Soft Thanksgiving Pull Apart Buns!

Happy Thanksgiving! We wish you all a wonderful holiday and lots of fresh bread at your table to share with family and friends. I’m making these soft pull apart buns for our dinner tonight. They are perfect for sopping up gravy and making little turkey sandwiches.  You can do this with any of our doughs, but I used the brioche from ABin5 to get a luxurious texture and the soft crust that so many people associate with this style bun.

1 1/2 – 2 pounds of brioche dough page 189 ABin5. (this will be determined by how large you want your buns. As you may notice I made two batches for this photo shoot. One was a pan of twelve 2-ounce buns, the other nine 3-ounce buns. Instructions are the same.)

egg wash for painting top of buns (one egg mixed with a tablespoon water)

butter for baking dish and spreading over the top

Prepare a 9-inch baking dish (larger for more than 12) by generously coating with butter.

Take a 1 1/2 to 2 pound piece of dough out of your bucket and divide it into 9-12 equal pieces. They should be about the size of small plums or golf balls.

Place them into the prepared pan and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Allow the buns to rest about 40-60 minutes. I let mine go about 60 so I would have a very light and airy bun. If your house is on the cool side you may need a bit longer.

Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees

Paint the tops of the buns lightly with egg wash using a pastry brush. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size. They should be golden brown.

Immediately brush the top with butter to keep the crust soft and because it tastes great!

Allow to cool slightly and enjoy.

Make enough for left over Turkey.

For a brioche bun that is just a little fancier try these Mini Brioche a Tete.

Congratulations to Judy from judysbakeryandtestkitchen, she is the winner of the baker’s package…

To get someone started with bread making, the baker’s package is a wonderful gift. You can also recreate it yourself with these basic items:

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – for those who want to bake traditional European style breads.

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day – bakers who want more whole grains and/or gluten-free options.

6-Quart Bucket – we like the round one for mixing, but the square one often fits better in the fridge.

Danish dough Mixer – This is our favorite tool. It offers less resistance to the dough, which makes mixing even easier.

Pizza Peel – easiest way to get loaves in the oven

Baking Stone – creates the best crust (see post on which ones we recommend)

Oven Thermometer – very few ovens run true to temp and it is crucial to know if it does to get a great loaf.

Yeast – we like Red Star so much they put our picture on the package. 😉

Vital Wheat Gluten – for those baking from HBin5

87 thoughts to “Soft Thanksgiving Pull Apart Buns!”

  1. These look delicious! I will definitely try this. We just took our second loaf of Artisan bread out of the oven – it looks heavenly. Thank you for your cookbooks and all the wonderful recipes!

  2. Earlier today, I re-watched the brioche video to find out how long to let my Thanksgiving rolls rise and to bake.

    This post came at just the right time. Doing them this way instead of in a cupcake tin might make my baking even easier! thanks.

  3. OH, THANK YOU! I came to your site to look at the baking package again. Wow, what a great gift. Thanks! I will be baking up a storm this season!

    Also, your rolls are EXACTLY what I was looking for! It doesn’t contain milk! I so appreciate the step by step directions.

    If I can get my kitchen state certified, I’ll be baking these for the farmer’s market next summer!

    Thanks again, I am one excited baker!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Jeff, and all my fellow bakers!


  4. These rolls look fantastic!! I think I’m going to give them a try for dinner tonite! I’m a newbie to breadmaking…..wish me luck! 🙂

  5. The best thing about using y’all’s dough during holiday affairs is that it’s a total do-ahead; fresh-baked bread without any stress on the ‘big day’. Thanks!

    I did almost the exact same thing with the ABin5 buttermilk bread recipe.
    Also made a little bit extra so I could make me a loaf for a Turkey sandwich the next day! :d

  6. Darn you! This is the post I needed a couple of days ago!!! When I was planning TDay.

    We DID have delicous Thanksgiving Buns, using Master AB5 Recipe. DD’s boyfriend was astonished at the process (we all cooked dinner together).

    Thank you for all you do. Thanks was offered to/for you at our TDay table, definetely.

  7. Hi Jeff & Zoe,

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your love ones!

    In the past, I made some white sandwich breads that produced “shreddable” soft crumb. The recipe used bread flour, egg, sugar, yeast, butter, salt and dried milk powder. I love the recipe but it takes a VERY long time (45 min./speed 2 on KA standmixer for just 1 loaf) for the dough to reach “windowpane” stage (bread kneaded to this stage will produce shreddable soft crumb).
    Here’s my question: Can I mix the dough using your method to produce a bread dough that can keep well in the fridge, and yet produces shreddable crumb? (using the same ingredients above, but adjust the amount of liquid used so the dough is moist looking like your enriched bread dough, and maybe more kneading before initial rise?). Since you experiment with bread dough a lot, have you had any successful enriched sandwich bread using bread flour and your no-knead method?
    My kids love to pull the “shreds” from the bread and eat it that way, and I’m trying to “cheat’ to save time on kneading… 🙂 Your help/guidance is very much appreciated.


    1. Hi Regina,

      That is a book I am very excited about too! 🙂

      When I made these buns I gave them a bit of a working over when I was forming the small balls. By doing this they develop a stretchiness that the dough otherwise doesn’t have. You can do this with any of our doughs to develop a bit more of that crumb you are looking for, but the enriched doughs tend not to have as much of it. If you do this it requires a longer resting time so the dough can develop more air and be light.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. I made the whole wheat challah dough early today and tried to make it into these rolls this evening, but I don’t know why my dough was sticky and messy looking and yours is nice neat looking balls. I’ve got them rising in the pan with wax paper covering them and will either bake them this evening or I’ll put them in the fridge and bake first thing in the morning, depending on the level of stress and chaos in the house. Will they smooth out as they rise the second time, perhaps?

    1. Sandra: They will most likely smooth out, but you can prevent this by just using more flour than U’re used to while shaping. Jeff

  9. Thanks Zoe for the reply! my other question: if I use bread flour, will it give the dough more stretchiness because it has more protein in the flour? Have you ever used a combined of AP flour and bread flour for bread making?

    Thanks again,

    1. Regina: yes, I’ve done what U describe– U’ll get more stretch, but U need more water, anywhere from 2T to 1/4 cup or more, depending on proportion of bread flour you use. Just so U know, I don’t neccesarily prefer this– seems U get smaller holes and a tighter structure, esp as the dough ages.

      But see what you think.

  10. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I am in test kitchen mode today. I am making your rolls with brioche dough with butter today. I will also make a 1/2 pound loaf from that dough. I made a 1 pound loaf of brioche dough made with margarine last week.

    I have dietary reasons for wanting to make the baked items with non dairy products, but I can just imagine Zoe shuddering with “Oh, no, margarine?”: 🙂

    I will compare the loaves to see if margarine really doesn’t taste as well. I will post on my blog and link to your recipe, ok?

    My question–you don’t say to do the gluten cloak in your directions. I am guessing you do. I did the gluten cloak on the 24 oz of dough, as well as the rolls. Is this what you wanted? Also, where is the video for shaping rolls that another poster mentioned? THANKS, Judy

    PS, If you ever want a BIG contest, just offer a prize of a person baking with the two of you one day. If that contest ever comes up, I’ll run right over to the Southwest Airlines website to see if they fly to Minneapolis!!! I’ll even wash the dishes! 🙂

    1. Hi Judy,

      I don’t have a problem with margarine, I’ve used it in some of our recipes for holidays and for my mom.

      Yes, you want to form the balls as normal, including the gluten-cloak.

      The video they were probably referring to was the brioche a tete???

      It would be great fun to meet you and have you come to a class sometime! Zoë

  11. For the first time in many years I was going to be a guest instead of host for Thanksgiving. I was going to my brother’s who has 3 young children so I wanted to make some little buns they would love. I saw this post Thanksgiving morning and decided I had time to make them for dinner. Boy am I glad I did!! Fabulous buns! My Sister in Law took one bite and decided they were dangerously good and much to good to waste on the kids!

    She has been telling everyone about the bread I brought to dinner and several people have asked if I will sell them some for Christmas.

    If I wanted to prepare pans ahead of time, can they be frozen? and still bake up tasty?

    First batch I made, I read directions wrong and put pats of butter on top of each ball before cooking and after, batch this morning made with egg wash before and butter after cooking. Both delicious!

    1. Hi Kathie,

      That is fantastic, I’m so pleased you tried them!

      You can freeze the pans of dough, but not for too long. I find that the dough with that many eggs in it starts to lose its rising power after it has been frozen for more than a couple of weeks. Be sure to wrap it very well, let it defrost in the refrigerator and then let it rest. You may need to increase the resting time a bit to get a nice light bun.

      Thanks and enjoy, Zoë

  12. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks. I baked up the rolls and I think the butter brioche is slightly better. Well, I actually ate three rolls before I could stop myself. So there wasn’t room for the comparison tasting! But I really do know what margarine tastes like, from eating challah all my life.

    I’m going to freeze the rest and take it to a party on Thursday. I still have some brioche made with margarine for comparison.

    When I get more feedback, I’ll publish my blog post on this. It has a link back to your wonderful recipe and pictures! I don’t know how you did all that on Thanksgiving!

    Thanks again,


  13. Jeff and Zoe,

    Again thanks for making me look soooo good. For Thanksgiving I mixed up a full batch of pumpkin brioche dough and whipped up 1 loaf in the fancy-shmancy brioche pan, 1 portion was used to make the divine pear tartin (try it fellow bakers, it’s a real winner!) and used the rest to make crullers for the next morning. All this with two loaves of pumpernickel for sandwiches impressed everyone.

    Naturally, I confessed that it really was very easy and… I sold 2 more of Ain5 books! Yay!

    Love the soft rolls by the way.



  14. Hi Zoe and Jeff: First, these buns were absolutely the best and the ability to make something with the brioche dough that doesn’t require a mold is great!
    Question: my challah has been coming out great but the braids opening a bit during baking and getting a bit wide rather than tall. When I cut the ball of dough into 3 pieces to braid it, I’ve been coating the cut surfaces with flour, or pulling the “cloaked” dough over the cut surfaces (so that they’re not raw). Would it be better to allow them to stay “raw”? Would this help the braids to stay together during baking? Thanks so much

    1. Amy: Yes, go ahead and decrease the flour-dusting that you’re doing– that will help the strands adhere to each other.

  15. Hi guys…sorry, one more thing.
    Just to let you know, I used your light whole wheat dough to make a modified baguette (wider, a bit more italian than french), using whole wheat flour on the bottom rather than corn meal. It was utterly fantastic – my guests are still talking about it. I sliced it and served it for cheese and it was great! (used about 11/2 lbs). Very light, very flavorful, very pretty!

  16. Jeff or Zoe-
    I love the calzone recipe from page 142 of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, though I bake it like the stromboli recipe on 144. Thanks.
    I want to make a smaller portion, just for one person. What would i need to change to do that?

    1. Hi Jeffrey,

      Use about a 1/4 of the dough and ingredients. Then just reduce the amount of time that it rests by about 15 minutes and bakes by about 10 minutes.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  17. where can I get the type of “bucket” you use for your dough? I don’t plan on doing double batches, so is the 6 qt adequate?

    1. Hi Judy,

      At the bottom of this post I have a link to the buckets at Amazon. You can also try your local cooking stores or restaurant supply. The 6qt is what all the recipes call for.

      Thanks, Zoë

  18. What I WANT-NEED-DESIRE is an soft, not hard crust, Focaccia bread recipe that is baked in a pan, not on a cookie sheet. The bread that I have fallen in love with is the one sold at our local (I live in Minnetonka) grocery chain whos name starts with the letter “R”! It is baked on site, but it is not made on site, so I cannot ‘bribe’ the baker for the recipe! I thought I would accomplish that yesterday with a recipe that was in the Strib Taste section 10/21. Didn’t happen!! The consistency was that of a ‘sponge’. It was ‘gray’! And it tasted ‘BLAH’ even after adding enough spices to the flour. PLEASE tell me this recipe will work, or if there is another one that would work better! When I called my sister about it, she got out your book and paging throught the index, and thought the ‘Olive Oil Dough’ might fit the bill!
    I’m sorry for thaking up so much space, but I would really like to start baking bread again after a hiatus of too many years! Thank you ~ Kitzer

  19. I have made several batches of the brioche and tried the pull-apart rolls. They have all turned out beautifully and they have a fantastic texture. Not sure if they are tasting as they should? I had imagined the flavor to be somewhat like “hawaiin rolls), real sweet. Mine are tasting real eggy w/ a slight bitter aftertaste. Am I doing something wrong? I’ve made two separate batches w/ the same results.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      The brioche is not a very sweet dough on its own. You can roll some sugar into the dough if you are trying for a sweeter dough, or just add a 1/4 of sugar when you are mixing up your next batch.

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Just wanted to verify this is a 1/4 cup of sugar? I am experimenting to make a pandesal version of this for my Filipino relatives and that dough is a little sweeter. Thanks/Salamat Po!

      2. Well, it’s already a sweetened dough (with honey). This would be an additional 1/4 of sugar in addition to the honey in the dough itself. See what you think.

  20. I have re-tasted since the bread cooled completely and it tastes much better to me now. It has more of a tangy-sweet flavor. Is this the right flavor for brioche? Not quite as “eggy” once it is cooled completely.

  21. I made your za’atar flatbread for an appetizer on Thanksgiving. I served it with pickles, olives and humus but was so delicious we just ate it plain. Full confession – the one served at Thanksgiving dinner was the second za’atra flatbread of the day, the first one was so delicous, we ate it while cooking the turkey and had to make another for the guests! Thanks for helping me make the hit of the meal.

  22. These are perfect! But last night I made a batch of dough for the rolls and accidentally left it out overnight instead of getting it into the fridge. Is it still usable or should it be trashed?

    1. According to FDA, you’re supposed to trash it. Two hours, they say, is supposed to be the max for eggs at room temperature. Jeff

  23. I tried these rolls for Thanksgiving with the whole wheat brioche dough from the Healthy Bread book with great success! I had about 1/2 pound left over and decided to experiment. I folded in 1 tsp of dried thyme then separated the dough into 4 balls. Rolled each ball out into a rope and formed a knot. Let them rise for 30 minutes, brushed with egg wash and baked in 350 oven for about 25 minutes. They turned out great! The thyme gave the dough a little bit of a savory flavor to it and the rolls browned up beautifully. Next time, I may try smaller knots. They oven proofed to about twice their size! I’m looking forward to an egg sandwich tomorrow morning with one of the larger knots.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  24. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    Thanks ever so much for the King Arthur Baking Kit. I used it to make the stollen recipe.

    I did a post on my blog, showing the kit being used. Really a nice kit! I gave credits and links to your website. I linked to the page at the King Arthur website, showing the contents.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I put your video from last year’s TV spot of your book and Zoe shaping stollen. I watched that several times, and then decided to add it.

    Thanks again. I hope you will come by and leave a comment.


  25. Just found your website. I have been buying an artisan boule at my grocery store until recently when they stopped carrying it and not bake their own. Just not the same!! So now I am looking for a recipe that I can make that is as good as what I was buying. Looking forward to trying your recipes.

  26. I made these for a Christmas gathering we are having today, and they are just AMAZING! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  27. Hi! I was just wondering if you could recommend a recipe (or technique) to make bread bowls (like the ones that hold dips, etc). Hopefully, they would not be too crusty (for the people with braces in my family), but would still be firm enough to carve out and use. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lina,

      You can bake the boule without steam, which reduces the amount of crust. You can also brush it with butter or olive oil as it comes out of the oven.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  28. In baking loaves of bread I have always used a thermometer in judging doneness – 195° to 200°. Is this correct for these breads or is it too high since these breads are so moist? Would there be a difference between the lean breads and the enriched breads?

    1. Hi Annette,

      The temperature for most of the lean doughs is closer to 205, due to the wetness of the dough. 195 is closer to what the enriched doughs will be.

      Happy baking! Zoë

  29. Hi, the rolls look fab. Can I use the GF Brioche to make the soft buns? Are there any special handling or changes needed to make the pan baked successful with GF dough?

    1. Hi Nancy,

      You can make the buns in this exact way using the g-f dough, but obviously you will have to handle the dough differently. Make little balls and then smooth them out with wet hands. Otherwise it is all done pretty much the same way. Here is a video to watch:

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Would you use the gf brioche or the gf boule that is in the link you provided? I’m stocking the freezer for back to school with some bread, buns and baguettes. Yum!

      2. Either will work, but the effect will be different. Brioche is softer and richer…

  30. I baked up a batch of these for supper tonight, using some of the Light Whole Wheat Bread dough from ABi5, and they were delicious! Even my daughter who doesn’t normally like rolls with an egg-wash glaze liked these (the melted butter immediately after baking helped a lot with that. I’ll probably use a white-bread dough for these the next time — but, even in a whole-wheat version, these are the best homemade rolls I’ve ever eaten (better than King’s Hawaiian Rolls!). I also like how, with a lower baking temperature of 350 degrees, these could even be baked at the same time as other parts of a meal (f.ex. meat loaf and baked potatoes), thus streamlining dinner prep even more. Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

  31. I made cinnamon rolls this morning and these rolls tonight and they are awesome but I have a question. The rolls had a slightly bitter/sourish? taste and a very strong alcohol type smell. Looking back I may have mad the dough this past Monday night. Could that be the problem? I didn’t notice it with the cinnamon rolls but maybe all the sugar was masking it? Anyone know?

    1. Leslie: try venting the container better, either by drilling a hole in the lid, or by leaving the lid open a crack— this allows alcohol and odors to evaporate out of the dough better. Other option– consider a low-yeast version of our recipes, see

      But… some of our readers have just preferred the flavor of shorter-stored dough. If that applies to you, just freeze the excess and defrost in fridge overnight when you know you’ll use the next day. Jeff

  32. I made these rolls last year and plan to make them again. However, last year, it seemed they dried out quickly. I had served some from a basket and others i left in the baking dish. The basket ones seemed dry. Coincidence or is this common. Or, am I doing something wrong??

    1. Marie: The smaller the baked good, the quicker it stales. And rolls are small items (more surface area compared to volume, for the scientifically inclined).

      Sounds like you should leave them in the baking dish till the last minute!

  33. I made these rolls for Thanksgiving dinner – they were a hit. My son, who is an executive chef said they were the best rolls he has ever tasted! I just recently bought your cookbooks and am truly enjoying making my own breads. Thanks for the inspiration!

      1. Jeff I will let him know. Greg is the executive chef at Mare in Boston’s North End. They serve costal Italian cuisine. Great restaurant!!

  34. I made a variation of these by rolling the brioche bread into many small balls (a little larger than a shooter marble) and putting four into each cup of a muffin tin and let rise. Made perfect clover rolls.

    Thanks for the wonderful bread! Made my Christmas dinner that much better with fresh homemade rolls!

  35. Made these last night for Thanksgiving. Everyone watched me shaping them, impressed I was making yeast rolls, and they were a HUGE hit. My 90-year-old Nana exclaimed, “Meagan… those rolls! They were wonderful!” Thanks so much for a great recipe!

  36. I just started to whip up a batch of the whole wheat bioche recipe and stopped when I got to the vital wheat gluten. It said to add 2 and 1/4 cups. I have never added that much to any of the breads I have made from your books. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a typo before I continued.

  37. Just went to the correction pages and saw that you had already addressed this. Now I can continue making the dough.


  38. Zoe and Jeff,

    The rolls were a hit especially with my grands. Made several batches during Christmas week. Will be making them again soon.


  39. Hello! I was looking for a good dinner roll recipe for Easter and came across this, which is perfect. I wanted to make a test batch before Sunday just to see how I like them, so I mixed up the dough last night (used challa dough instead though), and after almost 4 hours on the counter, the dough had still only risen maybe half way! My apartment was pretty cool, 65 degrees at most, but even so it doesn’t seem like the rise should’ve been that much slower, especially because I’m at a high altitude. My yeast is good, the water was lukewarm, I made sure the butter had cooled down before adding it in… I put the dough in the fridge hoping it would finish rising overnight in there, but it’s now the next afternoon and it doesn’t look like it really rose at all in the fridge. Can I still use the dough? Do you think the rolls will still be able to rise? I don’t know what I did wrong!

    1. Hi Kelsey,

      Yes, the dough should still be good to use. You may just want to add an additional 15 to 30 minutes to the final rise time. How high up are you? Did you read our high altitude baking post?

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Thanks for the reply! I’ll go ahead and shape them and let them rise a bit longer than it calls for. I’m at 5,000 feet so things usually rise way too fast here. Yes, I’ve read your high altitude tips. Thanks again!

  40. For these rolls, should I just roll them into a ball, or still do the usual “gluten cloak” technique? I’m also assuming that I can do the refrigerator rise trick that I’ve come to love and put the rolls, in the baking dish in the refrigerator at night, and bake in the morning.

    1. Hi Elisa,

      You’ll want to treat the little balls of dough just as you would a larger loaf. Stretch the dough to the bottom to create a smooth top.

      You can do the refrigerator rise trick, which makes baking in the morning so much easier.

      Enjoy, Zoë

      1. So excited to get to this…thank you!

        P.S. I’ve become very popular at both mine and husband’s workplace. Little do they know how easy it is. I tell them, they just can’t seem to believe me.

  41. Do you think I could do the overnight proof with these? I made the challah for them. I would like to form Wednesday night and overnight proof and bake Thursday morning.

    1. That should work nicely, but it’s always nice to do a dry run, before a serving something to company for the first time!

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