Crispy Bacon Buns

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At the risk of sounding like a big geek, these are buns that would make a Hobbit proud. They’re fragrant with garlic and dotted with crispy chunks of bacon. They’re marvelous slathered with a slab of cold butter, or toasted with thin slices of your favorite cheese. They’re a great companion to a steaming bowl of soup.

That said, baking bread is one of my favorite things to do on the weekend.

It’s calming. It makes the house smell good. It generally makes anyone who eats it very happy. And it’s really easy to do. You just need a couple of hours when you’ll be at home. I love these buns in particular, because they bring together two of my favorite things: bread and bacon.


When I talk to my non-baker friends about baking bread, I usually get, “How do you find the time? Doesn’t it take hours to make?” Sure it does.

But honestly, I bake while I’m doing other things. Because bread baking is one part actual cooking (well, maybe two), and nine parts waiting.

This is a really long post because I’ve included step-by-step photo instructions for those not too familiar with the process. There isn’t much to making these. The most time-consuming part is forming the rolls. Here’s the basic technique:

  1. Make the dough and wait for it rise.
  2. Fry the bacon and knead it into the dough.
  3. Let the dough rise a second time.
  4. Form the rolls and wait for them rise.
  5. Bake and inhale.

Bacon bun ingredients

When you add the water to the yeast, it should be lukewarm, but not hot. If it’s too hot, it’ll kill your yeast and the dough won’t rise. Also, I don’t add any salt to the dough, as it will be plenty salty when the bacon is added.

About all that bacon fat

How much bacon fat you wind up with depends on how fatty your bacon was to start with (not to state the obvious). Now, you can drain the bacon and just use a teaspoon of fat for flavor. Or you can toss it all in to your dough when the time comes. (This is what I do, because I don’t make these buns often, so they’re more of a treat.) Or any combination of the two. It’s totally up to you.

Crispy Bacon Buns

1 Tbls. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
3 cups lukewarm water
5 1/2 cups flour
6 rashers of thick-cut bacon
1 Tbls. garlic powder
1 Tbls. dried parsley flakes
1 egg
1 Tbls. cold water

Step 1: Make the dough and get it rising

Put the yeast in a large bowl.

Add the sugar and the lukewarm water. Whisk it up to combine and set it aside on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes. The lukewarm water wakes the yeast up, and the sugar gives it a little something to eat.

After about 5 minutes, your yeast should start to “bloom” and look like this. Wait for this step, because it’s what lets you know that your yeast is alive and kicking. If your yeast is dead (which means your dough won’t rise), you want to know now, before you toss in all your ingredients.

You’ll know it’s blooming because you’ll see a creamy head rising to the surface. If you’re ridiculously patient, you can park yourself over the bowl and watch it happen. It’s kind of cool to see once. (OK, maybe twice. Or three times.)

Add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine well.

Your goal is to make the dough fairly uniform (i.e. no huge lumps of flour or big puddles of water). When it’s ready for its first rise, the dough will be fairly raggy and wet, like this:

Soak three or four paper towels with hot water, wring them out slightly, and cover up your bowl. The heat from the towels will give the dough a little boost as it starts rising. You can also use a clean dishtowel, etc. The goal is to keep the dough covered, moist, and just the tiniest bit warm.

Set the dough aside for about an hour, or until it at least doubles in size.

After a half an hour, I peeked at mine, and it looked like this:

The dough is starting to get creamier and bubble nicely.

Step 2: Fry the bacon

While your dough is rising, fry the bacon. (I admit in advance that some of the pics below are superfluous. I just really like looking at pictures of bacon.)

Start with 6 rashers of thick-cut bacon. You can use regular bacon instead, if that’s what you have. I like the thick-cut because bacon shrinks as it cooks, and with the thick cut, you still wind up with pretty meaty chunks.

Dice up the bacon into medium-smallish pieces.

Put the diced bacon in a large, ungreased nonstick pan over medium-high heat.

Fry it, stirring occasionally.

You want the bacon to crisp, but not blacken or burn.

When it’s done, all the solid fat that’s left should be crispy. (You don’t want pieces of gummy fat in your finished buns.)

When the bacon’s crispy, take it off the heat. Add the garlic powder and dried parsley.

Stir it around with a wooden spoon to mix well. Set it aside on the counter until your dough has finished rising. As it sits, the flavors of the garlic and parsley will infuse into the warm bacon fat.

Step 3: Add the bacon to the dough and let it rise a second time

This is the part where you get your hands dirty. After about an hour, your dough should look like this:

The dough should be dappled throughout with tiny air bubbles.

Punch the dough down with your spoon and stir it to knead it a little. I do this with my spoon and wait to get my hands gooey once I add the bacon.

Give the bacon in your frying pan a stir. Drain off any fat you don’t want (if you don’t want to include any, fish out the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and pat them down with a few paper towels). Like I said, I use all the rendered fat. (Hey, these are a treat.)

Add the bacon to the bread dough.

Knead the dough with your hands to evenly distribute the bacon fat and the crispy bits.

Your finished dough should look about like this:

Cover it up again with a warm, wet cloth. Set aside for another hour, until it about doubles in size.

I peeked again after about a half an hour, and it looked like this:

Step 4: Form your rolls and let them rise

After about an hour, your bacon-laced dough should have at least doubled in size. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. Your dough should look about like this:

Put about 1 cup of flour in a pile in the corner of a board. Grab a handful and sprinkle it across the board.

With your spoon, punch the dough down, and fold it over a few times to get the air out of it.

Grab a blob of dough out of the bowl that’s about the size of a small lemon. Drop it onto your board and sprinkle a little flour on it.

Knead it, folding it over on itself and pressing it down with the heel of your hand.

Sprinkle the dough ball lightly with flour as you work it. It will become less sticky and much more elastic.

Gradually work the dough into a ball. Dust off any excess flour and put it on your prepared pan. Do this with the rest of the dough until both your pans are full. You should wind up with 28-30 rolls.

Let the shaped rolls rise, uncovered, for another hour, until they’ve about doubled in size. About 15 minutes or so before your hour is up, turn your oven on and preheat it to 400 degrees.

Your rolls should look about like this when they’re ready to bake:

Step 5: Glaze and bake the buns

If you like, you can put an egg wash on the tops to make them glossy and soft. If you’d prefer a crunchier, more rustic roll, leave them unglazed.

In a smallish bowl, whisk together an egg with a tablespoon of cold water.

Very gently (as in, super duper gently), brush the egg wash onto the tops of your rolls. Use your fingertips or a pastry brush. You don’t want to deflate the rolls by pressing too hard on them.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. They’re done when they’re golden brown on top and they make a hollow noise when you pick one up and tap on its bottom.

Cool them completely on a wire rack.

Your rolls will look more rustic if you don’t put the egg wash on them before baking:

Or more finished, like this, if you do add the egg wash:

Thank goodness my cholesterol is good. I like mine with lots of butter.

Enjoy!

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

30 COMMENTS

  1. oh gosh, this looks so yummy. I have a friend who loves to bake. I remember helping her knead, its thearaputic and so much fun. The best part is the smell of fresh bread, really does make the house smell great and the taste of home-made bread is just so nice compared to shop bread.

    I think its the love that goes into it. Just looking at your pictures, I can almost smell that fresh warm bread just coming out from the oven.

    Cool post! Garlic bacon cheese bread is ultimate umami 😀

  2. These look so good, Jessie, I would like one right now to make a fried egg sandwich with! The aroma must have been amazing, did any hobbits follow their noses to your front door?!

  3. These look amazing. I love to bake bread, my husband loves bacon, and we both love Hobbits! So these will be up our ally.

    BTW, I’m still reading every day, just don’t always have the time to post. But I love your food blog!

  4. Thanks, guys! (I need to figure out which add-on will let me reply to each post…Any ideas?)

    Kang–I couldn’t agree more. Store bought bread just doesn’t compare to homemade. And I do love how baking makes the house smell…

    Zesty–Thanks so much! Yeah, I intended to eat just one this morning, but somehow inhaled two…

    Haleysuzanne–Thanks! They’d go really well with soup. Maybe tomato soup. Hmmm…Maybe that’s what I’ll make tonight for dinner…

    HoneyB–Thank you! Let me know if you like them!

    Reeni–You just said the magic words: Fried Egg Sandwich. Yum! (And no, no Hobbits to date, but we are on the lookout.)

    Emily–Thanks so much! Let me know how they turn out!

    Ivy–Thanks! And yeah, I couldn’t agree more about taking all those pics!

    Lisa—Thank you! And thanks for reading every day! Means a lot to me. 😀

    +Jessie

  5. Marilyn–Thanks so much! And yeah, in cases like this, phooey on cholesterol. 😀

    Jo–You’re very silly. I would gladly pack some up and send ’em along!

    Jeff–Awww, shucks! I was actually going to shoot you a link tomorrow, as you’re my bacon-iest foodie friend.

  6. lol! Jessie, thank goodness someone else has a fat food obsession lately! These sound soooooo good!

    PS. I’m eating leftover chicken pot pie for lunch, with biscuits 🙂

  7. Jessie,

    These would be great dinner rolls made a bit smaller, or made as a loaf and used for panini. I have lots of bacon fans in my house, and must try these. The trick will be to fry the bacon and not have someone eat it before I incorporate it into the dough!

    Cheers,
    Annie

  8. Jessie,

    I’m planning on making the chipotle corn chowder again tonight, and if I have enough flour I plan on making these too as I edit my way through a 200 page report today! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    Lisa/Mamaboolj

  9. Oh, fabulous! (And what a great combination!) Let me know how they turn out. 😀 Also, if you’re low on flour, totally just cut the recipe in half.

    +Jessie

  10. We made the rolls today, and they turned out really well. The directions are perfect! We used bread flour instead of regular for reasons I won’t bore you with. Suffice to say I was starting to get worried about pests. I was little worried about how that would affect the texture, but we felt it was just fine with the bread flour. One thing I would add, though, is a little salt. This may be because our bacon wasn’t very salty (and yes, we used all the fat!), but hubby and I all felt that just a touch of salt would have made them even better.

    We’ll be serving them tonight with the chowder, some white wine, and probably some blue cheese from our cheese CSA (which is sadly done for the season).

  11. Oh, hooray! I’m so glad you liked them! You’re totally right about the salt, too. 😀 I’m always on the fence about how much to include in my recipes, because The Angry Chef and I both like our food on the salty side. (I’d rather be safe than have folks be sorry…)

    Thanks for letting me know!

    +Jessie

  12. I made these yesterday and had them with potato and cheese soup 🙂 I agree with Mamaboolj about the salt. It was probably the bacon I used. They were still delicious! Thank you for another delicious recipe.

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