Bacon-Onion Rye Rolls: a REAL continental breakfast


If you’ve never traveled to Europe, you’ve probably never experienced a true continental breakfast.

A Continental breakfast.

In America, continental breakfast conjures up visions of freebies at the motel, with little boxes of cold cereal, perhaps a few pastries, a bowl of bananas, and maybe, if you’re lucky, hot oatmeal. Or a real live make-your-own waffle station.

But on the Continent – especially in Germany – oh, my, breakfast is truly a course of a different color.

I’ve been to Germany once: to Frankfurt, where I attended Ambiente, an international housewares show. Details of the show itself escape me, though I remember being surprised at the number of show attendees smoking – many stubbing out their lit butts right in the carpeted aisles.

But I remember well the breakfast we were served each morning at the hotel. No bland white toast or oatmeal, thanks. Here’s a snippet from a diary I kept on that trip:

Friday, February 23, 1996 – We landed in Frankfurt at 7:30 a.m. to a gray, 24°F day, with a very light spit of snow swirling across the sea of concrete runways. The plane landed out in the middle of the tarmac; the Frankfurt airport is Europe’s busiest, and it was swarming with planes from all different countries. We were bussed into the terminal, and went through some very minor formalities – one passport check, a stop to change our money to deutschmarks – and we were out onto the street and into a taxi to our hotel, the Arabella Congress, on Lyonerstrasse, on the outskirts of the city.

The area around the hotel looked like any medium-sized American city – office buildings, blocks of small stores, bus and trolley stops – not at all “European-looking.” We decided to try to stay up for awhile, to get onto the new time schedule, so checked into the hotel and went to have breakfast, which came with the price of the room.

And what a breakfast! We entered a small, sunny room, and were confronted with a buffet featuring an array of sausages and wursts, cheeses and smoked fish; three flavors of yogurt, various fruit toppings, cereal, granola, and muesli; muffins, breads (both light and dark), and good hard rolls; salads; eggs, bacon, and breakfast sausage; jams and butter; and juice and coffee. It was a bit overwhelming. We sat next to two young women speaking German, dressed to the nines and obviously businesswomen. Neither was overly heavy, but they packed away about four heaping platefuls of food each!

Now that, dear readers, is a REAL continental breakfast.

A breakfast where I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to spot these rolls. Made with rye flour, stuffed with golden sautéed onions and crisp bacon, they’re the perfect accompaniment to scrambled eggs or an omelet.

Speaking of omelets – well, my tales of Parisian breakfasts will have to wait for another day.

Let’s face it, rye flour on its own doesn’t have much flavor. Unless you’re making sourdough rye, your bread will have a certain whole-grain flavor, but it won’t shout RYE at you.

The solution to this baking conundrum? Deli rye flavor, for adding distinctive “New York” deli rye flavor to your bread.

1 cup lukewarm milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 large + 1 large egg yolk; reserve the white for the filling
3 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup rye flour* OR whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon Deli Rye Flavor, optional but good
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

*Use white rye, medium rye, or pumpernickel flour.

Mix until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. (If you’re using a stand mixer, use the flat beater for this step.)

I decided right off that I’d guessed wrong on the amount of liquid; see how “gnarly” this dough looks? I knew that a short rest would allow the flour to absorb the liquid and give me a truer picture, but still – experience told me this was just too dry. So I added a tablespoon of water…

…ah, much better.

Cover the bowl and let this shaggy mass rest for 15 minutes or so, to absorb the liquid and make it easier to knead.

Knead the dough until it’s smooth and slightly sticky, about 7 minutes in a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook.

You can also make the dough start to finish with a bread machine set on the dough cycle. Or you can knead it by hand, of course.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or 8-cup measure, cover the container with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until it’s increased in volume by at least a third.

While the dough is rising, make the filling.

Fry 1 pound of bacon (or bake it in a 350°F oven for about 35 minutes, as I’ve done here), until it’s crisp and light brown.

I love baking bacon; it saves having to stand at the stove and get showered with splattering fat as you turn bacon in a pan.

And notice the parchment – it really helps with cleanup. For less greasy bacon, bake the strips atop a heatproof cooling rack, set over the parchment/pan.

Peel and chop 2 large onions; you want about 4 cups chopped onions, more or less.

Fry the onions until they’re a rich, golden brown in some of the bacon fat, if desired; or fry them in olive oil. They should brown nicely in about 20 minutes.

Crumble the bacon, and combine it with the onions. When barely lukewarm, stir in the reserved egg white.

The white will help “cement” the filling together, and keep it from spilling out of the rolls.

Ah, back to our rising dough. It’s grown more than a third, wouldn’t you say? Time to make rolls.

Gently deflate the risen dough, and roll it into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle.

Don’t make yourself crazy trying for an absolutely straight-edged rectangle. Ain’t gonna happen, unless you’re a better baker than 99% of us. And, it’s not necessary. So just make something approximating a rectangle.

Spread the filling over the dough, and roll it up the long way, to make a log that’s a generous 18″ long.

Cut 1″ slices. It helps to score the log at 1″ intervals.

I’m using dental floss as a cutting tool here, to preserve my silicone rolling mat. Simply loop the floss around the log, cross the ends, then pull – works like a charm! Floss slides nicely through the filling and dough without squashing anything, like a knife would.

Nice, eh? Typical of a dental floss cut.

Place 9 rolls in each of two lightly greased 9″ round cake pans.

Cover the pans, and let the rolls rise for about an hour…

…until they’re nicely puffy.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Uncover the rolls, and bake them for about 25 minutes…

…until they’re golden brown.

So, how come there’s only one pan of rolls baking? Where’s the other pan?

I decided to refrigerate them overnight, and bake the next day. Worked fine; I just had to bake them a bit longer, to account for the fridge chill.

Remove the rolls from the oven, and brush them with melted butter, if desired.

The butter will soak in and give the rolls a satiny sheen.

See how the egg white keeps the filling in place? You can pull these rolls apart without all the good stuff falling out.

Serve warm.

With eggs, and sausage, and muesli, and yogurt, and granola, and fruit, and muffins, and cheese, and…

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Bacon-Onion Rye Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. peaceinbaking

    These look so good! One question though, for this dough and for any rolled dough that needs to be a rectangle, how do you do it?! I made three pans of sticky buns this weekend and the rectangle was impossible for me to achieve. I had to trim and toss dough to shape it before rolling the filling in. Is there some trick I don’t know about? Or just more practice (I don’t think my waistline can handle that much practice!).

    Thanks. I love the blog!

    Thanks for your kind comments. The way to shape a rectangle is – don’t stress; manage your expectations. It’s never going to be completely straight edged. Start with an oblong, roll and pat into a kinda rectangle; don’t bother trimming, because what does it matter? People won’t be looking at how even your filling swirls are; they’ll just be licking their lips! However – if you’re someone who enjoys this kind of challenge, try rolling on lightly greased parchment, cut to whatever size rectangle you like. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes once it’s rolled (so it has time to shrink to its desired shape, which it will inevitably do); THEN trim any edges. :) PJH

  2. sandra Alicante

    Mmmmmm, looks good! Bacon and fried onion, two of my favourite things.
    You will be glad to know, that these days, should you return to Europe, smoking is banned pretty much everywhere in public places. Thankfully. There was a time when flying in to Alicante airport, the luggage collection area would be a blue smog, even though people were not supposed to smoke there. Now it is smoke free..all I need is for it to have long haul flights so I can visit you easier!

  3. suesthebaker

    This recipe definitely reminds me of sticky buns. However, these delightful looking rolls which have bacon in them are sure to please here. And what a great use for the King Arthur Flour I have on hand for all my baking needs.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  4. Rocky-cat

    This recipe looks insanely, evilly good. Hopefully it will be on this weekend’s breakfast menu. I can vouch for the Deli Rye Flavor. I always use it when I bake rye bread and it’s terrific. My rye bread has even won ribbons at the State Fair – and I’m a confirmed yeastophobe.

    There’s nothing like a German breakfast. Who needs lunch after eating one of those? You’re making me miss the business trips to Berlin. It’s been too many years since the last.

  5. Biscuitweddingfavours

    They really are the savory version of sticky buns. I think they look great and baked to perfection. Great to take on a picnic, I would imagine.

  6. thefordslove

    These look AMAZINGLY delicious! I must try. And now, thanks to PJ, I must go to Germany as those breakfasts sound wonderful!

    When I traveled in Italy, my family and I were sorely disappointed in the Continental breakfasts we had there. I’m sure other hotels had different offerings, but where we stayed (Rome, Florence, Naples and Venice) it was all yogurt and cold cuts and cold cereal. The first thing we wanted when we got back to the states was some bacon and eggs and hash browns!

  7. carolmccaslin

    Wll P.J. as usual you have outdone yourself. I rushed home from work last night and scrounged around looking for ingredients. They turned out great and I am munching on a bun for breakfast. I was looking for something savory and this did the trick. This dough will be my go to dough recipe for sweet rolls and savory. As usual you know how we like to change things up a bit. I used half bread flour and half white whole wheat. Also I had some leftover cooked turkey bacon and used that. One last substitution was the milk, I did not have enough milk to make one cup so I mixed it with some fat free half and half. The dough was very light and airy. THIS IS A KEEPER! I LOVE IT!!!

    Thanks, Carol – glad you felt free to experiment and add your own twist to these rolls… Enjoy! PJH

  8. cdg6491

    This sounds amazing. However, I’m gluten intolerant. Anyway to substitute King Arthur Gluten Free flours? Thanks – Cheri
    Unfortunately there is no way to make rye bread that is free of gluten, but you could try making a gluten free bread in these tubes. It may be a little tricky because gluten free bread dough is quite loose, but if you can weigh it out somehow and pipe it into the tubes, it might just work. We have not yet tested this in our test kitchen, so if you try it, please let us know what you discover. ~Amy

  9. Mona G.

    How do you save recipes on here ? I signed up, but when I put this recipe up, I do not see a place to save it…..? Am I missing something????
    Mona, give us a call at 1-800-827-6836 or thow a line at us in our Online Chat, and a specialist can help you step-by-step! ~Jessica

  10. sarahcita

    This is definitely a keeper for our house! I’m baking up a batch this weekend for my husband to take hunting – one pan for him, one pan for us at home. Thanks for a really great-sounding, do-able recipe!
    So glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! :) ~Jessica

  11. cartvl219

    This sounds wonderful. Just a few days ago I made Raisin-Pecan Rye Bread (from the KAF Baker’s Companion). I make it every year for a Neighborhood Watch fund raiser and my vet always buys a loaf. This week the cat had her annual checkup so I made a double batch, divided it into thirds and took two of the loaves with me, one for the doc and one for the rest of the staff there. Got a BIG hug before we left. That recipe doesn’t call for the Deli Rye Flavor. It does have both rye and pumpernickel flours with a resultant nutty flavor further enhanced by the raisins and pecans. I’ll have to try these rolls and maybe make them next year for the sale.

    Carolyn (with a cat in the lap)
    I hope that if you try these rolls, you receive just as many approving hugs. ~Amy

  12. reffi

    These rolls are reminiscent of meat rolls we were served for dinner (supper) in college. The meat filling layer was thicker since it was our protein serving, and they were served with a beef gravy poured over (and mashed potatoes and veggies).

    Do you have a recipe for that type of roll?

    Thank you,
    We don’t currently have a recipe for this type of roll, but the idea sounds wonderful. Thank you! ~Amy

  13. jweissmn

    These look great, except to keep kosher I can’t combine (turkey) bacon and milk. If I double up the onions and add a whole egg instead of egg white, how would that work? Or is there a way to substitute for the milk?
    Subbing for the milk will be your easiest option for this. Just use rice or soy or unsweetened almond milk for the dairy milk, and you’ll be just fine. ~ MaryJane

  14. S.

    These look delicious! However, I live by myself and can’t possibly polish off so many rolls in one day (though I will try my hardest). What is the best way to store these once they’re baked?
    Hi there,
    Just take the rolls you aren’t eating now and freeze them airtight for up to 4 weeks. OR invite the gang over to share! ~ MaryJane

  15. Kyla C.

    I can’t wait to try this! I want to make a cheese sauce or a mustard glaze to put on top. Then it would have that gooeyness of a sticky bun. yum

    Oh my, Kyla – yum is right! I never thought of that. Let us know how it comes out, OK? PJH

  16. nelll

    I think what you had in Germany must have been a fruhstucksbuffet (not sure of the spelling, but that’s close). It’s a lavish breakfast buffet of many things, hot and cold. Whenever staying in Germany I always make sure that the pension I’m staying in has a fruhstucksbuffet. Goes back to student days, when my travelling companions and I would take a few bread rolls, some hard-boiled eggs, slices of cheese (no sausage – vegetarian travellers all) and make sandwiches at our table, slip them into our bags and have them for lunch or on the train: two meals (or three) while paying only for room and breakfast.

    I remember deep disappointment – and some budget reconfiguring – when the advertised fruhstucksbuffet turned out to be stale rolls, margerine, little packets of rubbery ‘jam’ and ONE cup of instant coffee. Nothing to stick to the ribs or carry away and eat for later. Actually had to pay for meals meals that weekend, since the ‘breakfast’ was decidedly unsatisfactory…

  17. melodiel

    These opened my eyes to a whole new world of savory rolls! As I was eating one this morning, I thought, what about the addition of asiago cheese in the center. . .HEAVEN!

    I also used caraway seeds and it was great. Love caraway!

    Yum! Thanks for sharing. Irene @ KAF

  18. APRod

    I’m making these rolls right now but I wonder if there’s a way to let these rise once cut in the fridge overnight and bake them in the morning?

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Sure, you can always let rolls rise in the fridge; it’s a guessing game to know how long to let them rise at room temperature before refrigerating (depends on the amount of yeast in your recipe, how cold your fridge is, and when you want to eat them), but once you do it, make a note and forever after you’ll know the exact right amount of time. Good luck – PJH

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