Pretzel Buns

I’ve had an itch to make pretzels for a while but was waiting for the right opportunity. We were planning on grilling out some burgers for dinner and we didn’t have any buns on hand. The solution? Pretzel buns! These buns are stupid easy and taste amazing.

Pretzel buns fresh out of the oven

I might try updating this recipe to use my sourdough starter in the future, but as it stands now, this simply uses bakers yeast and only takes about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. This recipe yields 8 “burger sized” buns but you could easily make the buns smaller and end up with more if you want them for sliders or small sandwiches.

Ingredients:

Pretzels:

  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 oz (about 2 tsp) instant yeast
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water (110’F)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Pretzel or coarse sea salt for topping (optional)

Water bath:

  • 4 1/4 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda

Other equipment you’ll want:

  • Stand mixer w/ dough hook
  • bench scraper (for dividing)
  • large baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • wire rack
  • large pan
  • large slotted spoon or spider
  • lame / sharp knife (for scoring)

Method:

1. Pretzel dough:

In the stand mixer with dough hook attachment, add the flour, salt and yeast. Mix to combine. Next, whisk the 1 1/4 cups warm water with the melted butter and add it to the stand mixer. Let the stand mixer run on medium speed for about 2 minutes until everything is combined.

Flour a work surface and knead the dough by hand for 2-3 minutes. Form it into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and allow to rise in a warm location for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Dough before rising
I let my dough rise in the oven with the light on
Dough has doubled in size

2. Shaping the pretzels:

After the dough has doubled in size, transfer it to a floured work surface and knead for about 30 seconds and then shape it into a rectangle. Divide the dough into 8 – 10 equal pieces. Roll each of those dough pieces into a ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Cover the balls with a towel and let them proof for about 20 minutes.

Shape the dough into a rectangle for dividing
Divide the dough into equal sized pieces
The dough balls ready for a 20 minute proof

3. Boiling and scoring:

While the dough balls are proofing, start preheating the oven to 425’F.

Get a medium sized sauce pan and add 4 1/2 cups of water and 3 Tbsp of baking soda. Slowly bring the water to a boil, being careful it doesn’t boil over. Have a wire rack with a towel under it ready. After you take the dough balls out of the water bath you’ll want to let them dry on the rack.

When the dough balls have proofed for 20 minutes, add them two at a time to the water/baking soda mixture. Let them sit in the boiling water for 30 seconds on each side. Transfer the boiled dough balls to the wire rack and give them a quick score with a lame or sharp knife. This is when you can add pretzel salt, sesame seeds or any other bun topping.

Repeat the boiling process with the remaining dough balls and score them on the rack as well.

Once the dough balls are dry, transfer them back to the parchment lined baking sheet, nestling them about 1/2 inch from each other.

Boiling dough balls 2 at a time, 30 seconds on each side
Scored, salted and dried buns ready for the oven

4. Bake the buns:

Bake the buns in the middle rack of your preheated 425’F oven for 16-18 minutes, or until the buns are the desired color.

When the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before cutting into them.

Pretzel buns are done!
Close-up shot of the pretzel bun
A pillowy soft crumb inside the pretzel bun

Making a meal

As I mentioned above, the catalyst for making these pretzel buns was to use them with some burgers. The burgers were “Juicy Lucy” style and stuffed with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos and caramelized onions and then topped with BBQ sauce, on a bed of spinach.

I served the burgers with grilled potato slices, some broccoli and asparagus and some home brewed Irish Red ale.

Stuffed burger with the pretzel bun
Melted pepper jack cheese, jalapenos and caramelized onions inside the burger

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