How to Steam Hot Dog Buns: 5 Methods

There’s nothing better than finally getting a fresh hot dog off the grill and biting into it, tasting the warm fluffy bun mixed with the various condiments. However, for you to have a great hot dog experience, you’ll need to learn how to steam hot dog buns first.

There are several ways to steam hot dog buns. Some of the easiest ways include using a bun steamer, steamer basket, microwave, stovetop, and grill.

The steps needed to steam a hot dog bun using vary based on the method used and each will provide slightly different results.

Should Hot Dog Buns Be Steamed? 

Ideally, hot dog buns should be steamed before they are served. This is because steaming hot dog buns allows them to be soft and flexible which prevents them from breaking and creating a lot of crumbs while you are eating. It also helps to improve the overall experience, nobody wants a fresh hot dog with a cold, chewy bun.

However, you have to be careful to avoid steaming hot dog buns for too long. If you steam them for too long they can become soggy and will fall apart even more easily when you try to eat them.

How Long Should You Steam Hot Dog Buns?

The length of time that you should steam hot dog buns depends on the method that you use for steaming them.

If you use a traditional hot dog steamer, you’ll need to steam your hot dog buns for about 2 minutes or so before they are ready to be served. However, if you use a microwave you could be looking at less than 30 seconds for a perfectly steamed hot dog bun.

How Do You Make Steamy Hot Dog Buns?

Now that you’ve learned why you should steam hot dog buns you’ll need to learn exactly how to steam hot dog buns. There are several methods for steaming hot dog buns, some of which require specialized equipment and some of which don’t.

Some of the most popular methods for steaming hot dog buns are using a bun steamer, steaming basket, microwave, stovetop, or grill.

Bun Steamer

The first option for steaming your hot dog buns is using a dedicated bun steamer. These devices work by keeping the buns on a rack and then gently pumping steam around them. They also have temperature controls and are easy to control that way you get the perfectly steamed bun every time.

Most people do not have access to a bun steamer. However, if you do, make sure to take advantage of it to have delicious, steamy hot dog buns every time you have a cookout.

  1. Read the Instructions

Every bun steamer will have its own set of instructions and recommendations for use. Make sure to fully read the instructions before using your bun steamer for the first time.

  1. Fill with Water

Fill the steamer with water. Make sure to not fill it up so high that it touches the rack where the buns sit.

  1. Add the Buns

After the steamer has been filled with water it is time to add the hot dog buns. If your hot dog buns are frozen, make sure to defrost them before adding them to the steamer.

  1. Heat the Buns

Now you will heat the buns following the manufacturer’s instructions. The exact length of time that the machine needs to run will vary depending on the exact model you have.

Once the buns are fully heated you should remove them using tongs then serve them immediately. You don’t want to let the buns get cold before serving them or it would defeat the purpose of steaming them in the first place.

Steaming Basket

Another great way to steam your hot dog buns is using a steaming basket. Steaming baskets were traditionally used to do things like making rice and cooking dumplings. However, they can also be used to steam various foods including vegetables and your hot dog buns.

You can either use a metal steaming basket or a more traditional woven bamboo basket. Both will function perfectly fine in this case and will result in delicious hot dog buns that are ready to be served.

  1. Fill the Pot with Water
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The first step in setting up your steaming basket is to fill the pot it will rest over with water. You want to add enough water that it won’t dry up within a few minutes of boiling, but not so much that it touches the bottom of the basket. Two to three inches of water is usually sufficient.

  1. Place Basket Over Pot
  2. Bring Water to a Boil
  3. Add Buns

After the water has been brought to a boil it is time to add your hot dog buns. First, you’ll need to reduce the heat to a simmer then open up the basket and carefully place a few buns inside. Make sure to leave enough space around the buns so that they are not touching each other.

  1. Heat the Buns
  2. Remove the Buns

After about two minutes in the steaming basket, your hot dog buns should be ready to serve. Make sure to remove them with tongs and watch out for the steam that will escape when you open the basket. If you are not careful, the steam could burn you.

As soon as you remove the buns add the hot dogs and toppings then serve straight away.


If you are not interested in purchasing a bun steamer or working out how to use a steaming basket the microwave can also be an easy way to steam your hamburger buns. Keep in mind, that this method is the most likely to result in slightly soggy buns since it is more difficult to control the heat of a microwave.

All you’ll need are a microwave-safe bowl, paper towels, a microwave-safe plate, some water, and, of course, the hot dog buns.

  1. Create Steam

Before you place your hot dog buns in the microwave, you will first need to create steam. The easiest way to do this is by placing a small amount of water in a microwave-safe bowl and then heating it up.

You’ll want to put around 3 tablespoons of water into a small bowl then heat that in the microwave for around 1 minute. This will create steam in the microwave and help the buns to steam evenly and not get soggy.

  1. Wrap Buns in Paper Towel

Next, you will want to lightly spray some paper towels with water. This will help to further increase the humidity in the microwave. Once the paper towels are damp you will wrap the buns in the paper towels and then place them on a microwave-safe plate.

  1. Heat the Buns

Now you will heat the buns on the lowest setting for 10 second intervals. Make sure to keep the water bowl in the microwave throughout this process to maintain the humidity.

If you are only steaming a couple of buns you may only need to do one interval. However, if you’re microwaving a whole pack you may need closer to 30 seconds for the buns to be fully steamed.

Make sure to check the hot dog buns between every interval to make sure they’re not becoming soggy. The microwave is the easiest place to over-steam your buns which will make them soggy and sticky. 

Stovetop and Chopsticks

Another easy way to steam your buns if you’re lacking specialized equipment is simply using your stovetop and getting creative. One super creative way that people steam their hot dog buns is by using chopsticks to suspend the buns over boiling water.

The benefit of this method is that it is very easy to monitor how quickly your buns are steaming and when they should be removed. The downside is that leaning over the steam can be dangerous and increase the risk that you burn yourself accidentally.

  1. Boil the Water

The very first step is to fill a small pot with water and boil the water. You don’t need a lot of water, just enough to create steam. Two to three inches of water will usually be sufficient.

  1. Balance Chopsticks Over the Pot

Now that the water is boiling you will want to place your chopsticks over the pot. By doing this you are creating a makeshift rack on that you can place your hot dog buns on.

  1. Place the Buns on the Chopsticks
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Now you’ll want to balance your buns on the chopsticks. Make sure to keep them directly over where the steam is billowing out so they heat all the way through.

  1. Steam the Buns

Now that the buns are balanced above the boiling water you will want to steam them for around 2-3 minutes. During this time you will want to flip the buns over halfway through to make sure that they are evenly steamed on both sides and the bottom doesn’t become soggy.

Make sure you are monitoring the buns throughout the steaming process. An easy way to do this is using a chopstick to gently poke at the buns until they have achieved the right texture.

  1. Remove and Serve!

After your buns have reached your desired temperature, it is time to remove them and serve them up with some freshly grilled hot dogs.


One last way to prepare your hot dog buns is to toast or steam the using the grill. This is especially convenient if you are grilling your hot dogs and don’t want to have a separate bun steaming station inside the house.

If you decide to grill them all you’ll need to do is toss them on the grill and let them toast for around a minute. Just be careful not to let them burn as they can begin to char very quickly on an open grill.

You can also steam them using some tin foil and a spray bottle. This method is less prone to burning and will result in a more classically steamed hot dog bun.

  1. Spray Buns with Water

The first thing you will need to do is spray the buns will a small amount of water. The goal is not to make them soggy, just to introduce a small amount of moisture to the buns to aid in the steaming process.

  1. Wrap Buns in Tin Foil

After the hot dog buns have been sprayed with water you will want to wrap them in a layer of tin foil. This will seal the moisture in, allowing the buns to steam, and protect the buns from burning on the grill.

  1. Place on Grill

Now you’ll place the buns on the grill, preferably on the upper rack away from the direct heat. On the grill, they should take a few minutes to heat and you should turn them a couple of times during this time.

  1. Remove and Enjoy!

After a few minutes of heating the buns should be ready to remove from the grill. Just take them off, remove the tin foil, and top with a hot dog and your favorite toppings.

What’s the Best Way to Steam Hot Dog Buns?

The best way to steam hot dog buns is to use a dedicated bun steamer. These allow you to have the greatest amount of control over the temperature in the steamer and provide the best results. They are also specifically designed to heat your buns without making them soggy.

If you do not have access to a dedicated bun steamer, the next best option is to use a steamer basket. These will mimic the results that a dedicated bun steamer provides without having to shell out the money for a whole new appliance. All you’ll need is a basket of some sort and a boiling pot of water.

Final Thoughts

Steaming your hot dog buns is a great way to elevate your hot dog eating experience. Steamed hot dog buns are less likely to fall apart while you are eating them and simply mesh better with the flavor of a freshly grilled hot dog.

The best way to steam a hot dog bun is by using a dedicated bun steamer. These steamers are specially designed to quickly steam your hot dog buns without making them soggy. 

If you do not have access to a bun steamer, there are several other ways to steam hot dog buns. Some of the most popular ways include using a steamer basket or wrapping the buns in tin foil and placing them on the grill.