15 Creative Ways To Use Up Leftover Hot Dog Buns

hot dog buns with filling
hot dog buns with filling - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Hot dog buns are reminiscent of summer, when you finally get to use the grill and enjoy warm days outside. But what happens when you have leftover buns and you're out of (or sick of) hot dogs? You'll find that there are more creative ways to use up leftover hot dog buns than you might think. From brunch to desserts, we'll share several creative ideas on how to use fresh, stale, whole, and even torn buns that you might have from yesterday's cookout.

There are different types of hot dog buns that you can integrate into these fun concepts, too — whether that's the standard white bun, whole wheat, pretzel,  brioche, golden potato, butter, sweet Hawaiian, or something else. For the most part, you can use any of these buns, but we will specify if there's one that would go particularly well with a certain idea. Thanks to these hacks, you'll never have to toss a stale or extra hot dog bun away again.

Read more: Common Mistakes Everyone Makes With Hot Dogs

Make Sloppy Joes

sloppy Joe sandwich served on a plate
sloppy Joe sandwich served on a plate - Albina Bugarcheva/Shutterstock

You'll usually find sloppy Joe filling on a hamburger bun, but use a hot dog bun for your sloppy Joe instead when you're in the mood to switch things up. From a brioche bun to a sesame-topped bun, you can use just about any hot dog bun variety out there and the flavors will match the sloppy Joe. Even a Hawaiian bun is suitable because you'll often find sweetness in sloppy Joe filling in the form of molasses, brown sugar, or even apple juice.

This version is easy to hold onto with the length of the bun and is also a fantastic way to utilize any slightly stale buns you might have. The moisture from the sloppy Joe can help revitalize the bread. If the bun is particularly soft, lightly toast it so it doesn't crumble under the weight of the meat filling. You can also use sloppy Joe mix as a hot dog topping (sort of like a chili dog).

Create Ice Cream Sandwiches

ice cream sandwich on bun
ice cream sandwich on bun - Pius99/Getty Images

While it might seem unconventional to have ice cream sandwiches with a hot dog bun base, you can make an ice cream sandwich using sliced bread or a sesame bun, so this is in a similar vein. Hot dog buns are also a fantastic alternative to a super sweet sandwich base (like a cookie) when you don't want something overly saccharine. Use a sesame bun for a light nuttiness or a Hawaiian-style hot dog bun for a somewhat sweet base to enjoy with your chilly dessert. Choosing a Hawaiian bun could go well with ube, coconut, or pineapple ice cream.

For something more straightforward but equally as tasty, opt for a brioche or classic white bun with vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate ice cream. This makes a perfect handheld sandwich that eliminates ice cream dripping down your wrist (as it would with a standard sandwich) since one side is closed. Eat hot dog bun ice cream sandwiches with toppings like chopped peanuts, whipped cream, or Maraschino cherries.

Make Garlic Bread

fresh garlic bread with cheese and spices
fresh garlic bread with cheese and spices - Pilipphoto/Getty Images

There's something so satisfying about a crusty, buttery garlic bread. For this appetizer, you might want to stick with some of the basic buns, like a white bread bun or whole wheat. Make this as you would any homemade garlic bread: Bun, garlic, butter, and fresh parsley for an herbal addition. This is great for both soft and partially stale hot dog buns since you end up baking and broiling them. However, avoid hard and stale bread, which will get too crispy during baking.

If your leftover bun is on the somewhat stale side, cut the broiling time in half (to one minute or less) and keep your eye on it the entire time so it's not too crunchy. Enjoy your garlic bread with pasta, pizza, or chicken wings. This dish is a splendid way to scoop any remaining sauce or oil from pasta. If you don't have plans to eat it right away, you can prep the buns and then freeze. When you're ready to eat, pop them in the oven for 10 minutes, but make sure to use them within three months. Garlic bread buns are a fantastic side dish for when you have a hankering for garlic.

Load Them With Meatballs For A Sub Sandwich

meatball sub sandwich with marinara
meatball sub sandwich with marinara - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Meatball subs are such a tasty and hearty type of sandwich. Whether you make homemade barbecue meatballs or opt for a store-bought meatball variety, they fit perfectly in the confines of your hot dog bun. You don't have to change anything in the preparation process since hot dog buns have a similar shape and size to that of sub sandwich bread.

Load the buns with meatballs, sauce, cheese, and other toppings, such as a nice sprinkle of Italian seasoning. Meatball subs are a beneficial way to use up leftover hot dog buns when you want something delicious, filling, and warm. This works best when you have whole buns since you'll need the entire thing for a sub. While the white bun is the most seamless swap, you can use any bun flavor. After broiling in the oven, the cheese melts and the edges of the bread get toasted, but the center remains soft.

Rip Them Up To Use In Bread Pudding

bread pudding with sauce
bread pudding with sauce - Wsmahar/Getty Images

If you left the bag open and the buns are stale -- or if they're beaten up and torn -- bread pudding is a fantastic way to use any remaining pieces. The buns get soaked in a mixture of cream, milk, egg, sugar, spices, and a few other ingredients for a perfect dessert to eliminate any toughness. This rich bread pudding takes around an hour and a half to cook, but you'll be drooling once it's ready.

Bread pudding is great if you have whole wheat buns, brioche, Hawaiian, or white buns. You don't want something like a pretzel bun that would interfere with the flavor. Pair this with a scoop of ice cream, or switch out the raisins for chocolate chips if you want a more gooey alternative. You could also add a nutty element, such as walnuts or pecans, or drizzle it with peanut butter. There's a lot of flexibility with the add-ins as long as the core ingredients remain the same. This is a rich, thoroughly spiced, and flavorful way to transform the buns into a treat -- and you wouldn't even know that it was made from leftover hot dog buns.

Make Mini Pizzas

pizza appetizers with tomatoes and mozzarella
pizza appetizers with tomatoes and mozzarella - Gmvozd/Getty Images

There are a plethora of bases for pizza, whether you put them on a piece of toast, an English muffin, or pita bread. A hot dog bun is just another alternative if you're out of dough. Open the hot dog buns and rip them at the seam into separate sections so you can make two pizzas out of each. You can have a classic marinara base or try a creamy white pizza sauce instead.

These are perfect for a quick dinner or if you still have family over from the previous day's barbecue festivities. Place a range of toppings in bowls, such as pepperoni, pineapple, jalapeños, or sausage, so the family can decorate their pizza as desired. Since these are smaller and personal-sized, you can bake a few of them at a time in a baking tray or a pizza pan. These are also great for kids because the hot dog bun is thicker and sturdier than a floppy piece of pizza, and it's also easy to grip.

Try A Grilled Cheese

grilled cheese sandwich on wood
grilled cheese sandwich on wood - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

When you desire something simple and comforting, make a grilled cheese with your leftover hot dog buns. Construct it how you would any grilled cheese, but if you want to upgrade your sandwich to the ultimate grilled cheese, make it with room-temperature Gruyère and cheddar cheese. This recipe has an added herbiness with chives, and it's cooked to a crispy, flaky perfection. Or try a blackberry grilled cheese with prosciutto and sage.

Separate the buns so you have two individual pieces, then spread mayonnaise on the outside of the buns. For the most pleasing results, smash the pieces so they're a tad flatter. Or turn the bun pieces upside down -- so the softer insides are used as the exterior of the bread -- and then flatten it. This alternative has the same delicious taste as a grilled cheese with sliced bread, it simply looks different. You can use any type of hot dog bun for this, but if you're in the mood for comfort food, choose a white or potato bun.

Chop Them To Make Sliders

sheet pan slider close up
sheet pan slider close up - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Sliders are the perfect bite-sized and manageable finger food to serve for a backyard get-together. There are numerous eye-catching slider recipes you can follow to use hot dog buns in a fresh way. Whether you're in the mood for baked ham and Swiss cheese sliders or chicken sliders, you don't always have to opt for a mini burger version. All you have to do is cut the hot dog buns into three even pieces to mimic the slider bun size. This is the ideal time to bust out that pretzel bun you weren't sure how to finish. Whole wheat or white buns work beautifully, too.

Pick your slider of choice, follow the recipe, assemble, and devour. Sheet pan sliders call for Hawaiian rolls, so Hawaiian hot dog buns are a flawless match. Slather melted butter on the bun, then sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds on top for a DIY approach. Or simply use sesame seed hot dog buns if you want non-sweet bread. Since you get three sliders from each hot dog bun, they are easy to grab and handle for all ages.

Turn Them Into French Toast

french toast with strawberries and blueberries
french toast with strawberries and blueberries - Jmichl/Getty Images

Making French toast is one of the best things to do when you have stale bread that you want to use up, and it doesn't take too much time to create. Whip it up just like you would with any other French toast, swapping the bread for hot dog buns. This is particularly delicious with brioche buns (since you will often see brioche French toast), but you could also use white, Hawaiian, or wheat buns.

Tear the bun so the two sides are separate, as it will be easier to dredge and fry. Or cut the buns into strips for French toast strips, which is a fantastic way to disguise any mashed buns. Once cooked, you can layer them in a sandwich fashion if you want to make a stuffed French toast -- to which you can stuff ingredients like hazelnut spread, lemon curd, chopped fruit, or chocolate chips. Top these with powdered sugar, or for an adults-only version, try incorporating triple sec into the custard as a simple way to instantly elevate French toast. This is a manageable brunch when you want something sweet but don't want to spend your morning baking anything complex.

Start Your Day With An Egg Casserole

eggs benedict casserole
eggs benedict casserole - Katie Rosenhouse/Tasting Table

If you prefer a breakfast or brunch option rather than a sandwich, consider making a casserole with leftover hot dog buns. An overnight eggs Benedict casserole has hearty inclusions, such as Canadian bacon and eggs. But you could use sausage as your preferred brunch meat or add shredded cheese, spinach, or diced mushrooms. Rather than English muffins, you will substitute the last of your hot dog buns, such as white or potato, to act as a neutral base for this savory dish.

Plan to make this recipe the night before you want to eat it. It needs at least eight hours to soak up moisture from the egg, milk, and cream, but you could leave it for up to 24 hours. This is a great way to utilize the stale, squashed, or broken bun pieces since they will be cut or torn into smaller pieces for the casserole.

Transform Them Into Croutons

golden brown toasted croutons
golden brown toasted croutons - chaechaebyv/Shutterstock

Croutons are one of the simpler creative ways to use leftover hot dog buns. They are usually made by baking or pan-frying pieces of bread, so you can apply the same technique with buns. You only need a few ingredients to make croutons at home, including hot dog buns and fat, such as butter or olive oil. A basic white hot dog bun works best since it acts as an unadorned base to load flavor onto, whether you add salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, or something else.

These are crunchy and rustic and completely disguise any broken, smushed buns. Croutons take on the flavor of the butter and herbs to create crispy morsels that you might end up eating on their own. If you want to drive further into the unexpected route, anchovy filets will elevate your croutons thanks to their savory, oily components. These are an immaculate match for a Caesar salad. Rather than throwing away your slightly hard hot dog buns, transform them into this crunchy topper for soups and salads.

Use Slightly Stale Buns For A Pulled Pork Sandwich

person holding pulled pork sandwich
person holding pulled pork sandwich - Petar Marshall/Tasting Table

Finish up those hot dog buns that you left out from yesterday's dinner on today's pulled pork sandwich. The juiciness of the pulled pork and sauce makes a partially stale bun the perfect vehicle to soak up any moisture and liquid without falling apart. Pulled pork can be messy enough without your sandwich breaking apart in your hands. Slightly stale buns that are a bit firmer than fresh are a perfect choice for this tasty sandwich. Pulled pork sandwiches usually come on a bun of some sort, so the hot dog bun is a quick swap. Use a potato, brioche, or a white bun.

This slow-cooked-to-perfection easy pulled pork recipe takes a few hours to cook. Pop these in the slow cooker early in the day so you can eat them in time for lunch or dinner. The delicious sauce pulls it all together, but the hot dog bun makes it easy to eat for a crowd-pleaser that everyone will gush over. You can utilize non-stale buns as well; this is an ideal recipe to finish whatever you have left over. Employ spare Hawaiian hot dog buns for a Hawaiian pulled pork sandwich topped with a colorful slaw, which also doubles as a vegetable component.

Stuff Them With Fruit And Nut Butter For Dessert

close up of sliced strawberries
close up of sliced strawberries - Fotografiabasica/Getty Images

A dessert bun is kind of a mishmash of whatever you have, with no baking involved and no need to soak overnight. This is a straightforward way to finish off buns that can be customized for each person. You could cut the buns into halves if you don't have a lot and want to get more out of them. Take inspiration from crepes and think about what you would add to that. Fruits like sliced bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are excellent choices. Classic peanut butter is another way to integrate flavor. Or go for something with a different flavor profile, such as pistachio butter or macadamia butter.

If you're not into nuts, now is the perfect time to raid your pantry or refrigerator for any sauces, jams, or toppings. Try caramel sauce, hot fudge sauce, marmalade, strawberry jam, mini marshmallows, or crushed cookies. Make it a fun activity for the whole family by getting everyone involved in making their own combinations. Create a theme for decorations or colors (like red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July). If you prefer a warmer version, pop it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes. It will probably be a bit messy, so have some napkins handy.

Impress With Hot Dog Bun Bruschetta

fresh bruschetta on plate
fresh bruschetta on plate - Jaime Shelbert/Tasting Table

You might be used to seeing bruschetta on a baguette or ciabatta bread, but stray from the norm and use your hot dog buns instead. We want to replicate a refreshing and colorful classic bruschetta with tomatoes and basil and merely switch out the bread. Use a plain white bun for this one, as you don't want to experiment too much with flavors like a pretzel bun. For additional taste, roast the tomatoes or top with balsamic vinegar.

Follow the recipe, but keep an eye on the bun while it bakes since hot dog buns are smaller than your standard baguette. You can cut the time in half and then take it from there to see if it needs more cooking time. Since you're using leftover buns, you want to be careful not to burn them. This is a tasty, tomatoey appetizer with a crisp base to accompany pasta or serve at a family party.

Blitz Stale Buns Into Bread Crumbs

spoon full of bread crumbs
spoon full of bread crumbs - Savany/Getty Images

When you leave hot dog buns out in the open so long that they turn into a rock, they can still be salvaged in the form of breadcrumbs to use in pasta, meatballs, and more. This is the last thing to do before throwing out stale hot dog buns since there's no turning back from this texture change. Breadcrumbs are also fantastic when you have some torn or less-than-appealing pieces of bread left. Cut or rip them into bite-sized pieces and toss them in a food processor. Blitz them into your desired consistency, whether you want a fine powder or slightly bigger bits.

To store them properly in an airtight container, breadcrumbs need to be crispy and have no remaining moisture (since you don't want them to mold). If your buns aren't completely stale, pop them in the oven to toast on low heat. Use any hot dog bun variety you have, whether it's a Hawaiian bun or a pretzel bun. Give them more dimension by toasting them, blending them with Italian seasoning, or flavoring them with lemon pepper.

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