to toast or not to toast? With seeds or without? Soft and squishy or sturdy and substantial?
Those are the questions to ask when selecting the buns to cradle your juicy burger and its accessories. There is no right or wrong answer, and personal taste is likely to guide you.
Meat is the primary component of a hamburger and garnishes provide the flourish, but the bun is what holds it all together. Without it, you've got the diet plate and all that's missing is a scoop of cottage cheese.
There's a reason that the plain, airy bun, like those made by Wonder, Bunny and Rainbo, are so popular. They do the job in that they stay out of the way. Because they don't have a lot of flavor, they don't compete with other ingredients. These buns are great for squishers (you know, the people who press down on the bun once the burger is assembled). Heck, you might even be one of them.
When it comes to burger buns, size matters. The meat should be the same size as the bun. There's not much worse than a burger swamped by bun so keep in mind the ratio of bread to patty and add-ons.
If you're making an oversized, sloppy burger, you need a substantial bun to contain all that excitement. A lightweight Wonder-type bun is likely to fall apart if the burger is garnished by wet relishes and slaws. Toasting the bun provides a nice crunch but also toughens the bread so wet ingredients don't breach the integrity so quickly.
Publix makes a French hamburger bun that we haven't seen in other places, and we don't know of any equivalent. It's perfect for bigger burgers and is quite pretty and tasty. Brioche buns are also a good option but can be difficult to find. Whole Foods occasionally carries eggy brioche buns.
There are also alternatives to the conventional hamburger bun, but whatever type, the bread's flavor should never compete with the burger's.
Sturdy baguettes and ciabatta rolls are becoming popular options, but they should be very fresh, meaning not too chewy. Otherwise, the buns may fight with what's between the halves. You could find yourself taking a big bite of burger and having the remainder slide out the other side. If you feel like you've got too much, remove some of the pillowy insides.
A tall bun, such as a kaiser roll, is good when there are a lot of wet ingredients to soak into the bread. Some people even like English muffins or stuffing burger fixings into pita bread.
In the end, it's a matter of taste.