Buns: The Surprising Culinary Uses You Need to Know About

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 1, 2022

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A bun is a small, sometimes sweet, bread or bread roll. Though they come in many shapes and sizes, they are most commonly hand-sized or smaller, with a round top and flat bottom. Buns are usually made from flour, sugar, milk, yeast and butter.

Common varieties contain small fruit or nuts, are topped with icing or caramel, or filled with jam or cream. Some types of buns are filled with various meats. “Bun” may also refer to particular types of filled dumplings, such as Chinese baozi.

Some of these types of dumplings may be bread-like in texture. A bun is normally made from dough that has been ‘enriched’ with sugar and butter and even sometimes egg. Without any of these the dough remains to be ‘bread dough’ rather than ‘bun dough’ and the resultant product will be called a roll, rather than a bun.

In this article, I’ll explain what makes bun bread unique and how it differs from other types of bread.

What is a bun

The Wonderful World of Bread Buns

Bread buns are a basic type of bread dough that is shaped into small, round, or dome-shaped buns. The dough is typically made with flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, and eggs. Some buns may contain additional ingredients such as oil, butter, or spices to add flavor. The dough is then fermented and allowed to rise for a short period before being rolled and shaped into individual buns. The buns are then brushed with egg wash or milk and baked until they are light brown with a visible crust. Some buns are steamed instead of baked, which gives them a soft and fluffy texture.

Shapes and Sizes

Bread buns come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are usually round and hand-sized or smaller. Some common shapes include crescent-shaped, flat, or even shaped like a sesame seed bun. The size of the bun can vary from small to large, depending on the type of dish it is served with.

Savory and Sweet Varieties

Bread buns can be filled with a variety of savory or sweet fillings, making them a popular addition to many different types of dishes. Some common savory fillings include meat, vegetables, and spices, while sweet fillings can include fruit, cinnamon, or sugar. In certain parts of the world, buns may also refer to a sweet cake.

Popular Types of Bread Buns

There are many different types of bread buns, each with their own unique flavor and preparation methods. Some popular types include:

  • Chinese steamed buns, which are filled with savory ingredients and steamed until they are soft and fluffy.
  • Peking duck buns, which are a popular Oriental dish that features crispy duck served in a soft bread bun.
  • Italian bread buns, which are typically baked and have a crispy, toasted crust that adds an unmistakeable crunch to any dish.
  • Plain white buns, which are a common type of bread bun that can be served with a variety of dishes.

Excellent Addition to Any Meal

Bread buns are an excellent addition to any meal, whether they are served as a side dish or used as a sandwich bun. They are easy to make and can be customized to suit any taste or preference. The aroma of freshly baked bread buns is also an interesting addition to any meal, adding an extra layer of flavor and texture.

The Versatile Bread Buns: A Culinary Delight

Bread buns come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them a versatile option for any meal or snack. The most common shape is round, but they can also be flat, dome-shaped, or even crescent-shaped. Some popular types of bread buns include:

  • Plain white buns
  • Sesame seed buns
  • Flavoured buns (such as cinnamon or fruit)
  • Chinese bao buns (typically filled with savory fillings)
  • Mini buns (perfect for a snack or appetizer)

Making Bread Buns

Bread buns are relatively easy to make at home with basic ingredients. Here are the steps:

  • Mix together flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and any desired spices or flavorings.
  • Add in eggs, milk, and oil to form a dough.
  • Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
  • Let the dough rise by proving it in a warm place.
  • Shape the dough into individual buns and brush with an egg wash.
  • Bake the buns until they are light brown and the crust is visible.
  • Serve warm or store in a plastic box in the refrigerator for later use.

Tips for Serving Bread Buns

To serve bread buns at their best, here are some tips:

  • Check the freshness of the buns before serving.
  • Warm the buns in the oven or microwave before serving.
  • Cover the buns with a cloth to keep them warm.
  • Serve with a generous helping of butter or cream.
  • Experiment with different fillings and toppings to create interesting flavor combinations.

The Bun and Bread: What Makes Them Different?

Bread and buns come in different shapes and sizes, but the most typical shapes for bread are round or rectangular, while buns are usually round or dome-shaped. Buns are single-serving baked products, while bread comes in loaves that yield many servings.

Tastes and Delicacies

Bread is a staple food in many regions and is generally served at the dinner table. Buns, on the other hand, are often thought of as fast food and are served in groups, such as hamburger buns. Bread has a wide variety of tastes and can be sweetened or not, while buns are usually sweetened and have a cinnamon or brown sugar taste. Bread can be creative and fit different food groups, while buns are typically a single type of foodstuff.

Comparisons and Differences

The differences between bread and buns depend on the type of bread or bun being considered. For example, flatbread and breadsticks are types of bread that are flat and hard, while buns are typically soft and sweet. Ciabatta is a type of bread that is similar to a bun in shape, but it is usually larger and has a hard crust. Bread loaves can weigh up to a pound, while buns are usually half that weight. Bread can be braided or baked in different shapes, while buns are typically round or dome-shaped.

Optional Ingredients and Health Value

Optional ingredients can be added to both bread and buns to enhance their taste or health value. For example, eggs can be added to bread dough to make it richer, while buns can be made with whole wheat flour to make them healthier. Jamie Oliver suggests adding cereals to bread dough to increase its breadth and value.

Are Buns Really Healthy?

Buns are a popular type of bread that is commonly used to hold patties, hamburgers (here’s how to grill them when they’re frozen), and sandwiches. They are easy to slice, portable, and provide an aesthetic presentation to any meal. But are they really healthy? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of buns.

The Good and the Bad

Buns are packed with carbohydrates, which are essential for providing energy to the body. They also offer fiber, which is beneficial for digestion and preventing deficiency diseases. However, not all buns are created equal. Buns made from refined or regular flour are not healthy as they contain high amounts of sugar and low amounts of nutrients.

The Healthier Options

If you want to enjoy buns while still fitting them into your diet plans, there are healthier options available. Enriched or fortified buns are designed to provide extra nutrients, and whole grain buns made from wheat, oat, rye, or breadflax are a good source of fiber and nutrients. Bread made from sour dough is also a good option as it provides beneficial fibers and is low in sugar.


So, that’s what a bun is – a bread usually made of wheat or flour, often used as a part of a meal. Bun breads can be savory or sweet, and can be used as a sandwich or a side dish. 

I hope you’ve learned a lot from this guide and can use this new knowledge to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right bun for your meal.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.