These easy-to-make pretzel buns use baking soda to “pretzel-fy” the dough. They’re my favorite burger buns! (Jump directly to the recipe.)
This whole food blogging thing came about accidentally for me. When people ask me how I became a recipe developer, food writer and photographer I usually tell them that I stumbled into it. I was former a graphic designer at a dead end job that I didn’t really care for. I started my food blog years ago, as a way to distract myself from the unhappiness of my day job. And if you look at my early blog posts, like the one for my Pretzel Buns, they’re a little embarrassing, like looking at an old high school yearbook where you had bad hair and poor fashion choices. And trust me when I tell you had I REALLY bad hair and made some poor fashion choices.
But these pretzel buns! I made them years ago and blogged about them while I still had a day job. Years and years ago. And I though I stand by the recipe, as it’s solid, it’s a little embarrassing for me to give the link out to folks. So, after making them one day (and also sharing the recipe on Snapchat) I finally decided it was time to post about them again.
Now if you are hardcore, you probably will dismiss these buns because they are made with baking soda, instead of the more traditional lye that pretzels are made with. I get it. I’m sure the lye versions are better than these. But I ALWAYS have baking soda in the house. And a lot of it (I buy the Costco size bag, which lasts me forever). But I rarely have lye in the house, unless it is in the form of a Drano for my clogged pipes. And though I’ve heard actual stories of pastry chefs using Drano when they ran out of food safe dye, that’s an experiment I don’t want to really do. Nope, I’ll stick with my baking soda.
But if you want to check out my friend Jenni’s recipe for her pretzel buns, please do! She’s pretty active on Snapchat, and recently got some food safe lye. She swears that she will never go back to baking soda. And maybe one of these days I’ll break down and order some online. And then I’ll be forced to blog about these pretzel buns for a third time! But for now, here’s an updated recipe for the pretzel buns. They’re so good, they’re worth blogging about twice.
By Irvin Lin
These pretzel buns are soft and pretzel-y. The slightly bitter shiny smooth outside crust (a product of first boiling the dough in an alkaline solution made of water and baking soda) and soft fluffy inside makes them the perfect vehicle for a burger. I’ve blogged about them before but I love them so much that I felt I had to blog about them again! If you want, you can also freeze the finished buns in a resealable ziplock bag. Just make sure to cool them completely and split them first by slicing them horizontally before freezing. You can let them thaw to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter or toast them frozen.
Slightly adapted from an Alton Brown soft pretzel recipe. Originally blogged about in an older blog post here on Eat the Love.
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 -115ºF)
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup or honey
2 1/4 teaspoon (7 g or 1 package) active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups (637 g) bread flour
1/4 cup (57 g or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sesame seed
1. Place the warm water and barley malt syrup (or honey) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir the liquid together to dissolve the sweetener. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the liquid and stir with a fork to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof. The top of the liquid should be foamy. If it isn’t discard and start over with fresh yeast.
2. Once the yeast has proofed, add the flour, butter and salt to the liquid and stir it with the dough hook on slow speed until the liquid has absorbed all the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and pulls away cleanly from the side of the bowl.
3. Pull the dough off the hook and out of the bowl, and coat the bowl with cooking spray. Stretch the dough into a ball, gathering the rough edges of the dough into one side and then place in the bowl, with the rough edges down. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit to rise until the dough has doubled, about 50 to 60 minutes.
4. Once the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line two baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper. Place the water and baking soda in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the baking soda has dissolved.
5. Once the water has been brough to a boil, divide the dough into 10 even pieces. Form each piece into a ball, then boil half the balls in the baking soda water for 45 seconds. Flip the ball upside down and boil for an additional 45 seconds. Remove the balls from the water and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
6. Beat the egg yolk and water together and brush the top of each bun with the egg wash. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the buns. The egg wash will help the sesame seeds to stick. Bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes or until the buns are a dark pretzel brown. Rotating the pans once during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire cooling rack.
Makes 10 buns.
This is a recipe I want to try! These buns are so good with a burger at the local pub. I want to make them fresh at home and top them off with a hearty burger , cheddar and fried onions.
Irvin! Thanks for the shout out, and didn’t we all use to make poor fashion choices?! Not now, though. No way. Nuh-uh. Until we look back at photos in 20 years! lol I also have to thank you for even putting pretzel buns on my radar. When I watched you making them on Snapchat, I realized they were almost identical to the bread pretzels I used to make at the restaurant, and those originated with Alton Brown’s recipe. I don’t know how I got lye so stuck in my head. But I’m glad I got some, because the difference is pretty amazing. Trust me, though, I would never say no to a pretzel bun or dismiss it as “less than” just because they weren’t made with lye. I would eat the crap out of any burger you choose to put in front of me!
Made these and they came out excellent!
My husband loves pretzel buns so I thought I’d try making my own. Used your recipe and it was fantastic! I made 8 insr ad of 10 because I wanted them burger sized. I did let them rise a second time for 30 ish minutes after I rolled them into balls while waiting for the water to boil. They were perfect! Will go in the recipe box for sure!
Did you cover with plastic wrap again after you roll them into balls?
If you let the balls of dough rise again, I’d suggest covering with plastic wrap again for the 30 minutes or they might dry out!
Hello! I want to make these into little bites. If I freeze them, would I still need to cut them or can I just freeze them whole? What is the reason behind slicing them before freezing? Thank you!!
If you’re making these into small bites, no need to slice them! I slice them ahead of time so I can can fit into a toaster while still frozen! Plus I don’t have to wait for them to defrost before splitting them.
Oh my gosh, this was the absolutely BEST recipe. It was so incredibly simple and the rolls turned out like perfection. Everyone in the house loved them. I made them a bit larger and used them for buns for a sriracha mayo spicy fish sandwich with onions and cucumbers. I will never be able to have this sandwich on anything but these rolls ever again.
Yay! Thank you. You totally made my day with this comment! I’m so glad you liked them!
HOLY SMOKES!!! My lifetime search of the perfect pretzel recipe is finally over. These had the ideal crust and chewy texture. The entire family was blown away with the results. This simple recipe will be BBQ tradition.
Personally, I’d recommend the lye version (I have 35lb of food-grade lye at home because I also make my own soap). To do the lye version:
30 grams lye granules
1 quart water (ideally filtered water)
1) Shape the buns
2) Allow them to proof 40 minutes
3) Use a slotted spatula to fully dip them into the lye mixture
4) Place them on a baking sheet
5) Score a cross on top with a serrated knife
6) Place into a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes
Can you make these with all purpose four or does it have to be bread flour?
I made these and used maple syrup because I was out of honey. They turned out great! I made 8 instead of 10 and they were the perfect size for a hearty burger. They didn’t quite have the pretzel bun crust texture I expected, but are still delicious! Thanks!
Shari Frost says
Wow, I’m very impressed with these buns. They were beautiful…and very delicious, my whole family loved them. This recipe is truly a keeper. And really, a soda bath is not a big deal over lye. I couldn’t imagine them tasting any better. We had them as burger buns but will be a staple for sandwiches and all future burgers. Thank you so much for the recipe!
Janet Guglielmo says
You didn’t say after shaping rolls to let them raise before putting them in water/ baking soda! All the recipes say to but yours.
I can honestly say “I love this recipe!” I have made these pretzel buns easily half a dozen times, and counting. I love making them an hour or so before dinner, and using them as buns for burgers.
Great recipe! Thank you for sharing it with the world~ <3
Can you make the dough in a Bread Maker?