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This recipe was originally published on April 26, 2018.
The fragrant aroma and amazing taste of soft pretzels are no longer limited to shopping malls. With this easy pretzel bun recipe, you can make your own pretzel rolls at home! I’ll walk you through each step, from a few simple ingredients to the delicious final result. Let’s get baking!
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What are pretzel buns?
Pretzel buns are rolls made from pretzel dough. They’re poached in a mixture of boiling water and baking soda, then sprinkled with salt and baked until a dark brown. Pretzel buns can be eaten with beer cheese soup, spinach dip, in a sandwich or hamburger, or simply on their own.
What does pretzel mean?
Pretzel is a variant of the German name brezel, which means pretzel in English. These pretzel buns are called Laugenbrötchen in German, which literally means “lye bun.” That’s because the pretzel buns are traditionally dipped in food-grade lye before baking them.
Where did pretzel buns come from?
Pretzels most likely originated in European monasteries during the early part of the Middle Ages. They are especially popular in Germany.
What do pretzel buns taste like?
Pretzel buns taste like an Americanized soft pretzel. They have a thin, chewy crust and a soft and fluffy interior. The sprinkle of salt on top of the pretzel bun adds more flavor.
What are pretzel buns made of?
Pretzel buns are made of seven simple ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter, water, and milk. Traditionally, malt extract would be used instead of sugar.
What makes a pretzel different than bread?
The most important difference between bread and pretzels is one crucial step. Professional bakeries dip the raw pretzels in food-grade lye, which makes the pretzel’s crust thin, dark, and chewy when it is baked. Since the average home baker doesn’t have access to food-grade lye, we substitute with a mixture of boiling water and baking soda. You’ll poach the raw pretzel buns one at a time for 30 seconds each in the hot liquid.
What to Use Pretzel Buns For
There are many delicious ways to enjoy pretzel buns! Here are a few of our favorites.
- Serve with a bowl of soup. Something smooth and creamy, like beer cheese soup, is a great pairing.
- Dip into your favorite dip. We love buffalo chicken dip, spinach dip, cheese dip, and jalapeño popper dip.
- Make a sandwich out of it. A Reuben sandwich or ham and cheese slider would taste great on a pretzel bun so would pimento cheese.
- Use the pretzel bun as a hamburger bun. You’re missing out on something amazing if you haven’t tried this!
Why is there salt on pretzels?
Salt on pretzels adds a lot of flavor and little bit of crunch to the pretzel. Besides, it’s a traditional decoration that looks nice on the pretzel’s dark crust.
What salt do you use for pretzels?
Any kind of coarse salt will be fine for sprinkling on top of the pretzels. You don’t have to buy pretzel salt; I’ve had good results with kosher salt.
Is pretzel salt and kosher salt the same thing?
Pretzel salt and kosher salt are only slightly different. Pretzel salt is pure white and has a coarser texture than kosher salt. If you don’t want to buy pretzel salt, you can definitely use kosher salt. Feel free to dive deeper into this debate.
How do you get salt to stick to pretzels?
It’s best to sprinkle the pretzels with salt after you have poached them in the boiling water and baking soda mixture. Wait until the surface of the buns has dried a little, but is still sticky. The salt should stick easily to the buns.
How to Make Vegan Pretzel Buns
It’s easy to make this pretzel bun recipe vegan. Just swap the 2/3 cup of dairy milk for a nut milk, and use 3 tablespoons of light-tasting olive oil instead of butter.
How do you soften pretzel buns?
At least with this recipe, pretzel buns are naturally soft. If yours turn out hard, you can try the following method to soften them.
- Wrap the buns in a damp, but not sopping wet, towel.
- Bake on a cookie sheet at 200 F for 5-10 minutes.
- Alternatively, microwave the buns in 10-second bursts until softened.
How to Toast Pretzel Buns
Pretzel buns are too fat to fit into the average toaster, so here’s how to toast them in the oven.
- Turn the broiler to high and give it 5 minutes to warm up.
- Slice the pretzel buns in half and arrange them cut side up on a large cookie sheet.
- Place the pretzel buns on an oven shelf about 5 inches away from the broiler.
- Leave them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until they brown to your liking.
How do you reheat pretzel rolls?
- Place the pretzel rolls on a cookie sheet and cover them with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning.
- Bake in a 350 F for 10 minutes, or until desired warmth.
- Alternatively, wrap the buns individually in a paper towel and microwave them individually for 20 seconds, or until warm.
Can you freeze pretzel buns?
Yes, you can definitely freeze pretzel buns. I’d recommend freezing them after they have been baked and fully cooled.
- Seal the baked and cooled pretzel buns in a zip-top freezer bag or airtight container.
- Freeze for up to 1 month for best freshness.
- See the question below for defrosting instructions.
How to Defrost Pretzel Buns
You can defrost pretzel buns a few different ways. Pick which method works for you.
- Oven. Bake the buns from frozen at 350 F for 20 minutes, or until defrosted.
- Microwave. Microwave the buns individually for 30-60 seconds, until warm.
- Room temperature. Pull the buns out of the freezer and leave them sealed up at room temperature for an hour or two or until completely defrosted. Do not refrigerate the rolls.
How to Make Pretzel Buns
Gather the ingredients for the pretzel buns: bread flour, salt, yeast, brown sugar, softened butter, milk, and water. Make sure you have 2/3 cup (167g) of baking soda for the poaching process later.
Mix the milk and water together in a small jug and warm it in the microwave to 115 F.
Pour the bread flour into a bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, then stir each one in with your finger.
Mix in the sugar and butter until blended.
Add half of the warm milk mixture. Gradually add more liquid and keep mixing until all the flour is picked up from the bottom of the bowl and a slightly sticky dough has formed.
Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for 15-20 minutes. Do not add flour during the kneading process; the dough is naturally stiff, and any stickiness should be worked out with sufficient kneading.
Not sure if your dough has been kneaded enough? Break off a good-sized lump of dough and stretch it as thin as you can, using your knuckles to help stretch the dough. If you can read through the dough, that means that the gluten has been thoroughly developed and you’ve kneaded long enough.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to prove until at least doubled in size, about 1 hour. If you cover the bowl too tightly like I did, the dough might burst through the plastic wrap, creating the unusual spectacle below.
Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and punch it down to release pockets of gas. Divide it into twelve equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy.
Roll each piece of dough into a tight ball and place the balls equally apart on two 9×13-inch, parchment-lined cookie sheets. It is important to line the sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, as the trays could get stained from the baking soda mixture later.
Let the pretzel rolls prove at room temperature until the dough just barely springs back when gently poked with a fingertip, about 30-40 minutes. Then, put the rolls in the fridge for 30-40 minutes to harden them up.
While the rolls are chilling, bring 10 cups (2.4 liters) of tap water to a boil in a 6-quart Dutch oven. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to a simmer over medium heat and gradually stir in the baking soda until dissolved. Don’t add the baking soda all at once, as it bubbles up when it hits the hot water.
Poach the pretzel rolls one at a time in the simmering liquid. Poach the bottom for 15 seconds, then flip over and poach the other side for 15 seconds. Remove promptly with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining pretzel buns.
Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt (which I forgot to do for the pictures), and cut a cross in each one with a baker’s lame or sharp serrated knife.
Bake at 400 F for 13-15 minutes, until the pretzels are deeply browned and have an internal temperature of 190 F on a meat thermometer. Let the rolls cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before eating. This gives them time to finish cooking through.
Ready for pretzel bun fun? I’m up for it almost anytime. And you can use these homemade pretzel buns to make one of the most delicious hamburgers ever, right? 😍🍔 If you’re looking for an appetizer, rip the buns into pieces and dip them into melted pimento cheese. It’s an amazing snack you won’t soon forget!
Pro Tips for Pretzel Buns
- Use bread flour. All-purpose flour doesn’t have a sufficient protein content to make chewy, high-rising yeast breads.
- Knead thoroughly. If the dough is under-kneaded, it won’t rise very high and will be dense and doughy. You should be able to stretch a lump of well-kneaded dough until it’s paper thin.
- Poach the buns for 15 seconds on each side. This is a crucial step for making pretzels, ensuring a moist, chewy bun with a thin, dark brown crust.
- Use a thermometer to see if the pretzels are done baking. Their crusts brown very quickly, so it’s hard to tell if they’re cooked just by appearance. The pretzel buns should have an internal temperature of 190 F on a meat thermometer.
- Want to make twisted soft pretzels? Make the dough and prove the first time as directed. Divide the dough into twelve pieces and roll into ropes, then shape into a pretzel. Proceed with the recipe as written, and shorten the baking time if needed.
- Want to make pretzel bites? Make the dough and prove it for the first time. Roll the dough into twelve, equal-sized ropes. Cut each rope into bite-sized pieces, then proceed with the recipe as written. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Making Pretzel Buns
- Farberware Digital Kitchen Scale: measuring bread ingredients couldn’t be easier with this scale!
- Emeril Lagasse Dutch Oven: a good, heavy-bottomed pot like this is perfect for poaching pretzels.
- Slotted Spoon: this big spoon makes it easy to remove the pretzels from the boiling water mixture.
- Wilton 9×13-Inch Cookie Sheet: this small baking tray bakes evenly and cleans easily.
- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda: this is the secret ingredient to getting beautiful, chewy pretzels.
Serve these German pretzel buns with some other delicious food your family will love.
- Beer Cheese Soup: recipe coming soon!
- Buffalo Chicken Dip: this super easy game day snack can be made in the crockpot or the oven.
- Jalapeño Popper Dip: this spicy, cheesy, creamy dip is the perfect accompaniment to these buns.
The pleasure of a 5-star review for these pretzel buns would be greatly appreciated.Print
These soft, easy German pretzel buns taste perfect with cheese sauce or beer cheese soup. Use these homemade rolls for amazing sliders or hamburger buns at your next Super Bowl party. Your family will gobble them up!
For the Dough
- 4 1/4 cups bread flour (500g)
- 1 tablespoon fast-action yeast (10g)
- 2 teaspoons fine-grained salt (10g)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (57g)
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (20g)
- 2/3 cup whole milk (150 ml)
- 2/3 cup filtered water (150 ml)
For the Poaching
- 10 cups water (2.4 liters)
- 2/3 cup baking soda (167g)
- Kosher salt, for sprinkling
Making the Pretzel Bun Dough (25 minutes + 1 hour proving)
- Stir together the milk and water, then warm the liquid to 115 F.
- Pour the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl and stir in each one with your hand. Make sure the salt and yeast don’t touch each other directly, as the salt can slow down the yeasts’ growth or even kill it.
- Dump in the softened butter and dark brown sugar. Using the paddle attachment, blend on the mixer’s lowest speed, constantly trickling in a thin stream of the milk mixture as the dough is mixed. Continue adding the liquid until a sticky dough has formed; you may not need all the liquid.
- Once the dough is blended, switch to a dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the bowl comes clean. Most importantly, the dough should pass the windowpane test. Break off a large clump of dough and stretch it between the thumb and forefinger of each of your hands. The dough should stretch until it’s translucent in areas without breaking. If it breaks, knead for 30 seconds to a minute longer and check again.
- Shape the dough into a smooth ball, place in a buttered bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough prove at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Shaping the Pretzel Buns (15 minutes + 1 hour proving)
- Line two 9 by 13-inch rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out the gas pockets.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy. Roll each piece into a taut ball and space the buns well apart on the two prepared trays.
- Place each tray inside of a clean garbage bag. Inflate the bag and tuck the ends under the tray to seal. Let the buns prove inside the bags for until the dough just barely springs back when gently prodded with a fingertip, about 30-45 minutes.
- Put the covered trays in the fridge for 30-40 minutes to allow the dough to firm up some.
Poaching & Baking the Buns (30 minutes + 15 minutes baking)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Once the dough has proved, pour 10 cups (2.4 liters) of water into a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Gradually add the baking soda, stirring to dissolve. Don’t add the baking soda all at once, because it fizzes up when it hits the boiling water. Turn the heat down to a simmer.
- Slide a thin metal spatula under one of the buns and gently place the bun in the simmering water. Allow it to float on one side for 15 seconds, then flip it over carefully and let it poach for another 15 seconds. Gently remove the bun from the water with a slotted spatula and place on a large wooden cutting board. Repeat with the other 11 buns.
- Use a thin metal spatula to transfer the buns from the cutting board to the two parchment-lined cookie sheets. Slash each bun in a cross shape with a baker’s lame or a very sharp serrated knife. Sprinkle as desired with coarse-grained kosher salt.
- Bake at 400 F for 13-15 minutes, until the buns are a deep brown and have an internal temperature of 190 F. Allow the buns to cool for a minute or two on the trays, then peel the buns off the parchment and let them cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
- The pleasure of a 5-star review for these pretzel buns would be greatly appreciated.
- 👩🏻🍳 Want to see our latest recipes? Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: German
Keywords: super soft pretzel rolls recipe, german pretzel buns