Fire up the grill, because these soft, squishy gluten free hot dog buns are better than anything you can buy at the grocery store.
What makes these buns special/why make instead of buy?
If you got here by searching for “gluten free hot dog buns near me,” that means you’re looking to buy buns. But wait! Give me 2 minutes to try to convince you that it’s better (and easy!) to make them yourself.
There are plenty of companies that make packaged gf hot dog buns these days. Schar, Canyon Bakehouse and Udi’s all sell gluten free hot dog buns.
But even the best among them, which I would say is probably Schar, simply don’t hold up to scrutiny. They fall apart, and they’re far from squishy.
Not everyone has time or the inclination to make homemade hot dog buns every time, of course. But this recipe makes a classic, squish bun that has a very light, browned crust and is perfectly fluffy inside. Make it at least once, so you know that the packaged kinds need to improve their product.
You may still buy packaged buns from time to time. I may, as well! But I know that they’re not good enough, and I don’t believe it has to be that way. Let’s pressure them to make them at least as good as gluten free packaged breads, which are really quite good.
How to shape these gf hot dog buns
This bread dough is pretty highly enriched, with milk, melted butter, and an egg. When it’s ready for shaping, it should be tacky to the touch, but not especially wet.
The dough should rest for at least 2 hours before you handle it. This will allow the flours to absorb the moisture in the other ingredients, making the dough easier to work with.
When you begin to shape a divided one-sixth of the dough into the shape that will become a hot dog bun, you should begin with clean, dry hands and no additional flour. If the dough is too sticky to shape like that, try letting it rest for longer and working with it a bit cold.
How to get a nice, even rise
The moment you add additional flour to the dough, you are likely to add pleats to the dough that will separate as the dough rises and bakes. If you shape the dough without additional flour, you can pinch together any pleats or breaks in the dough, and they should disappear.
The shaping is finished on a very lightly floured surface, with a tiny bit of extra tapioca starch/flour, just to smooth the top. That gives the dough a nice smooth cloak to rise into.
Keep in mind that overproofing is not ever the result of having let your raw yeast dough rise too long. It’s the result of letting the dough rise too much.
In cold, dry weather, the dough will take longer to rise. In warm, humid weather, it will rise more rapidly. Patience is key!
If you’d like to make a New England-style gluten free hot dog bun, which is shaped more like a piece of white bread, shaped into a bun, I have a separate recipe for that. Just follow the link in the previous sentence for that recipe.
Ingredients and substitutions
If you can’t have dairy, try replacing the melted butter with melted vegan butter. Melt and Miyoko’s Kitchen brands are my favorite.
In place of dairy milk, any unsweetened nondairy milk should work. My favorite is unsweetened almond milk, since it still has some fat, and that adds welcome richness.
There is only one egg in this recipe, so I think you could replace it with one “chia egg.” Place 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds and 1 tablespoon lukewarm water in a small bowl, then mix and allow to sit until it gels.
There is a fair amount of tapioca starch/flour in this recipe. It’s in addition to whatever tapioca starch you’ll find in your all purpose gluten free flour (as most good GF flour blends will contain it).
If you can’t have or can’t find tapioca starch, you can try replacing it with superfine sweet white rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour). It has a similar, although not exact, sticky, stretchy quality.
You must use some form of commercial yeast for this recipe. I always bake with instant yeast (which is also called bread maker or rapid rise yeast).
If you would prefer to use active dry yeast, you’ll need to use more, and to “prove” the yeast in some of the milk in the recipe before you add it to the rest of the mixture. The general rule of thumb is to use 25% more active dry yeast than instant yeast, by weight.
Classic Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns
2 1/4 cups (315 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
5/8 cup (75 g) tapioca starch/flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon (9 g) instant yeast
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) warm milk (about 95°F)
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
6 gluten free hot dogs, for serving (optional)
About the baking pan
Using a long, narrow pan, like the one you see in the images here, helps keep the buns from rising longer and more narrow. I like to use a pan that’s about 4½ to 5 inches wide.
If you don’t have a rectangular baking pan, you can bunch or fold heavy-duty aluminum foil around the raw, shaped rolls to keep them in place as they rise and bake.
Grease a rectangular baking pan very lightly (or use a nonstick baking pan). The ideal pan is rectangular and about 5-inches wide. (See Recipe Notes.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, xanthan gum, tapioca starch/flour, instant yeast, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the salt, and whisk again to combine.
Add the milk, egg, and melted butter. Using the paddle attachment, beat vigorously. The mixture will come together in a clump and clear the sides of the bowl. Keep beating until it begins to look whipped, and sticks to the side of the mixing bowl again (about 5 minutes total).
Transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled bucket or bowl with a tight-fitting lid. The container should be large enough for the dough to nearly double (although it most definitely won’t double).
Set the container aside for at least 2 hours at room temperature, and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Do not let the dough rest/rise for too long, or your rolls will rise much more irregularly after shaping. If you’ve let the dough rest for in the refrigerator, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to warm until it’s no longer cold to the touch before working with it.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions with a sharp knife or metal bench scraper. Working with one piece at a time, knead the dough in your clean, dry hands, without adding any additional flour of any kind, pinching any seams that separate.
Begin working the dough into a cylindrical shape, just in your hands, and then place on a *very* lightly floured surface to finish shaping into a cylinder about 4.5 inches long. Spread a tiny bit of additional tapioca flour on the outside of the cylinder to smooth the surface.
Place the shaped pieces of dough, a bit more than 1-inch apart, in the prepared pan, taking care not to crowd them. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, place in a warm, draft-free location, and allow to rise until about 150% of their original size.
This rise can take anywhere from 45 minutes to hours, depending upon the ambient temperature in your kitchen. Overproofing is not very likely, and can be detected when the surface of your raw buns begins to look cratered and uneven. When the rolls are nearing the end of their rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.
Remove the plastic wrap and drizzle the shaped and risen rolls very lightly with olive oil. Using clean, dry hands or a pastry brush, spread the oil evenly over the top and sides of the risen rolls.
Place the baking pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the rolls are lightly golden brown all over and firm to the touch. An instant read thermometer inserted into the center of each roll should read about 190°F.
Remove the pan from the oven, and with the rolls still in the hot pan, cover it loosely with a tea towel and allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes. This will help keep the rolls, and even the crust, relatively soft.
Slice each bun along one long side, toward the center, about 2/3 of the way through the bun, to create a space for a hot dog. Place a cooked hot dog in each bun, along with any toppings, and serve.