A Savory Twist on Cinammon Rolls: How to Make Za’atar Buns

People are always taken back when I say, “I wish I could go back in time, and go to culinary school.” Although it’s never too late, I practice my passion in my own kitchen. Thanks to my husband, he purchased a new cookbook for me called “Palestine on a Plate: Memories from My Mother’s Kitchen” by Joudie Kalla.

It was 4 A.M. and my son woke up, and I wanted to put my love into breakfast in the morning. I whipped out “Palestine on a Plate,” and I created a savory, and delicate recipe.

I chose to make za’atar buns, which is a savory twist on cinnamon rolls. Instead of stuffing the rolls with cinnamon and sugar, the recipe calls for olive oil and za’atar. If you don’t have za’atar, it is easily accessible in Middle Eastern grocery stores. This recipe isn’t hard, but it does take a little bit of time.


The recipe is as follows:

Makes 18-21 buns

6 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Teaspoons salt

3 envelopes of yeast

7 tablespoons butter, melted

1 2/3 cup milk, warmed

2 eggs

For the Fillings

2/3 cup olive oil

1 3/4 cups za’atar

1/3 sesame seeds

1 egg beaten, for the glaze


I started by creating the dough. Don’t feel intimidated by making dough. It is one of the most simple and rewarding things to make. If you have never made dough, I would recommend watching a small tutorial just to have an idea about the basics. After you make the dough, everything is a piece of cake. If you have a kitchen mixer with a dough hook, then you can save yourself some time. I did everything by hand, and it came out great!

To start, mix 6 1/2 cups of flour, 3 envelopes of yeast, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt. These are all the dry ingredients, make sure you incorporate them well. Then melt 7 tablespoons of butter (use sticks, so it is easier to measure), warm 1 and 2/3 cups of milk, and beat two eggs. Make sure you the milk is warm or else it will kill the yeast. Add the milk, butter, and eggs to the dry ingredients.  Once the dough has formed, lightly flour a surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes. If the mixture is too dry add some warm water, and if the dough is too sticky add a little but of flour.



Lightly oil a clean bowl, and let the dough rise for about 25-30 minutes. You will know it is done when it has doubled in size.

While you are waiting for the dough to rise, you can get the filling ready. Just mix 2/3 cups of olive oil and 1 and 3/4 cup of za’atar. For preparation purposes, beat two eggs in a different bowl and set aside.


Once the dough has risen, lay it on a big flat surface. Roll out to a make a huge rectangle. I usually like the dough to be a little thin, so the final product isn’t too bread-y. You can cut off any edge pieces that are hanging.



Take your za’atar mixture, and spread it all over the triangle evenly. I use a flat edged spatula that is usually used for icing to do this part. Then, start rolling! Just keep rolling till you can’t stop.  After you roll the dough, start cutting it up evenly. If you like big rolls cut them big, but remember they will grow in the oven. Try to get about 18-21 rolls out of the dough to make medium-sized buns.



After you are done, make sure your oven is preheated to 445 degrees fahrenheit. Line your pan with parchment paper. This is important because it keeps the buns soft on the bottom. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of sesame seeds on top. You can skip this step if you don’t have any sesame seeds. Take the beaten egg and brush on top of buns. Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!


This recipe is quick, and great for breakfast. You can even make it the day before and pop it in the oven.