Sourdough Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but around here it’s getting pretty warm, and that means grilling. And that means you’ll be needing some buns.

I already have a great bun recipe, but I wanted some that are sourdough-leavened (since my starter has been feeling a bit neglected lately) and that contain a hefty portion (about 84%) of whole wheat. These were an experiment that turned out rather well. They are definitely soft (from the honey and the butter), but a bit denser — and more flavorful, if you ask me — than your average hamburger bun.

In case your grill is still buried under a foot of snow (I’m so sorry!), the buns are good for sloppy joes, too.

These go to Zorra (1x umrühren bitte) and Rachel (Tangerine’s Kitchen) for BreadBakingDay #28, Buns.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

Yield: 900 g (9 buns)


  • Mix: 15 minutes
  • First fermentation : 2.5 hours with folds at 50 and 100 minutes
  • Preshape, rest, and shape: 30 minutes
  • Proof: about 3 hours
  • Bake: about 30 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 76F


  • 433 g whole wheat flour
  • 300 g water
  • 10 g salt
  • 37 g honey
  • 27 g butter, softened
  • 170 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • wheat bran and/or seeds for topping


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine all of the ingredients except about 30 grams of the water.
  2. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, about 4 minutes. The dough should have a medium-soft consistency at this point; if it does not, add a bit of the reserved water.
  3. Continue mixing in medium speed until the gluten has reached nearly full development (check this with the windowpane test).
  4. Once the gluten is developed, add the rest of the reserved water and continue mixing until all of the water is incorporated. This will yield a soft but strong dough.
  5. Ferment the dough at room temperature for 2.5 hours, folding the dough at 50 and 100 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into nine pieces of approximately 100 g each.
  7. Press each piece firmly to degas it, then shape into a tight ball. The easiest way to do this is to tuck the edges of the degassed dough under, pinch the seam closed, and cup your hand over the dough while rolling it in a circle against the unfloured countertop.
  8. Roll the top of the ball on a wet towel to moisten it, then in bran or seeds.
  9. Place the rolls on two parchment-lined baking sheets and press them down into discs with the palm of your hand.
  10. Cover the sheets and proof the rolls at room temperature for about 3 hours, or until the dough springs back very slowly when pressed with a fingertip.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F, with racks in the middle and top thirds. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  12. Bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 20 – 25 minutes without steam, until the rolls are nicely browned. Rotate the baking sheets about halfway through to ensure even browning.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Say goodbye to that nice weather! And brace yourself for a week of nastiness – it may not be perfect grilling time, but makes for a fantastic excuse for baking.

  2. says

    I have gotten back to working with wild yeast recently and have made some great bread and soudough bagels. I do have trouble getting the lightness I would like in my sourdough breads.

  3. says

    These loaves look wonderful. I have been so enamored with using sourdough as leavening and can’t wait to try these. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  4. says

    I’m bookmarking these! I’ve been dragging my heels about trying to make sourdough hamburger buns from all of the non sourdough recipes I keep seeing. You just did the work for me and they are whole wheat which you know I love! Thank you!

  5. Darryl says

    Thank you for another winner. Tried these today and they were fabulous. I have never missed with one of your recipes. Thanks for all your time in posting. Let me know when the Susan cookbook comes out!!

  6. Michelle says

    I just tried your recipe and the buns are delicious! Since my hubby doesn’t like whole wheat, I replaced the ww flour with 370g white and 63g spelt, and used 60g less water.

    I started making sourdough bread last year, and this is the first time that I made sourdough bun! Also my first time to use butter in sourdough bread. Can you please explain the role of butter in the dough? What if the butter is removed from the formula?


  7. says

    Hi there!
    I am wondering would it be okay to let these ferment overnight? I like longer ferments/soaking (breaks down more phytic acid) for my breads/baking. Would this totally screw it up or be okay? Thanks for the advice! I am making these for cookout on Saturday and can’t wait!!! They look soooo good!

  8. Heather R. says

    These are in the oven now, they look and smell amazing! Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes.

  9. Mitsuko says

    Thank you for the awesome recipe and guide! Baked these tonight for dinner- they were extraordinary buns. Beautiful buns. “Amazing buns” according to my husband. Anyway, thank you for the site and recipe. I am going to make my way through the rest of your site and really delve into the first recipe I tried, which I botched (a sandwich loaf). I feel much better prepared for it. For anyone who wonders about subbing flour types, I had success with white whole wheat and bread flour mix.


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