Sourdough Burger Buns Recipe – Soft and Fluffy!

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This sourdough bun recipe is perfect for summer cookouts and sandwiches. These soft and fluffy buns are made with simple ingredients and require only 15 minutes of hands-on time.

Sourdough buns on wood tray

With warm days ahead, it’s time to get ready for cookout season. That means we need fluffy sourdough buns for our grilled burgers and smoked pulled pork sandwiches.

When the weather warms up, our backyard becomes an extension of our living area. It’s where we garden and pick fresh veggies for our meals and preservation. My three-year-old spends warm evenings playing on her playset, while I’m in the greenhouse. And our patio transforms into an outdoor kitchen.

Our grill and smoker game has been solid for a long time. Over the years though, I’ve tried my hand at various burger bun recipes, but they were never quite right…until now. Before this sourdough bun recipe, I always found homemade hamburger buns were too dense and dry.

It took me a few tries to figure out the right ingredient combination and measurements, but I’ve finally nailed the softest and fluffiest sourdough bun recipe. It’s one of my favorite sourdough recipes to date.

The secret? Extra butter and hydration. Butter creates a tender crumb, while the slightly higher hydration adds moisture to the end product. The result is a soft and fluffy bun that is perfect for summer burgers or homemade sloppy joes topped with fermented peppers.

Sourdough Bun Recipe Tips

  • The dough should be tacky, but it shouldn’t stick to your hands. This is a stickier dough compared to other sourdough bread recipes you might be familiar with.
  • Make sure you have an active and healthy starter. If you don’t have one yet, you can learn how to make your own starter on my YouTube channel. If you need a little guidance on how to maintain it, check out my sourdough starter Q&A on YouTube.
  • Don’t skip the egg wash. It will make your sourdough hamburger buns golden and beautiful. But make sure you apply it thinly and evenly. Brush across the tops and sides evenly, ensuring the egg wash isn’t puddling at the bun’s base. I used to make that mistake all of the time, but using a thinner coating helped!
Sourdough buns with text "sourdough burger buns"

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Shape Sourdough Buns?

Use a bench scraper to divide the dough. Pull the outer edges of the dough toward the center and pinch together. Turn the dough seam side down. Then, turn the ball in a circular motion, while gently dragging it along the counter. You should feel the dough tightening, and the surface should look smooth. It might take a few tries, but you’ll get a feel for it with practice!

Optional: I like to gently flatten the dough so that it is wider, especially if I am making buns for burgers.

Do You Need to Use Active Starter for Sourdough Buns?

Technically, no. But an active starter is more efficient. Active sourdough starter has the peak amount of bacteria and wild yeast needed for fermentation. So if your starter is bubbly and fed within the last 4-12 hours, your bulk fermentation will take less time than if you used an inactive starter or sourdough discard.

To learn more, check out my active vs. inactive baking experiment on YouTube:

Can You Speed Up Bulk Fermentation?

A few factors determine how long the fermentation process will take, but temperature is one of the main ones. The warmer the environment, the faster your sourdough bun dough will ferment. So if you want to pick up the pace for this sourdough bun recipe, put your dough in a warmer spot.

I often hear folks say they put their dough in the oven with the light on. And though this works (it won’t if it’s an LED light), there is a possibility you or someone you live with will turn the oven on and prematurely bake your dough. That would be a total bum. So I recommend putting it on top of the fridge or other warm corner in your home.

When I need to speed up the bulk fermentation and second rise time, I use a proofing box. Set to 81° F, my bulk fermentation usually takes about 4 hours.


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    Do You Have To Use Bread Flour?

    The high protein in bread flour creates a gluten structure that is strong enough to trap air, making a light and fluffy sourdough bun. So for the best results, I recommend using bread flour. However, if you only have all-purpose flour, it will certainly work. And you’ll still have delicious sourdough buns to enjoy!

    How Should You Store and Freeze Sourdough Buns?

    Leftover sourdough buns can be stored in a ziplock bag or airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. Freezing sourdough is easy and will keep your bread fresh for months. Just throw the leftover buns in a ziplock bag and toss them in the freezer. Use within 2-3 months.

    Close up of sliced bread showing fluffy crumb

    Tools You Will Need

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    • Stand mixer with dough hook attachment – Enriched doughs like sourdough buns require an intense mix for about 10-15 minutes, so a stand mixer is helpful.
    • Kitchen scale – Measuring your ingredients will not only be more precise and repeatable, but it will also reduce the kitchen mess. If you don’t have a scale, no worries! I’ve included the cup measurements in the recipe.
    • Measuring cups and spoons – Grab your measuring cups and spoons if you don’t have a kitchen scale.
    • Large bowl – You will need a large bowl for bulk fermenting your sourdough bun dough. You could also use your stand mixer bowl.
    • Towel or lid – I usually use a damp towel for bulk fermenting the dough. A beeswax wrap is also a great option.
    • Baking sheetA baking sheet is helpful for the second rise and, of course, for baking your sourdough buns.
    • Parchment paper – I like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper, flour it generously and then place my dough on it for the second rise.
    Overhead image of sourdough bun on metal cooling rack

    Ingredients

    Dough Ingredients

    • 200g water (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) – Warm water will speed up fermentation. But I often use the cool water from my fridge because it is filtered and more convenient.
    • 100g sourdough starter (1/2 cup), active and bubbly – Use starter fed within 4-12 hours. Inactive starter will work, but the bulk fermentation will be slow.
    • 25g sugar (2 tbsp) – The touch of sweetness is subtle and adds flavor to the buns. To substitute, use honey or maple syrup.
    • 1 egg – The egg in this enriched dough adds flavor and creates a lighter and fluffier bread.
    • 8g salt (1.5 tsp) – Salt highlights the other ingredients’ flavors.
    • 450g bread flour (3 3/4 cups) – Bread flour is a key ingredient for fluffy bread. But all-purpose will work if you don’t have bread flour.
    • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cubed – You can use coconut oil to make this dairy-free. The fat creates a tender, delicious crumb.

    Egg Wash Ingredients

    • 1 egg yolk – This makes your sourdough buns golden and beautiful.
    • 1 tbsp water – The water creates a glossy finish.
    • Sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning, poppy seeds, etc. (optional) – Top your sourdough buns with your favorite seasonings or seeds.
    Sourdough buns on baking sheet

    How To Make Sourdough Buns

    Mix the Dough

    Add all of the ingredients to a stand mixer bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, mix together until the ingredients are combined and create a shaggy dough. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. At this point, don’t worry about the dough coming together.

    Woman pouring starting into mixing bowl

    Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. This allows the flour to hydrate more thoroughly.

    Mixing bowl covered with damp towel

    Strengthen the Dough

    Return the bowl to the mixer. Knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test. For me, this usually takes 10-12 minutes. If the dough seems too sticky, add one tablespoon of flour at a time until it is tacky but no longer sticks to your hands.

    Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel, beeswax wrap, or plastic wrap. Bulk ferment until doubled, about 8-12 hours at room temperature.

    Shape and Second Rise

    When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a clean countertop or work surface. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

    Woman cutting dough with bench scraper

    Shape each piece of dough by folding the edges toward the center. Turn it over seam side down and create tension by turning the dough clockwise while gently dragging it on the counter. If you prefer a wide, flatter bun, use your fingertips to gently shape the dough into a disc.

    Woman shaping sourdough buns on countertop

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and flour it generously. Gently transfer each dough ball onto the baking sheet using your bench scraper.

    Dough balls on baking sheet

    Cover with plastic and allow to rest for a second rise until doubled, about 2-3 hours at room temperature.

    Woman covering dough with plastic

    Egg Wash and Bake

    Preheat the oven to 375° F.

    In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and water. Brush a thin, even coating on the tops and sides of the buns.

    Dough with egg wash and silicone brush

    Generously sprinkle the tops of the buns with sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning, poppy seeds, or your other favorite toppings.

    Sesame seeds on unbaked sourdough buns

    Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. The internal temperature should be 190°-200° F.

    Serve as is or toasted.

    Finished sourdough buns on cooling rack

    Sample Baker’s Schedule

    I like to start the dough the night before so it bulk ferments while I sleep. But you can also make these on the same day. Just feed your starter the night before and start on the dough first thing the next morning.

    This is the general schedule I follow:

    Day 1

    • 9:00 AM – Feed your sourdough starter.
    • 9:00 PM – Start the dough. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
    • 9:30 PM – Knead the dough in stand mixer. Set the dough aside for bulk fermentation.

    The Next Day

    • 8:00 AM – Shape the dough and set aside for the second rise.
    • 10:00 AM – Brush the unbaked buns with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake.
    • 10:30 AM – Enjoy!

    More Sourdough Recipes You’ll Love

    If you made this recipe and loved it, leave a review!

    Sourdough Buns

    Sourdough Buns

    Yield: 8 buns
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Additional Time: 10 hours
    Total Time: 10 hours 40 minutes

    This sourdough bun recipe is perfect for summer cookouts and sandwiches. These soft and fluffy buns are made with simple ingredients and require only 15 minutes of hands-on time.

    Ingredients

    Dough Ingredients

    • 200g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) water
    • 100g (1/2 cup) sourdough starter, active and bubbly
    • 25g sugar (2 tbsp) sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 8g (1.5 tsp) salt
    • 450g (3 3/4 cups) bread flour
    • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cubed

    Egg Wash Ingredients

    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 tbsp water
    • Sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning, poppy seeds, etc. (optional)

    Instructions

      1. Add all of the ingredients to a stand mixer bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, mix together until the ingredients are combined and create a shaggy dough. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. At this point, don't worry about the dough coming together.
      2. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. This allows the flour to hydrate more thoroughly.
      3. Return the bowl to the mixer. Knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test. For me, this usually takes 10-12 minutes. If the dough seems too sticky, add one tablespoon of flour at a time until it is tacky but no longer sticks to your hands.
      4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel, beeswax wrap, or plastic wrap. Bulk ferment until doubled, about 8-12 hours at room temperature.
      5. When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a clean countertop or work surface. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 8 equal portions.
      6. Shape the dough by folding the edges toward the center. Turn it over seam side down and create tension by turning the dough clockwise while gently dragging it on the counter. If you prefer a wide, flatter bun, use your fingertips to gently shape the dough into a disc.
      7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and flour it generously. Using your bench scraper to gently transfer the dough onto the baking sheet.
      8. Cover with plastic and allow to rest for a second rise until doubled, about 2-3 hours at room temperature.
      9. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
      10. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and water. Brush a thin, even coating on the tops and sides of the buns.
      11. Generously sprinkle the tops of the buns with sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning, poppy seeds, or your other favorite toppings.
      12. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. The internal temperature should be 190°-200° F.
      13. Serve as is or toasted.

    Notes

    • If you prefer a less bready bun, divide the dough into 10 or 12 pieces.
    • For more sour flavor, you can refrigerate the dough for 8 hours or overnight after the bulk fermentation.
    • I like to start the dough the night before so it bulk ferments while I sleep. But you can also make these on the same day. Just feed your starter the night before and start on the dough first thing the next morning.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 412Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 505mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 11g

    Nutrition is auto-calculated and may not reflect your final product.

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