Hamburger Buns, My Favorite Way to Eat a Burger, and J&J Grassfed Beef


About a month ago, a hankering for homemade hamburger buns led me to a wonderful discovery: Belles Hamburger Buns. You see, I wanted to find the perfect vehicle to hold the burgers I have been savoring every week since stocking up on J&J grass-fed ground beef at Delaney’s 100-Mile Market in Temecula back in August. Oh if I only lived closer to this store! I would never be without Jordan Stone’s legendary homemade pastas, or cans of American Tuna, or wonderful local produce, chickens and eggs, and as I already mentioned, this tasty grass-fed beef.

Alas, back to the buns. Belles Hamburger Buns happened to be the first recipe to turn up on my google search. I have made the recipe three times now and have had success with every batch. The dough is simple to make and forgiving, too — yesterday, for example, I mixed the dough before work, let it rise in the fridge during the day, punched it down when I returned and proceeded with the recipe as if I had never stepped out of the kitchen. I have frozen the portioned dough, too, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and proceeded with the recipe the following evening. Simps.

Now, I know it’s not really burger season, but Liza, my mother, has turned me onto a burger recipe  — a preparation, really — that has become a weekly staple. It’s simple: Roast green peppers, chop them up, and mix them into hamburger meat with a little kosher salt and pepper. Then, form patties and cook them in a cast iron pan for about four minutes a side for delectable medium-rare burgers. Not sure what it is, but the roasted green peppers — and it’s important to use green not red though I can’t give you a scientific reason why — add just the subtlest bit of flavor, enough to keep the burgers juicy and tender but not so much as to mask the flavor of the meat.

And while any skillet will likely work, the cast iron skillet has produced consistent results every time: Four minutes a side for patties about  an inch thick weighing five to six ounces each has become my magic formula for producing medium-rare burgers. I don’t care what anybody says, cooking a burger to a desired temperature is damn hard, and I attribute the success I have had thus far to the cast iron pan’s ability to retain heat so well. I might add, too, that it is a cinch to clean — mine, a gift from Liza, is seasoned such that I rarely have to do anything but wipe it out with a paper towel. If bits do stick, I clean the pan the same way I clean this pan, by heating some kosher salt in it, then wiping it out with a paper towel. Simps.

Like many of my mother’s suggestions, this one took a few months to consider.  Why haven’t I learned? Liza doesn’t mess around, especially when it comes to food. I should just  immediately make and do everything she tells me to. Anway, try this burger-cooking method! I know you’ll find success. And if you have the time to make homemade buns and locate some yummy grass-fed beef, you have quite a memorable meal in store. Thanks, mama, for another wonderful recipe, and thank you, Belles, whoever and wherever you are for a fantastic bun recipe.

I hate to bore any of you who have already heard my thoughts on grass-fed beef, so here are a few links to past posts and articles if you are interested in reading up on this matter:

Grass-fed Beef
Pasture-Perfect Patties
Anxious to Purchase a Steer
Hearst Ranch Grass-fed Beef
Grass-Farming in Lancaster
Small Farm Productivity
When Searching for Solutions, Don’t Forget the Farm

hamburger bun

Making these buns couldn’t be simpler: Combine yeast and flour in a stand mixer. Heat milk, water, sugar, salt and butter together until warm to the touch. Add the warmed milk mixture to flour and let the stand mixer do its thing for 8 minutes. Ta-da! The dough is ready to go.

hamburger buns

Cooking these burgers couldn’t be simpler either. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a cast-iron pan over high heat. When the oil begins swirling in the pan, add the patties and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 4 minutes. Flip. Add cheese, if desired, and cook for about 4 minutes longer for medium rare. Yum.

patties in pan

The wonderful J&J grass-fed beef:
J&J Grass-fed Beef


Are these not the cutest little buns you have ever seen? You can make them, too! Promise. It’s easy and fun and delicious.

hamburger bun

Update 5/4/2012: If you’re looking for a brioche burger bun, try this recipe. It’s my new favorite burger bun recipe. I love love love Belles Hamburger Buns, but there’s something about a brioche bun and a burger, you know? They’re just a perfect match.

Belles Hamburger Buns
Yield = 12

1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 cups (about 23.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
sesame seeds (optional)

1. Combine the milk, 1 cup of water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Heat until warm to the touch and until the butter has melted — this only takes a minute or two. Remove from the heat. If you have heated the mixture longer than you had intended, let it stand till room temperature. Warning: if the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), stir together the flour and yeast. Pour in wet ingredients and stir until the dough starts to pull together. If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to mix for about 8 minutes. If not, knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 portions. Make tight balls out of the dough by pulling the dough tightly around and pinching it at the bottom. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Note: I would only bake 6 buns at a time on one sheet and place only one pan in the oven at a time to ensure even baking. Set rolls aside until they double in size, about 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Mix together the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water in a cup or small bowl. Brush onto the tops of the rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until nicely browned on the top and bottom. Let cool before slicing and serving.

Note: I have served these warm, which I love, and also sliced and toasted, which I think is even better for burgers — the toasted buns don’t get soggy.

Liza’s Burgers with Roasted Green Peppers
Yield = As many as you wish

Note: This is more of a method than a recipe.

hamburger meat (I usually use about a pound)
green peppers (I usually roast about 2 peppers per pound of beef, but don’t end up needing all of them for the patties.)
Parchment paper, for easy cleaning
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper

Homemade buns (optional), recipe above
Burger accoutrements: cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, Dijon, ketchup, mayo, etc.

1. Roast the peppers: Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line a sheetpan with parchment paper. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and stem. Place peppers cut-side down on the prepared pan and place in the oven. Roast until the skins are browned and blistery, about 20 minutes. This may take longer or shorter, depending on your oven. Just keep an eye on them towards the end — you don’t want them to be totally charred. Remove the peppers from the oven. Place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside. When peppers are cool enough to handle, remove skins and discard. Chop peppers into small pieces. Set aside.

Note: This can be done days in advance. Also, you might not need all of the peppers. Save any remaining to add to an omelet. Yum.

2. Prepare the patties: Spread the meat into a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle as many of the diced peppers over the meat as you like. Gently begin forming your patties. I portion mine into either 5- or 6-ounce patties depending on the day. Season each side of the burgers with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a cast iron pan over high heat. When the oil begins to gently swirl, add the patties and turn the heat down to medium or medium-high. Cook for 4 minutes. Flip. Top with a thin slice of cheese, if desired, and cook for about four minutes longer for medium-rare. Serve on a toasted bun with all the fixins.


  1. says

    It is always burger season here in Canada. Where else do people BBQ even in the snow of winter. You will see me out there with my tongs just like the rest of those Crazy Canucks.These buns would make the burger season that much more special.

  2. says

    not burger season? unacceptable! :)
    i love the hunks of pepper throughout the juicy burgers, and the buns are the perfect size and shape. very nicely done, alexandra!

  3. says

    Yum! My stomach is aching now that I’ve read this, but too early for a hamburger in Reno. We get our grass-fed beef from Thompson Valley Ranch in Quincy, CA. Great quality and flavor.

  4. says

    Great food styling/photos. I have been searching for the perfect bun to match the perfect burger (grass-fed). I also would like to stress how important it is to not over cook grass-fed products – using cast iron is tops. Thundering Hooves is a Washington state farm/ranch that offers mail-order if you can’t get grass-fed locally. Tasteeee!!!

  5. says

    That is a gorgeous burger. I bought 1/2 a cow, and have 30+ pounds of grass fed ground beef in my freezer. I know what I’m doing with it!

  6. says

    Holy shi….I don’t think I have ever wanted a burger so bad in my life after reading this and seeing the pics!

    Will be trying both recipes for sure. And I think I understand why it has to be green peppers. For the same reason I think I’d want red ones if they were chicken burgers. Does that make sense?

    Do you use a cast-iron grill pan, or flat-bottomed?

  7. Josh says

    Inspired recipes. I just started coming to this website thanks to Robert Ashley’s suggestion. This hamburger recipe is killer; I made the entire bun and burger combo today for lunch. I’m generally rotten at baking, but the directions for hand-made dough that you provided was simple, and the buns turned out as delicious as they were pretty.

  8. Katy says

    As one of the lucky few who gets to eat straight from Ali’s kitchen, I can say with 100% certainty that these burgers are amazing. Make them now.

  9. says

    I made these last night for some friends–they were great! I flattened the buns a little while shaping them, but it didn’t really work–they still ended up like little balls–a little hard for the kids to eat, but very enjoyable.

  10. Erin says


    Thanks so much for the great buns recipe. As part of our family vow not to eat fast food burgers anymore, we are having grassfed burgers tonight (made in our new cast iron grill pan) and the whole family is psyched. I made the buns and they look gorgeous! Can’t wait to try them.

    I wanted to note that it would be helpful to add in the 1 cup of water to the ingredients list, instead of just having it in the instructions. I missed it the first time (my fault!), and of course the buns didn’t work. I’m glad I tried it again and read more carefully, because the second batch looks perfect, but to protect others from doofiness, why not add the water to the ingredients? :)

  11. says

    We made burgers and buns this week and they were to die for. The buns are out of this world, so so good. The swiss don’t make a good hamburger bun option so I’m thrilled to have an easy go-to recipe. For bread this was a quick one in terms of rising times and ingredients. Hamburgers in the winter lose a little of their luster, but man the buns really made up for it and I can’t wait to break out this recipe for a summer bbq. thank you!

    • says

      Talley — so glad to hear this! Now we just need a quick go-to brioche bun recipe. I always set out to make them, and then I read the instructions, which tell me to let the dough sit overnight. So I inevitably end up making this recipe again, which is quick and easy. We’ve been eating a lot of burgers this winter actually bc we have a freezer full of deer. So yep, deer burgers it is until we run out, which as far as I can tell is not anytime soon.

  12. Katykat says

    Ali! I made this for dindin this weekend and it turned out amazing. I couldn’t believe it, I don’t think I’ve ever made my own bread or dough or anything before, and they turned out great. Although, not perfect, I had several misshapen buns, but maybe with practice I can put them together better, but still, flavor was really good, we all enjoyed! You are the best at making hard things seem easy. :)

    • says

      KatyKat, do you know how much I love you?

      I am so impressed that you took a stab at homemade buns with all you have to do in your busy lawyering life! Wish I could have been there to have a burger with you.

  13. Jennifer Smaldone says

    I made these fantastic buns with turkey burgers….absolutely fabulous. I froze the leftover buns and toasted a couple of them for breakfast with cherry jam…soo good. Making another batch of buns, today for small grilled sausage and pepper sandwiches.
    Thanks for this very delicious and versatile recipe!

  14. Amy Laughhunn says

    Are you certain the measurements are correct for Belle’s Hamburger Buns? My dough (23.5 oz flour) was extremely dry. Added another half cup of the liquid to loosen it up. Now kneading it a LOT to get out lumps.

  15. Amy Laughhunn says

    OH! I see what I did now. The 1 cup of water (to be added to the milk) was not in the list of ingredients. I had just taken the list into the kitchen with me so I missed that. And that’s not ALL I did wrong. I also put the egg yolk INTO the liquid mix.
    Moral of story: no matter how much bread baking experience you have — take the entire recipe with you into your kitchen!!! It’s rising now. This is going to be interesting.

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