The beloved Kaiser Roll is a deli-specialty, but with this recipe in hand, you can make them at home! Tender yet sturdy, these rolls are delicious eaten on their own with a slather of salt butter and just as tasty when turned into a sandwich bun for leftover turkey, burgers or a quick weekday lunch.
We set out to develop a recipe for kaiser rolls that were tasty enough to serve on the Thanksgiving table and large enough for turkey sandwiches the next day. These deli-style Kaiser Rolls hit the mark!
They’re light, tender and flavorful while also being study enough—and large enough—for sandwiches. The rolls are best enjoyed the same day they are baked, but they can be made ahead. Another reason they’re great for the holidays.
Ingredients for Kaiser Rolls
Flour: Bread flour is higher in protein than all-purpose flour and is the key to creating tender yet sturdy rolls. The higher the protein content of flour, the higher the potential rise of a yeasted baked good.
Yeast: To keep things moving along quickly, use instant or rapid-rise yeast. You’ll need four teaspoons, so you’ll need to buy two packets (each packet has 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast).
Honey: Traditional Kaiser Roll recipes use malt syrup to add sweetness and encourage browning. We wanted to avoid the need to go searching for a specialty ingredient, so instead of malt syrup, we use honey. You can also use cane sugar if you want. Regardless, you need to add some sugar to activate and feed the yeast.
Seasoning: You can top your kaiser rolls with whatever seasoning you like! We find the combo of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and flaky sea salt to be absolutely divine. But use whatever seasoning blend you like!
How to Make Kaiser Rolls
- Mix together the kaiser roll dough in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.
- Once a dough comes together, knead the dough until it clears the sides of the bowl, this will take 8 to 12 minutes.
- Slowly add the butter by tablespoon, kneading until it’s completely incorporated.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and allow dough to rise until doubled in size. This will take an hour to an hour and a half.
- Punch down the dough, then divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into a rope on a lightly floured surface then form into dough knots according to directions below.
- Arrange dough knots on two baking sheets and allow to rise again until puffy and spring back when gently poked, this will take 30 to 60 minutes.
- Brush the dough knots with egg wash and sprinkle with seasoning.
- Bake until golden brown.
How to Shape Kaiser Rolls
Step 1: Roll dough into a long rope.
Step 2: Lightly dust the rope with flour—this makes it easier to tie into a knot without sticking to itself.
Step 3: Tie ends into an overhand knot, like the first step of tying shoe laces.
Step 4:Take one of the tails ends and wrap it over the loop and press through the center opening from the top.
Step 5: Take the other tail, and wrap it under the loop and through the center opening from the bottom so it’s poking out the top.
Forming kaiser roll tip
To roll and form each kaiser roll, we recommend setting up a two-zone rolling work surface. Think of two-zone grilling, but in terms of rolling and baking. Lightly dust one half of your work surface with flour while leaving the other half clean of any flour.
In order to get each dough ball rolled out into a rope, you’ll want to use the un-floured side of the surface. The tacky dough will slightly stick to the counter which will allow you to roll and stretch it. Though, you may need to lightly dust your hands with flour to work the dough as needed.
Right before tying the dough rope into a knot, roll it over the flour surface and brush off any excess flour. The floured rope will be much easier to knot now since it won’t stick to itself.
How to Store Kaiser Rolls
Store baked and cooled kaiser rolls at room temperature wrapped tightly in a plastic bag or airtight container for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze kaiser rolls for longer storage. To freeze kaiser rolls, layer them between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container or resealable zipper-lock bag. Allow the rolls to thaw for a few hours at room temperature before reheating and enjoying.
How to Reheat Kaiser Rolls
We recommend reheating kaiser rolls in the oven or toaster oven. Heat them in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes just until warmed through.
How to Toast Kaiser Rolls
Kaiser rolls are delicious when toasted! We like to use toasted kaiser rolls for Smash Burgers and Turkey Burgers as well as making Steak Sandwiches and turkey sandwiches with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
Toaster: slice the kaiser rolls in half and pop them in a standard toaster. Toast until golden brown.
Toaster Oven: slice the kaiser rolls in half and arrange them, cut side up, on the rack of a toaster oven. Toast until golden brown.
Broiler: slice the kaiser rolls in half and arrange them, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Place on a rack set 6 inches from broiler and broil until golden brown. Keep an eye on the rolls—a broiler can take them from golden to burnt in no time!
Variations on The Recipe
Switch up the seasonings you use for the top of the buns! Here are some of our favorite spice blends.
- For a middle eastern flare, use za’atar instead of the seed mix.
- For a nutty spiced topping, try this Pistachio Dukkah.
- Everything Seasoning incorporates the sesame seeds and poppy seeds, but with an added boost of flavor from dried onion.
Like most baked goods, kaiser rolls are best enjoyed the same day they are baked. However, you can make them ahead of time.
Cooled rolls can be stored in zipper-lock bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. Wrapped in aluminum foil before being placed in the bag, rolls can be frozen for up to 1 month. To reheat thawed, frozen rolls, wrap them in foil, place them on rimmed baking sheet, and bake in a 350ºF (176ºC) oven for 10 minutes.
We haven’t tested this, but we don’t recommend making the swap. In order to achieve risen, tender rolls, you need to use a high-protein flour such as bread flour. If you buy bread flour, we have a few other recipes you can use it in! Check out our Japanese Milk Bread Rolls, these out-of-this-world Mochi Bread Donuts, and our Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (bread flour helps to make them super chewy).
If you want to make a dinner rolls with all-purpose flour, check out these Sweet Potato Rolls (they also use white whole wheat flour).
For the best results, we recommend just making two batches of rolls. We don’t recommend baking more than two sheets of rolls at a time, and because of that, you’ll want to stagger the rising times just slightly. Make one batch of dough, transfer it to a greased bowl and let it start rising. While that rises, make another batch of dough.
Stir yeast and a dash of sugar into warm water (not boiling water). After about 10 minutes, the yeast should bubble, look slightly foamy and smell yeasty/ somewhat like beer.
If it doesn’t foam or bubble, it’s dead. Toss your yeast and buy new. If it does, then your yeast is fresh and good to use for baking.
Absolutely! Instead of rolling the dough pieces into ropes and knotting, shape each piece of dough into a balls, and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Center the kaiser stamp over a ball of dough and press down firmly, cutting nearly to the bottom but not all the way through. Repeat with the remaining rolls. Cover the rolls and let rise until nearly doubled in size and dough springs back when poked gently with knuckle, 30–60 minutes. Follow the rest of the recipe instructions as written.
No, kaiser rolls are not sweet. The small amount of honey feeds the yeast and balances the savory butter and salt.
Homemade kaiser rolls are best eaten within 3 days of baking.
Kaiser Rolls Recipe
- 5 cups (630g) bread flour
- 4 teaspoons (10g) instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 tablespoon (16g) + ½ teaspoon Morton Kosher Salt or 1 ½ tablespoons Diamond Crystal
- 1 ¾ cups (415g) warm water (about 110ºF)
- 2 tablespoons (25g) olive oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature, divided
- 4 teaspoons (25g) honey
- 2 tablespoons (28.5g) softened butter
- Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, oil, 1 egg (50g), and honey in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved.
- Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.
- Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but sticks to bottom, 8–12 minutes. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thoroughly incorporated, 2–4 minutes.
- Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in a large lightly greased bowl or container; cover with clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours.
- Press and stretch dough into 12×6-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter’s edge. Using a knife, cut dough in half horizontally (parallel to you). Then cut 6 even vertical cuts to form 12 identical pieces. Cover pieces with towel.
- Lightly dust half of work surface with flour. Lightly dust hands, then working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), stretch and roll into 14-inch rope on undusted half of work space.
- Lightly roll rope through flour, then shape rope into U with 2-inch-wide bottom curve and ends facing away from you.
- Tie ends into single overhand knot, with 1½-inch open loop at bottom.
- Wrap 1 tail over loop and press through opening from top.
- Wrap other tail under loop and pinch ends together to seal.
- Arrange rolls pinched side down on prepared sheets, spaced evenly apart. Cover loosely with towel and let rise until nearly doubled in size and dough springs back when poked gently with knuckle, 30–60 minutes
- Heat oven to 350ºF (176ºC) with racks set in upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Lightly beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water, then gently brush rolls with egg mixture and sprinkle with seed mixture, if using.
- Bake until golden brown, 25–30 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
- Transfer rolls to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.