For that next picnic or family outing, consider making your own hamburger buns or sandwich rolls. They are easy and so much better than what you buy from the stores. And if you really want to impress your family or friends, bake them at the party. (Mix the dough at home and take it to the park. We’ll tell you how.)

Take any bread mix. Be adventuresome and consider a bread with some flavor: one of our tomato breads or Sour Cream Onion or a rye bread or maybe Fully Loaded Baked Potato Bread. (We make mixes specifically for rolls and buns and they are a little richer than bread mixes but these will do just fine.)

Mix the bread according to the package directions or recipe. If you are using your bread machine, set the machine on the “dough” setting so that the machine will mix your bread for you, let it rise and then beep when it is time to bake. If you are making bread the old-fashioned way, let the bread rise in an oiled bowl as you would for other bread recipes.

Remove the dough and divide it with a knife into eight equal pieces if you are using a one-loaf mix. Form a round with each. Place them on a greased baking sheet with room to expand. Using the heel of your hand, flatten each roll. The elasticity in the dough will tend to make the rolls spring back. Let the dough relax for a few minutes and repeat the process. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until doubled—an hour or so depending on the mix and the room temperature.

If you care to put sesame seeds or poppy seeds on your rolls, mix one egg white with one tablespoon of water. Just before baking, brush the mixture onto the tops of the rolls and then sprinkle with seeds. The egg white will keep the seeds in place.

You can bake nearly anything with a covered grill. The heat rises and circulates in the covered area just as it does in your oven. The heat source can be charcoal, gas, or even wood. We prefer gas because it is easier to control and does not impart a smoked taste to the bread. Since it is hottest near the flames, elevate the bread even if you have to improvise. In our grill, there is a secondary shelf for baking potatoes and such and that works perfectly for baking bread.

Grills tend to not circulate the hot air as well as ovens. To keep the bottom of the bread from burning, place one pan beneath the other anda wire rack between the pans to create space for insulation.

The trick to baking buns on the grill is controlling temperature and time. If your grill comes equipped with a thermometer, you’ve got it made (though outside temperatures and winds may impact how well your grill retains heat). If you have a thermometer, just heat to 350 degrees. If not, guess. After a few experiences you’ll have it perfect and we bet that the first batch off the grill will be just fine.

Your buns will probably bake in 15 to 20 minutes. An occasional peek to see how your bread is doing as it nears completion is okay.

And here are few tips to help you along the way:

  • Bake your rolls before the burgers. They can cool while you cook the rest of the food. Burning grease in the bottom of the grill makes the temperature harder to control and the soot can stain the bread.
  • If you are letting your dough rise outside where the temperature may be less than indoors or where breezes may swirl around the dough, consider using a large food-grade plastic bag as a greenhouse. Simply slip the bread dough–pan and all–inside the bag, inflate it slightly, and close it. If the day is cool, set the bag and the bread in a sunny warm place to capture a little solar energy.
  • If your buns are baking faster on one side than the other, turn the pan 180 degrees part way through the baking time.
  • The tendency is to burn the bottom of the buns. Place the buns as far away from the flames as you can even if it means elevating the buns.

We hope that you have fun baking bread outside this summer. We do know that you will be the envy of the neighborhood, campground, or park.

See the free e-book, “How to Make Great Burgers.”

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