I Tried 22 Different Kinds of Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns to Find the Very Best Ones for Summer Cookouts

published Jun 4, 2021
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Hamburgers and hotdogs on tabletop.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

It’s easy to shrug off hamburger and hot dog buns as second fiddle to all that goodness that gets sandwiched inside them. But I encourage you to give the humble bun its proper credit. Think of the bun as the vessel, the elemental canvas, and structural support of your burger or dog. The wrong bun could kill your dog’s chill or mess with your patty’s vibe, collapsing under condiments and juicy meats, or overpowering them with too much bread. That’s why it’s so important to find the right bun — and stick with it. So I set out to do just that: I tasted 22 different burger and dog buns to find this list of winners.

How I Tested the Buns

To determine the very best buns for summer cookouts, I went to my grocery store to pick up as many packages as I could find. When choosing the hamburger buns, I strayed from crustier rolls and stuck to classic squishy buns. For the dog buns, I was a little more lenient: any oblong-shaped roll made the cut, excluding large sandwich buns meant for hoagies or subs. 

Then came the tasting. I ate the buns, straight from the bag (no toasting or grilling). And I tried each one with, you guessed it, a burger and a dog — with and without ketchup and mustard! I also, checked in on every bun package the next day. How did they hold up after a little air exposure? Here are my honest thoughts.

Credit: Aliza Gans

The Best Hot Dog Buns: Martin’s Long Potato Rolls

Martin’s Long Potato Rolls have the perfect blend of flexibility and strength. They’re chewy and soft (never crumbly), which make for an excellent hot dog hammock. The flavor was also there — not too sweet, but sweet enough to complement all the salty flavors of a hot dog and condiments.

These buns also got super high marks for staying soft after a few hours of air exposure, and were even still usable a few days after opening them. (A lot can happen to enriched processed bread the moment you expose it to air, even if it’s just to take out a single bun. But these held up well!)

Credit: Aliza Gans

Buy: Martin’s Long Potato Rolls, $3.34 for eight at Walmart

Credit: Aliza Gans

The Best Hamburger Buns: Big Marty’s Large Rolls

Surprise, surprise: Martin’s takes home another W, this time for the hamburger bun category. But there’s a twist: While I loved their classic potato rolls (a must-buy according to Kitchn Essentials, Grocery Edition), I fell even harder for Big Marty’s. I think a lot of people are Team Sesame Seed on a burger bun because the nutty savoriness complements the tangy condiments and the richness of the main protein. Plus, sesame seeds bring texture to the party.

Okay, enough about seeds. Let’s cut to the bread: These are not potato rolls (they don’t contain any potato like the more famous Martin’s rolls and buns), and I really appreciated that the crumb was a little wider. Bigger crannies mean condiments can cocoon in there. And then, while some buns can get a little too soggy if you go heavy on the condiments, these held up. Turns out, having a bit of a drier crumb (dry, not stale) means the bun can stand up to the juicy patty and condiments. I also liked how big these are. They’re wide enough in diameter to hold a big patty, heirloom tomato slice, and an onion ring or two.

Credit: Walmart

Buy: Big Marty’s Large Rolls, $3.56 for eight at Walmart

Did your favorite hot dog and hamburger buns make the list?