Brioche Buns

gluten-free brioche bun recipe

Brioche! I cannot even begin to describe how thrilled I am to finally have a brioche recipe to share with you. The idea for these buns came last week after I adapted a fantastic recipe for brioche-like soft pretzels to a gluten-free version (still polishing it up, stay tuned!). Their brief swim in a boiling water bath, coupled with an egg wash, made them emerge from the oven with a lovely sheen. Thinking back on my previous brioche attempts, it was a luster that I had been unable to achieve with egg wash alone. I wondered …

With a few more tweaks to my adapted pretzel recipe — a little more butter, evaporated cane juice substituted for half of the honey, no baking soda in the water — I was soon in yeasted bread euphoria, an absurdly giddy place. As I’d guessed, the brief boil does wonders for the buns, not only lending more shine, but also giving the crust an ever-so-slight snap. (If you want to see the difference in sheen between a boiled and non-boiled bun, check out this photo from my first batch when I cooked each bun differently — the non-boiled one is in the back left corner.)

But what about the texture beyond the crust? I think a photo does it more justice than I ever could with words:

gluten-free brioche buns: look at that texture!

And while totally delicious when nibbled plain, they’re just as good spread with jam as they are topped with all kinds of burger fixings, making them perfect for the Fourth!

Brioche Buns

(very heavily adapted from Five and Spice via Food52)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Inactive Preparation Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours

Baking Time: 18 – 20 minutes

Makes: 4 buns


  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) millet flour, plus more for pan and rolling
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) garbanzo fava flour
  • 96 grams (1/2 cup) potato starch
  • 32 grams (1/4 cup) arrowroot starch
  • 9 grams (1 tablespoon) xanthan gum
  • 7 grams (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 12 grams (1 tablespoon) evaporated cane juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 21 grams (1 tablespoon) honey
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) water, room temperature

For Boiling:

  • 4 cups water
  • 12 grams (1 tablespoon) evaporated cane juice

Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg white lightly beaten with 5 grams (1 teaspoon) water


Make and Shape Dough:

Dust a small baking sheet with millet flour, arrange four 3 1/2″ English muffin rings¹ on top; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together millet flour through salt; fit mixer with paddle attachment. In a small spouted bowl or measuring cup, whisk together melted and cooled butter through water. Turn mixer to low and pour butter mixture into dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a millet floured surface. Sprinkle the top with more millet flour, then roll the dough around a little, covering all sides with flour. Pat the dough into a disk and divide into four, equal-size pieces. (See photos below for a visual how-to of the next steps.) Shape each piece into a rough ball; set aside. Pat one ball out into a smooth disk (about 6″ wide). Tuck edges underneath, toward the center to form a somewhat-flat-bottomed, nearly-a-sphere shape. Cup the dough with both hands and gently rotate it — start with hands facing each other, then move your left hand up and right hand down, both a bit clockwise — to form a tight ball. Place ball in the center of a ring and it out pat it out evenly to the edges. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a draft-free spot to rise for about an hour or until doubled in height.

Boil and Bake Buns:

About 15 minutes before buns are through rising, position oven rack in the center and preheat to 425°F. Line a clean, small baking pan with parchment; set aside.

Once dough is through rising, warm the 4 cups water in a 4-quart saucepan or pot² over high heat. Add evaporated cane juice to water once it reaches a boil; stir well to dissolve. Remove ring from the first bun, lift it (bottom side down) onto a mesh skimmer³ and lower it into the boiling water. Cook for 1 minute on the bottom side, then flip it using the mesh skimmer and cook the top for 1 minute more. Remove the bun with the mesh skimmer, allowing water to drain back into the pot, and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet top side up. (Please note: the buns will look a little puckered after boiling — click here for a photo — but puff right back up in the oven.) Repeat with remaining buns.

Please note: As the water level lowers, you may need to gently nudge the bun around using the skimmer to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You may also cook two buns at a time if your pan allows, I can do so with the linked 4-quart pot above.

Allow last bun to cool for about 5 minutes before brushing all the tops with one or two coats of egg wash. Place pan in oven and bake until deep golden brown, 18 – 20 minutes.

Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. If desired, slice just before serving. Best enjoyed when still slightly warm, not hot. Store buns unsliced and tightly wrapped at room temperature for a day or two. For best results, reheat cold/room temp, unsliced buns in a 425°F oven for about 5 minutes before serving.


¹ You can absolutely make these without the rings, they just help give the dough some support when rising to prevent it from slumping slightly. If it’s any incentive, I do have a recipe for English muffins that uses them as well!

² If your pot is much wider than 8″, you will likely need to use more water and sugar.

³ Mine is an all metal one from Ikea, purchased years ago. It’s no longer available, but this one is highly rated and available through Amazon or this rubber handled one from at Ikea.

gluten-free brioche buns: rough balls formed

gluten-free brioche buns: ball patted into a disk (about 6")

gluten-free brioche buns: shaping ball

gluten-free brioche buns: shaping ball, part two

gluten-free brioche buns: ready to rise

gluten-free brioche buns: risen buns, one unmolded

gluten-free brioche buns: lowering into the boiling water

gluten-free brioche buns: taking a swim

gluten-free brioche buns: boiled and egg washed buns

gluten-free brioche buns: chillin'

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  • Reply
    July 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I can’t believe these are gluten free – they are stunning.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I never imagined a gluten free brioche could be so perfect! They look wonderful!

  • Reply
    Heather Sage
    July 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you, both!

  • Reply
    July 2, 2012 at 4:51 am

    These look amazing. Can’t believe that they are gluten-free. They look perfect.

  • Reply
    Vicky @ Menu by Vicky
    July 2, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Wow! These are amazing and they’re gluten free too! I need to try them. Congrats on the top 9!

  • Reply
    Lois Parker
    July 2, 2012 at 7:00 am

    excellent; I make bagels with the same sort of process. Got to see if I can get these to work without the xanthum gum, which I can’t tolerate. Wishing now I hadn’t given away my crumpet rings (totally new baking tins when went gf).

  • Reply
    Geri Saucier
    July 2, 2012 at 7:06 am

    THanks for sucha timely post. I ws looking for a recipe for homemade buns for our Fourth of July cookout. These buns look wonderful:)

  • Reply
    Foodie Stuntman
    July 2, 2012 at 7:54 am

    WOW! Very impressive. Congratulations on making the foodbuzz Top 9!

  • Reply
    Heather Sage
    July 2, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Vicky: Thank you — I can pretty much (not-so-humbly) guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

    Lois: Mmmm, bagels — those are one of my next bread projects! I’d love to know if you can get these to work without the xanthan gum.

    Geri: Oh, that’s awesome — I hope you enjoy them!

  • Reply
    Heather Sage
    July 2, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Thank you so much, Foodie Stuntman!

  • Reply
    Dr. P
    July 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I tried this recipe yesterday and it was a hot mess! Please help me understand what may have gone wrong. I’ve been a GF baker for many years so I was totally disappointed in the results. Here’s what happened, when I removed the rings the dough really deflated, then the dough stuck to my floured tray, and when I put them into the boiling water bath they disintegrated around the edges. So I baked 2 of them in the rings and the texture inside was lovely but they didn’t look too pretty on the exterior. I’m wondering if there simply was not enough flour, leaving the dough too sticky or if you are in a drier climate (so you would need slightly less).

  • Reply
    Heather Sage
    July 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Dr. P: I’m very sorry to hear that the buns did not work out for you yesterday. A couple of things I think may be to blame:

    1) If any substitutions for the flours or starches were made.
    2) If the following step was skipped — if it came together into a disk there should be enough flour: Turn the dough out onto a millet floured surface. Sprinkle the top with more millet flour, then roll the dough around a little, covering all sides with flour. Pat the dough into a disk and divide into four, equal-size pieces.
    3) Measurements made by volume not weight — the starches tend to clump, making precise measurement by cups more difficult (I’m sure with your experience you already know this).
    4) If the butter was not cooled sufficiently, it really needs to get to room temp so it’s no longer very liquid and it’s not so warm that the yeast grows too quickly, which causes the buns to deflate.
    5) If the water was warmed — same deal as the butter.

    As far as my climate: I live in San Francisco — I’ve made the buns on very humid days (last week) and very dry days (yesterday), the results were the same on each. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Dr. P
    July 6, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I did measure rather than weigh because I am visiting a friend. So I’ll try it again using weights. I may have left the butter too warm, but I did follow all directions. So I’ll be SUPER careful and try it again. Thanks so much for the added hints.

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I’m just starting to gather gluten free baking ingredients. I have changed due to stomach problems. Is there a substitute for the evaporated cane juice? It is expensive.
    And could I use a flax furry instead of the xanthan gum, which is also expensive. It is difficult getting used to new ingredients. Thank you for helping, this is all so new.

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      October 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Welcome to the world of gluten-free baking! Totally understand the difficulty that the new ingredients pose. Here are the answers to your substitute questions, plus another option:

      – Evaporated Cane Juice: Granulated white sugar will work a-ok.
      – Xanthan Gum: I am not aware of any substitutes for this application. I realize the upfront cost can be prohibitive, but if it’s any comfort an 8-ounce bag lasts me about 6 months and I bake A LOT.
      – Arrowroot Starch: You can use cornstarch (it is the same volume and weight as arrowroot) as a substitute. I’ve had great success swapping these two starches for the brioche buns and a crusty loaf of No-Knead bread.

      Any other questions, please let me know!

  • Reply
    January 19, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    i just came across your blog by chance as I was searching for gf soft pretzels! These recipes are gr8! I have a few questions regarding the starting instructions, do I combine all the dry ingredients? Does the yeast need to be proofed?
    Do you think this recipe could be done without a standup mixer?
    thank you!

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      January 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      So glad you found my blog, thanks for stopping by!

      All dry ingredients do get whisked together, including the yeast — it doesn’t get proofed and is the regular old granulated active dry yeast (I typically use Bob’s Red Mill).

      I think it could be managed with enough muscle and a bit of extra mixing time (say, 5 minutes vs 2 minutes by machine). You may need to add a tablespoon or so of extra water along the way to make mixing easier and to ensure that the consistency is correct (as shown in the first small photo).

      I’m happy to help if you have any other questions — happy baking!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    These look amazing! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Just made these yesterday and they are better than awesome! Thank you so much. I couldn’t find the millet flour in the store so instead purchased millet seeds and ground them well in my blender. The sugar I used was turbinado raw cane sugar which I believe is the same as evaporated sugar cane juice. This bread is everything traditional bread is: aromatic, yeasty, bready texture, with a beautiful crust. I did not use an electric dough paddle but started with a regular electric mixer and switched to finishing with a spatula to mix the dough. I placed them on the baking pan without using muffin pans and also let them rise, which was not a lot, until I noticed that I could smell the yeast which was more time than suggested. I will use a manual wooden handle dough whisk for future bread baking.

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      January 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      I am so very glad to hear you had such success with these buns!! Thank you so much for sharing your process — it’s great to hear of an alternative approach. Happy bread eating and baking!

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