Pretzel Roll Buns

Pretzel Roll Buns

The quest for a homemade soft pretzel began when I was pregnant with Maxwell. As quirky pregnancy appetites go, the image of a specific food – in this case, a soft pretzel – appeared to me one morning and didn’t vanish until the craving was satisfied. I found a recipe from a trusted source. (All hail, Alton Brown.) To accompany the pretzels, I made a cheese sauce of the neon-orange, processed variety. I make no apologies in the name of maternal health. The combination was sublime.

Pretzel Roll Buns

Then I had the baby, winter turned into spring, and when summer hit, I longed to grill. But our grill bit the dust this year – RIP. So, pretzel rolls seemed like a good way to dress up a stovetop burger. However, I wasn’t blown away by the first pretzel bun recipe I tried even though it was a recipe specifically for pretzel buns. The next time around, I used Brown’s  recipe and everyone agreed: the pretzel buns were perfect. No need to experiment further.

Pretzel Roll BunsPretzel Roll BunsPretzel Roll Buns

I don’t think I have to sell these too hard. They’re pretzel buns. They’re soft and chewy and salty. With (or even without) a generous swipe of mustard, they will make even the humblest of burgers sing.

Pretzel Roll Buns

Yield: 8 buns

Pretzel Roll Buns

The buns are best the day they're made, preferably within two hours of baking. I've tried several methods to bring leftover buns back to life on the second day -- re-heating in the oven, toaster, etc. -- but the texture and flavor just isn't the same.


1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt or coarse salt


In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. With the dough hook attached, add the flour, salt and butter and mix on low until combined. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl (or use the mixer bowl – you will need to remove the dough, oil the bowl, then return dough to the mixer bowl). Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for approximately 50 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. (Tip: If my kitchen isn’t warm, I turn my oven on the “warm” setting for 5 minutes, then turn the oven completely off. I then place the bowl with the dough, covered by a kitchen towel instead of plastic wrap, in the oven to rise.)

Divide the dough into 8 pieces of equal size. Let rest 5 minutes before shaping.

While the dough is resting, bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. (Alton Brown recommends an 8-quart pot. I usually use a 5-quart pot with no problems, but was short on pots the day I photographed the buns -- so don't follow my example in the picture above. The pot was too small and created a bit of a mess, although thankfully the buns didn't seem to suffer.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Roll each dough piece gently into a ball, then take each side of the ball and stretch it underneath, tucking and pinching the ends together on the bottom – this gives each bun a smooth, round top. Transfer the formed buns to the parchment-lined pans.

Place each bun in the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds on each side, carefully flipping over with a slotted spoon. With a large flat spatula, transfer them from the water back to the pan. Brush the top of each bun with the yolk-water mixture and sprinkle with pretzel or coarse salt. Bake until dark golden brown, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for five minutes before serving.

Note: Pretzel buns are best the day they’re made and preferable within two hours of baking.

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Adapted from Alton Brown's Soft Pretzel Recipe via the Food Network