Traditional German Brötchen Recipe

Brötchen is a staple in Germany, where it's one of their most well-known types of bread. According to food etymologist Dan Woeller, brötchen is "the ancestor of our American burger bun," and it's been around for quite some time. It's a smaller bread with a hard shell on the outside and a beautiful, fluffy, soft inside.

Mark Beahm is the mastermind behind this traditional German dish that's sure to bring a smile to your face. If you haven't yet sampled a brötchen, you're missing out! If you have been lucky enough to try one, then you know what we're talking about. Beahm says that his favorite part about the recipe is the texture. "Brötchen have a crisp crust and a chewy, dense crumb," he says. "I think they're very versatile. You can have them for breakfast with butter, jam, cheese, or deli slices, or as a dinner roll to sop up extra sauces." 

Here's how to make this yummy bread.

Gather the ingredients

First, you need to make sure that all of your ingredients are present and accounted for. Luckily, you only need a few items to throw together this tasty bread. You will need whole milk, water, active dry yeast, flour, and salt. That's all it takes to make traditional German brötchen, which is probably why you'll be making these again and again.

Once you have all of the ingredients in front of you, it's time to begin.

Combine and mix

For the first step, you combine ¾ cup of the warm milk and the water together in a large mixing bowl. Then, you add the yeast and let it stand until it begins to foam. After about 10 minutes, it's time to the add flour and salt.

Then you just mix everything with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it forms into a shaggy ball, and continue on to the next step. 

Knead the dough and let it rise

Once everything is mixed together, and the dough is in a ball, tip it onto a work surface. Then, knead the bread for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and doesn't stick. When it's ready, the dough will be very firm.

When that happens, it's time to transfer the dough to a clean mixing bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Leave it in a warm spot and let it rise for about an hour, or until it doubles in size. 

Punch and divide the dough

Once the dough rises, you need to gently punch it down to deflate it. When it is deflated, that's when you can divide it into eight pieces. Roll each piece of dough into an oval that's about 3 ½ inches long. Then they'll need to rise again, but now that they're shaped, they can do it on a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Like before, cover the rolls with plastic or a damp tea towel and set them in a warm spot for about an hour or until they double in size again. 

Preheat and complete

While the dough rises for a second time, preheat your oven to 450 F. Then, brush the tops of the rolls with the remainder of the milk to give them a glossy finish. Score each roll lengthwise with a sharp knife. 

The brötchen need about 20 to 25 minutes and bake and should be golden brown. When you take the rolls out, let them cool slightly. You can serve them warm or at room temperature.

If you want to prep ahead of time, Beahm says, "You can freeze the brötchen after dividing and shaping them. Space them out on a tray and set in the freezer until frozen solid. Then you can transfer them to a freezer bag. To cook them from frozen, remove the rolls from the freezer and set them on a parchment-lined baking tray. Let them defrost at room temperature for an hour to an hour and a half before baking." 

Traditional German Brötchen Recipe
5 from 265 ratings
This traditional German brötchen recipe is somewhere between bread and a dinner roll. With a hard shell and fluffy interior, it's great for breakfast or dinner.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Traditional German Brotchen in basket
Total time: 40 minutes
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, lukewarm, divided
  • ½ cup water, lukewarm
  • ¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  1. Combine ¾ cup of warm milk and ½ cup water in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast and let stand until it begins to foam, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it comes together into a shaggy ball.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. The dough will be very firm.
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean mixing bowl and cover with plastic or a damp tea towel. Leave it in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour, or until roughly doubled in size.
  5. Gently punch down the dough to deflate. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
  6. Roll each portion of dough into an oval about 3 ½ inches long and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Cover the rolls with plastic or a damp tea towel. Set in a warm spot to proof for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  9. Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining 1 tablespoon milk. Score each roll lengthwise with a sharp knife.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter, jam, cheese, or cold cuts.
Calories per Serving 244
Total Fat 1.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 2.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 49.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.8 g
Total Sugars 1.4 g
Sodium 238.2 mg
Protein 7.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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