Bolillo, Mexico’s Favorite White Bread

Bolillos

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rise Time: 90 mins
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Yield: 10 loaves
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
209 Calories
1g Fat
40g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 209
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Sodium 221mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 69mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In spite of the (well-deserved) international fame of Mexican sweet bread, bolillos may well be the most Mexican bread of all. A bolillo is a small loaf of plain white bread, crusty on the outside with a soft interior. It is the type of bread most often used to accompany Mexican meals and it is an integral part of the everyday food scene in Mexico.

Bolillo is the bread most often used for making molletes and tortas and is routinely cut into slices and served in a basket with a meal. The soft, doughy insides of a bolillo are known as the migajón. The migajón is often pulled out and discarded when turning a bolillo into a torta or when using the bread to push food around on a plate, leaving the firmer outside layer of the loaf to do the job.

Despite its popularity, most Mexican cooks don't make their own bread at home; both sweet and savory loaves are often acquired from local bakeries, supermarkets, or directly from people selling it door to door. Bread baking is definitely both a science and an art, and it can take years to master it at home. These bolillos are a good beginner recipe—they're very simple to make with just six ingredients and only a bit of kneading.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast

  • 4 cups bread flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 large egg white, beaten

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Bolillo ingredients
    The Spruce 
  2. Pour water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast onto surface.

    Yeast sprinkled on water in a bowl
     The Spruce

  3. In a separate mixing bowl, mix flour, salt, and sugar.

    Dry ingredients mixed in a bowl
     The Spruce
  4. Add flour mixture to yeast and water a little at a time, mixing until a dough forms. If a cohesive dough does not form with this ratio of flour to water, add additional flour, one tablespoon at a time, until a stiff dough forms.

    Wet and dry ingredients mixed in a bowl
     The Spruce
  5. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel or cloth, and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

    Mixed dough in a bowl
     The Spruce
  6. Remove dough from bowl, punch it down, and knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, until smooth.

    Bolillo dough being kneaded on a floured board
     The Spruce
  7. Divide dough into 10 balls.

    Bolillos dough sliced into 10 pieces
     The Spruce
  8. For oval-shaped rolls (the usual bolillo shape), roll the balls between your palms for about 5 seconds to make a cylindrical shape, tapering slightly at the ends. Place pieces on one or more baking sheets. Cover with a towel and let loaves rise again for about 30 minutes.

    Unbaked bolillo rolls on a baking sheet
     The Spruce
  9. Preheat oven to 375 F. ​Brush each dough ball with egg white. Score each roll longways on the top about 1/4-inch deep.

    Homemade Mexican Bolillos unbaked on a baking sheet
     The Spruce
  10. Bake loaves for about 30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Remove from oven. Cool slightly and eat warm or let cool completely.

    Mexican Bolillos on a plate

    The Spruce

How to Store and Freeze

  • Bolillos are best fresh. Store leftover cooled bolillos in an airtight container for up to three days.
  • Bolillos can be frozen, too. Let them cool completely and then tightly wrap each roll with plastic wrap. Place in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge before using.

What Are Bolillos Used For?

Bolillos are commonly used for tortas, a type of Mexican sandwich. Fillings can include a variety of meats, refried beans, avocado, cheese, peppers, and more. They are also frequently served as a side dish alongside soups, stews, and other dishes.

How Do You Pronounce Bolillo?

Bolillo, a classic Mexican bread roll, is pronounced "buh-lee-ohz."