This recipe for German rolls, or Brötchen, as they are called in Germany, is one of my go-to recipes for delicious, homemade bread rolls that bring me back to my home country and mitigate immediately any home sickness. They taste like they came right from the cozy little bakery around the corner and only cost you 10 cents a piece!
Brötchen are a bread staple in all German households and are loved for their crispy exterior and soft, pillowy interior. And believe me, these homemade rolls outshine anything you can find at your local store.
These crispy German rolls are amazing for an indulgent breakfast with butter and jam and also make the ultimate sandwich foundation. So, roll up your sleeves, and let's get baking. Your taste buds—and your wallet—will thank you!
If you love bread rolls like me, you need to check out some of my favorite Brötchen recipes, like these soft potato buns, these guilt free healthy bread rolls with seeds and nuts, these amazing Partybrötchen, aka German dinner roll wreath, or these super fast and easy no knead cheese rolls. And don´t forget to try the delicious buttermilk rye rolls, the Northern German sour cream bread rolls and the famous Kaiser rolls.
What is the German Word for Bread Roll?
Bread rolls are called Brötchen in Germany, "das Brötchen" (neuter/singular) and "die Brötchen" (feminine/plural).
However, the regional names for them vary depending on the area. Here are some examples:
- Schrippen (Berlin)
- Weckle or Wecken/Weggen (Swabia)
- Rundstücke (Hamburg & West-Northern Germany)
- Semmeln (Bavaria & Austria)
- Weckli (German speaking Switzerland)
- Laabla or Brötla (Franconia)
How to pronounce "Brötchen" in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Brötchen" the right way.
Ingredients & Substitutes
To make the most delicious Brötchen, you need only a few ingredients. Next time you shop for bread rolls in your local supermarket, you might wonder why their list of ingredients is so long and it hopefully will convince you to try this recipe to make your healthy German bread rolls from scratch.
Flour: I use bread flour or all-purpose flour for these simple Brötchen. You can also use spelt flour, whole wheat flour, or a mix of flours, but you might need to adjust the amount of water.
Yeast: German bakers make bread rolls usually with fresh yeast. If you live overseas like I do, you probably have a hard time finding fresh yeast. I am using dry yeast, which works as well as fresh yeast. Active dry yeast and instant yeast can both be used.
Water: Like all doughs, this yeast dough needs liquid to be made. Simple Brötchen use filtered water, but you can also find Milchbrötchen in Germany, which are made with milk instead of water.
Honey: I use honey instead of barley malt in this recipe as it acts similarly for the dough and most people have easier access to honey than to barley malt.
Salt: Brötchen without salt are boring and have no taste. But if you are on a low-sodium diet, you could reduce or omit it completely.
See recipe card for quantities.
Check out these easy steps and learn how to make authentic German Brötchen from scratch with very little work involved.
Step 1: The night before you want to make the rolls, you'll need to get the pre-dough, or sponge, ready. Just grab a small bowl and mix together some flour, water, and yeast. Then, cover the bowl tightly and pop it in the fridge to hang out overnight.
Step 2: The next morning, it's time to make the main dough. In your stand mixer bowl, dissolve some yeast and honey in warm water. This will help everything mix together nicely.
Step 3: Next, add the flour, salt, and the sponge you made earlier to the bowl.
Start kneading everything together on low speed for around 5 minutes. After that, increase the speed to medium-high and knead for another 5 minutes. You should end up with a smooth, soft dough that's just a little bit sticky.
Step 4: Once you've got your dough, cover the bowl tightly and let it rise for about 1 to 1.5 hours.
Step 5: After it's had a chance to rest, take the dough out and put it on a floured surface. Give it a good knead and then shape it into 10 evenly-sized oval rolls.
Take a look at the step-by-step photo guide below to learn the secrets of shaping those long German Brötchen just like a skilled German baker would do it.
Step 6: Now, put the rolls on a baking sheet that's lined with parchment paper.
Cover them with a clean kitchen towel and let them chill out for about 30 minutes. This will help them get nice and fluffy.
Step 7: Next, gently brush the rolls with some water and use a sharp knife or a lame to make a long cut down the middle, about half an inch deep. This will give your rolls that classic look.
Step 8: Before baking, pour around ½ cup of water into the oven to create some steam. This little trick will give your rolls a fantastic texture. Then, bake the rolls at 425°F in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Finally, let the rolls cool on a rack and enjoy your delicious homemade creation!
How to Shape Brötchen?
Shape Balls and Flatten: After dividing the dough into 10 pieces, go ahead and shape each piece into a round ball.
Next, take each ball of dough and gently flatten it into a disk that's about ¼ inch thick.
First Fold: Now, grab about a quarter of the dough from the edge of each disk, fold it towards the center, and press down on the seams.
Second Fold: Once you've folded the edge towards the center, take hold of the folded part and fold it again towards the middle of the dough.
Third Fold: Now, for the final fold, grab the folded section one more time and fold it all the way to the opposite end of the dough. Make sure to press down on the seams firmly so they stay in place and give your rolls a nice, even shape.
Roll: To finish shaping the rolls, give each one a gentle roll on your work surface. This will help to create that final oblong shape that's perfect for your German Brötchen.
Before baking, brush the rolls with either egg wash or water, then sprinkle them with your favorite toppings. Here are some ideas for you that are very popular in Germany:
- sesame seeds
- poppy seeds
- flax seeds
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- shredded cheese
- coarse salt or salt flakes
Feel free to get creative and try different combinations to suit your taste!
German Bakery Tips
Most important to make the perfect Brötchen is to incorporate a sponge (pre-dough) to recipe and to ensure proper steam in your oven during the baking process.
Adding a heat proof vessel such as a casserole dish of hot water or using a spray bottle to mist the oven walls with water right before baking will create the necessary steam. The steam helps the rolls develop a crispy crust while keeping the inside soft and fluffy.
Don't forget to preheat your oven, as this helps achieve a consistent baking temperature and contributes to the perfect texture of your Brötchen.
Baking bread rolls is super simple. You don´t need much kitchen equipment.
- Small bowl
- Wooden spoon to mix the pre-dough
- Cling film
- Large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl with kneading hook
Best Way to Store Brötchen
The best way to store Brötchen is to keep them in a bread box or a paper bag at room temperature. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and make the rolls go soggy.
If you want to keep the Brötchen fresh for a longer period, you can also freeze them. Simply freeze them on a tray before you place them into a resealable plastic freezer bag.
When you're ready to enjoy them, reheat them in the oven or airfryer to restore their crispy crust and warm, fluffy interior.
To reheat them in the oven spray the frozen rolls with some water and bake for 5-7 minutes in a 400 F preheated oven.
How to Serve
There is a reason why Brötchen play a major role in Germany. They are popular for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course all kinds of snacks.
Brötchen can be served in a variety of ways, making them the perfect base or companion for every meal. Here are a few suggestions for serving Brötchen:
- Breakfast: Slice the rolls in half and serve them with butter, jam, honey, or Nutella. You can also create a German style breakfast platter with cold cuts, cheese, and boiled eggs for an amazing German breakfast spread.
- Belegte Brötchen: Use Brötchen as the base for delicious sandwiches. Fill them with your favorite ingredients such as ham, turkey, roast beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and condiments like mayonnaise or mustard.
- Specialty Brötchen: Leberkase, herring or other fish sandwiches, Frikadellen sandwich, and of course German Schnitzel Sandwich are a popular and lecker quick lunch ides.
- Side Dish: Brötchen make a great side for soups, salads and many German meals. Their crispy crust and soft interior are perfect for dipping in a warm bowl of soup or sopping up salad dressing. Try them with this hearty German goulash soup, the creamy, cheesy leek and beef soup, or the popular German potato soup.
- German Childhood memories: If you grew up in Germany you probably have fond memories to this interesting creation called "Datschwecken" in Southern Germany. If you never tried it, you should give it a try! Simply cut a Brötchen into half, place a "Schokokuss" onto one half and gently press the other bread roll half onto the Schokokuss. If you don´t know what a Schokokuss is, picture a chocolate-covered soft, creamy marshmallow and check out the picture below.
Feel free to get creative and serve Brötchen in any way that suits your preferences and meal plans.
Stale bread rolls do not need to land in the trash. There are many delicious dishes that you can make from stale bread rolls. bread dumplings, Arme Ritter, Scheiterhaufen, or other German specialties magically transform the stale rolls into a delicious culinary delight.
Brötchen - German Bread Rolls
- 2 cups flour
- ¾ cup room temperature water
- 2 ¼ tsp. dry yeast
- 3 ⅓ to 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 ¼ tsp. dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. Kosher salt
- The night before making the rolls, start by preparing the pre-dough aka sponge. Mix flour, water, and yeast in a small bowl, cover it airtight, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.2 cups flour, 2 ¼ tsp. dry yeast, ¾ cup room temperature water
- The next morning, continue with the main dough. Dissolve yeast and honey in lukewarm water in a stand mixer bowl.2 ¼ tsp. dry yeast, 1 tbsp. honey, 1 cup lukewarm water
- Add the flour, salt, and sponge to the bowl. Then knead all the ingredients for about 5 minutes on low speed, and then for 5 minutes on medium-high speed to form a smooth, soft dough. The dough should still be slightly sticky.3 ⅓ to 3 ½ cups flour, 1 tbsp. Kosher salt
- Cover the bowl airtight and let the dough rise for about 1 – 1 ½ hours.
- After the resting period, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, knead it well, and shape it into 10 equal-sized oval rolls.
- Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let them rest for about 30 minutes.
- Gently brush the rolls with water and make a lengthwise cut about ½ inch deep using a sharp knife or a lame.
- Add about ½ cup water to the oven right before baking to create steam. This will ensure a great texture for the rolls.
- Bake the rolls at 425°F in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
- Let the rolls cool on a rack and enjoy.