Amazing Pretzel Rolls

So I know I tend to be a bit dramatic about food, but I kid you not, these soft pretzel rolls are one of the best breads to ever come out of my kitchen. And I’ve made a lot of bread over the years. Brian didn’t even believe I actually made these (rude!) because they look like something that would come from a gourmet bakery or fancy restaurant, neither of which happen to be in big supply in my cute little town. In his defense, I do have to admit that even I let out a real, live squeal of joy when I first made these and they came out of the oven looking like, well, pretzel rolls! Rich, dark brown color, perfectly puffed and wonderfully salty and chewy. I promise that not only are these absolutely makeable (not nearly as hard as you think, I promise!), they will solidify instant rockstar status. I’m not kidding…just look at them.

I just looked and now I want to eat 50 right this minute.

I’ve included a step-by-step below the recipe for anyone a little hesitant about delving into the world of pretzel rolls (don’t be hesitant!). Boiling the dough in a baking soda water bath prior to baking gives the pretzel rolls a delightfully chewy texture and helps crisp up the outside of the roll while baking.

And can I just emphasize again for the sake of emphasizing that: oh my heavens, these rolls are amazing.

Through the many revisions of this recipe, we’ve enjoyed these babies with everything from soup to spaghetti to buns for sandwiches and grilled hamburgers. Well, that’s when any of the rolls actually make it to mealtime. Most often, we gobble these perfectly perfect pretzel rolls up after they exit the oven and our favorite way to enjoy them is slightly warm with a thick wedge of sharp cheddar cheese.

Rockstar status, baby, rockstar status.

P.S. I’ve added THREE new awesome fall/winter menu plans in case you have a hankering to do some menu planning.

Amazing Pretzel Rolls

One Year Ago: Glazed Chocolate Chip Scones 
Two Years Ago: Hearty Turkey and Bean Chili
Three Years Ago: Autumn Minestrone Soup

Amazing Soft Pretzel Rolls

Yield: Makes 16 pretzel rolls

Amazing Soft Pretzel Rolls

As with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule (unless a weight measure is given and then I pull out my kitchen scale). Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I've added compared to the recipe. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be. For this pretzel dough, you are going for a slightly stiffer dough than regular roll dough (but it should still be soft and not overfloured).

Ingredients

    Dough:
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups warm milk (about 100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 100-110 degrees F)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 1/2 - 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Water Bath and Extras:
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or you can do this by hand in a large bowl), stir together the yeast, oil, milk and water. Add the salt and two cups of the flour. Add the rest of the flour gradually until a soft dough is formed and knead for 3-4 minutes. You may not need to use all the flour depending on many different factors (see the note) - add the flour until a soft dough is formed that clears the sides of the bowl. It is similar in texture to bagel dough and should be slightly more stiff and less sticky than, say, roll dough, but definitely still soft and not overfloured.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it with greased plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size (1-2 hours).
  3. Portion the dough into 16 pieces and roll each piece of dough into a lovely little round ball. Here's a great tutorial on how to do that quickly and efficiently.
  4. Lay out the rolls on lightly greased parchment or a lightly floured counter. Make sure the dough balls won't stick! Let them rest for 15-20 minutes.
  5. While the dough rests, bring the water, sugar and baking soda to a boil in a large 5-6 quart saucepan.
  6. Working with one piece of dough at a time, carefully take it off the parchment or counter, flip it over in your hand and pinch the bottom to form a little pucker and help the dough form a nice, taut ball. Take care not to deflate the dough; you should pinch just the very edge of the dough.
  7. Place 3-4 dough balls in the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side (the longer you boil, the chewier the baked pretzel roll will be).
  8. With a spatula, remove the dough from the boiling water and let the excess water drip off into the pan. Place the boiled dough balls onto lined baking sheets (lined with lightly greased parchment or a silpat liner).
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  10. Using a very sharp knife or razor, slice 2-3 cuts into the top of each unbaked roll about 1/4-inch deep or so. It's important to use a very sharp blade so that it cuts the dough without deflating it. It's ok if the dough looks wrinkly and kind of funny. It will work itself out during baking. Lightly sprinkle each dough ball with coarse salt.
  11. Bake for 20-22 minutes until the rolls are deep golden brown. These rolls definitely taste best the same day they are made; however, lightly warmed in the microwave for a few seconds will do wonders for pretzel rolls 1-2 days old.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/amazing-soft-pretzel-rolls/

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (originally inspired by many versions online that made me decide to create my own variation; I wanted more milk in the dough than water, different amount of salt and instant yeast, simpler method for mixing the dough, among many other factors)

How to Make Pretzel Rolls

196 Responses to Soft Pretzel Rolls

  1. rusty claypool says:

    where and how can these be purchased?

  2. Jena beise says:

    I’m brand new at making homemade dough but love the idea. I have now made these pretzel rolls and the bagels. Both turned out fine but were pretty dense and didn’t have the light texture I love in fresh bread. By any chance, do you have an idea why the bread could be turning out like that? I’ve been using my kitchen aid to mis the dough and Fleischmann’s rapid rise yeast… Love your blog!

    • Mel says:

      Jena – Is it possible you could have overfloured? That would be my guess or perhaps they needed a longer rising time. Let me know how your next batch turns out after using less flour!

  3. Jewls says:

    Do you know if I can refrigerate or freeze the shaped balls until ready to bake?

  4. Steve says:

    Hi Mel,

    Great recipe! I sort of halved the recipe: only 3/4 cup of milk and full amount of yeast. Everything else was half. I also used 1/3 whole wheat, 2/3 white flour.

    Great advice on pinching the bottoms a little to tighten them up before they go in the water. I pulled them out of the water with a wok strainer which drains very efficiently.

    Have you tried coating them with a little egg wash before baking? That might be nice.

    Great web site!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Steve – I haven’t tried coating them with an egg wash but it’s a great idea to get a crackly, shiny top! Love the idea of using a strainer to get them out of the water.

  5. Melissa says:

    Hi Mel! I made these last night, but I’m wondering if you can give me some pointers. The dough rose fine but was so super sticky. I did read the instructions that the dough should be firm, less sticky and not over floured. I thought 7.5 cups had it right, but when I went to roll the dough it was super sticky and I was unable to roll them on a floured surface. So….being a newbie, and not sure what else to do I added flour until it was soft and not sticky..about 3 more cups. The rolling was still a challenge even though the dough was softer and less sticky but I persevered. The buns turned out pretty well but I have a lot of dough left and wheni finished first 16 it was nearly midnight and I was exhausted. So can I make the rest today even though the dough has been in the fridge overnight? Can I freeze the dough to make later? I also made the rolls just over 2 ounces. ….do you make yours larger? Any suggestions would be appreciated as I am really trying all new things through your recipes and I’m loving being more adventurous but also know I’m out of my element at times. Thanks Mel!

    • Mel says:

      Melissa – yes, you can definitely still use the dough if it has been refrigerated. I haven’t weighed the dough for these rolls so I don’t know ounces for sure but based on their size, I think mine are probably more like 3-4 ounces each.

  6. Mikki says:

    I’ve tried a couple pretzel roll/bun recipes and yours turned out the easiest, tastiest, and best looking of them all!

  7. […] Who Dished It Up First: Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. […]

  8. […] keep in mind, I mostly followed direction for the pretzel buns from this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen but tweaked it just a tad with size and baking time. I also didn’t grease the parchment […]

  9. […] The recipe I used is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and I was happy with it. I might boil the rolls a little longer to see of there is a little chewier crust. Resend the other recipe, Sarah! […]

  10. Lisa says:

    I just made these for the first (and not last) time. They are great! I have a couple of tips for those of you who experienced the sticking. After I pulled them from the boiling water. I set them on a paper towel while I placed the next couple in the boiling water. Then I transferred the ones from the paper towel to a greased cookie sheet before they could stick to the paper towel. I think the wetness is what’s causing so many people to have them stick, and the paper towel takes just enough water away. I have been wanting to make these for a while, and I’m so glad I finally worked up the nerve. They are not hard at all. If you can make rolls, you can make these. The boiling step is not as hard as it sounds. Make them!

  11. sweetpea says:

    Mel, can you say what Bosch model you have? Not sure I’ll be able to find your
    reply if there is one. But, thanks.

  12. Steve says:

    Hi Mel,

    These have become an instant classic with my family. I’m asked to bring them to every family gathering.

    I’ve tried a few variations: an egg wash on the outside is not as good as you make them. Part or all whole wheat is not as good as white flour like you make them. Active dry yeast works just fine.

    In short – I’ve come right back to the way you make them. Thank you so much for sharing!

  13. kate says:

    I made these for New Year’s with a nice, tangy mustard-butter and they were a huge hit! I’m going to make them again tomorrow for my husband’s bike team. I followed the recipe exactly and ended up with nice, chewy golden brown pretzel rolls! This time around, the only thing I would do differently is to make the balls a wee bit smaller than I did in round one. Cheers dears!

  14. Dana says:

    First of all I just have to tell you that I love your food! I’ve made so many of your recipes and they are awesome!

    My question is that I made these rolls for the first time maybe 2 months ago and they came out perfect. I have made them twice since and they aren’t getting the nice golden color or rising the way they did the first time. I’m not that experienced as a baker to know what I’m doing wrong? I’m using a kitchen aid mixer to make them and haven’t done anything different that I can figure out???

    • Mel says:

      Dana – The first things that come to mind is to make sure the dough isn’t overfloured – that can hinder a good rise. Also, if the oven racks have changed position in the oven, that can make a difference in how the rolls brown. Each oven is different but my rolls brown best in the top third of my oven. I hope that helps!

  15. Heather says:

    I just made these and they are baking in the oven as I type. I’m a sucker for scratch made stuff that doesn’t keep you in the kitchen for 12 hours. Here’s hoping they turn out. I actually ran out of white flour and ended up using about a cup and a half of wheat flour. Hopefully that won’t cause too much of an issue. Love your blog!!!

  16. Card_D says:

    I’m experiencing the same issue as Melissa–8+ cups of flour and still very sticky, soft dough. Any idea why she and I are having that problem, since no one else seems to have said anything about having it? Thanks again!

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure! It might be due to how different people measure flour. I mention this in a lot of my yeast recipes, but the exact flour amount will vary depending on a lot of factors and doesn’t matter as much as achieving a soft, supple dough. Did the rolls turn out?

  17. Rhiannon says:

    Do you think that the temperature of the milk/water could be affecting the dough? I didn’t measure the exact temperature of the liquids, just heated it up to what seemed warm enough, and I somehow ended up with dough that was still sticky after 9+ cups of flour. I’m not really sure what else could be going wrong! Thanks for any help!

    • Mel says:

      Rhiannon – The temperature should be around 110 degrees if you have an instant read thermometer to help with that factor. Humidity and temperature of your kitchen (among other factors) can also make a difference. It’s not a huge issue as long as you get a dough that is soft and pliable (even if you have to add more flour than the recipe states).

  18. Calie M. says:

    Thank you soooo much for sharing this recipe as well as a link on how to roll them for hamburger buns. I made these yesterday so I can make my husband a pretzel bun burger and I can’t wait for dinner tonight!! I have already eaten 2 of these rolls by themselves and they are so delicious – and they look beautiful!! Thank you again.

  19. Carlos C. says:

    Thanks sooo much Mel!
    The recipe was easy to follow. Although, at the 15 min mark had scary moment when a whiff of burning came out of the oven. I turned the trays around and over.
    Again, thanks.

  20. Cindi says:

    I made these last night using my bread machine. I halved the recipe, they turned out great! My husband called me at work this morning wanting to know what the heck the heavenly rolls were that I made :) apparently he had 2 as a midnight snack!! Thanks for the recipe

  21. keila ml says:

    Oh my gosh!!!! SOO DELICIOUS! THANK YOU!! Just made these this afternoon. I went to bed late last night “studying” your recipe, I wanted to follow everything you said, I did ( almost everything. ..:0) I think I used nearly 10 cups, I lost count :( my kitchenaid was acting up, I had to continue all by hand. I used 1 cup of my leftover yogurt whey and added 3 tbs powder milk. The dough was so perfect! I used my scale to make 3.5 oz round buns and some “pretzel” shape buns, I followed your video to shape the balls :) you are so good. I did use egg white wash. …end of story: my family (and I) from now on only want this bread…thanks to you. Blessings to you and your family :) Keila

  22. keila ml says:

    And by the way, warning: these are so addicting u will wanna only eat that all day long, including this late at night :-((

  23. Jared says:

    I like to experiment in the kitchen and one of my more out-there ideas is for a beer-cheese pot pie (yes I’m from Wisconsin), with a pretzel bread crust. I have had zero luck finding any crust recipe like that. Could a dough like these rolls be rolled out to make a pie crust? What kind of modifications, if any, would be required? I’d like the cooked thickness to be in the 1/4-1/2 inch range.

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried it that way, Jared – but I think this dough stands a good chance of working if you are looking for a bread crust (instead of a traditional pie crust). As long as the dough is well rested after rising the first time (punch it down and maybe separate it into the portion you want to roll out and let it rest for 10-15 minutes), the gluten should be relaxed enough to roll out to your desired thickness. If it keeps springing back while you roll it, it needs to rest a few minutes longer.
      Good luck!

  24. […] 15. Amazing soft pretzel rolls from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  25. Penny says:

    I made these for the first time this weekend and they turned out great! Next time I am going to shape them like hotdog buns to serve with brats. Have you tried freezing the rolls?
    Thanks!

  26. Bob says:

    Did you do anything special to get that reddish color and perfectly blistered crust? Steam?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Bob – I didn’t do anything extra (not listed in the recipe). My oven crisped up the crust of the rolls like that after boiling the pretzel rolls and then baking.

  27. ADH says:

    I made these for about the 10th time yesterday (they’ve turned out great every time) and two weird things happened. First, when I placed the rolls in the water bath, they sunk – this had never happened before. After 10 or 15 seconds, they would float back to the top. Also, after baking, they didn’t really brown up and were pretty dense. The dough had risen (doubled in size as usual) so I don’t think the yeast was bad. My only guess is that I over-floured – that’s really the only variable – I double checked to make sure I didn’t miss one of the steps. Does that make sense?

    • Mel says:

      If you’ve made them before with great success, my guess is what you suggested – that the dough was probably overfloured, especially if the baked rolls were overly dense.

  28. Lori Moss says:

    In addition to Mel’s response to the last comment, it’s possible that the TYPE of flour was different. I just found out today that Unbleached flour produces a denser, moister product than bleached. Also the higher protein content of bread flour vs all purpose flour could’ve resulted in a dense chewy product. Just a thought. Stick with the brand and type of flour that works best for you!

  29. Rob Corelli says:

    I ate a few pretzel rolls at GermanFest in Indianapolis this October which I really liked so I tried your Soft Pretzel Roll recipe, with a few modifications. Since I used skim milk, I added some non-fat plain yogurt. I also added a bit of buckwheat honey and used only 1 tsp of salt. I had to use about 9 1/2 cups of flour to get the consistency of dough that I wanted. I, like some of your other commenters, used a glaze of cholesterol-free egg and brown sugar. I still made only 16 rolls. The result was that I had to bake them 26 minutes but did they ever make a mean sandwich with brisket and spicy mustard. If I had made a larger number of smaller rolls, could I have gotten away with a shorter baking time?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Rob – yes, I think if you make smaller rolls the baking time will be less. I made this recipe into nearly bite-sized little buns and it was significantly reduced.

  30. Jessica Knab says:

    Have you ever subbed half of the flour for whole wheat with these rolls?

    • Mel says:

      Yep, I have, Jessica – worked really well; the rolls were slightly more dense than the all-white version but still delicious. I used white whole wheat which makes for a lighter roll than red whole wheat.

  31. Cassie says:

    These are amazing and make great hamburger buns. Thanks. I love your stuff

  32. Nicky says:

    Mel,
    I just want you to know you are a dinner time hero around my house! I have tried so many of your recipes and they are all delicious! I have one question about these rolls, if you were going to freeze them for later use, where in the process would you do it? I am thinking of these for thanksgiving…

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Nicky! I’d probably freeze these after they bake and cool and then reheat them in a warm oven (after they thaw) for Thanksgiving.

    • ADH says:

      another option is to freeze them after you create the rolls and let them rest (I think there was an earlier discussion on this). I tried it – boiled the frozen dough balls for a little longer than fresh ones, added the salt, then baked, and they were nearly as good as fresh. The color was a little off, but they were still a big hit.

  33. ashleigh says:

    Holy Moly! That’s a ton of flour! My dough is rising right now. I really wish I would have known how much flour these were going to take. I assumed when its starts with 2 cups that it would take 5 max., like most bun/roll recipes. I used up all my white flour (about 8 cups, lost count) and unfortunately had to start adding whole wheat. I finally stopped adding even though the dough was not pulling away from the sides and is way too sticky. Going to the store now to get more white flour and hoping after the rise, during the shaping, I can correct the stickiness with more white flour. :(
    Im sure they will be fine and tasty, just really wish the recipe would have started at 8 cups of flour so I would have known.

  34. ashleigh says:

    Sorry, just noticed the recipe does state 8 cups. Totally my error. Thank you for the recipe.

  35. Julianne Farrey says:

    I am DEFINETLY going to make these. Last summer i had pretzel rolls at a wedding. I didn’t even know they existed. It was like i was in food heaven. I am excited to try your recipe, I have enjoyed your website immensely.

  36. I just stumbled onto your blog when I was looking for a great maple roasted pork tenderloin recipe the other night. I tried yours and it was fantastic! One success – so I tried your pretzel roll recipe for our Super Bowl party, tonight. I have a ton of yeast bread experience so I wasn’t daunted when I decided to double your recipe and freeze some for a future meal. They came out wonderfully and look just like your photos! We gobbled some up immediately with my home made chicken noodle soup. The rest will be devoured tonight as sandwich buns with my BBQ pulled pork. Thank you for sharing your love of cooking and baking! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  37. Marlo says:

    Thanks for this recipe Mel – we LOVE these rolls!

    I have been wanting to try freezing the dough, so that I could have them fresh in smaller quantities. I haven’t read through all the comments, so someone may have shared this already, but I tried it tonight and it worked like a charm!

    I made the dough and froze them before the second rise in individual balls (wrapped in saran wrap, in a freezer bag). Then I popped them directly out of the freezer and into the boiling baking soda bath. I boiled them for about 6 total minutes until mostly thawed, then cut the tops, salted, and baked as directed. They were perfect! The shape was a little less than round because I wasn’t able to pinch the bottoms since they went into the bath frozen — but fresh from the oven pretzel rolls with only 10 min total prep helped me get over any misgivings I had about misshapen rolls. :)

    Thanks again!

  38. Raja Makan says:

    Im really like your recipe. That bread is like meatball sometimes and i will try for make sure the taste.

  39. Carol says:

    Hi Mel – Am hoping you are still following comments on this post! Thanks for what looks like a great recipe! I am contemplating making 200 of these (yes, I am apparently crazy!) for the wedding of my son & daughter-to-be. Do you think I could mix them, and basically complete steps 1-3, then freeze the dough balls? Am looking for time-saving ideas so they can be baked fresh a day or two before the wedding. Am wondering how long they can be frozen (if the concept is feasible). I am at best a novice breadmachine baker!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Carol – yes, you are crazy! But I love that kind of crazy. I believe someone right above you in the comment thread gave a pretty detailed write-up of how they froze the dough balls and then boiled them straight from the freezer. That might help you a bit. Good luck!

  40. Marci says:

    I’m so excited about the frozen dough method Marlo mentioned above. These are hands down my favorite roll recipe on your site, they’re just a bit more involved so I make them very rarely. Have you ever used any whole wheat in them and do you think it would be a total failure to try with 100% whole white wheat flour?

    • Marlo says:

      Marci —

      I routinely make them with 1/2 to 3/4 white whole wheat flour — and they are delicious. A little hearty, but we are used to whole wheat breads. :) My new favorite flour combo is to use whole wheat and bread flour (or add extra gluten). The dough is softer and chewier and amazing.

      Frozen dough balls has worked brilliantly for us, because then I can make only as many as I need — and avoid eating as many as I can before they aren’t good anymore. :)

      • Marci says:

        Marlo, to specify, do you roll them into balls, put on parchment, let it rise for 20 minutes and then stick in the freezer til froze and then put in a ziplock?

    • Mel says:

      {Thanks Marlo for chiming back in with your experience and advice!} Marci – about your question, I’ve only ever made these with half whole wheat flour and they turned out great. 100% whole wheat flour is worth a try – might make them slightly dense so if it were me, I’d add about a tablespoon or two of vital wheat gluten for every cup of flour to mimic the properties of bread flour.

  41. Marlo says:

    Marci –

    After the first rise, I formed the dough into balls, wrapped them in saran wrap, and then put them in a ziplock bag to freeze them. I did not let them rise intentionally a second time, but some did more than others when I was getting ready to freeze them. They rose quite a bit in the oven when I baked them.

    I think you could definitely flash freeze them first, which would probably help them keep a round shape better. Maybe put them on a cookie sheet, freeze until firm, and then wrap and freeze until ready to use.

    • Marci says:

      Marlo,
      So I’ve made my dough and froze them in balls. I did 100% white whole wheat with about 1/2 cup of wheat gluten and the dough was really soft so I’m thinking they’ll be awesome! You said you took them straight from the freezer and dropped them in the boiling water. How many balls of dough did you boil at a time? I’m worried that when I drop them in the water I’m gonna stop the boiling. Is that a problem?

      • Marlo says:

        I did take them straight from the freezer to the water – and did 3 or 4 at a time, depending on size. The boiling slows briefly when I add them, but never really stops entirely. I make sure that the water is in a full boil before beginning and I’ve not had trouble. They boil until just about thawed – anywhere from 6-8 minutes. I usually turn them over a couple times while they are boiling to help them thaw evenly. It works great for me — good luck!

  42. Jessica says:

    Made these today and it was so easy and OMG they came out so delicious and perfect!

  43. Heidi H says:

    Has anyone tried these as bread bowls? Would they work? Would I need to adjust temperature or bake time or both for these bigger rolls? Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried them as bread bowls myself but I think they would work great. I’d add a few minutes onto the baking time but would keep the temperature the same.

  44. Sara Leclerc says:

    I made these pretzel rolls last night and they were so much fun and so delicious. Readers – like Mel said, don’t worry if the dough balls (after boiling) look like wrinkly little balls, they correct themselves in the oven just like she said. I used bread flour in place of all purpose flour because it has more protein, hence more gluten and a denser texture. I also added a Tbsp. of honey to help proof the yeast and add a hint of sweet. Thank you Mel for all your hard work in creating such a great tutorial!

  45. ShaDaiya says:

    omg made these they are awesome trying them tonight with a garlic parmesan coating instead of salt

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