These simple vegan buns are soft, fluffy and make for amazing dinner rolls, but also great for burgers. I'll walk you through all the easy step-by-step on how to prepare them, so even beginners can make homemade buns right at home! Fully plant-based, dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free too.
While working on this vegan wild rice soup recipe, I got a bunch of store-bought buns to dip in the stew and soak up all the delish broth. But then I realized that I should just make my very own vegan buns from scratch!
And you might think that making your own bread takes too much time and means hard work when you can just buy some at the store. But store-bought vs homemade bread is not something you can compare! Making your own bread does take some time, mostly inactive time to let the dough rise, but it is so worth it!
This vegan dinner roll recipe will give you soft, fluffy and tasty mini breads that are definitively healthier than store-bought. Plus, it will make your house smell like a bakery.
They are also very versatile: you can top them with your favorite seasoning and although I made them having in mind side dinner rolls to go with soups or stews, we actually ate them as vegan burger buns to go with my chickpea burger patties and vegan sandwich rolls paired with my smoky marinated tofu. It quickly became our favorite homemade all-purpose mini breads to make at home!
What's to love about these vegan dinner rolls
- Anyone can make them, even the apprentice bakers. Simply follow the step-by-step guide and you will make the best healthy vegan buns right in your kitchen!
- Versatile recipe: these buns are slice-able and grill-able, plus they can be used as hamburger buns, side rolls for soup or even at breakfast.
- Using 100% whole wheat flour makes them healthier and more filling than many other bread recipes.
- Use your favorite seasoning to personalize your buns.
- Egg-free, dairy-free and use soy milk for a completely nut-free vegan bun (perfect for kids's lunch boxes!).
- Has an amazing yeasty bread flavor.
Homemade vegan hamburger buns
There is just nothing like making your own hamburger buns from scratch! These take some time to make, but other than kneading for 5 minutes, it is mostly passive waiting time to let the dough rise.
To use this recipe for burgers, be sure to let the buns rise enough before baking so they become a perfect size to hold a patty. Also, use a baking dish that allows them to spread freely horizontal while rising (as opposed to stacking the dough in a tight space, thus forcing them to rise vertically, like a more classic dinner roll).
So next time you are making your own vegan burger patties, then be sure to try out this bun recipe for the ultimate homemade burgers. In this case, I would also recommend you to combine them with a vegan cashew mayo, plus a quick 30-minute pickled red onion recipe to add a nice crunch.
Ingredients you'll need
- Whole wheat flour: I used the whole wheat flour from Bob's Red Mill to make them. I believe that you could do ½ whole wheat and ½ all purpose for a lighter bread, although you might need to add more flour while kneading if the dough is too sticky.
- Coconut sugar: other kind of sugar would work too.
- Active dry yeast: I used the Fleischmann's active dry yeast. I haven't tested with fresh yeast nor instant yeast yet.
- Coconut oil: make sure you use refined coconut oil so your buns don't have any coconut flavor.
- Plant milk: I used unflavored and unsweetened soy milk.
What kind of yeast to use
To summarize, there are 2 kinds of baking yeast: instant and dry active. Both are very similar looking, although the instant yeast has a finer texture vs larger granules for dry active. You can find both kinds of yeast in small individual envelopes while you can also get dry active yeast in small jars that you keep in the fridge.
Dry active yeast is dormant and needs to be dissolved in a warm liquid first (often with sugar) until it becomes frothy. This reactivates the yeast, but also, seeing the bubbles forming and the liquid becoming frothy means that your yeast is healthy and active (proofing). Instant yeast is all ready to be used and can be combined straight into dry ingredients.
To make these buns, I used a dry active yeast as shown in the picture.
Making easy vegan milk bread
To bring the dough together, you will use vegan milk instead of water to help create a bun that's lighter and fluffier. This is especially great in this case since we are using only whole wheat flour, which is heavier compared to regular all-purpose white flour.
Also, when making vegan breads, soy milk will work better. A soy based plant-milk contains more protein, which help structure the buns better. The crust of the buns will also brown nicer when using soy milk. Just be sure to use unflavored and unsweetened milk so you don't end up with vanilla flavored buns!
How to make these vegan buns
This is a very simple recipe using only a few ingredients, although you will need some time ahead of you to make them so the dough can rise.
Step 1- Make the bread dough
Using the stove or a microwave, melt the coconut oil. Set aside. Then, warm up the milk as well to a lukewarm temperature. To be more exact, you can use a thermometer and aim for a temperature of 100-110º.
To the bowl containing the lukewarm milk, add the coconut sugar and dry yeast and stir. Let sit for about 5 minutes until frothy.
During that time, in a large bowl, add the flour and salt. Then, add the frothy yeast-milk mixture, melted coconut oil and stir until mostly combined (it should look shaggy).
Step 2- Knead the dough
Transfer the dough on a clean and slightly floured surface and using your hands, knead the dough for at least 5 minutes (or even longer, up to 10 minutes). Add a sprinkle of flour whenever the dough gets too sticky.
You are looking for a dough that's super smooth and that when you poke it, it tends to bounce back. Also, keep in mind that depending on how humid your house is and how you measured your flour, then you might need to add up to ¼ cup of extra flour to the dough while kneading.
Step 3- First rise
Transfer the dough back to the bowl and cover with a towel. I like to use a humid towel so it helps the dough not dry out too much. Place the bowl in a warmer area and let it rise for at least an hour (it should roughly be doubling in size, if not, then let it rise longer and/or transfer to a warmer area).
Step 4- Shape the buns
Once the dough has risen, then transfer back to a surface and divide in 8 equal portions. I simply use a large knife, then slice the circular dough in 8 triangles (just like a pizza). It's fine if it is not perfect.
Then, roll the individual balls of dough to make them as round and smooth as you can. What I like to do is to place the ball against the counter, then place my hand loosely around it and do a circular movement while gently rolling it against both the counter and the palm of my hand. You can watch my video to see how I do it, but this video from Mel at Mel's kitchen Cafe will show you how to shape buns from a better angle I find (look at the 1:50 mark).
Step 5- Second rise
Transfer the buns either on a baking sheet or a large cast iron pan (as seen in the picture). You could also use a square baking dish, as long as there is enough space for the buns to extend a bit while they rise. Also, either grease your dish or cover with parchment paper first.
Then, cover the buns with a towel and let the buns rise once more for about 30-45 minutes in a warm area.
Step 6- Bake
You can bake them straight naked like that, or spread a tiny amount of plant milk and then sprinkle with sesame seeds or other seasonings. Don't add too much milk though, use a brush just to slightly cover them. The milk helps create a nice crust, but also ensures your seasoning will stick to the buns.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Watch how to make them
Garnishing your vegan buns
These buns are great baked plain, but if you want, you can also garnish them with the seasoning of your choice.
You can simply sprinkle with sesame seeds, sea salt and dried herbs, but here are a few more ideas:
- Garlic herb vegan dinner rolls: When you add the flour to the bowl, also add: 1 tsp garlic powder + 2 tbsp of dried herbs such as basil, parsley and oregano. Also, you can add some more dried herbs and even fresh crushed garlic (1-2 cloves) to a small bowl with a 2-3 tbsp of vegan milk and use this mixture to brush the rolls just before baking.
- Everything bagel vegan dinner rolls: As seen in the picture and video, brush the rolls with plain vegan milk first and then sprinkle with an everything bagel seasoning. I used this everything bagel seasoning from the brand 365 (this was a husband fav!).
- Rosemary vegan dinner rolls: Incorporate 1 tsp of garlic powder with 1 tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary into the dough. Brush with vegan milk and sprinkle the buns with extra fresh rosemary and sea salt just before baking.
Helpful tips to make fluffy and soft whole wheat buns
1- Warmer temperature
It's pretty straight forward: yeast thrive in warmer environment. And we want to make the yeast happy, don't we.
So, make sure your milk is lukewarm before adding the yeast. I simply warm it on the stove so I can watch closely. As a side note, make sure your milk is not TOO hot either as it can kill your yeast.
Also, a warmer ambient temperature will ensure the dough rises quicker. During the warm summer, then just let dough to rise on the counter at room temperature, it should be fine. But if your house is colder, then you can transfer the dough in the microwave and place a large glass of very hot water right beside, then close the door. This will create a small enclosed warmer spot for the dough to rise.
2- Proper kneading
Don't skip or rush the kneading process, it is a key step for the dough to rise properly. Take your time, even put a timer of at least 5 minutes and put the tv on for distraction while kneading so it is 'almost' enjoyable.
To knead, pull or press on the dough, flip/fold back together, press, make a ball again and repeat.
Kneading the dough helps to incorporate more air or oxygen (needed for the yeasts to grow), but also, working the dough gets the gluten out to make the dough more stretchable and smooth. This is important for pillowy soft buns!
3- Be patient
Again, this recipe is easy, but needs some time. Be sure to respect the 2 rising sessions and consider that depending on the temperature of your house, you might need to let the dough rise even longer than recommended.
4- Make sure your yeast is still good
On a last note, be sure your yeast is still good before making bread, especially if it has been stored for a while without making any bread.
So, check on the label for the expiration date, but also, when you combine the yeast with the warm milk and sugar, it should create a frothy consistency after about 5 minutes (as seen in the video, notice how the milk is all foamy when I pour it over the flour). This is a good sign that the yeast is 'in good shape' and ready to make a bread that's fluffy!
Are these homemade vegan buns healthy?
This recipe makes for healthy, filling and nourishing mini breads! If you look at store-bought buns packaging, they are filled with preservatives, butter and more often done using processed white flour. These are made using 100% whole wheat flour and only using simple wholesome ingredients. Using coconut oil instead of processed vegan butter also make them a little better for you.
Can I make these vegan buns oil-free?
I tested this recipe without using any oil and although they were still quite good, the texture just wasn't as nice. Some bread recipes won't need any oil, but when making dinner rolls, you are looking for a very soft texture, which require a little fat. The oil coats the gluten which makes the buns softer with a nice pillow-y texture and prevent them from becoming too tough. So try not to omit it if your diet allows.
How to make them ahead?
You can make the dough, knead for 5 minutes, transfer to a bowl, cover nicely and store in the fridge for a few days. Keeping the dough in a cold environment will slow down the rising, but simply take the dough out when you want to make them and start rising the dough from that point and keep going with the recipe.
You can also shape them in buns, transfer to your baking container, cover them and pop them in the fridge. About 1 hour before you want to bake them, take them out of the fridge and let them rise before baking them.
Once baked, keep them in a covered container at room temperature for about 2 days. After that, I recommend you keep them in the fridge so they stay more fresh.
You can also freeze the buns once they are baked in a tight container. Separate the buns with parchment paper if you pile them over each other so they don't stick.
Other homemade vegan bread recipes you might like
I hope you enjoy these vegan buns as much as we do! If you try them, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how they were. Your feedback is so helpful!
Healthy Vegan Buns (Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls)
- 1 ½ cups vegan milk - preferably plain soy milk
- ¼ cup refined coconut oil
- 1 ½ tbsp dry active yeast
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar - other kinds of sugar works too
- 3 ¼ cups whole wheat flour - plus more for kneading
- 1 ½ tsp salt
For garnishing (optional)
- vegan milk
- sesame seeds, dried herbs, everything bagel seasoning, etc
- Warm the milk until lukewarm (not too hot or it will kill the yeast). You can check the temperature with a thermometer, it should be in between 100-110º. Then, add the yeast and sugar to the warm milk, stir and let sit for about 5 minutes. It should get frothy.
- Also, warm up the coconut oil until melted.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then, pour over the frothy milk mixture and the melted coconut oil. Stir well until combined and roughly forming a ball.
- Transfer the ball to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for at least 5 minutes. The dough should become very smooth and a little bouncy, but still a little tacky. You can use up to ¼ cup extra flour as you are kneading if the dough feels too sticky.
- Transfer the dough back to the mixing bowl and cover it with a humid towel. Let the dough rest for 1 hour. If your house is cozy and warm, then let it sit at room temperature, but if it is colder, then transfer your bowl in a warmer area. Let it sit longer than 1 hour if needed, you are looking for a dough that roughly doubled in size.
- Cover with parchment paper (or grease) a square, round or rectangular container. I also love to use a cast iron pan to make buns/rolls. You want to use a dish that's big enough so the buns don't touch to each other initially (they might eventually touch to each after rising, that's fine!).
- Separate the dough in 8 equal portions (I simply use a knife to do it), shape them in smooth balls by rolling them in between your hands or against a surface and transfer them to the prepared dish. Cover the rolls with a towel and let the rolls rise at room temperature once more for 30-45 min. They should double in size and even touch each other.
- During that time, pre-heat your oven to 375 º. Then, when the rolls are ready to bake, you can brush them with a small amount of vegan milk and sprinkle some sesame seeds, salt, or everything seasoning over, then bake for 20 min.
- If my house is on the colder side, here is what I do: I keep the bowl with the dough in the microwave with a glass of very hot water right beside and close the door. This creates an enclosed cozy spot for the dough to rise more efficiently.
- This video from Mel's kitchen cafe can help you shape perfectly round buns.
- Make sure your yeast is still good before you make bread. First, check on the label for the expiration date, but also, when you combine the yeast with the warm milk and sugar, it should create a frothy consistency after about 5 minutes (as seen in the video, notice how the milk is all foamy when I pour it over the flour). This is a good sign that the yeast is 'in good shape' and ready to make a bread that's fluffy!