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Creative Ways to Use Leftover Hamburger Buns

With summer and its warmer weather fast approaching, barbecue preparations will no doubt be underway for many. This means that the timeless burger will soon appear in some form or another. Whether made with classic ground beef, grilled chicken, or one of many delicious vegetarian alternatives, burgers are almost always a crowd-pleaser. Because of this popularity, it’s not uncommon for many of us to stock up on burger buns in anticipation of their demand, only to end up with a large number of unused buns and no patties to fill them.

While burger buns do freeze well, sometimes the prospect of using them to continue making burgers for dinner over the following weeks can feel a little mundane. However, these brilliant vehicles for flavor are not only useful for sandwiching burger fillings, but they can be used for a multitude of dishes, from appetizers to afternoon tea. There are a vast array of ways to completely reshape and revitalize humble hamburger buns, most of which require minimal effort, so you don’t need to commit to figuring out different ways to serve the same burgers each night of the week if you’ve ended up with a little more bread than you bargained for.

Create mini pizzas

mini pepperoni pizzas

Whilst many of us have a fairly solid concept of what a pizza should look like — whether sporting a thin, thick, or stuffed crust — there’s no reason why pizzas should be limited to traditional doughs and flat bases. In fact, many types of breads can be used as pizza crust, and hamburger buns are no exception, proving to be the perfect foundation for a quick and easy (but seriously tasty) dinner. 

The main advantage of loading up burger buns with your favorite pizza toppings before baking until gooey and crisp is their handy size — which is particularly useful if you are feeding a few, since everyone gets their own personal pizzas with half a sliced bun forming the base for each one. If you have just one or two buns, using them in this way is great for a light lunch or mid-afternoon snack, while a large batch of buns will yield multiple handheld pizzas for a heartier meal. 

Moreover, the consistency of burger buns results in an ideal pizza texture, crisping up perfectly as they bake while retaining a slight fluffiness. If, however, you are after a more authentic pizza experience, consider flattening the burger buns with a rolling pin beforehand, and then topping them with your choice of sauce and ingredients. Not only will this base feel a little more like the real thing, but you’ll also have a larger surface area to work with, ideal for multiple toppings. 

Make garlic bread

garlic buns on wooden board

As a delicious and comforting side dish, garlic bread is a popular accompaniment to a range of Italian dishes. The combination of rich butter, fragrant garlic, and crispy bread is hard to beat and even harder to resist, but if you’re looking to satisfy this craving, there’s no need to make a trip to the store specifically to pick up a baguette. Hamburger buns are an excellent choice for making individual portions of garlic bread, with their crisp exterior ensuring maximum crunch while the fluffy and more porous interior absorbs all of that garlicky goodness. 

To turn your hamburger buns into garlic buns, simply slice them in half and lay them face up on a lined baking tray, and proceed with similar steps to preparing a homemade garlic bread recipe. Combine butter with garlic and parsley, adding a splash of olive oil if necessary to make the mix easier to spread, before brushing the mixture over the sliced buns. Bake them for around 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and starting to crisp. 

For extra flavor, you can sprinkle a little Parmesan over the buns and return them to the oven for an extra few minutes until the cheese has melted. The resulting pre-portioned garlic bread rolls are perfect for serving as a side for pasta or pizza, but are equally delicious when enjoyed as is, fresh and warm out of the oven.

Use hamburger buns for eggs Benedict

eggs Benedict with ham

Widely believed as originating in New York in the late 1800s, eggs Benedict is an iconic brunch dish, both looking impressive and tasting incredible. However, an eggs Benedict recipe is actually fairly easy to make at home, and even more so if you already have hamburger buns on hand.

To make eggs Benedict, you need eggs, hollandaise sauce, Canadian bacon (although you can substitute this for other meats, smoked salmon, or omit meat entirely according to preference), and traditionally English muffins. The latter, however, is not always the type of bread that you may already have in your pantry — but hamburger buns are a perfectly suitable substitute. Like English muffins, burger buns have a fluffy inside and a crisp outer layer, and the two have a remarkably similar texture when toasted, which makes them virtually interchangeable in this breakfast recipe, ideal for topping with creamy poached eggs and a splash of hollandaise sauce. 

Thanks to their shape, hamburger buns not only lend the right taste and texture to this dish, but also won’t change its appearance when used as a substitute, making it even harder to tell the difference. Thus, if you’re hosting breakfast, you can be sure that your guests will be just as impressed without the more conventional muffins. 

Turn hamburger buns into French toast

French toast with berries

nataliajakubcova/Shutterstock

Thanks to their soft, pillowy texture, hamburger buns are excellent for tender and tasty French toast, absorbing all the goodness of the sweet eggy mix incredibly well and frying to perfection with a crisp golden crust. Leftover brioche burger buns are particularly advantageous here, with their subtle sweetness and shiny glaze resulting in an even more indulgent breakfast treat, although any type of bun is sure to yield delicious results. 

To transform your regular buns into fluffy and moist French toast, slice them in half and dip each portion into a mix of whisked eggs, cinnamon, and sugar, for no more than a minute on each side to avoid the bread becoming overly soggy. If your hamburger buns are starting to become slightly stale, you can soak them for a little bit longer to allow the mixture to really seep in and bring a new lease on life to the bread. Fry the buns in a little oil or butter for a few minutes on each side, until crisp and golden, before serving with toppings of your choice. 

Tear them up for bread pudding

bread pudding with raisins

Created as a means to give stale bread a useful purpose, bread pudding is a great dessert for limiting food waste, and can be made from virtually any type of bread. In a similar way to French toast, it is made by pouring a custard-style mix of eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla over torn-up bread, along with other accompanying ingredients such as fruit and nuts, before everything is baked.

Hamburger buns are, in fact, one of the most ideal types of bread for this comforting classic, with their doughy centers soaking up the custard mix while a crisp outside prevents the buns from becoming too soggy and turning to mush as the dish bakes. Simply rip up your leftover buns into chunks and arrange them in a casserole or baking tray, then pour the liquid mixture over the bread and leave it to soak for a while, before baking for between 30 to 40 minutes, until the top of the pudding is crisp and golden brown. 

Use them for breakfast sandwiches

two breakfast sandwiches on paper

There’s no need to reserve burger buns for dinnertime — they serve a perfectly good purpose at breakfast in the exact same way, offering a soft but sturdy foundation to breakfast sandwiches for a satisfying start to the day. While traditional white rolls or English muffins tend to be more common choices for creating breakfast sandwiches, burger buns are arguably the optimal choice, with a cushiony soft center and crispy outside. Combined with other ingredients like tender sausage, gooey cheese, and fluffy eggs, this creates a texture combination that is pretty hard to beat.

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The type of buns you have left over may also help dictate what you put in your breakfast sandwich. A brioche bun, for example, will pair perfectly with maple bacon for a sweet twist on a savory favorite, while a crispy hash brown won’t find itself out of place sandwiched between two potato buns. There’s no reason why you can’t pair more conventional burger toppings with breakfast favorites for a revitalized and truly satisfying breakfast. Consider using a round sausage in place of a beef patty, or adding a little freshness with lettuce and tomato to switch up your regular morning go-to.

Top hamburger buns with oil and tomatoes for bruschetta

bruschetta with cheese and thyme

A classic bruschetta recipe is incredibly easy to make, consisting in its purest form of grilled bread topped with olive oil, salt, garlic, and often chopped tomatoes. While typically bruschetta is made with sourdough, ciabatta, or sometimes a sliced baguette, grilled hamburger buns lend themselves well to this beloved Italian appetizer. Their fluffy and crunchy texture combination makes them ideal for drizzled olive oil, and their shape also helps to prevent finely chopped toppings, such as diced tomatoes, from slipping off.

You can simply split your buns in two, rub them with olive oil, and pop them in the oven for a few minutes to create the perfect base for bruschetta that is ready to be stacked with tomatoes and basil, along with other additional toppings of your choice. Cheeses such as feta or Parmesan, and meats such as prosciutto or Serrano ham, are all excellent additions to this fail-safe side, adding an extra dimension of both flavor and texture. 

If you’re after more of a bite-sized variation, slice your buns into quarters and flatten the sections slightly, being sure not to make them too thin to ensure they can still support your toppings and deliver that iconic and satisfying crunch. Toast the sections and top them with scaled-down portions of your additions to create the perfect finger food or light starter for a group. 

Bake them into strata

strata with cheese and bacon

Strata, also known as savory bread pudding, is a type of hearty breakfast casserole that combines eggs with bread and various other ingredients. One of the greatest benefits of the dish is that it can be made with virtually anything you have on hand, making it the ideal way to use up leftovers, particularly extra bread. And, rather conveniently, hamburger buns are especially great for strata, as they are soft and slightly porous, and thus soak up the eggs and flavors of other ingredients in a breakfast casserole perfectly.

Most strata are typically made with a large amount of bread, so whipping up a delicious casserole with additions of your choosing is an excellent way to use up a lot of buns, though it ultimately comes down to preference (and, of course, the size of your baking tray). Regardless of how many burger buns you are using, you will want to leave them sitting in the egg mixture overnight — just like in a typical ham and cheese strata recipe — giving enough time for everything to soften and for flavors to develop. Bake it for around an hour, depending on the quantities and types of fresh ingredients you are using. 

Turn hamburger buns into stuffing

homemade stuffing in a bowl

A Thanksgiving favorite — but arguably an appropriate side to enjoy with roasted meat and vegetable dishes year-round — stuffing is a tasty side that can be flavored in a variety of ways to suit many dinner spreads. Of course, as its name implies, stuffing is traditionally intended to be packed and cooked inside poultry, but it has become increasingly popular as a dish in its own right, being a tempting side when cooked in a casserole dish and served hot and slightly crisp. While numerous instant stuffing mixes offer a speedy alternative to homemade stuffing, it makes a significant difference to use fresh (or even better, stale) bread.

Bread provides stuffing with its structure, and hamburger buns, torn up or sliced into small cubes, offer a solid foundation while also lending a soft toasty quality to stuffing that is irresistible. The best way to ensure the perfect texture for stuffing is to not overload the mix with other ingredients. Since there needs to be enough bread to maintain a solid foundation and ensure that your stuffing does not turn to mush, be sure to set aside an adequate number of buns if you’re looking to create a large portion of stuffing with tasty add-ins. 

Blitz them into breadcrumbs

breadcrumbs on wooden spoon

One of the easiest ways to use up leftover hamburger buns (or any leftover bread, for that matter) is to chop them up into breadcrumbs. It is incredibly easy to make homemade bread crumbs with a food processor or by hand, and the result is a useful pantry staple that has an array of applications. Indeed, breadcrumbs have a multitude of practical uses, from coating chicken to binding ground meat (often considered a crucial step for ensuring perfectly formed Italian-style meatballs), and the crumbs can be tailored to suit your culinary needs through the addition of extra herbs and seasonings.

Above all else, you’ll want to dry out your burger buns before blitzing them, as using dry bread is the key to achieving crumbs that don’t clump. This also means that you don’t need to worry if your buns are slightly stale; this is actually beneficial. The dried buns can then be torn up and crushed by hand, or blended with a food processor until they reach your desired level of coarseness.

Once you’ve made the crumbs, you can get creative with seasonings to suit specific dishes. Garlic powder and oregano help create the perfect topping for pasta dishes, while crumbs made from leftover brioche buns will work particularly well when mixed with cinnamon and sugar and sprinkled on top of desserts for a sweet crunch.

Cut and toast hamburger buns for croutons

tray of toasted croutons

The perfect crunchy addition to soups and salads, crispy croutons are a great way to transform your leftover burger buns and bring an interesting consistency to other dishes. To make croutons at home in the oven, simply pour melted butter and a splash of oil over buns cut into approximately one-inch cubes, and bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 10 minutes, until they feel firm. Remember that they will continue to toughen after they’re taken out of the oven, so don’t worry if they don’t feel completely solid when you first remove them.

Considered a key ingredient in Tuscan panzanella, chunky croutons add an irresistible crunch to salads, and croutons made from hamburger buns are guaranteed to deliver on account of their fine crusts that bake a little more than their interiors. To complement these little morsels of toasty goodness, add browned ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and a sprinkle of cheese atop leafy greens for a deconstructed burger salad that offers all of the flavors of your traditional grilled favorite.

Create mock scones with jam and cream

scones with cream and jam

No traditional British afternoon tea is complete without English scones, a quick-bread style of baked good that is commonly enjoyed with fruit jam and clotted cream. Though commonly associated with luxury and highbrow dining, scones are actually a fairly humble treat in and of themselves, to such an extent that they can in fact be substituted for other bread variations — including burger buns — to produce a similar dining experience.

Indeed, though not quite as dense or crumbly as a conventional scone, a dried-out hamburger bun will provide a similar texture, and can be halved just as easily to be smothered with rich cream and sweet jelly or jam, and eaten in the same way. They may not be exact replicas, of course, but enjoying your leftover buns as mock scones can be a frugal way to enjoy a teatime delight without the need for baking.

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