What Is a Hamburger Bun?

G. Wiesen

A hamburger bun is a type of bread used to hold a hamburger and the various condiments and other toppings typically eaten upon such a burger. This type of bun is similar to a roll in some respects and is usually sliced in half to allow the burger to be placed in the middle. Not only does the bun make the hamburger into a portable food, it also makes it easier for an eater to keep his or her hands clean while eating the burger. A hamburger bun can be made from different types of flour and can include things like chopped onion and sesame seeds.

Ciabatta bread can be used as a hamburger bun.
Ciabatta bread can be used as a hamburger bun.

There is much disagreement and controversy regarding the invention of the modern hamburger, though the bun was likely created in the early 20th century. While some sources indicate the modern hamburger was invented by Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas, these same sources indicate he served his burger between two pieces of bread, which would make his burger a patty melt and arguably not a true hamburger. The first person to serve a hamburger on a bun was most likely Oscar Weber Bilby, who served a ground meat patty on buns baked by his wife.

A cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun.
A cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun.

This bun was likely more similar to a roll and not necessarily a true hamburger bun. The modern hamburger bun was probably invented in 1916 by a cook named Walter Anderson. Many types of rolls are made somewhat spherical in shape, but these buns are designed to be round yet also squat. They are typically wider than they are tall, and can therefore more easily hold the patty and toppings, without adding too much extra height from the bun.

A hamburger bun can be made using white flour, though wheat flour can also be used to make a somewhat healthier bun. Though typically fairly plain buns can also be made with spices such as garlic and onion powders, and may be topped with things like diced onion and sesame seeds before baking. Even more elaborate buns have been made and are typically associated with a particular type of sandwich.

Many different fast-food restaurants have used different types of breads to make buns that showcase their sandwiches more distinctly, such as sourdough and ciabatta. The infamous Luther burger — singer Luther Vandross is often cited as the apocryphal creator of the burger — replaces a traditional hamburger bun with a pair of fried donuts. Kentucky Fried Chicken® has also experimented with a sandwich that replaces the traditional bun with two pieces of fried chicken.

Wheat flour may be used to make a hamburger bun more nutritious.
Wheat flour may be used to make a hamburger bun more nutritious.

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Discussion Comments


I had to cut back on using a hamburger bun because of the carbs, but I have recently found a low carb hamburger bun that's pretty good. I have also been known to use a whole wheat hamburger bun whenever it's available. I tried going bunless with a lettuce wrap, but it's not quite the same experience as a grilled hamburger on a soft bun.

If I had to pick a bun to serve to other people, I'd go with a hamburger bun with sesame seeds. I think the seeds add a flavor and texture that other buns don't. I prefer not to toast the bun if the bread is especially fresh, but at picnics I'll butter the buns and put them on the grill just long enough to get a good sear on them.


My personal favorite hamburger bun is made with potato bread, although a fresh Kaiser bun is also good. Potato bread has a nice chew to it, and it also seems to stay fresh longer than other types of buns. I think some of the fast food burger chains used potato bread buns for their more upscale menu items years ago.

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