If you are a fan of hot dogs and fast food, you are likely to have store-bought or homemade hot dog buns lying around your kitchen clinging to their last ounce of strength. Just like bread hardens if left uneaten for two days, so will the hot dog buns. But that doesn’t have to be the end of your hot dog buns, as there are ways you can give them back their former glory. So, how do you soften hot dog buns?
The steamer, the microwave, the oven, and the skillet are excellent solutions to soften your hot dog buns. Another way to make the hot dog buns soft and elastic again is to grill them and warm them up in the sandwich maker or the air fryer.
The crucial thing to consider when softening hot dog buns is the degree to which they have gone stale, as not all methods are suitable for the same type of staleness. Sometimes, you may have a favorite method to spring food to life, but that method may not be the one to use on your hot dog buns. To help you decide how to warm up and soften hot dog buns, in the following paragraphs, I will describe several warming-up methods and when they are best used.
How Do You Soften Old Hot Dog Buns?
Softening hot dog buns is possible in most cases, but there are times when you should accept defeat and buy or make new ones. If the buns are hard as wood, there’s no going back, but if they are getting there but aren’t there yet, or they are very crumbly, there are ways to save them.
If your hot dog buns are still soft when you press them but are very crumbly, and they can’t withhold the hot dogs and other ingredients you may add, then the best way to soften them is to put them in the steamer. The steam will penetrate the hot dog buns making them softer and more elastic. Depending on how old the hot dog buns are, they may get close to their original state or remain noticeably stale but still elastic enough to hold the filling inside.
One thing to keep an eye on, though, is to watch out for the time and don’t steam for more than one minute at a time. The steam is very powerful and creates a very high temperature which can cause a counter effect and dry the hot dog buns even more. Therefore, steam for one minute at a time and check the hot dog buns.
Like the steamer, the microwave is an excellent way to add moisture to your hot dog buns. You can put the buns and a small saucer of water in the microwave and let the water turn to steam to soften the hot dog buns.
The microwave works on radio waves that go through the hot dog buns moving their molecules and affecting them on the inside out. Therefore, if you put a small water saucer inside the microwave oven, the moisture will penetrate deep into the buns, softening them up from the inside out.
Still, this method has a downside; it makes the hot dog buns overly moist and gooey, which, in theory, isn’t bad, but after a while, they harden again and even more than before. That’s why you should use the microwave only when the hot dog buns are hard, and don’t microwave for more than two minutes at a time.
Pop Them in the Oven
If your hot dog buns are stale and crumbly but not that hard, you can pop them in the oven to soften them up. Cut them in half, but ensure they are still connected and smear a thick layer of butter on both sides. Close the bun and smear some butter on the surface as well.
Wrap the hot dog buns in aluminum foil and place them in a preheated oven (preheat for ten minutes at 150 °C, i.e., 300 °F). Let the hot dog buns bake for another ten minutes, and then take them out. Let them sit in the foil for five more minutes and unwrap them.
Your hot dog bun should have absorbed the butter becoming soft and elastic.
Sizzling your hot dog buns on the skillet is another excellent idea to warm them up. You should use this method if the hot dog buns are in the same condition as described for the oven method- crumbly but still usable.
Preheat the skillet to medium heat and put some butter to melt on it. Once the butter has melted, cut the hot dog bun in half, but keep the halves connected and place it on the skillet with the white part touching the butter.
You can cover the skillet with a lid or tin foil and let the buns sizzle for about five minutes. Make sure your skillet is non-stick, or, if you don’t have a suitable skillet, turn over the hot dog buns every 20 seconds so they don’t stick to the pan.
Whether your hot dog buns are crumbly or a bit harder, the grill is perhaps the universal way to warm and soften them up. Cut the hot dog bun in half, but make sure the halves are still connected; smear some butter on the grill and place the hot dog buns with the white part down.
You can either let them warm up this way or cover them with a lid and let the steam circulate and soften the crust as much as possible. Since the butter will not only soften the buns but will also grease them up, they will stay soft and fresh for longer.
Use the Sandwich Maker
The sandwich maker is another great way to revive your hot dog buns and make them fresh again. You can press the hot dog buns whole or cut them in half with the halves still connected. Smear some butter on the buns and place them in the hot sandwich maker place.
Let the tip plate fall freely without you pressing it. Once it stops going down, press very lightly and leave the plate to do its magic. Let the hot dog buns like this for about five minutes, and they’re good to go.
If your hot dog buns are just crumbly but still soft, you can pop them in the air fryer to warm them up and soften them. The hot air in the air fryer will penetrate the buns and soften them nicely. However, don’t put your hot dog buns in the air fryer if they get hard, as the air fryer will harden them even more.
What to Do With Stale Hot Dog Buns?
In addition to reviving your hot dog buns and using them for their primary purpose- making hot dogs, you can use them as an ingredient in another dish.
You can top them with pizza toppings and make mini pizzas, or dig the soft part and fill the crust with cheese, bake and get a cheese boat.
Another thing you can do is to make bread pudding- cut the hot dog buns into small pieces, put them in a bowl, and pour milk over them; the hot dog buns will soften and become creamy. You can also toast the hot dog buns and get a breakfast base bread you can top with pancake toppings. You can garnish your bread pudding with chocolate shavings, fruit, or nuts.
How Long Do Hot Dog Buns Last?
Hot dog buns last for about five to seven days at room temperature if adequately stored in zip lock bags or vacuum baggies. They don’t do well if stored in plastic containers, even airtight containers.
If the environment around is humid, you should freeze the buns for a more extended storage period of up to a month. Don’t refrigerate your hot dog buns, as they don’t do well that way.