Chicago Red Hot Poppy Seed Buns

Recipe by Susan Reid

Like Chicago itself (and its famous Chicago-style dogs), the hot dog buns are substantial: no undersized, spongy supermarket buns for their tomato-, onion-, pickle-, and sport pepper-topped creations! In the Windy City you'll find a big, chewy poppy seed bun that has enough oomph to support the skyscraper constructions that Chicagoland natives depend on for a quick lunch. Here's our version.

20 mins
17 to 20 mins
3 hrs 37 mins
10 buns
Chicago Red Hot Poppy Seed Buns - select to zoom
Chicago Red Hot Poppy Seed Buns - select to zoom
Chicago Red Hot Poppy Seed Buns - select to zoom


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  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — until the dough is smooth and satiny.

  2. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it's doubled, about 90 minutes to 2 hours.

  3. Divide the dough into 10 pieces; if you have a scale, they'll weigh about 2 1/2 ounces (71g) each. Shape each piece into a rough 3" log, and let the logs rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.

  4. Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten it, and fold it in half lengthwise, sealing the seam. Repeat: flatten, fold, and seal. By this time the log will have elongated a bit; flatten it one more time, making a 6" oval that's as even as you can get it.

  5. Lay the bun on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, laying the buns about 3/4" from one another, for soft-sided buns; or farther apart for buns with crust all around.

  6. Cover the buns lightly with greased plastic wrap, and let them rise until they're noticeably puffy but not doubled, about 1 hour.

  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  8. Mix the reserved egg white with 2 teaspoons cold water, and brush the mixture over the top of the risen buns. Sprinkle heavily with poppy seeds.

  9. Bake the buns for about 18 minutes, until they're golden brown. They may seem slightly "damp." That's OK; they'll dry as they cool.

  10. Remove the buns from the oven, and place them on a rack to cool.

  11. Store the buns in a plastic bag for a few days on the counter, or store for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to make these buns a day or so ahead of time? Try the tangzhong technique, an Asian method for increasing the softness and shelf life of yeast rolls. Begin by measuring out the flour and water you’ll be using in the recipe. Now take 3 tablespoons of the measured flour and 1/2 cup of the measured water; put them in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and forms a thick slurry; this will take about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the cooked mixture to a bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, then combine it with the remaining flour, water, and other dough ingredients. Proceed with the recipe as directed. Well-wrapped and stored at room temperature, your finished buns should stay soft and fresh for several days.

  • This recipe fits neatly into our New England Hot Dog Bun Pan. Make the dough using the whole egg, and decrease the water to 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (199g). Sprinkle 3 tablespoons (27g) Everything Bagel Topping over the bottom of the pan before placing your dough into it. Cover and let rise until the dough has risen to 1/2” from the top of the pan. Uncover, and then top with a baking sheet that’s greased on the bottom. Put the whole thing (including the baking sheet) in the oven and top with a heavy oven-safe pan or skillet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, then remove the weight and baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes more, until golden brown. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan to cool completely before slicing.  You’ll get tasty buns with the crunch and flavor of Everything Bagel Seasoning on top.