An easy bolillo bread recipe for the popular traditional Mexican rolls that feature a crusty exterior and a soft and pillowy inside. This staple Mexican bread is perfect for making tortas or enjoying alongside favorites like pozole and mole.
Real, authentic Mexican bolillos are so delicious and easy to make!
This was one of the first recipes I shared when I created Isabel Eats back in 2015. Since then, I’ve updated this recipe with clearer instructions and step-by-step photos to help you make this Mexican staple at home on the first try.
What is Bolillo Bread?
A bolillo [pronounced boh-lee-yoh] is Mexico’s version of a crusty white bread that’s oblong in shape and is eaten with just about everything!
It’s Mexico’s most popular bread and is used to make tortas, (sandwiches), molletes, or as a side roll to soak up all the wonderful chile sauces and soups!
The flavor is very similar to a french baguette, and the outside is crusty and chewy while the inside is soft and fluffy.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Flour: The recipe uses all-purpose flour, a staple in most kitchens.
- Yeast: This recipe uses active dry yeast, not fast-rising yeast.
- Sugar: You’ll need 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar to stir into the yeast mixture to help it bloom.
- Salt: 2 teaspoons of fine salt give the right amount of saltiness to the bolillos.
- Water: Use warm water to activate the yeast, making sure it stays between 110°F-115°F. If the water is too hot, it may kill the yeast.
- Oil: Vegetable oil is a good neutral tasting oil to use. Avocado or canola oil are great options.
How to make Bolillo BRead
Step 1: First, you’ll need to activate the yeast. Add the yeast to some warm water that’s between 110°F-115°F in temperature. I love using an instant-read thermometer for this. If you don’t have one, just make sure the water is warm to the touch but not hot.
Stir in the sugar to help the yeast bloom, loosely cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should be frothy and bubbly. If it’s not, discard and try again.
Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you’re mixing this by hand), mix the flour and salt.
Then add the yeast mixture, remaining water, and oil. Using the dough hook attachment to mix it on medium-low speed for 6-8 minutes, until a dough ball is formed and is slightly tacky.
If the dough is too sticky, mix in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it’s smooth and no longer sticks to the sides.
Step 3: Place the dough in a greased bowl, loosely cover it with a kitchen towel, and allow it to rise for about 1-1 ½ hours until it’s doubled in size.
A trick I like to use is to preheat my oven for about a minute or so, turn it off, and then place the dough inside the oven where it’s very slightly warm but not hot.
Step 4: Once the dough has doubled in size, divide it evenly into 6 pieces.
Step 5: Next, shape the bolillo dough. Start by lightly flattening and stretching it into a triangle.
Then fold the outer end towards the middle and then flip the bolillo over and tuck it in. Lightly stretch both ends to make the dough shaped almost like a skinny football.
Step 6: Place the shaped bolillos on the prepared baking trays and lightly brush or spray them with oil to keep them moist. Cover and allow them to rise for an additional 45 minutes.
Step 7: About 15 minutes before the bolillos are finished rising, you’ll need to prepare the oven by getting it steamy and moist.
Fill a 9×13-inch baking dish with 10 cups of water and place it on the lowest rack in the oven to create a moist environment for the bolillos to get their signature light and fluffy interior and crisp outer crust.
Then preheat the oven to 425°F.
Step 7: Once the bolillos have finished rising and the oven is ready, make a quarter inch slit down the middle of each roll with a sharp knife or a bread scoring knife.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the outside is golden brown.
- Brushing or spraying the bolillos with oil during their second rise helps them retain their moisture and not dry out. You could also spray or brush them with water if you prefer, but you will need to do that 2 or 3 times while they’re resting since the water tends to dry out faster.
Ways to Eat Bolillos
Bolillos are very versatile and can be used in many different ways! Here are a few of my favorites:
Storing and Freezing
- To store, allow the bolillos to cool completely and then store in an airtight container or ziplock bag to keep them soft.
- To freeze, place cooled bolillos in a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Prepare the yeast. In a cup or bowl, heat the water in the microwave in 15-second increments or on the stove until it's just warm to the touch. A thermometer should read around 110°F-115°F.
- Stir in the yeast and sugar. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it stand for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. If the mixture doesn’t get foamy, throw it out and start again with a new packet of yeast.
- Prepare the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular large bowl), whisk together the all-purpose flour and salt.
- Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 6-8 minutes (or mix by hand), until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. The dough will be slightly tacky but not completely sticky. If it is still fairly sticky, knead in 1 tablespoon of additional flour at a time until smooth and elastic. If it's too dry, add in 1 tablespoon of additional water at a time.
- Rise. Coat a large bowl with oil and transfer the dough to the bowl, shaping it into a ball. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about 1-1½ hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Shape and rise again. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into 7-inch long ovals with a tapered end, like a football. Place 3 bolillos on each of the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush the tops with a little oil or spray with cooking spray to keep them moist. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise again for 45 minutes.
- Create steamy oven. 15 minutes before they’re finished resting, fill a 9×13-inch baking dish with 10 cups of water and place it on the lowest rack in the oven to create a moist environment for the bolillos. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- When the dough is ready, make a ¼-inch deep cut lengthwise down the middle of each bolillo using a very sharp knife.
- Bake. Spray tops of the bolillos with a little water, then transfer them to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
- Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.