Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development



Jewel in the Crown

The best burger builds begin with the bun


Jewel in the Crown

The best burger builds begin with the bun

By Flavor & The Menu
July 9, 2024

By Flavor & The Menu
July 9, 2024


Charged with dialing up the crave factor while contending with rising costs, chefs and menu developers may be tempted to focus only on certain components when innovating (or renovating) their burger lineup. But this could be a pennywise-pound-foolish strategy. After all, enduring, memorable burger satisfaction is found in the careful calibration of every element, including—and perhaps especially—the bun.

As burger builds grow in size, so too does the audacity of the fillings: juicier meat, larger portions, crispier crunches, thicker toppings, saucier condiments—and more of them. These hefty handhelds need buns that offer a sturdy foundation. Diners don’t want a bun that will succumb to its elements, quickly falling apart and requiring a knife and fork to finish. But that underpinning also needs to be flavorful and deliver a coveted mouthfeel.

“When a burger is set in front of guests, the bun is the first impression! It needs to be love at first sight! You want a golden, domed beauty with just the right amount of shine. The bite should be soft and fluffy. Squish it a little, and it should bounce back. The flavor should be clean and subtle,” says Sabrina Tessier, vice president of foodservice marketing for ACE Bakery®. “A great burger bun needs to be a multitasking hero, bringing freshness, structure and just the right flavor.”

Simply put: Don’t overlook the bun and focus only on the elements packed in between heel and crown. Be sure to consider the value that high-quality artisan buns contribute to a flavor experience that compels customers to return again and again.

Potato buns boast a subtle sweetness, which deftly complements a rich, ultra-savory lamb burger.

Quality: From Bottom to Top

The culinary team at Hard Rock Café, with some 185 locations worldwide, understands this imperative. They recently began purchasing burger buns from the ACE Bakery® portfolio, which features two sizes of its Classic Burger Bun, as well as a Brioche Bun, a Black & White Sesame Burger Bun, a Potato Bun and a Classic Sliders Bun. Ross Evans, Director of Culinary, Hard Rock Café Hotel & Casino Hollywood, notes there are some core characteristics he seeks out as an operator and as a diner. “I personally prefer an open, airy structure in a bun, rather than a denser, closed crumb structure,” Evans notes. “For our operations, it is great to have a bun that is soft and pleasant on the palate, but holds up to very saucy burgers. We also need it to work well in the delivery and catering sector.”

But the particulars of a burger composition also can dictate a specific bun variety, Evans continues. “I like potato buns for classic burgers, where the slight sweet notes complement the super savory profiles of the builds. I’ll use a sesame bun for more intense and polarizing flavor profiles, such as when I am working with ingredients from the Asia-Pacific region. These also work great if you find your burger combination needs a little extra texture.”

Most of the burgers featured on the chain’s menu are “a great blend of savory, sweet and umami,” says Evans. For these, “I lean heavily on classic buns that are beautiful, with a neutral flavor profile that complements everything.”

Small but mighty, slider buns provide a solid foundation for a range of bite-size burgers.

Low Risk, High Impact

“In today’s inflationary times, burgers are a great place to innovate,” notes Tessier. “Everyone loves a burger, and adding new sauces and condiments is a simple way to put a fresh spin on a classic favorite without adding back-of-house complexity.” She cites gochujang ketchup, kimchi mayo, truffle aioli, pickled red onions, chimichurri and smoked gouda among the top trend-forward ingredients expected to break out on handheld menus. Breakfast burgers are also gaining ground, she says.

Evans agrees that bigger, bolder flavor profiles are the order of the day, and these often come in the form of heavy, moist ingredients and condiments that need the support of a hearty, tasty bun without risk of a soggy bottom! He cites a few craveable burger builds that have appeared on Hard Rock Café menus, made with the ACE Bakery® classic burger bun and delivered memorable flavor experiences:

  • Hoisin Burger with Sriracha aioli, charred sesame onions and shaved cucumbers
  • Steak Burger with blueberry-chipotle chutney, marinated Brie, arugula and smoked shoestring onions
  • Smashed Burger with bacon-onion jam, “legendary sauce,” beer cheese queso, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon and pickles
  • Diablo Burger with charred jalapeños, spicy mayo, pepperjack cheese, Serrano salsa verde and frisée

Both Evans and Tessier emphasize the role of a quality burger bun in take-away operations. “Bun selection here is super important,” advises Evans. “You have to choose a bun that will travel well and not get bogged down by the ingredients or the extra humidity encountered in packaging for delivery and catering. Having a bun that will hold for extended periods of time is also valuable for high-volume operations, where you may need to toast the buns ahead of time and hold for service.”

Tessier agrees that performance is mission critical. “Choosing the right bun is the secret to a great burger experience, especially in an era where off-premise is so important,” she says. “A well-chosen bun not only elevates the visual appeal and flavor, but also ensures the burger’s integrity through the takeout and delivery process. With an ACE Bakery® bun, you get a resilient partner that holds up against juices and sauces without getting mushy—and bounces back even when squished!”

Sesame buns bring an extra layer of texture to this vegetarian breakfast burger.

Carry the Load

ACE Bakery®’s brand-new artisan burger bun line joins a distinctive portfolio of sandwich carriers and table breads, all crafted with natural starters, a slow fermentation process and simple ingredients. Each bun variety boasts a high glossy crown, soft texture and subtle flavor, plus an enviable resilience factor, all the result of an extensive R&D process aimed at delivering the most mouthwatering, crave-worthy options on the market. The buns set a new benchmark for flavor, texture, visual appeal—and performance. They are equal to the sauciest, juiciest, messiest burgers chefs can concoct.

“Choosing the right bun for your burger—or other handheld—is like picking the perfect wine for dinner—it can really elevate the whole experience,” says Tessier. She points to the ACE Bakery® Potato Bun, noting, “Its slight sweetness makes it the perfect match for a sticky, spicy fried chicken sandwich.” The brand’s Black & White Sesame Burger is an ideal fit for a teriyaki burger with grilled pineapple, thanks to the delightful sesame flavor and visual pop of the duo-tone seeds. Brioche is projected to grow by 17 percent over the next four years, according to Datassential Burgers Report, June 2023, and ACE Bakery® provides one rich in flavor, made with real eggs and butter.

“We set out to craft a line of quality artisan buns to inspire chefs,” Tessier continues. “A premium bun elevates the entire build, offering immediate visual, textural and flavor differentiation. And it does so much more cost-effectively than upgrading to a more-expensive protein, subsequently raising culinary excellence and guest value while optimizing costs.” There’s a jewel to be found in the crown of your next crave-worthy burger.

Elevate your menu with the exceptional quality of ACE Bakery®. Request burger bun samples now and experience the artisan magic that will captivate your diners. Click here to add that special touch to your culinary creations!


About The Author