recipe is knead it, knead it, and knead it some more. I prefer to make this bread by hand, because I can feel the difference in the dough as I work with it. A mixer can also work (for a single batch).
Combine the proofed yeast/honey/water mixture into the flour, salt, and fat (it’s okay if it’s in chunks), and stir until the flour is mostly absorbed. Then dump it onto a clean surface and start to push and pull it.
Don’t stop kneading for 10-12 minutes. It’s a workout, but I promise the end result of perfectly texture buns is worth it. By the end of that time, the dough should be soft, stick to itself, and when you stretch a small piece of it, it should become almost see-through before ripping.
It will seem sticky in the first 4-5 minutes. DON’T add more flour. I know! It’s so tempting! Instead, coat your hands with a little oil or extra fat and keep kneading. As the gluten forms in the dough, it will come together, I PROMISE.
Shaping Hot Dog Buns
After about 1 to 1.5 hours of rising in a warm place, you’ll have a big bowl of puffy dough. Punch it and enjoy that satisfying deflation.
- Separate the dough into 12 pieces that each weigh 112 grams. Use a kitchen scale to weigh them so they’ll be the same size and bake evenly. (It’s okay if they’re 113 or 111).
We like to make large hot dog buns because my husband often opts for hot links or other heartier sausage. This creates a great bun for that size. If you often purchase smaller dogs (like oscar meyer) then you can reduce that down to 96 grams and make 14.
- Take a piece of dough and gently flatten it into a circle with your fingers. Try not to knead or overwork it, because the dough will shrink back if you do. If that happens, just let it rest for a few minutes and work on another one while the gluten relaxes
- Use a small rolling pin or bottle to roll the circle into a wide oval.
- Starting at the bottom of the oval, roll it up like a croissant, using firm pressure from your hands to roll the dough up and out, so they’re thinner on the ends than the middle.
- Gently pinch the seams together and set them seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat about 3 inches apart from each other. If they’re too close, they’ll rise into each other and you’ll just have a few attached edges. It’s not the end of the world, I promise.
- Cover them with a damp (not wet) kitchen towel and let rise another 1-1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.
Baking Homemade Hot Dog Buns
In the last 30 minutes of rise time, preheat your oven and place a large, oven proof pan on the bottom rack. Heat up some water in a kettle, or at least be ready to microwave some before baking.
When the homemade hot dog buns are risen, brush the tops with milk. This creates a brown, beautiful top. You can also use an egg wash, but I’m usually too lazy and I hate tossing out all the extra.
Place the buns in the upper half of the oven. Carefully pull out the bottom rack with the preheated pan and pour in warm to hot water, then quickly close the oven. This creates steam and it’s essential to the texture of the outside of the bun. Don’t use cold water – it can shatter or damage your pan.
When they’re baked, remove them to a cooling rack and let them completely cool down before you store them. At room temperature you can keep them in an airtight container for up to 4 days before they go stale.
This homemade burger bun recipe doubles, triples, even quadruples beautifully. It’s very important to measure by weight in those cases so the dough reacts the same. Rising will take longer, and you’ll need to bake in batches.
Yes! I often triple the batch and freeze most of the buns. Store them in an airtight container or freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. I prefer a silicone bag which keeps freezer burn and frost off them very well. If you choose a cloth bag, use them within 1 month.
Because of the fat in this recipe, these homemade hot dog buns stay fresh for up to 4 days once they’re completely cool and kept in an airtight container or bag. If they do get a tiny bit stale, preheat your oven to 450°F and sprinkle them with water. Pop them in for 3-4 minutes and they’ll be refreshed.
Yes! For smaller hot dogs, reduce the weight of each dough ball to 96 grams (instead of 112). That will give you 14 buns rather than 12. I often use this dough to make sandwich rolls too. I increase the size to 135 grams and make 8 in those cases.
When you finally slice one open, you’ll love the fluffy texture, but what I really love is the slight chew of the outside. They’re good, large buns that are great for any type of link, sausage, or hot dog. Feel free to make Chicago style dogs, juicy chili dogs, or BLT dogs.
They can take the toppings, taste great, and won’t fall apart. Their perfect for creating gourmet topped dogs for fun things like a hot dog bar party! If you’re interested, I also use this dough to make my hamburger buns and homemade pizza dough, so check out my tips for making it into those too!
Homemade Hot Dog Buns
- 1 Kitchen Scale
- baking sheets
- 750 grams bread flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 75 grams fat* plus extra for greasing pans and kneading
- 500 mililiters warm water No hotter than 110°F
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon milk
Hot Dog Bun Dough
- Combine the honey, yeast, and warm water and stir to dissolve honey. Let proof 5-10 minutes until bubbly.
- Combine flour, salt, and fat into a large bowl.
- When yeast mixture is proofed, pour it into the dry ingredients and begin mixing.
- Once most of the flour has been absorbed, turn out the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and begin kneading.
- Knead for 10 minutes until dough is soft, tacky, and elastic. You should be able to stretch it gently for several seconds without it ripping.
- Form into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for 1-1.5 hours.
Shaping Hot Dog Buns
- When doubled and the dough does not bounce back with poked, punch it down and turn it out onto a clean surface.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces measuring about 112 grams each.
- Form each chunk into a smooth ball then flatten it. Use a small rolling pin to roll the dough circle into a long, wide oval.
- Starting at the bottom, narrower end of the oval, roll it up tightly like a croissant, gently pushing your hands out toward the ends so it is wider in the middle and narrower on each edge.
- Place on a baking sheet and repeat.
- Cover buns and let rise for another 1-1.5 hours until puffy and risen.
Baking Hot Dog Buns
- Preheat oven to 425°F and place a large, oven safe dish on the lowest rack of your oven.
- Warm up a few cups of water in the microwave or a kettle.
- Brush the buns with milk and place on a rack in the upper 1/3 of your oven.
- Pour the warm water in the dish on the bottom rack and shut the oven door quickly.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Transfer to a cooling rack. Once cooled, store at room temperature for 4 days, or the freezer for 3 months.
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.