SB 010| The Ultimate Hamburger Brioche Bun

Ask ten people what they like on their hamburger and you're likely to get ten different answers.

But let us pause for a moment and ponder what makes a hamburger truly great ...

... what we can all agree on is that the most fundamental building block for a great hamburger is a perfectly cooked patty sandwiched in between a fluffy, soft, yet sturdy bun.

In this video I demonstrate a new brioche bun recipe that will truly take your hamburger game to the next level. But first a little back story ...

... The Story of Wartface

There's this guy named Wartface.

He's been a long time member of the community (the best BBQ website I know of), and he stumbled onto when searching for information on bread baking.

Wartface quickly and rabidly consumed all my bread content, including the five audio podcasts and all of our bread baking videos.

But he wasn't satisfied; being a BBQ fanatic, Wartface wanted my help developing the ultimate hamburger brioche bun. Something soft and chewy, but still sturdy enough to stand up to Meathead's famous Steakhouse Steakburger.

So I made Wartface a deal; I'll give you a baker's percentage formula as a starting point for a hamburger brioche bun recipe. You make the buns, and then tell me what you do and don't like about them, and then I'll show you how to adjust recipe accordingly, using the baker's percentage. I figured if anything, this would be a good, practical example of how various ratios of ingredients would effect the texture and flavor of bread.

Honestly, I expected Wartface to bake a couple recipes, lose steam, and then I'd pick up the brioche bun project once my schedule freed up a bit. But Wartface became obsessed, baking recipe after recipe, hundreds of buns in all, coming back after each bake, taking my suggested tweaks, and then turning out another batch immediately.

After going back-and-forth a few times, Wartface sent an excited e-mail telling me that the latest formula had just produced the best hamburger brioche buns he's ever tasted.

A bit skeptical that we'd hit the mark that quickly, I baked numerous batches of the exact same formula in the Stella Kitchen, looking for flaws or possible improvements. We made hamburger after hamburger, and even served them to our entire restaurant staff as family meal on a couple of occasions. I finally had to concede that yes, these were indeed the best hamburger brioche buns I've ever tasted.

Now please keep in mind that I loathe using the word "best" as an adjective for food. It immediately shuts down the mind for forward progression, limiting future development.

But quite frankly, if I were to stop and describe what qualities make up my ideal hamburger bun -- chewy yet soft, airy but sturdy, complex in flavor yet subtle enough to not outshine the burger itself -- this bun fits the bill perfectly.

So a special thanks to Wartface for his obsessive determination in formulating this brioche bun recipe.

Tin Foil Baking Rings

How to Make Tin Foil Baking Rings For Hamburger Brioche Buns

In the hamburger brioche bun video at the top of this page, I demonstrate using tinfoil rings to help the hamburger buns hold their shape during proofing and baking. These foil "collars" or rings are convenient, inexpensive, and can easily be customized for any size or shape you want your hamburger bun to be.

However, there are a couple downfalls to this approach.

While the foil collars are reusable, you will only get so many uses out of them before they become gunked up and the dough starts to stick (even if you hand wash after each use). They can also be a bit time consuming to make, especially in large quantities. If you plan on making burger buns casually, then these foil collars will absolutely do the trick.

But if you want to bake these buns on a large production scale, you may want to invest in some tart rings or a brioche bun pan.

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There are 21 Comments

Wartface's picture

Donut's out of the same recipe? Who knew that would work? Chef Jacob you're the best!

jacob burton's picture

Yeah, the donuts are awesome! Just as good as the hamburger buns.

Wartface's picture

That could get me in trouble. I have to try to not eat donuts. I'm going to try the Brioche donuts at least once.

jacob burton's picture

Wartface's picture


Wartface's picture

@Impkind... Cool. I was hoping others would want to try this recipe. Mix it tonight and bake it tomorrow or mix it Saturday and bake Sunday. It does need a delayed fermentation in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Take pictures. I would love to see how it comes out for you.

shubeddak's picture

How would you modify this recipe for use without a stand mixer?

My go-to bun recipe at the moment is the New York Times brioche bun which is delicious but doesn't seem to stand up very well to a heavy filling (plus the ingredients aren't listed in grams).

jacob burton's picture

@ Shubeddak,

It's possible but it requires a specific technique called "frisage." It's a bit hard to explain via text, but I've gotten a lot of questions on this through e-mail and on my YouTube channel, so I'm going to shoot a quick video on it next week.

jacob burton's picture

@ Celina,

I haven't tried it, but rich dough bread like this freezes pretty well in general. Just wrap in foil and then plastic wrap individually before freezing. This will help prevent freezer burn.

Wartface's picture

Noya... Yes they would. I've used them for pulled pork sandwiches too. They're tasty no matter what meat, chicken or fish you put between them.

Nina's picture

These are so beautiful.  Looks like burgers and donuts for us! The thing that I love about baking is that you place glop into the oven and out comes brioche. The money shot!

"People who love to eat are always the best people." -- Julia Child

jacob burton's picture

@ Noya,

Oh yes, this would make an awesome chicken sandwich. I'm working on a whole wheat/sourdough formulation right now that I think would work even better.

@ Nina,

I think you'll be really happy with this recipe. Let me know how it comes out.

Wartface's picture

Right on Jacob! I was getting some people at asking me if it could done by hand too.

Pete's picture

Heya, I used this recipe and the result was stunning. Great texture, smell, colour. And even though I usually don't add a lot of salt to my dishes, it seemed to me it wasn't enough. It was a little bit bland, which was very sad because otherwise it was a fantastic bun.

It's 0.73% according to the recipe. Anyone had the same thought?

Btw, the burger was still fantastic: 100% beef patty, reduced sauce tomat, caramellised onions, sauce bernaise, gherkins, and (quite a bit) fleur de sel, perfect.

jacob burton's picture

@ Pete,

Based on the baker's percentage, the salt is actually at 1.6% (8 / 500) which is pretty standard. However, due to the added fat of this formulation you can definitely bring the salt up to 2% (10g) or even 2.5% (12.5g).

I was actually playing around with this formulation last week, and one thing that worked really nicely was sprinkling a large crystal salt (I used Maldon flakes) on top of the buns right before baking, just like you would sesame seeds.

The large flakes of salt add a pleasing texture, and little pockets of bursting saltiness. Fleur de sel also works nicely.

Glad you like everything else about the recipe, and thank you for taking the time to make these and offer feed back.

Smoky Pig's picture

I made these Stella recipe brioche hamburger buns today. I experimented a little by trying to make a larger bun so I made 4 with the recipe. I should have made 5. They came out a little tall. I think I made the rings too tall also. But these buns were the best tasting bun I have ever tasted. So light and delicious. I couldn't stop eating them.







Floridian's picture

I went to the link to possible buy a pan for the buns but yiu would have to buy a minimum of six pans. Found this pan on Amazon:


Only $22.99. Will be ordering one of these pans soon.


Just made five batches of the buns for a surprise pulled pork lunch for a friend's birthday. The tin foild collars are breaking down; I have used them at least ten times so far. I knew they wouldn't last forever so I will be getting the pan. More consistent shape I am hoping