Homemade Pretzel Buns

How to Make Pretzel Buns from Scratch

Recipe adapted slightly from Jenni Field Pastry Chef Online’s Traditional Pretzel Bun. Jenni says “These traditional pretzel buns get their deeply burnished crust from a dip in a lye solution before baking. You can use baking soda, but the results you can get with lye are in my opinion far superior. Please be sure to read the precautions and watch the videos I made of me dipping the pretzels in the lye solution before getting started.”




To Make the Dough:

  1. Put all the ingredients in the bowl of your mixer in the order listed.
  2. Fit your mixer with the dough hook and mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated.
  3. Increase speed to medium-low to medium and knead until the dough is smooth, not at all sticky, and nicely elastic, about 10-12 minutes. Check it after 2-3 and add the tiniest bit of extra water if the dough seems too stiff.
  4. Once kneaded, shape the dough into a ball, and place it back in the mixer bowl that you have sprayed with oil.
  5. Spray the dough with pan spray or brush it with some oil, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a dry, unfloured surface and press out the gases.
  7. Divide the dough into 9 even pieces (if you have a scale, scale them at 4 oz each).

Baked Baking SodaFor the Soda Bath*

I followed Harold McGee instructions from his 2010 New York Times article here).

“…spread a layer of soda on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake it at 250 to 300 degrees for an hour. You’ll lose about a third of the soda’s weight in water and carbon dioxide, but you gain a stronger alkali. Keep baked soda in a tightly sealed jar to prevent it from absorbing moisture from the air. And avoid touching or spilling it. It’s not lye, but it’s strong enough to irritate.”

  1. Dip each proofed roll in a boiling mixture of 10 cups of water with 2/3 cup of baked soda for about 30 seconds.
  2. Flip over and boil for another 30 seconds.
  3. Using a slotted spoon or spider, remove the rolls.
  4. Let drain on paper towel for a few seconds.
  5. Then place them on a greased, parchment covered cookie sheet.

To Finish

  1. Slash the tops of the rolls in a decorative pattern (a cross or two or three parallel lines, for example). Be careful not to slice too deeply, like I did on the first few.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until almost doubled (or just about hamburger bun size), about 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375F.
  4. Remove the plastic wrap. Brush each roll with an egg wash and sprinkle on the kosher salt.
  5. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Rotate the pan and bake an additional 2-5 minutes or until they are very deeply burnished and the internal temperature reads 200F-205F.
  7. Remove from oven, then use a spatula to transfer the rolls to a rack to cool completely.


*While Jenni recommended using a Lye Bath, I didn’t have any on hand and didn’t want to wait for the Lye to be delivered before making the rolls so I used a baked soda bath. 

VERY IMPORTANT: If you choose to use a Lye Bath, please watch Jenni’s instructional videos here

For the Lye Bath

  1. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment paper with pan spray. You do not want your pretzels to stick.
  2. Make sure you’re wearing eye protection and that you are wearing 1-2 pair of gloves.
  3. In a bowl, measure out the water.
  4. Carefully measure the lye crystals into a small bowl or cup and then slowly pour them into the water.
  5. Stir carefully with a metal spoon until all the crystals are dissolved. Rinse the spoon.
  6. Using a spider or your gloved hand, carefully lower two pretzel rolls into the water. Let soak for 45-seconds to a minute. Gently flip them over and allow to soak an additional 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  7. Using a slotted spoon or spider, carefully remove the rolls from the lye solution. Let drain on paper towel for a few seconds and then place them on the cookie sheet.


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