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Sep 17, 2022

New England Style Hot Dog Buns Using Tangzhong

These New England-style split top hot dog buns are so soft and fluffy. They are perfect for your favorite hot dog, sausage, or lobster roll. 

What makes New England style hot dog buns different is that they are split at the top rather than the side, stand up straight, and the sides are buttered and grilled before they are filled. 

Most lobster rolls are made with this style of split top bun, including Connecticut lobster rolls

Typically, the buns are baked in one continuous flat loaf in a special New England hot dog pan, and then cut into buns and split on the top. If you don't have the special pan, you can form individual buns and place them up against each other and bake them like pull apart buns. 

For these buns, I used a Japanese-style Hokkaido milk bread dough, which uses a tangzhong, or mixture of flour and liquid that is simmered until it reaches 149 degrees F. The method produces the softest and fluffiest bread you will ever make. 

The buns are slightly sweet, and the flavor might slightly remind you of Hawaiian buns. The bread stays fresh for quite a long time too. 

More bread and roll recipes using a tangzhong:

  1. Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong
  2. Tangzhong Whole Wheat and Rye Bread
  3. Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread
  4. Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls

One of the challenges of making these buns using this method in the special pan is the fact that dough grows exponentially when it's in the oven. Because you top the pan with a sheet pan to make the buns square on top, kind of like a Pullman pan, you have to be pretty precise in the amount of dough you use. 

I used a scale to weigh the individual sections of the dough for the pan, starting with 60 grams per bun. The dough looked pretty tiny in the pan, but it grew enough while baking to lift the sheet pan on top of the dough. I tried it again with 55 grams per bun and it seemed to work. I may actually try again with even less dough per bun. 

I ended up with a little bit of extra dough, which I rolled up and baked in custard cups, resulting in the lightest and fluffiest rolls!

Helpful Tools: 

You will definitely need a stand mixer to make this dough because you must knead it for at least 15 minutes on medium speed intil the dough is super smooth and elastic. 

You will also need a rolling pin to roll the dough very flat before shaping it. 

You can use the special New England hot dog pan, or rig up a couple of square cake pans or rectangular casserole so that you are placing the buns against each other like pull-apart rolls. 

A kitchen scale is essential for weighing the dough for the pan. Because the dough grows so much in the oven, you want to end up with uniformly sized buns. Plus, if you do any baking, a scale will help you so much! 

Ingredient Notes:

Flour: I used bread flour

Pantry ingredients: Salt, sugar

From the fridge: milk (either low fat or whole) and butter

Milk powder: I really like King Arthur's Baker's Special Dry Milk for bread baking, but any milk powder will work. 

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New England Style Hot Dog Buns Using Tangzhong

New England Style Hot Dog Buns Using Tangzhong
Yield: 10 buns
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 20 MinInactive time: 1 H & 30 MTotal time: 2 H & 20 M
These New England-style split top hot dog buns are so soft and fluffy. They are perfect for your favorite hot dog, sausage, or lobster roll.


For the Tangzhong
  • 25 grams (1/6 cup) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup water
For the Final Dough
  • 350 grams (2 1/2 cups) bread flour
  • 55 grams (3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons caster/superfine granulated sugar (see note above)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • All of the tangzhong


To Make the Tangzhong
  1. Whisk the flour and the water together until there aren't any lumps.
  2. Place the mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 149 degrees F. If you don't have a thermometer, cook until the spoon leaves a trail in the mixture.
  3. Immediately dump the mixture into a heatproof bowl, and let cool. When it has cooled, cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the mixture, and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours.
To Make the Buns
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. You can also use a bread maker for mixing the dough (don't use the bread maker for baking the bread).
  2. Add the egg milk, and the tangzhong, and mix and knead until a dough forms. Add the butter pieces, and knead on medium high speed for 15 to 20 minutes, until a piece of the dough can be stretched into a very thin membrane.
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, and let rise in a warm spot in your kitchen until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. If your kitchen is cold, this could take longer.
  4. Spray your pan with spray oil.
  5. Once risen, deflate the dough, and divide it into ten 55 gram pieces (there will be some extra dough that you can form into rolls or a tiny loaf) and form them into balls. Cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Take each piece and, using a rolling pin, roll out into a rectangle, with the shorter side being about 5 inches. Beginning with the 5 inch long side, roll up the dough into a cyllinder and place it in the pan. Repeat with the rest of the 55 gram balls.
  7. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and allow to rise about 3/4 of the height of the bread pan, about 40 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap.
  8. Spray a baking sheet with spray oil, and place it on top of the risen dough. Place the pan in the oven and place a cast iron pan on top of the baking sheet to weigh it down. Close the oven door and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the pans topping the dough and bake for another few minutes if the buns need to brown a bit more.
  9. Cool the buns in the pan for 5 minutes, and then turn the bread out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  10. Cut into individual buns and then split the buns down the middle.

Nutrition Facts



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buns, hot dog
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Would you like to comment?

  1. I've made my own hamburger buns but never hot dog buns, must give these a try1

  2. Love the idea of making your own hot dog buns. Like the lobster roll idea even better!

    1. Oh, me too! The lobster rolls were amazing.


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