Black Hamburger Bun


Have you heard of black hamburger buns? Most people haven’t and even the ones that have are not aware of how to use them. You need a burger bun but don’t have time to go to the supermarket, or you don’t have any flour? Don’t worry. Here is an alternative recipe for making black burger buns.

Purgatory Burgers

Introduction: Purgatory Burgers

Purgatory Burgers

About: I like to divert stuff from its intended use. Most of my crafting is based on re-use and recycling due to my urge to use resources consciously (and my small wallet). As I like to consume ideas rather than prod…

This is a recipe for burgers and buns that look like roasted on hellfire…

I got the inspiration for this recipe when I stumbled across an article about a Japanese food trend: Black hot dogs and burgers. The pictures were stunning and I was very intrigued to try to replicate the buns and burgers. The article mentioned the use of bamboo charcoal for the black food. I couldn’t find bamboo charcoal here – but came up with an similar solution and I’m pretty happy with the results.

I think these black burgers fit not only for Halloween – I bet you could find use for them at the first of April as well…

Step 1: The Magic Ingredient

The Magic Ingredient

I couldn’t find bamboo charcoal and had no desire to use artificial food color.
So I decided to experiment with medicinal charcoal a.k.a. activated charcoal.

Medicinal charcoal is traditionally used to treat diarrhea and poisonings. In the European Union it is also used as food colorant (known as additive E153). You can buy activated charcoal at the pharmacy.

So far I made the black burgers two times, I used two different products: charcoal tablets and charcoal powder. I bought both at local pharmacies. The recipe worked with both, but I recommend the powdered charcoal, it’s easier to handle and also cheaper (50 grams where about six or seven Euros). The tablets also gave the burgers a slightly sandy mouth feel (The tablets consist of charcoal, bentonite and cornstarch, I think the bentonite caused the sandyness…)

When I bought the charcoal I asked the pharmacists about side effects and they told me to keep in mind, that medicinal charcoal could interfere with other medication and cause constipation.
Which means: If you or your guests takes medication you probably should skip the purgatory burgers (or talk to a pharmacist/doctor first)
People with digestive problems probably should as well rather stick to burgers from heaven…

(If you follow the recipe you consume 1,25 grams charcoal in one burger.
– to treat poisoning with charcoal you have to consume 0,5 to 1 gram per kilo of your bodyweight (for example a 150 pound person would have to consume between 35 and 70 grams of charcoal…
– for treating diarrhea the daily dose is 1,5 to 4 grams)

I never had any trouble after eating purgatory burgers (but I never had more than two at a time).
If you are concerned about the effects of charcoal consumption you should ask your pharmacist about it.
These wikipedia articles may give you some information as well: Activated charcoal and Charcoal biscuit

IMPORTANT: Please handle the charcoal powder with care. The charcoal powder/dust shouldn’t be inhaled!

Step 2: Bun Ingredients

The amounts I’m giving here are for just four burgers. You can of course double or triple the amounts if you need more…

To make the burger buns you’ll need:

For the dough:
– one and a half and a quarter cup (250 grams) Flour
– one teaspoon dry Yeast
– half a cup (125 ml) of warm Water (not warmer than a hot shower – if the water is hot enough to burn you it will burn your yeast as well)
– one and a half tablespoons of Sugar
– half a teaspoon Salt
– one teaspoon Medicinal Charcoal (2,5 grams) (this equals 10 tablets of the brand I used)
– two tablespoon of Apple juice (or Water)

For the bun topping:
– Black Sesame Seeds

To brush the buns after baking:
– one tablespoon of melted Butter

Step 3: Dough Preparation I

Put the flour into a bowl.

Mix the warm water, sugar, yeast and salt.

Add the liquid to the flour and let it just sit like this until the next step is performed.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 4: Dough Preparation I

I dissolved the charcoal in a tablespoon of Apple juice (I like the taste, you could use water as well). If you use charcoal tablets you should smash them in a mortal before you dissolve them.

Add the charcoal slurry to the flour in the bowl and mix everything.

Knead the dough for about five minutes (you could use a machine or do it by hand)

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest at a warm spot. Depending on the temperature it takes about an hour for the dough to double in size. (The dough NEEDS to double in size.)Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 5: Bun Shaping

When the dough has doubled in size you can continue with the bun preparation process.

Take the dough and knead it again.
Divide it in four parts.
Shape them into buns and place those on a baking sheet, covered with parchment paper.
Wet the buns surface with water and sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top.
Cover them with a clean tea towel and let the buns rest for about 45 minutes.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 6: Bake and Add Glow

Bake the buns in the preheated oven:

375° F / 190°C for 15 to 20 minutes

You might want to check on them after about 15 minutes. Since they are black it is kind of hard to tell when they are done…

Edit: Instructables member t.rohner made a great suggestion in the comments: Take a part of the uncolored dough to make a white control bun. Bake it together with it’s black siblings. On white bun you will easily recognize the browning process and therefore find the right moment to turn off the oven!

Brush the hot buns immediately with some melted butter and let them cool down completely.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 7: Black Bean Burger Patties Ingredients

You probably could use the charcoal to colorize real meat – but I’ve never tried this myself.

I made black bean burger patties for my black buns. I added charcoal to the mashed beans because black bean burgers naturally just have a brown color.
I used dried black beans since I couldn’t find canned ones.

You need:

– half a cup of dried black beans
– one teaspoon activated charcoal
– one teaspoon of olive oil to fry the onions and about one tablespoon for frying the patties.
– one onion, diced
– one (or more) cloves of garlic, mashed
– one egg
– two tablespoons of breadcrumbs
– one tablespoon of soysauce
– about one teaspoon each of: ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, powdered paprika and cumin

It seems to me like the charcoal absorbs some saltyness and spicyness – the flavors aren’t very intense in these burgers. You might add a little more spiciness to them than you usually would.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 8: Black Bean Burger Patties Mixing

Meanwhile you can prepare the bean burger meat:
Take half a cup of black beans and cook them in three cups of water until they are done, maybe almost overcooked.
I used a pressure cooker and it took just 30 min but the time very much depends on the beans, it can take up to an hour… and even longer without an pressure cooker

The half a cup of dried beans resulted about one and a half cup of cooked beans.
I use just one cup of cooked beans for the patties.

I mashed the beans with a fork.

I fried the diced onion and the garlic in some olive oil until they started to brown and added them to the bean mush. Then I mixed in all the spices, the egg and breadcrumbs and the charcoal.

This mixture gave me a nice and shapeable dough which I formed into patties.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 9: Black Bean Burger Patties Frying

I fried the patties for about 5 minutes on each side on medium heat.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload

Step 10: Assembling

I’m pretty sure you know already how to assemble a burger. So just follow your instincts.

I used tomatoes and lettuce and a fair amount of hot sauce – since I think burgers from purgatory need to be hot 😉

Natural Black Burger Buns

These all-natural squid ink black burger buns are the perfect way to impress your friends and family, as well as add intrigue to your next burger recipe!

Course: Main

Cuisine: American

Freezer friendly: 2 Months

Shelf life: 2 Days

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Additional Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Servings: 15 small buns

Calories: 164kcal


  • ▢1/2 cup milk warm
  • ▢3/4 cup water warm (more if needed)
  • ▢2 tablespoon cane sugar
  • ▢1 tablespoon squid ink
  • ▢2.5 teaspoon dry yeast
  • ▢3 cups white bread flour
  • ▢1.5 teaspoon salt
  • ▢1.5 teaspoon Anise powder
  • ▢2 eggs
  • ▢100 grams butter


  • The first thing you need to do is mix the milk, water, sugar , squid ink, and yeast together and leave this to stand for 10 minutes until it begins to foam. This takes around ten minutes as the yeast is activating.
  • In a mixer bowl add the flour, salt and star anise powder and mix till thoroughly combined then, using the stand mixer on its lowest setting, incorporate an egg and the squid ink mixture and leave to combine until a dough is formed.
  • In intervals of around 20g at a time, add 100g butter to the dough while mixing on medium, until a shiny, smooth dough has formed.
  • Grease a large bowl with butter and place your dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a cheesecloth and leave in a warm place with 1.5 hours. In this time the dough should double in size.
  • Once your dough has proved, weigh the dough and divide it into 12-15 pieces depending on the size of the buns you want. *
  • Now, shape these into balls (you can be as precise or ‘loose’ with these as you want, depending on how ‘perfectly’ shaped you want the buns to be) and place them on a lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place again for around half an hour.
  • Mix the remaining egg with a little bit of water or milk to brush over the buns. I used the whole egg, however, you can use the egg white alone as we don’t really need the ‘browning’ effect for these black buns.
  • Sprinkle the buns with black sesame seeds, a mixture of black & white or even some hemp seeds and then bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C degrees for around 15 minutes. I’d suggest checking on them at around 10 minutes, especially when making mini buns. Once cooked, leave to cool on a cooling rack.


Note* The dough balls I made vary in weight from 30-70g as I prefer smaller, cuter buns and was experimenting with sizes.


Serving: 1Bun | Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 294mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg


There are two ways to achieve the black color: Squid ink or activated charcoal.

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Squid ink is often used in Mediterranean dishes, such as black pasta or black seafood paella. The taste of squid ink is slightly salty and fishy – as you would expect. However, when used in small amounts, you cannot detect a seafood taste.

Activated charcoal is a very fine flavourless powder. It’s made from charcoal that has been treated with oxygen. As a supplement it is used to trap toxins and gases.

I decided on a charcoal burger bun because I already had some charcoal in my supplements box. However, both work equally well.


We all know that regular brioche burger buns are made with milk, yeast and of course bread flour. Surely delicious, but wheat flour is not low carb!

I do have this recipe for Pull-Apart Bread Rolls which contains yeast and COULD be used to make black buns. However, I did not want to wait hours for the buns to rise in a warm place.

Therefore, I decided to use a version of my Vegan Keto Bread Loaf. It is not only low carb and gluten free, but also does not contain eggs.

It turned out to be perfect for a fluffy black hamburger bun!

You’ll need the following ingredients:

ingredients measured into bowls
  • Super fine almond flour – Regular almond flour or ground almonds are too coarse for this recipe. I used Bob’s Red Mill super fine natural almond flour for this recipe, which contains the skins and has a “wholemeal”, rustic taste. Blanched super fine almond flour will also work.
  • Flax meal – I like to re-grind this to make it as fine as possible.
  • Psyllium husk powder – This is what makes the buns fluffy in the absence of eggs. Again, I prefer to make my own by blending whole psyllium husks.
  • Baking powder – Check that it’s fresh.
  • Salt
  • Olive oil – This really helps to make the dough elastic. Alternatively, use melted butter.
  • Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice – I’m adding this because it assists with the rise.
  • Warm water
  • Activated charcoal 

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