Traditional Mexican Bolillos Easy Recipe

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Learn how to make traditional Mexican bolillos with this very easy recipe and video below. Making the classic crunchy oval rolls is easier than you think.

Mexican bolillos dinner rolls

What is a Mexican Bolillo?

Bolillos are the most popular savory bread in Mexico. It’s the Mexican daily bread, and we eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Bakeries, or Panaderías as we call them in Mexico, bake them several times a day.

Without a doubt, a bolillo is the savory bread of choice in Mexican kitchens. Its versatility, like the tortilla, lends itself to a multitude of dishes from the traditional Mexican sandwich, called the torta, to a delicious mole.

Conventional wisdom says its popularity grew during the time of Porfiriato, when the French influence was at its highest in Mexico. Because of this, the bolillo is sometimes compared to French breads.

Some bolillo variations are the “birote” which is just longer (even though in some parts of Mexico the term is interchangeable) and the “telera” which is made with the same ingredients, but the shape is flatter and divided into three sections.

mini-bolillos Mexican crusty rolls

Tips for a Perfectly Baked Crunchy Bolillo

The perfect bolillo is crunchy outside and soft inside. I practiced this recipe quite a bit and this is what I learned:

  • Be patient, bread has a life of its own, weather and humidity affect the rising time. Be patient, it’s worth it.
  • Don’t over mix the dough, I cannot stress this enough, the less you touch the dough the better. My bolillo recipe just requires 6 minute total kneading time, no more.
  • Make sure that the dough rests in a warm (not hot) place away from drafts.
  • Always add a container with water on a rack at the bottom of the oven . This will help make that amazing crunchy crust.
  • Always lightly spray the bolillos with water right before you put them in the oven. This also will help to develop the crunchy exterior.

An Easy Bolillo Bread Recipe

The original recipe usually calls for a starter made of flour, salt, water, a little bit of yeast and sometimes a little bit of sugar.

I’ve tried different methods, some with the starter some without it. Some with a lot of kneading, some kneading the dough just a little, and I think I’ve found the perfect balance between less work and big flavor.

The active work in the recipe is just 25 minutes plus 20 minutes for baking. Most of the total time is allowing the dough to rise which develops all the flavor in the bread.

I recommend starting early in the morning if you would like to eat them by lunch.

flour, yeast, salt, water and oil

How to Re-heat Bolillo Rolls

Bolillos are best if eaten the same day they’re baked; however, they will keep somewhat soft if you store them in a closed plastic bag for a couple of days.

Re-heating them is easy, turn the oven to 350 °F and heat for 5 minutes, or you can toast them on a comal or slice them in half and put them in the toaster.

I don’t recommend warming bolillos in the microwave, they will become soft, but will lose their crunchiness. Also they tend to get hard fast as they cool off.

Recipes with Bolillos

Bolillos are perfection in tortas. Try my chicken nugget torta or my breakfast egg and bean mini-tortas. I love them as molletes, which include beans, salsa, and queso fresco.

Chicken Nugget Torta

They are the featured star in the Mexican capirotada (sliced bread cooked in a sweet syrup) or in the popular pambazo filled with potato and chorizo and dipped in a hot red sauce.

Dipped in a cup of Mexican hot chocolate, they are divine. They are the perfect companions to chicken broth or soup. Of course, I love them toasted, then slathered with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, or topped with strawberry preserves and sweet cream.

For me, there is nothing like a freshly baked bolillo, just plain, and still a little warm out of the oven. It’s a humble bread, but unmatched.

How to Make Mexican Bolillos

Makes 8 (7-inch bolillos ) or 16 mini-bolillos (5-inch long)

Prep time: 4 minutes – Process: 45 min – Resting time: 3 hr 30 min

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour (approx 500 gr)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (approx 15 gr)
  • 2 teaspoons active yeast (approx 7 gr)
  • 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water (approx 300 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Oil of your choice to grease bowl

Equipment

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In a medium-size bowl, mix flour and salt until combined. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast.

a well of flour with yeast in the middle

Pour a little bit of the water on top of the yeast and mix with a fork or with your fingers until dissolved, add the sugar and mix a little more. Add the rest of the water and using your hands, mix it in the bowl.

Tip for Kneading: When kneading the dough, only use one hand, it will help to have one clean hand to add ingredients, flour work surfaces, answer the phone, et cetera.

a hand mixing flour and water

Pour out the dough onto a clean surface and mix with one hand (using the other hand to push the flour with the bench scraper) until all the ingredients are integrated, no more, please don’t over mix. This will take about 5 minutes.

Tip: take a little bit of flour with the clean hand and rub your hands together to detach the dough stuck to your hand.

Form a ball. This ball will look and feel very rough and lumpy. Put it inside a greased medium bowl, cover with plastic or a wet towel.

A ball of bread dough

Place in a warm space away from drafts and let it rest until doubled in size. Depending on the weather and humidity, this can take 1-2 hours.

Tip for getting your bread to rise: If your house is cold, drafty, or the climate is very dry, you can create a space in your oven. Turn on the oven for a half a minute on the lowest setting, just to warm it a little. Turn it off completely and make sure the temperature is below 100 °F or 37 °C. Now you can use it for your bread to rise.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean, lightly floured surface. Gently punch it and knead it for a few seconds, just enough to form a ball or roll.

Divide it into 8 pieces for 7-inch bolillos or into 16 pieces for mini-bolillos

Roll each piece to form balls, cover them, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This will help to relax the dough.

Flour a clean surface and start shaping the bolillos. Take one ball, turn it over and with your fingers start rolling the dough (see video above) tightly.

Fold edges toward the center and keep rolling. Then, with your pinky fingers, push and roll at the same time, about half an inch from the edges, to form the rounded ends of the bolillo.

Then, with your fingertips, push the center of the dough to flatten it a little. Repeat and place them on a baking sheet (you don’t need to grease it).

Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a light kitchen towel and let them rest until double in size. Depending on the weather and humidity this can take between 1 and 1.5 hours.

Once they have doubled in size, pre-heat the oven at 450 °F (230 °C) and place the small baking sheet (or oven-proof container) with water in the lower rack of the oven.

Right before baking, sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the bolillos, and, using a very sharp knife or razor and holding it at a 45-degree angle, make a long cut from one side to the other. (I like using a serrated knife).

Finally, before placing them in the oven lightly spray them with water. This is important, the water on top and the warm water in the baking sheet already in the oven will create steam which will make that beautiful crust on the bolillo.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown top and bottom. Take them out of the oven and immediately transfer to a cooling rack.

Important note for baking: If you make mini-bolillos, start checking them after 18 minutes because they could be done sooner since they are smaller.

Mexican bolillos easy recipe

Enjoy!

Mexican bolillos
4.34 from 6 votes

How to Make Mexican Bolillos

Learn how to make these traditional Mexican rolls with this easy recipe. Mexican bolillos are soft inside and crunchy outside, ideal for making tortas (Mexican sandwiches).
Prep Time4 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Resting3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 19 mins
Servings: 8 bolillos
Calories: 209kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour (approx 500 gr)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (approx 15 gr)
  • 2 teaspoons active yeast (approx 7 gr)
  • 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water (approx 300 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Oil of your choice to grease bowl

Utensilios

  • * Measuring cups
  • * Measuring spoons
  • Kitchen scale (optional)
  • Medium size glass bowl
  • Bench scraper. (I have two one plastic bench scraper for mixing and one metal bench scraper for cutting the dough)
  • Plastic wrap or kitchen towel
  • 1 big or two medium baking sheets
  • A small baking sheet or oven proof container
  • 1 very sharp knife or razor
  • Small spray bottle
  • Kitchen rack
  • Oven thermometer

Instructions

  • In a medium-size bowl, mix flour and salt until combined. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast.
  • Pour a little bit of the water on top of the yeast and mix with a fork or with your fingers until dissolved, add the sugar and mix a little more. Add the rest of the water and using your hands, mix it in the bowl.
  • Pour out the dough onto a clean surface and mix with one hand (using the other hand to push the flour with the bench scraper) until all the ingredients are integrated, no more, please don’t over mix. This will take about 5 minutes.
  • Form a ball. This ball will look and feel very rough and lumpy. Cover with plastic or a wet towel.
  • Place in a warm space away from drafts and let it rest until doubled in size. Depending on the weather and humidity, this can take 1-2 hours.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean, lightly floured surface. Gently punch it and knead it for a few seconds, just enough to form a ball or roll.
  • Divide it into 8 pieces for 7-inch bolillos or into 16 pieces for mini-bolillos
  • Roll each piece to form balls, cover them, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This will help to relax the dough.
  • Flour a clean surface and start shaping the bolillos. Take one ball, turn it over, and with your fingers start rolling the dough tightly (see video above).
  • Fold edges toward the center and keep rolling. Then, with your pinky fingers, push and roll at the same time, about half an inch from the edges, to form the rounded ends of the bolillo.
  • Then, with your fingertips, push the center of the dough to flatten it a little. Repeat and place them in a baking sheet (you don't need to grease it).
  • Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a light kitchen towel and let them rest until double in size. Depending on the weather and humidity this can take between 1 and 1.5 hours.
  • Once they have doubled in size, pre-heat the oven to 450 °F (230 °C) and place the small baking sheet (or oven-proof container) with water in the lower rack of the oven.
  • Right before baking, sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the bolillos, and, using a very sharp knife or razor held at a 45 degree angle, make a long cut from one side to the other. (I like using a serrated knife).
  • Finally, before placing them in the oven spray them with water. This is important, the water on top and the warm water in the baking sheet will create steam which will make that beautiful crust on the bolillo.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown top and bottom. Take them out of the oven and immediately transfer to a cooling rack.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
How to Make Mexican Bolillos
Amount Per Serving
Calories 209 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 586mg25%
Potassium 83mg2%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 8g16%
Calcium 8mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Breads
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: easy Mexican bolillos recipe, How to make Mexican dinner rolls
Author: Silvia

Notes

Tip for getting your bread to rise: If your house is cold, drafty, or the climate is very dry, you can create a space in your oven. Turn on the oven for a half a minute on the lowest setting, just to warm it a little. Turn it off completely and make sure the temperature is below 100 °F or 37 °C. Now you can use it for your bread to rise.
Tip for Kneading: When kneading the dough, only use one hand, it will help to have one clean hand to add ingredients, flour surfaces, answer the phone, et cetera.
Tip: take a little bit of flour with the clean hand and rub your hands together to detach the dough stuck to your hand.
Important note for baking: If you make mini-bolillos, start checking them after 18 minutes because they could be done sooner since they are smaller.
mexican bolillos on a baking sheet with overlay text

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5 Comments
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Enriqueta E Lemoine

Silvia you got me with this wonderful tutorial on how to make crunchy bolillos.

Ideasandcreams

Oh lovely traditional mexican bolillos. It’s a special with these small bolillos for family. And in this moments this os very important. Thanks

Brenda Cisneros

I love Mexican bolillos these crunchy oval rolls filled with beans and cheese are delicious!

Pilar

Wow!! The pictures invites to eat the bolillos!!! I loved every tip! Thank you!!!!

Romina Tibytt

Silvia, this mexican bolillos look perfect! And I LOVE bread! I’m going to try this recipe at home! Thanks for sharing it!

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