Pretzel Buns

Imagine the best parts of a soft pretzel: the golden brown, shiny crust; the salty topping; and the soft, chewy interior. Now imagine all of these qualities in a homemade bun that's packed with your favorite sandwich fillings. They bring a fresh twist to classic sandwiches, as well as hamburgers and hot dogs. This mash-up is sure to please any sandwich-lover.

20 mins
22 to 26 mins
1 hr 57 mins
10 buns
Pretzel Buns - select to zoom
Pretzel Buns - select to zoom
Pretzel Buns - select to zoom
Pretzel Sandwich Buns - select to zoom


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  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix and knead the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a smooth, slightly sticky dough, about 5 minutes if using a stand mixer.

  2. Allow the dough to rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered, for about 1 hour, until doubled.

  3. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

  4. Divide the dough into 10 pieces (about 100g each) and shape each piece into a smooth ball. Flatten each dough ball with the palm of your hand until it's about 3" across. (Alternatively, for instructions on how to shape long sub-style sandwich buns, see the tip below.)

  5. Lightly grease a baking sheet; or line the sheet with parchment and grease the parchment. Place the balls on the baking sheet, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  7. Prepare the water bath: Bring the water, salt, and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.

  8. Drop 5 dough balls at a time into the water bath.

  9. Cook for 30 seconds, flip over, and cook for 30 seconds longer. Using a slotted spoon, return the buns to the baking sheet.

  10. While the pretzel buns are still warm from the water, sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut 1/2"-deep crosses into the center of each bun. Boil, top, and score the remaining 5 buns.

  11. Bake the pretzel buns for 20 to 24 minutes, or until they're a deep-dark brown. Remove them from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Tips from our Bakers

  • These pretzels can also be shaped into long stuffed sandwich-style buns, perfect for grilled sausage with peppers and onions or brats and sauerkraut. After the first rise, simply divide the dough into eight pieces (125g each), shaping them each into a ball. Flatten the balls into 6" disks and roll them into logs, pinching the seam and ends to seal. On a clean, dry work surface (no oil, no flour), use two hands to drag each log toward you; the friction of the work surface should seal the seam and smooth out the surface of the bun. Let the buns rest for 15 minutes, then boil them, 3 logs at a time, and bake them according to the recipe instructions, slashing them diagonally or lengthwise.

  • To make a gluten-free version of these pretzel buns, follow our recipe for Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns through step 7 (letting the shaped buns rise for about 20 minutes on a greased sheet of parchment). While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare the water bath (step 7 of the Pretzel Buns recipe). Boil, top, and score the gluten-free buns as directed, then bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, until well-browned and they reach an internal temperature of at least 190°F when measured with a digital thermometer.

  • Interested in baking these pretzels with lye instead of baking soda? While wearing eye protection and rubber or latex gloves, mix 20g food-grade lye into a non-reactive bowl holding 500g cold water and stir to dissolve. Transfer your shaped pretzel to the bath and let soak for 10 to 15 seconds. Place the pretzel on a stainless steel rack over parchment to catch any excess solution. After a few minutes, transfer the dipped pretzel to a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough can then be scored, salted, and baked. To dispose of the diluted lye solution, pour it directly down the drain, then follow with a few seconds of cold water from the sink faucet. For a guide to using lye in your baking, see our blog post, A baker’s tips for safely working with lye.