No sense letting a good bun go to waste. 

By Darcy Lenz
July 02, 2019
Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

In the mood for a dose of cold, hard reality? As long as hot dogs are sold in packs of ten, and hot dog buns are sold in packages of eight, we’re always gonna find ourselves with more than we need of one or the other. In my family, more often than not, it’s the buns.

And while it’s not one of the biggest problems you're apt to face in life, nobody goes into a summer cookout looking to waste food. Sure, you can absolutely use your excess hotdog buns as stand-ins for sandwich bread in a pinch—pile in chicken salad or deli meat to your heart’s content—but there are actually quite a few ways to transform them into something legitimately useful, and even exciting.

WATCH: Our Best Hot Dog Hacks

 

Homemade Croutons

DIY croutons are one of the easiest things you can make to take your salads and soups over the top. Simply cut your leftover buns into cubes and toss with a bit of oil or melted butter (or a combo of both), a little salt, and any other seasonings of your choice. Then spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake at 375° for 10 or so minutes, or until golden brown. (Be sure to stir halfway through cooking.)

French Toast Sticks

Give your buns the French toast treatment and serve with a side of warm maple syrup. All you need do is whip up a simple French toast custard recipe, like this one, and proceed dipping and griddling the halved buns as you would any other slice of bread.

Breakfast Bake

Another way to make morning-after use of leftover buns is in an easy breakfast casserole situation. You can take it sweet (like with this Instant Pot Maple French Toast Casserole) or savory (i.e. King Ranch Breakfast Strata). Check out our collection of favorite breakfast casseroles for even more ideas.

Panzanella

We’ve already established that adding bread is a surefire way to improve most any salad, so why not lean in and whip up a panzanella using your leftover cookout buns? This BLT Panzanella is especially great for summer.

Thicken Soups

Hot dog buns can be used as a thickener for any soup you’re looking to enrich, from gazpacho to ribollita. Give it a try in your next pot.

Homemade Bread Crumbs

Similar to croutons, buttery homemade bread crumbs are a great item to have on hand. (I have a plastic container of them in my freezer at all times.) Sprinkle them over roasted veggies, bowls of pasta, salads, soups, and any place else that could stand a touch of toasty crunch. Here’s an easy recipe for toasted bread crumbs, so grab your buns and get to it.

Easy Tiramisu

Hot dog buns are similar enough to lady fingers in shape so hey, why not? This easy take on tiramisu utilizes King’s Hawaiian bread, but if you have a real excess of buns, create your “cake” layers using the halved buns.

Bread Pudding

An even easier dessert application for leftover buns is bread pudding. You can use a mix of hot dog buns and any other stale white bread products you have kicking around to whip up this decadent custard dessert. Unless your buns are really stale, you may want to cube and toast them briefly in the oven before using them for the bread pudding. For a no-bake play on this classic dessert, try using your dog buns in a vibrant Summer Pudding.

Garlic Bread Sticks

Spaghetti night or not, no one is going to complain if you whip up a batch of homemade garlic bread topped with Parmesan and oregano.

Meatball Binder

Milk-soaked white bread is often used as a binding agent for meatballs or meatloaf, and having a couple of leftover buns—prime for the soaking—on your hands might just be the inspiration you need to whip up a fabulous home-cooked meal using the ground beef you also have leftover from the weekend’s cookout.

And remember, if any of the above ideas sound appealing, but like, not right now… you can always toss those leftover buns in the freezer and come back to them at a later date.

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