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bun alternative for a superb burger?

after the chili-dog thread where i was inspired to whip-up a chili-cheeseburger, i'm off to the grocery to get some lettuce and buns but i want to ask hounds what they prefer for burgers if buns weren't available. flat breads are great for kebbabs but i want to keep a western vibe and not have any comments about 'middle-eastern inspiration' for this particular supper. i'm also considering standard toast and grab a fine loaf at the deli - that's what they use at the LOUIS LUNCH where the burger was allegedly invented.


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  1. Toasted English muffins, French bagette sections brushed with a little garlic butter, grilled or toasted Kaiser rolls, standard toast, not necessarily in that order.

    I may catch some slack for this, but I think the Louis Lunch burger, the burger itself, not the history or cooking technique, is a bit overrated.

    1. Square burgers and individual ciabattas.

      1. I also like the toast idea. Kaiser rolls are another option, if they're not too huge.

        1. Portugese rolls and kaiser rolls, most important is that they're fresh.

          When I was in college I worked in the parking garage across the street from Louis' Lunch. We got our breakfast and lunch from there almost every day. Kenny used to put a pretty small burger in between those two slices of toast. I don't know that toast would handle a bigger burger.

          11 Replies
          1. re: junescook

            It does. We eat at a place in Byram, CT called Burgers, Shakes and Fried (BSF) and they serve their burgers on toasted bread. They're not small either.

            1. re: roxlet

              We like to use toasted seeded rye once in a while . . . but almost always find it impossible to 'just' do a burger. We have a weakness for patty melts here.

              1. re: onceadaylily

                Toasted seeded rye is my favorite also. I like that the toast absorbs the meaty, oniony goodness from the patty melt better than the traditional griddled method. Pumpernickel is also really good.

                1. re: just_M

                  Yes, yes, and yes. We have a bakery not too far away that is known for their rye and pumpernickel. And brioche. And challah.

                  Their day-old and half-off is where I go for a bounty destined to be bread pudding.

                  1. re: onceadaylily

                    I am soooo jealous! I live in a tiny town. While beautiful.....well, lets just say it has its challenges. Enjoy for both of us please as I doubt I be baking like that anytime soon :-}

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  Byram is the first town in Connecticut from NY State as you head north on I95. It's actually right next to Port Chester. Tons of postings in the Tri-State archive as well as in the current Southern New England board, which is kind of silly since it is a lot closer to NY than it is to New England!

                  1. re: roxlet

                    Jeez, I should have known that, I took Slamtrack too many times to count into the City. Just doesn't ring a bell, the way the other stops did. So, it's in Greenwich?

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      "Slamtrack" that's funny.

                      Byram is not a well known CT town, unless you live there. Sort of the type of place you just pass through on your way to somewhere else. Slamtrack doesn't even stop there, just Metro North. I have heard of Burgers, Shakes and Fried, though.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        Watch a lot of Guy Fieri, I take it!!!

                        Yes, that's what I figured, it would have rung a bell if it was a Slamtrack stop. But I do remember Rowayton, and Rye, and other stops along the way.

              2. re: junescook

                I also like kaiser rolls, but they best that I have ever had were on a fresh baked pretzel buns.

                If you like lamb burgers they can be served slider-style in a toasted pita.

              3. Texas toast.
                Rye toast, as in the pattymelt fashion
                Steamed buns (available at Asian grocers in the freezer section)
                Brioche or Challah

                1 Reply
                1. re: lynnlato

                  I was thinking Texas toast as well!

                  MMMM but brioche sounds fantastic if it's buttered and grilled. (Like the Legal Seafood Lobster Roll bun)

                2. Kaisers I guess.

                  At Costco we can get these flat bread burger buns. I haven't tried them but they look interesting.

                  Other than that, I serve open faced on toast.


                  1. I would avoid ciabatta, baguette or any other firm crusted bread. You're asking for a burger sliding out the back at the first bite with those. I would also avoid anything too sweet like brioche.

                    I prefer regular buns or potato buns. If those aren't available, my next preference would be buttered and grilled white/pullman bread and make sort of a patty melt (i'm not a big rye fan so I like them on white). After that, a toasted english muffin.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ESNY

                      I use ciabatta all the time for burgers. Delicious. It slides a little, but it's well worth the minimal effort for a wonderful burger. Especially one with crisped pancetta and a slice of real provolone on it. This burger just screams for a ciabatta!

                    2. I like to use grilled Italian rolls, Mexican bolillo, a multi grain sandwich roll and cornmeal hamburger buns. I also like King's Hawaiian sweet rolls for burgers and sandwiches.

                      1. Last week I made brioche rolls and used them for my hamburgers -- they were wonderful! Dunno if you've got the time or inclination to make the buns from scratch, though!


                        1. I often use little dinner rolls and make sliders.

                          1. I don't know how widely available the Martin's brand of supermarket bread and rolls is. Most of their product contains potato. I adore their whole wheat potato bread, which is tender and keeps well, with a very short ingredient list that most health-conscious people would approve of. The same dough is baked in buns too, but they are only 3" in diameter. Martin's does make larger buns, but with white flour.

                            1. Some burgers go great with toasted, seeded rye bread. I make a flatter patty for this. Goes great with a slice of juicy onion, slice of tomato, pickle and little bit of ketchup

                              1. Oh man, that is totally true! Have you been?? That's in my old haunt, very near to where I grew up. Of course, it only took 15+ years and moving to the west coast to realize I lived near an institution practically half my life!! {{sigh}}

                                Anyhoo, to answer the question, and forgive me now since I haven't read further than the OP (read: NO HATE MAIL, Please) my first reaction is leaf lettuce, like a no carb burger at Carl's Jr or In-n-Out (2 ff chains here in the west). But that kind of might not work with the chili and all. Soooooo, how about a toasted corn tortilla? Kind of a riff on fritos, like a frito pie. Or, how about, go with me here, epa, I'm on a roll, two hash browned patties? Kind of a riff on a KFC double-down, which uses two fried pieces of chicken breast as the "bread"..... Do let me know what you do, am always looking for fun things like that to try!!

                                As for myself, mostly any roll will do, though sometimes ciabattas are just too tough of an exterior to deal with, and I LOVE Hard Rolls, that's what we used to call them in CT, but I guess they are Kaiser to every one else, where the crust is actually soft, and I sometimes take out some of the filling, just so there's not too much bread. I also love grilled bread, rye, wheat or white, but I have to go real easy on the butter, so that's mainly a "treat". And another thought would be some garlic bread, that's toasted, and make the burger more of a "pizza/parmigiana" type creation, with sauce & melty mozzarella - YUM!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Phurstluv

                                  Garlic bread burgers are amazing, and so sinful.

                                2. I'll add a vote for my newest kick for buns: Texas Toast. It's simply a thick sliced (7/8 inches) white bread.

                                  It is presently meeting my bun needs, by trimming the crust and rounding the corners with a tomato can cut with tin snips so it clips only the outside radius. Of course the corners could stay square, but it just ain't as cool.

                                  Then I coat the exterior face thinly with mayo, sprinkle on some white sesame seeds that will adhere to the mayo, and toast on med hi cast iron. The inner face is browned dry. Other exterior coatings I've tried are tiny rehydrated dried onions (The Texan Kaiser Onion roll?), again adhered by a thin mayo matrix. Don't get turned off by the mayo... butter or oil woun't hold the solids in place, and the mayo disappears into the matrix of the bun. (Note Bene: I cannot speak for the role of lowfat mayos or miracle whips. It would be fun to hear reports of success with those emulsions, but I'm not going to be the one to do it).

                                  For hot dogs, Texas toast can be used to duplicate the New England hot dog bun, by cutting a slit down the middle to allow you to split and fold it over.

                                  TT also freezes well, where regular buns lose their upper surface texture. You can get full use of the entire loaf.

                                  If the thick sliced Texas Toast is not available in your area, look for the thickest sliced white bread.

                                  1. hello all, it's was a busy saturday but did the shopping for a few bread varieties and am just warming the chili and the burgers are resting (me too, that was alot of cooking) . will assemble burgers when the family arrives. i'll try to get burger photos and post soon (hopefully i don't toss back too much vino and ruin the shots). thanks for all the suggestions and sorry but it's slim pickings in the baked goods aisle in the nearby grocery.the store had decent whole wheat that i'll slice thick, garlic baguettes and some english muffins. i tried and failed miserably at making cowboy style biscuits but that's another thread.

                                    hi Bushwickgirl, i guess the simplicity of the burger does limit the overall taste.

                                    hello Phurstluv, no i haven't been to america, much less Louis Lunch. i saw the place in heston blumenthal's search of perfection series.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: epabella

                                      Hi Epa, well, what are you waiting for??!! ;))

                                    2. I think it would be fun to try making a savory waffle and using that! Make a waffle batter, leave out the sugar, add onion, maybe coarsely grated cheese, your choice of herbs or seasonings. Waffle makers comes in many sizes and shapes. I know there are some out there that would be perfect!

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: scuzzo

                                        Maybe make a potato pancake type batter.


                                        1. re: Davwud

                                          Both interesting ideas, although it would become a knife and fork deal, especially when topped with chili and cheese, which is what the OP is looking to do, or did.

                                          Just saw the OP's results post, maybe waffles for next time, or the various other fun ideas suggested here.

                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                            I was just expounding on scuzzo.

                                            I personally would do open faced on grilled (or giddled) Texas Toast.


                                            1. re: Davwud

                                              Oh, yes, I see, did not read post closely, you got me at potato pancake, although I thought maybe "not" topped with a chili cheeseburger, and I missed the "type batter."

                                              Texas Toast for me, too, now that you mention it.

                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                The more I think of it, take a piece of TT, and butter on both sides. Griddle until GB&D on both sides. Top with burger. Top that with a good, oozing amount of chili. Top with a lot of cheese and then under the broiler until the cheese is all melted and awesome.


                                        2. re: scuzzo

                                          You really SHOULD change your screen name to "eggomaniac" ;-D.

                                          1. re: scuzzo

                                            scuzzo, i'm happy to see that you are still putting that wafflemaker to good, creative uses. cheers!

                                          2. The best burger in jfood's area uses two slices of bread that are butter and grilled on the flattop. Outstanding.

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Is there anything bad that comes off a flat top??


                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                yup...five guys greaseburgers.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  I disagree. But we're allowed to.


                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    Yes, this Five Guys I've been to in the Capital District -- grease just dripped off of it. The bun was so soaked, it fell apart and I hated that I had to eat it bun-free.

                                                    1. re: breadchick

                                                      See that's just wrong.

                                                      Fortunately my 5G experiences are different. Perfectly cooked and delicious. I've only been to one franchise though. I'm almost afraid to try others.


                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                        very big human element in the 5G process.

                                                        jfood has been to two. one has been hit or miss on inedible to OK, the other was just a horrible experience. Compared to McD, better, compared to a bar burger, not in the same zip code.

                                                        Curious on the "perfectly cooked" comment D? They profess to cook them well done only. Is that how you like your burgers? That may be the driving force in whether people love or dislike 5G. Jfood is a medium rare burger person, and the well-done and greasy is just nasty in his opinion. Thoughts?

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          I've never really wrapped my head around the m/r for a burger. If that's how you like it, fine.
                                                          Most of the 5G burgers I get have just a hint of pink in the middle. It's juicy but not overly so to the point of being gross.

                                                          When I was younger I ate some med cooked ground beef and spent a few days in the fetal position. I cringe if it's too rare. Sometimes it's a problem, sometimes not. It's a gamble.

                                                          Cooked and juicy is good. Overcooked and dry (like most places) is not okay.


                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                            Thanks D, interesting perspective especially the fetal position (been there done that with Oysters) and that your 5Gs has pink in the middle versus grey throughout that jfood has experienced.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              It's not pink, pink. Just a little tinge to it.

                                                              I've ground my own beef at home and cooked them to medium. I don't find it adds much so I don't take the chance.
                                                              I just make sure they aren't cooked to death.


                                              2. If you can find or make some jalapeno cheese bread, butter it up, broil it, and it makes a really delicious bun for hamburgers or any number of sandwiches. I've enjoyed on turkey sandwiches and also chopped brisket sandwiches.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: iluvtennis

                                                  Ooooo, that sounds good. We have that bread in our stores. Will have to try it, thanks for the idea, my DH will be forever grateful!!!

                                                  1. re: iluvtennis

                                                    The. Jalapeno. Cheese. Bread. I've never even thot about a sandwich before!. I just gobble it up b4 anybody else can get to it. Oooh - I'm crying and salivating now. What a great idea!

                                                  2. I'll do the faux pas of a double post here for the folks who are doing the buttered Texas toast:

                                                    If you try using a thin sheen of mayo, instead of butter, as the browning agent on the flattop/pan, you will be "amayzed."

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                      I do that often for my own grilled sammies, since the butter will aggravate my tummy. It is good.

                                                    2. We've had in our stores, forever it seems, what's called snowflake rolls. I swear these little numbers are the perfect size and consistency to support a burger made of good ground chuck (just enough drip) and yet supple enough to not shoot the meat out the sides. On a small scale that works great - sometimes small is good.

                                                      If we're using a baguette, I grill a half baguette and then brush with olive oil/garlic mix. The burger is placed on top with a slice of red onion and good blue cheese sauce. Solves the shooting meat issue since you can use a fork and knife. And, slather it with sauce and not worry about the mess falling out.

                                                      1. Can you get bagels? There are a lot of varieties of toppings to choose from for burgers.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: yayadave

                                                          Chili burgers in pita bread - the Thomas' whole wheat variety - keeps everything in one gooey place - divine.

                                                        2. Whole Foods has individual burger buns baked in its bakery dep't. Plain or seeded and a focaccia burger bun. Good size, excellent bun.

                                                          1. my ex used to like his on a biscuit... like the mcdonald's breakfast biscuits.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Emme

                                                              believe me, i tried but my biscuits just turned out plain lousy - i gotta learn to make those, if there's anything that i recall fondly from mcdonalds, it's the biscuits.

                                                              1. Louis Lassen had it right. Use toast. It is a great way to feature the flavor of the meat. AND don't use ketchup either.