With the rise of sourdough hobbyists and a focus on DIY baking, serving quality bread at the table now carries extra importance. My favorite local dinner spot brings out a mix of slightly sweet corn muffins, crusty baguette slices, and tender rolls with cinnamon spiced honey butter.

It takes the edge off the hungry anticipation and lets everyone enjoy a drink while perusing the menu. The evening starts on a positive note, and it has become the standard by which I gauge bread baskets.

Whether it’s the tenderness of a hamburger bun or the flakiness of a biscuit at breakfast, the average guest wants to indulge beyond sliced white bread. And as a recipe developer, I’ve experienced the trends moving towards artisanal bread with distinct shapes and textures, as well as flavorful add-ins, both sweet and savory. While bread may not be the focus of the menu, it’s an experiential touch that helps balance and enhance your offerings.

Butter Their Biscuit

Biscuits are no longer a Southern secret but have become a nationwide obsession. Having sold out a number of biscuit cooking classes, I’ve seen the power of these fluffy baked goods up close. Tender, flaky, and full of nostalgia, the best versions are made with buttermilk and laced with buttery flavor.

They’re great as a stand-alone side to breakfast dishes but are also ideal for adding into a mixed breadbasket or for diversifying sandwich options. Breakfast sandwiches made with Heritage Ovens® biscuits are a no-brainer, but biscuits are also fantastic for a variety of handhelds, from pork sliders to crispy fried chicken sandwiches.

Crusty vs Tender

A crusty, chewy baguette can pull double duty at the table served simply with olive oil or with butter as the base of a European-style prosciutto sandwich. A par-baked mini-baguette from Heritage Ovens is 8 inches — perfect for a 2-top bread course or a single sandwich.

American-style sandwiches call for tender rolls like Kaiser rolls for burgers, white hoagie rolls for sub sandwiches, or sausage Buns for grilled bratwursts. For the best of both worlds, the pre-sliced Telera roll, with a crispy exterior and soft interior, can be a great addition to the menu. The roll was developed specifically for Mexican tortas, but the slight sweetness and unique texture means it’s also great for breakfast sandwiches and a variety of deli offerings.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect bun, finding the right toasty level is an artform unto itself. While some prefer a lightly toasted bun for its softness and subtle crunch, others crave a deeper toast for added texture and flavor. Experiment with different toasting methods, including grilling and pan-frying in butter, to achieve the perfect balance based on the type of bun and filling.

Add-in Flavor

Plain loaves tend to be losing steam, while add-ins are, well, IN. Most of the bread-based recipes I’ve developed lately have sweet or savory additions to the dough — consider summer squash and cheese folded into a savory quick bread or cinnamon-flecked apples braided into buttery brioche.

And while serving complimentary bread is a good call, upgrading bread to specialty and seasoned options means it can be a money maker instead of a loss leader. If there’s an order of cheesy garlic knots on the menu, I’d gladly pay for a basket. For a sweet option, I love the idea of using waffle dust, from a brand like Perfectly Southern®, on freshly baked yeast rolls or dusted on crispy fried hush puppies for a maple-infused sweetness.

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