Let Your Taste Buds Travel with these Cream Cheese Garlic Buns Inspired by Korean Street Food

These days, my taste buds are feeling straight-up trapped. I realized that for the fourth night in one week, we were having chicken thighs and salad…again.

Now, I make a delicious, moist and tasty chicken thigh, and we all know about my love affair with salad, but I was definitely in a cooking rut. My flavors were becoming predictable, and cooking was starting to feel less like a creative endeavor and more like any other chore.

Of course, ordering take-out helps, but only so much. There’s nothing that bums me out more than looking forward to a mess of tacos or a pile of lettuce wraps, only to have my much-desired meal arrive at my doorstep cold, soggy and somehow…wet? I’m starting to understand why pizza is the king of carry-out: it travels well.

Once again, the Internet came to my rescue, with some food inspo straight from the streets of Korea. I spotted these cheesy, soft, garlicky buns online and was immediately intrigued.

Not only do they combine cheese and bread, which will always be delicious in my book, they also added an ingredient I didn’t expect: honey. Folks who had enjoyed an authentic version of the dish describe it as a sweet and savory mash-up of flavors that is ultimately very satisfying.

And they’re right. These buns turn into delicious, pull-apart wedges of cheesy creaminess, with an unexpected sweet tang. We all know and love the flavor of cheese, garlic and parsley together. But then there’s the hidden surprise: the touch of sweetness that comes from the honey. This sweet note is what makes these buns feel truly “fresh” and exciting to my tired taste buds. 

The best part of these buns is, of course, that they are easy to make. All you need is some pretty basic pantry ingredients and some store-bought buns. You can make your own buns for the base of this dish, but I encourage you to go with the shortcut of bought buns, especially if you have a Korean bakery nearby. That soft, springy texture in the final product will be worth it.

Cream Cheese Garlic Buns Tips and Tricks

Before making these savory and sweet treats, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The buns. You want fluffy, soft, round buns for this recipe. If there’s a Korean bakery near you, they’ll have just what you need. If not, try to find round, soft buns at your local grocery store. Sourdough and brioche would work well. If you’d like to make the buns from scratch, I highly recommend this recipe.
  • The sweetness factor. I’ve gone with a slightly less sweet version than might be typically found on the streets in Korea. If you find that you’re wild for the savory-sweet combo, feel free to add more honey to either the garlicky topping or the cream cheese filling.
  • Garlicky topping. Be aggressive when chopping and mincing your garlic for this recipe. The smaller you mince, the more garlic flavor there will be in the final product. I use a garlic press to get the most out of each and every garlic clove.

Cream Cheese Garlic Buns Recipe

This recipe makes six garlic buns. They keep well – I’ve found that they make an excellent breakfast the day after.

 Ingredients

  • 6soft, round buns

For the Garlicky Topping

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced — can substitute with dried parsley if necessary
  • 3 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. dried or finely shredded parmesan
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the Cream Cheese Filling

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1 ½ packages)
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream — can substitute with milk if necessary
  • 2 tsp. honey

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 325℉. Cut each of your buns into six equal wedges, being careful not to cut all the way through. Arrange the cut buns on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.
  2. In one bowl, make the garlicky topping. Whisk together your melted butter, parsley, garlic, salt, milk, 1 Tbsp. honey and parmesan. Once the mixture is cool enough, add in the beaten egg. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. In another bowl, make the cream cheese filling. Stir together the softened cream cheese, heavy cream and 2 tsp. honey until smooth and creamy. Place your cream cheese mixture into a piping bag.
  4. Spoon half of the garlicky topping over the cut buns, making sure to drizzle it in every nook and cranny.
  5. Next, pipe the cream cheese mixture in between the sections in the bread, again making sure to pipe the cheese all the way into the bottom of each cut and to the top of each bun.
  6. Drizzle the remaining garlicky topping over the buns to cover every last inch.
  7. Bake the buns for 10-15 minutes, until the tops are crispy and the cheese is melty. Let cool for 3-5 minutes before enjoying.
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