Bolillos Bread Recipe (Mexican Rolls)

Bolillos are traditional Mexican rolls with a soft and pillowy crumb and a rustic crust. This type of bread is a staple in the Mexican gastronomy and used to make some of the most icon dishes in the country.

So, let me show you how to make bolillos at home with this easy recipe.

Bolillos mexican rolls.

As a Mexican, there’s nothing more comforting for me than taking a freshly baked bolillo, tear it with my hands and spread it with butter or cajeta, or also dip it into a café con leche in the morning.

What are bolillos?

Bolillos are also know as pan francés or pan blanco. They are a type of white bread from Mexico with a long, rhomboid shape and a savory taste. Those Mexican rolls were introduced in Mexico during the French intervention in the XIX century.

Mexican bolillos on a basket.

Bolillo bread are widely consumed in Mexico and used to make many traditional dishes, such as capirotada (bread budding that is consumed during the Lent season), tortas (sandwiches), bread pudding, and molletes, just to name a few.

In Mexico City (and pretty much in the whole State of Mexico), you’ll find a popular dish called guajolota. This dish consist in a bolillo bread stuffed with a tamal. Something you should really try if you happen to visit the place.

A look to the bolillos crumb.

The ingredients needed

  • FLOUR: You’ll need a strong flour, the type that’s used to make bread or pizza. Check the package label, flour should have at least 11% of protein.
  • YEAST: A package of active dry yeast is 7g, just about 2 1/4 teaspoons.
  • SALT & SUGAR: The first to give a savoury touch, the second to help the dough to rise quickly.
  • OIL: The traditional recipe calls for pork lard, use that if you have it (melted), otherwise just use any vegetable oil, such as olive, canola, corn, etc.
  • WATER: Lukewarm water is the recommended in this bolillo recipe. It means the water should be neither hot nor cold.
Bolillos ingredients labeled and displayed on a marble surface.

Gather all your ingredients before starting. Also, prepare your oven, the baking sheets, and everything you’ll need to make this Mexican rolls recipe.

Bolillo Recipe – Step by Step

Start by placing the flour, yeast and sugar on a medium-size bowl. Mix to combine. Dissolve salt in the water, add to the flour and then add also the oil. Next, using a fork, start combining the ingredients.

The ingredients just combined in a bowl.

Now, knead the dough just enough to combine well all ingredients and achieve a lumpy and rough dough (about 1 minute). Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes. This resting time will help the flour to start developing the gluten, making the dough a lot more easy to knead.

Lumpy dough in a bowl.

After the resting time passed, transfer the dough to a slightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until you’ll have a smooth dough.

Kneading the dough in a marble surface.

Make a ball with the dough. Slightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside.

The dough inside a bowl, before proofing.

Cover the bowl with cling film or a damp kitchen towel (to prevent it from drying) and place it in a warm place away from drafts. If your kitchen is too cold, turn on the lights in your oven and place the bowl inside (don’t turn your oven on!).
Allow the dough to proof until doubled in size (about 1 hour and 30 min).

The dough proofed in a bowl.

Remove the dough from the bowl, place it in a lightly floured surface and gently push your fist in to deflate it. Quickly knead it into a ball again and divide it into 6 equal pieces. If you have a kitchen scale, use it. My pieces weighed about 135g each.

The dough divided and weighed into small pieces.

Now, roll each piece into a ball, cover them with cling film and let them to rest for 10 minutes to allow the dough to relax a bit.

Forming dough balls.

Slightly flour a surface and shape the bolillos. First, flatten a piece with the palm of your hands and fingers, making some sort of pancake.

Flattening a ball of dough with hands.

Now, fold the pice into an half-moon, pressing the borders lightly with your fingers.

Folding a flattened dough piece into an half-moon.

Next, roll forth and back while pressing the outer edges with your hands, to form the pointed ends of the bolillo’s distinctive shape.

Shaping bolillos with hands.

Repeat with each piece of dough. Place the raw bolillos on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave about 1-inch space between each piece.

Bolillos unbaked and before proof in a baking tray.

Loosely cover with cling film and allow to rest until doubled in size (about 1 hour, depending in the room temperature).

Unbaked bolillos after resting.

How To Bake

Preheat your oven to 450°C (230°C). At the start, place a baking dish or container with about 4 cups of water in the lower rack of the oven. The water will help to create the perfect humidity for baking your bread, so don’t skip this method.

Right before you pop your bolillos in the oven and using a very sharp knife, make a longwise cut to each roll and spray some water on top, to achieve a shiny and crusty texture.

Cutting a raw bolillo just before going into the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until you’ll see bolillos are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place them in a cooling rack.

Mexican rolls bolillos on a cooling rack.

Store & Reheat

If you’re not consuming all your bolillos the day you make it, allow them to cool down completely and then place them in a plastic airtight container or bag to keep them soft. They will lost their crunchiness but you can spray water on them and reheat them in the oven for 5 minutes at 350°F (175°C). Or you can also toast them in a cast iron skillet or comal at medium heat.

Tips & Tricks

  • If it is your first time making bread, I strongly suggest to reading King Arthur’s post about how to yeast bake each season. Weather is a key for proofing doughs and you should learn a bit about this to avoid failure.
  • Use oven mitts when placing the bolillos or removing from the oven to avoid burns.
  • My oven has a “vapor option”, check yours if it have it too and use that instead of placing the container with water.
Mexican bolillos on a basket.

Bolillos

Bolillos are Mexican dinner rolls with a soft crumb and a rustic crust. This type of bread is used in many Mexican recipes. Learn how to make them easily.
PREP 15 minutes
COOK 20 minutes
Proofing time 2 hours 55 minutes
TOTAL 3 hours 30 minutes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 3 ½ cups bread flour (about 500g)
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water (about 300 ml)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Extras

  • flour for the surface
  • oil for bowl

Instructions

  • Place the flour, yeast and sugar on a medium-size bowl. Mix to combine.
  • Dissolve salt in the water, add to the flour and then add also the oil. Use a fork to combine the ingredients.
  • Knead the dough just enough to combine well all ingredients and achieve a lumpy and rough dough (about 1 minute).
  • Cover and leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a slightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until you’ll achieve a smooth dough.
  • Make a ball, slightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and place it in a warm place away from drafts.
  • Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour and 30 min).
  • Remove the dough from the bowl, place it in a lightly floured surface and gently push your fist in to deflate it.
  • Quickly knead it into a ball again and divide it into 6 equal pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball, cover them with cling film and let them to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slightly flour a working surface. Take a piece of dough and flatten it with the palm of your hands and fingers, making some sort of pancake.
  • Now, fold the pice into an half-moon, pressing the borders lightly with your fingers.
  • Next, roll forth and back while pressing the outer edges with your hands, to form the pointed ends of the bolillo shape.
  • Place the bolillo on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Repeat with each piece of dough, leaving about 1-inch space between each of them.
  • Loosely cover with cling film and allow to rest until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Bake

  • Preheat your oven to 450°C (230°C) placing a baking dish or container with about 4 cups of water in the lower rack (read notes).
  • Right before baking and using a very sharp knife, make a longwise cut to each roll and spray some water on top, to achieve a shiny and crusty texture.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until you’ll see bolillos are golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and place them in a cooling rack.

NOTES

  • Use oven mitts when placing the bolillos or removing from the oven to avoid burns.
  • The water will help to create the perfect humidity for baking your bread, so don’t skip this method for baking.
  • My oven has a “vapor option”, check yours if it have it too and use that instead of placing the container with water.
Nutrition
Calories: 319kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 585mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
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