Shared from Food & Wine

No sense letting a good bun go to waste.

hot dog buns
Photo: RAMIN TALAIE/GETTY IMAGES

In the mood for a dose of cold, hard reality? As long as hot dogs are sold in packs of ten, and hot dog buns are sold in packages of eight, we’re always gonna find ourselves with more than we need of one or the other. In my family, more often than not, it’s the buns.

And while it’s not one of the biggest problems you’re apt to face in life, nobody goes into a summer cookout looking to waste food. Sure, you can absolutely use your excess hotdog buns as stand-ins for sandwich bread in a pinch—pile in chicken salad or deli meat to your heart’s content—but there are actually quite a few ways to transform them into something legitimately useful, and even exciting.

Homemade Croutons

DIY croutons are one of the easiest things you can make to take your salads and soups over the top. Simply cut your leftover buns into cubes and toss with a bit of oil or melted butter (or a combo of both), a little salt, and any other seasonings of your choice. Then spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake at 375° for 10 or so minutes, or until golden brown. (Be sure to stir halfway through cooking.)

French Toast Sticks

Give your buns the French toast treatment and serve with a side of warm maple syrup. All you need do is whip up a simple French toast custard recipe, like this one, and proceed dipping and griddling the halved buns as you would any other slice of bread.

Breakfast Bake

Another way to make morning-after use of leftover buns is in an easy breakfast casserole situation. You can take it sweet (like with this Instant Pot Maple French Toast Casserole) or savory (i.e. King Ranch Breakfast Strata). Check out our collection of favorite breakfast casseroles for even more ideas.

Panzanella

We’ve already established that adding bread is a surefire way to improve most any salad, so why not lean in and whip up a panzanella using your leftover cookout buns? This BLT Panzanella is especially great for summer.

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