Easy Homemade Pretzel Buns

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You guys! I’m convinced: Pretzel buns make hamburgers SO MUCH better.

And cheeseburgers.

And bacon cheeseburgers.

You get where I’m going.

Our buns are chewy. They’re salty. They’re loaded with pretzel-y awesomeness.

These little babies take just a *tiny* bit more work than regular homemade hamburger buns.

In addition to letting them rise, you boil them quickly, per proper pretzel practice.

And they’re totally worth the extra smidge of effort.

I haven’t done this, but you could also totally make them longways, for hot dogs and sausages.

Mix up your toppings

I’m a fan of traditional pretzel buns, dotted with chunks of coarse sea salt.

You could use any kind of fancy salt (think Himalayan pink salt).

Or mix it up with sesame seeds, thinly sliced onions, red pepper flakes, or chopped herbs.

You get the idea. Use your imagination—and your taste buds!

The short version of the recipe goes like this

Make the pretzel dough. Let it rise. Form the buns and let them rise. (So far, just like baking any kind of regular bread.)

Give them a quick boil in a salty, baking-soda and water mixture.

Bake. Inhale. Enjoy.

Easy. Breezy.

Here’s what that looks like, step by step.

Scoot down to the bottom of this post for a printable recipe card.

If you want to make straight-up pretzels…

…check out my Homemade Brewfest Pretzel recipe. They’re these things here (and they’re totally awesome!):

Alrighty, to the ovens!

Easy Homemade Pretzel Buns

For the dough
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup nonfat, powdered milk (optional)

For the water bath
8 cups water
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup baking soda

For garnish
Coarse sea salt

Makes about 10 buns

Make the dough

Measure out your water.

You want it warm (to get the yeast moving) but not hot (which would kill the yeast). Think lukewarm bath water and you’re in the right place.

Put the water in the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if you’re mixing by hand.

Add the yeast and the sugar. (The sugar gives the yeast something to eat, which gives your dough a head start.)

Whisk to combine.

Let this concoction sit for about 5 minutes. You always want to test to be sure that your yeast is alive. This is called “proofing the yeast.”

(What the heck does proofing my yeast mean? Good question!

If your yeast is super old, or gets exposed to heat, it can *literally* die. This means your bread won’t rise.

So, it’s best to test that now, before you mix up the dough, etc.)

You’ll know your yeast is alive when it starts to bubble and the surface of the water gets thicker and cloudier. Like this:

See all that gunk rising to the surface?

That’s proof positive that your yeast is alive and kicking.

If you don’t see this after, say, 10 minutes, I would scrap the mixture and try again with fresh yeast.

Now that you know your yeast is alive and kicking, toss in the salt, olive oil, flour, and optional powdered milk.

Mix to combine until you have a thick, elastic dough.

Your dough should be nice and elastic, but not too sticky.

Round the dough up into a ball in your bowl.

(I use the same bowl. I know some peeps use a new bowl that they grease, but this works just fine in my book…and makes fewer dishes. 😉 )

Let your pretzel dough rise

Cover with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel.

Set in a warm (not hot!) place to rise for about an hour, or until it’s about doubled in size.

Do a little prep

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.

Form your pretzel buns

Once your dough has doubled in size, you’re ready to form your pretzel buns.

Punch the dough down and squash the air out of it.

Turn it out onto a lightly oiled board.

Form it into a rough ball.

Whack the ball in half with a dough bencher or a non-serrated chef’s knife.

Then, cut each half into 5 pieces.

Round each piece of dough up into a ball.

Repeat until you’ve formed 10 dough balls.

Let them rise (uncovered) on the cutting board for 15-20 minutes, until they’ve poofed slightly.

While you’re waiting, preheat your oven and make the water bath.

Preheat your oven

Preheat your oven to 400-degrees F.

Make the water bath

Wait a few minutes, then put the water, salt, and baking soda in a 3-quart pot.

Bring to a rolling boil.

In terms of timing, you want to boil the buns after they’ve risen for 15-20 minutes.

Boil your pretzel buns

After 15-20 minutes (and once your water bath is boiling), boil each bun for 30 seconds on one side.

Then, flip the bun over and boil for another 30 seconds.

A large slotted spoon or fancy fish spatula is great for this.

My 3-quart pot fit 2 buns at a time.

Flipping the buns:

After they’ve been in the pot for about 60 seconds, remove the buns and transfer them to your prepared baking sheet.

Repeat until you’ve boiled all your pretzel buns.

I use the stopwatch on my iPhone to keep track of time. Super convenient.

Once you’ve boiled all your buns, snip a big X in them with a pair of kitchen scissors or slash them a few times with a sharp, non-serrated chef’s knife.

This will give you that characteristic pretzel bun look (brown on the outside, creamy white on the inside).

The slashes will probably stick together a little. That’s just fine.

They should open up as the pretzel buns rise and bake in the hot oven.

Sprinkle each pretzel bun with coarse sea salt. (You could brush each bun with an egg wash beforehand, if you want shinier bun tops.)

Bake the pretzel buns

You’re ready to bake your pretzel buns!

Slide the pans into your pre-heated, 400-degree F oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until dark brown.

When they’re done, remove the pans from the oven.

Transfer the buns to a wire rack.

Cool completely before serving.

Serve and enjoy!

When they’re cool, have at ’em!

Slice and toast for the best BBQ buns! Enjoy!

Easy Homemade Pretzel Buns

Yields 10 pretzel buns

Pretzel buns are a totally delicious way to take your BBQ over the top! These buns are salty, chewy, and loaded with pretzel-y goodness!

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

For the dough
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup nonfat, powdered milk (optional)
For the water bath
8 cups water
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup baking soda
For garnish
Coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Put the water in the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if you're mixing by hand.
  2. Add the yeast and the sugar. (The sugar gives the yeast something to eat, which gives your dough a head start.) Whisk to combine. Let this concoction sit for about 5 minutes. You always want to test to be sure that your yeast is alive. This is called "proofing the yeast."
  3. Once you know your yeast is alive and kicking, toss in the salt, olive oil, flour, and optional powdered milk. Mix to combine until you have a thick, elastic dough.
  4. Round the dough up into a ball in your bowl.
  5. Set in a warm (not hot!) place to rise for about an hour, or until it's about doubled in size.
  6. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  7. Punch the dough down and squash the air out of it. Turn it out onto a lightly oiled board. Form it into a rough ball. Whack it into 10 even pieces.
  8. Round each piece of dough up into a ball. Repeat until you've formed 10 dough balls.
  9. Let them rise (uncovered) on the cutting board for 15-20 minutes, until they've poofed slightly.
  10. While you're waiting, preheat your oven to 400-degrees F and make the water bath.
  11. Put the water, salt, and baking soda in a 3-quart pot. Bring to a rolling boil.
  12. After 15-20 minutes (and once your water bath is boiling), boil each bun for 30 seconds on one side.
  13. Then, flip the bun over and boil for another 30 seconds.
  14. After they've been in the pot for about 60 seconds, remove the buns and transfer them to your prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you've boiled all your pretzel buns.
  15. Once you've boiled all your buns, snip a big X in them with a pair of kitchen scissors or slash them a few times with a sharp, non-serrated chef's knife.
  16. Sprinkle each pretzel bun with coarse sea salt.
  17. Slide the pans into your pre-heated, 400-degree F oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until dark brown.
  18. When they're done, remove the pans from the oven. Transfer the buns to a wire rack. Cool completely before serving.
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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

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