These soft and buttery buns are filled with pickled jalapenos and gooey cheddar cheese, ideal for a game day treat, afternoon snack, or potluck dish.
I’m always up for a spicy cheesy combo, especially in carb form. One of my most popular recipes are these Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls; hot out of the oven, they’re incredibly soft and fluffy. So, I decided to combine the best parts of those rolls with the shape of a cinnamon roll to nestle in cheese and pickled jalapenos. As the rolls bake, the cheese melts into a gooey, creamy texture. These rolls use the Japanese technique of Tangzhong, which yields a thickened mixture of cooked flour and water popularized by Yvonne Chen. When you add this mixture into the dough, it helps yield soft, moist rolls with a longer shelf-life.
I made these jalapeno cheese buns in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill (using their Artisan Bread Flour, which helps create a flaky crust), and I’m really excited to share the recipe with you.
What Ingredients are in Jalapeño Cheese Buns?
Here are some of the key ingredients to making these cheese buns!
- Bread Flour: Here, I’m using Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour. The high gluten content of bread flour creates a tender, and slightly chewy texture for the buns.
- Butter: Butter is a typical ingredient in an enriched dough, like this one, which helps provide a soft, moist roll.
- Active Dry Yeast: Yeast is essential here to provide the rise needed for these rolls. If needed, you can substitute instant yeast (1 teaspoon instant yeast = 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast).
- Cheddar Cheese: Use your favorite cheddar cheese; you can even swap out for monterey jack or pepper jack.
- Pickled Jalapenos: I love the slight tartness and acidity of pickled jalapenos (it also helps cut the spiciness). The jalapenos deliver a mild heat, but if you want something even subtler, you can halve the amount.
How to Make This Dish
- Make the Tangzhong (Steps 1 and 2): Stir together milk and flour in a small saucepan, then place on medium heat. Whisk constantly, until the mixture thickens into a “mashed potato”-like consistency. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Active the Yeast (Step 3): Mix together yeast with slightly warmed milk (you’re aiming for lukewarm; if it’s too warm it’ll kill the yeast)
- Knead the Dough (4): In a stand mixer, mix together the cooled tangzhong, yeast, and the rest of the dough ingredients until you get a soft, smooth dough.
- Let the Dough Rise (5): Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled.
- Shape the Rolls: Pat down the risen dough, then roll out into a 10-inch by 14-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the cheese and pickled jalapenos all over the top, leaving a small 1/2-inch rim around the edges. Carefully and tightly roll up the rectangle into a log, then cut into 9 equal portions. When cutting the log into rolls, I recommend using a “sawing” motion, and slowly moving your knife back and forth as you cut through the dough. If you try to cut normally (i.e. pressing down your knife through the dough), you’ll end up squeezing out a lot of the filling.
- Let the Rolls Rise (6): Place the rolls in an 8-inch by 8-inch parchment-lined baking pan and let rise for another 45 minutes to an hour until proofed.
- Bake! Place the rolls in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned and the inside is cooked through. Brush with butter, then let cool for at least 10 minutes before digging in.
Tips for Making Jalapeño Cheese Buns
For the softest, fluffiest rolls, follow the instructions below!
- Don’t skip the Tangzhong: The tangzhong method of cooking flour and water (in this case, milk) into a paste really helps bring a moist, fluffy roll.
- Try to roll up the log as tightly as possible: A more tightly rolled log will have better structure (and won’t fall apart).
- Omit the pickled jalapenos if you don’t like spice: These buns can easily omit the pickled jalapenos if you just want the cheesy flavor. I do love the combo of spicy, tart jalapenos with cheddar cheese, though!
- For best results, use a scale. A scale ensures the most accurate results!
How to Store These Buns
After baking, I like to let the buns cool completely before storing in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. A lot of cheese baked goods can fresh at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, but to be safe, you can keep them in the refrigerator. To reheat, wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed through.
Other Uses for Jalapeño Cheese Buns
These cheese buns have so many different uses! You can absolutely just eat them on their own, hot from the oven. Or, you can slice them in half and make egg sandwiches, sliders, or sloppy joes. I personally like to serve these buns with my smoky beans and poached eggs.
This post is brought to you by Bob’s Red Mill. I received compensation in exchange for this collaboration. All opinions are my own. Thank you.
Jalapeno Cheese Buns Recipe
- 1 8-inch x 8-inch square baking pan
- Stand Mixer
For the tangzhong:
- 80 grams whole milk (1/3 cup)
- 16 grams Bread Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour)
For the dough:
- 100 grams whole milk (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
- 5.4 grams active dry yeast (1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 314 grams bread flour (2 1/3 cup)
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
- 6 grams Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (1 teaspoon; use 1/2 teaspoon for Morton Kosher Salt or Sea Salt)
- 16 grams granulated white sugar (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon)
- 42 grams unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 tablespoons, at room temperature)
- 147 grams grated cheddar cheese (1 cup)
- 72 grams drained and finely chopped pickled jalapenos (1/2 cup)
- Neutral oil or cooking spray (for greasing the stand mixer bowl and pan)
For the topping
- Flaky salt
- 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
For the tangzhong:
- Add milk and flour to a small saucepan and whisk until mostly smooth (it's okay to have a few, small lumps — these will smooth out when you heat the mixture). Set the saucepan on medium heat. Whisk constantly as the mixture begins to thicken into a paste with the consistency of mashed potatoes, about 2 minutes (when done, a thermometer inserted into the paste should reach 149°F). Remove from the heat, then cool to room temperature.
For the dough:
- Meanwhile, activate the yeast. Heat milk in a heat-safe measuring cup for 15 to 20 seconds until lukewarm, but not hot (if the mixture feels hot, let cool to prevent killing the yeast). Stir in the yeast, and let proof for 5 minutes until liquid foams and bubbles.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the bread flour, egg, salt, sugar, and butter. Use a spatula to scrape in the tangzhong and yeast-milk mixture. Using the dough hook, knead on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until a shaggy dough forms.
- Increase the stand mixer to medium speed and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, the dough should be soft and smooth, and slightly tacky but not sticky. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball, then remove from the stand mixer and set aside temporarily.
- Wipe the stand mixer bowl, removing any dry bits of flour. Grease the bowl with a bit of oil, then place the dough back inside the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes to 2 hours until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Grease an 8-inch square baking pan all over with oil, then line the bottom with parchment to prevent any sticking.
- To shape the rolls, punch down the dough to expel any air, then roll out into a 10-inch by 14-inch rectangle with a rolling pin.
- Sprinkle the dough evenly with cheese and pickled jalapenos, leaving a 1/2-inch rim around the edges.
- Carefully and tightly begin rolling up the end of the dough facing you. Continue rolling until the dough into a log shape and pinch to seal the ends.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 9 equal portions. When cutting the dough, make sure to use a sawing motion and gently move the knife back and forth as you cut down (this prevents the filling from being "squeezed" and spilling out).
- Evenly place each bun inside the baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a finger, gently pressed into the dough, slowly springs back.
- 15 minutes before the dough finishes rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the egg.
- With a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the rolls with the egg and sprinkle with flaky salt.
- Bake the rolls in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes and rotate the pan halfway through. The rolls are finished when the tops are nicely golden-brown.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately brush with melted butter. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely (or, let's be honest, dig in if you want to eat them warm!)