12 Glaze Effects, Tried and Tested

glazing effects on bread
Do you glaze? Do you want to?

It's a non-essential part of baking that I usually omit, from sheer lack of time. If you're more of a hastily-stick-it-in-the-oven person, I understand.

But, on occasion, you may want to add a certain je ne sais quoi to your bread; a certain something to make it look a bit more special.

On those days, a glaze can do the trick.

So, what to use?

For this article, I have baked 12 bread rolls and treated each one with a different glaze, to show you the different effects.

The 'best' result is a matter of personal preference but hopefully this little experiment of mine will help you to have an informed opinion.

The 12 Rolls And Their Glazes

different glaze effects for bread
Here are my 12 rolls.

Starting from the top, looking left to right, row by row as if reading, the glazes were:

1. No glaze (the control)
2. Milk
3. Egg white (I mixed a tiny pinch of salt in with it because I read that this can help the egg to spread more easily. I also beat it with a fork before brushing it on)
4. Egg yolk (I beat this with a fork to make it easier to spread)
5. Whole egg (white and yolk beaten together)
6. Olive oil
7. Melted butter
8. Sugar water (a small amount of sugar dissolved in a small amount of water)
9. Water
10. Melted butter applied after baking
11. Sugar water applied after baking
12. Water with some plain flour sprinkled over it

Let's have a closer look...

No Glaze

glaze effects for bread

This roll looked relatively pale compared to some of its glazed friends. It had a matt appearance and the crust was more chewy than crispy.

Milk Glaze

milk glaze

This roll looked darker than the one without glaze, but not as dark as some of the other types of glaze. It was quite matt in appearance but slightly shinier than the unglazed roll.

Egg White Glaze

egg glaze

This was very similar in appearance to the milk glaze. Quite a matt appearance and a lovely golden brown colour.

Egg Yolk Glaze

egg glaze

This was markedly one of the more shiny glazes, and one of the more richly coloured.

Whole Egg Glaze

egg glaze

Very similar to the egg yolk glaze, this roll was shiny and pleasingly brown.

Olive Oil Glaze

oil glaze

I was surprised how matt this one looked. It wasn't at all shiny. The crust was a light colour and slightly crunchier than unglazed bread.

Melted Butter Glaze

butter glaze

I had thought this might be shinier, but it was quite matt, with a slightly cracked appearance. This was one of the darker rolls, with a richer, more pleasing colour than most.

Sugar Water Glaze

sugar glaze

This resulted in a matt appearance with a lovely darkened crust. I enjoyed the subtly sweet taste of the glaze on this roll.

Water Glaze

water glazed bread

For a speedy, no hassle glaze, this had excellent results. The roll was a nicer (in my opinion!) colour than the unglazed one. It also had a crunchier crust.

Butter Glaze After Baking

butter glazed bread

Here, I had brushed melted butter over the roll as it came out of the oven. The result is a pleasing shine but a less browned appearance.

Sugar Water Glaze After Baking

sugar glazed bread

Here, I had brushed sugar water over the roll when it was still warm from the oven. I loved the shiny appearance and the subtly sugary flavour. I used this glazing technique to good effect on my hot cross buns, as you may recall.

Water and Flour

flour sprinkled roll

Not sure why this one has peaked and almost exploded upwards, but I still like the highlight that the flour gives to the bread. This is the roll that the children all wanted, incidentally.


This is purely subjective, but I like the shiny glazes. Egg (I probably wouldn't bother separating it, but the yolk is the more important component here) is probably the nicest option, unless you're wanting a bit of sweetness, in which case the sugar water makes a nice alternative (although, for the shine, you'd have to brush it on after baking.)

I very much like the simplicity of the water and flour option. I think the flour looks pretty, and highlights the shape of the bread.

Don't Stop There!

Of course, these are not the only glazing alternatives. This is another chance to be original and use your imagination. And don't forget, a glaze makes a good glue for sticking seeds, such as sesame or poppy seeds, to the top of your bread. Let me know if you have any great favourites that I'd like to try.

And now...

An Important Announcement

The How To Bake Beautiful Bread tutorial package will be available from this Friday, the 23rd!

It's for you, if (like many of us!) your bread has tended to be more functional than beautiful.

I've been gathering useful know-how, professional techniques and troubleshooting tips to help you make bread that not only tastes good but looks great.

It's all packaged together with step-by-step guides and video tutorials that will show you how to get the best results.

You can download your copy on Friday, when it will be available at an introductory rate over the weekend.

Freshly Baked subscribers, take note! You will receive an extra special discount as a thank you for your ongoing support. I'll be emailing you with more details later in the week (so if you haven't signed up yet, now is a good time!)


  1. A most interesting and informative entry! Quite an experiment.

  2. Great entry thanks !!

  3. Great experiment. I've never add a comment on anybody's entry before ever. Great work. keep it up

    1. Thank you for your comment. It encourages me a lot.

  4. Thank you for doing this! So helpful.

  5. Thanks very much, this is a simple effective way to find out the very information I was wanting. And thanks a lot for sharing.

  6. Terrific experiment and very useful too.
    My wife likes a soft crust but with a bit of a shine.
    Which glaze do you recommend?

    1. For the softest crust it may be best to apply the glaze after baking - either butter for a neutral or savoury glaze, sugar water for a bit of sweetness. Having said that, an egg glaze gives a lovely shine and you can bake it gently so that the crust doesn't get too hard.

  7. I like to mix a tablespoon of cornflour with about half a cup of water and boil it until it becomes transparent, then brush it onto the bread when it has about ten minutes left to bake and again once it has been removed from the oven. Gives a lovely colour and a wonderful crust.

    1. That's an interesting idea that I hadn't heard before! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Can you speak to the relative softness of the different crusts with the various glazes?

    1. They were all quite soft, with the ones glazed after baking being softest. Water gave the crispest crust.

    2. Thank you for the comprehensive guide. I want a crispy roll so I'm going with the water glaze. :)

    3. Creating some steam in the oven during baking can help to make a crispier crust too.

  9. I run a food manufacturing business in South Africa - we usually egg glaze our pastry products but working with bread is new to us. Came across your experiment while looking for what glaze would give us best results - we think we love you for doing an experiment for us!!!! Very informative. Thank you =)

  10. Thank you or all this ,it was a big help

  11. Best tutorial ever! Kudos! 😁

  12. Thank you ...it really is informative and helpful. God bless you

  13. Thank you for great photo tutorial! I know now my choice is beaten whole egg. :-D

  14. Thank you, this is very helpful to me. I'm going with the egg glaze.

  15. It is so awesome you took the time to do this. I really appreciate it! I am about to do some major baking of bread and wanted to get the right shine, but seeing the diversity, I am going to mix it up and make it more diverse instead of a uniform coat (if that makes any sense). Thanks again!

  16. This truly saved me 11 steps! Thanks You!

  17. Did you put the water and flour mixture on after baking?

    1. No, actually that was done just prior to baking.

  18. I was about to trial a few glazes when I decided to look on line. Thanks Rachel for a great article.

  19. This is so helpful. I bake bread everyday and appearance is so important to me. I usually use an egg but there is always left over egg and it doesn't keep well so it is not economical. I will try the sugar water or the after baking butter. I will use margarine though. Thanks!

  20. Thank you so much for this! This is so helpful! I know about egg and butter but recently came across recipes (from Asian website) which uses diluted syrup brushed on 5 mins before end of bake. The rolls looked beautiful so I was wondering if there was an explanation published in English to explain this. Thanks again!

  21. Very nice experiment! Thanks so much. saves me from having to do it.

  22. What an excellent post - and interesting to see how some of the results were a bit unexpected visually. No one commented however, on the best glaze to use if one is going to sprinkle buns with seeds such as sesame or poppy, to get them to stick - presumably the egg but what about timing?

    1. Thanks Zoe. I find that water works perfectly well for sticking on seeds. Egg, milk or oil would work too. I do that prior to baking; in fact, prior to the final proving. If you roll the dough onto the seeds, thereby pressing the seeds into the dough, they stick better, but if this would deform your bread too much, a light spray or brush with water will capture sufficient seeds for a nice appearance.

  23. Can you glaze pre-cooked hamburger buns?

  24. Certainly. You might like to use the glaze to stick sesame seeds on at the same time.

  25. have you ever experimented with whole egg mixed with water 50/50 pre -baking

  26. the above comment is from me.... I am a small time artisan baker in Arizona