These Rye Pretzel Buns are great for any sandwich. I love using rye in my baked goods because I really love the flavor! Making them into a pretzel bun is even better. They have a delicious chewy texture and a beautiful restaurant-style dark brown crust!
What makes these hearty buns so appetizing? It could be their texture, their dark golden crust, or the fact that these nutritious buns combine the bold rye flavor with the classic pretzel taste.
Making your own buns at home is well worth the effort. Whether you're putting together a delicious mushroom burger with caramelized onions or grilled turkey and avocado burgers, you just can't beat the flavor these rye pretzel buns add to your meals. I used these buns for teriyaki chicken burgers, and they were so good!!
If you haven't made pretzel buns before, don't be intimidated! I'll walk you through the step-by-step process of making them, and you'll see how simple this pretzel bun recipe is. The most important thing is not to skip any steps. Allowing the bread adequate rise time and doing the baking soda bath are key to this recipe's success.
What Makes This Recipe Work
Best of Two Worlds- Delicious hamburger bun meets pretzel- what could be better?! These buns are chewy like a pretzel, but light like a burger bun. It's such a winning combination that makes dinner taste even more special.
Whole Grain Benefits- This recipe uses rye flour, which has awesome nutritional benefits! Not only is this whole grain an excellent source of fiber, but it's also known to be a great source of iron. According to the Whole Grains Council, there is even promising data on rye flour being beneficial to stabilizing insulin levels.
Versatile- I love to use these pretzel buns for burgers and sandwiches. They have a robust flavor, making them great for bolder-tasting burgers or sandwiches that might overpower regular bread.
Warm water- This will add moisture and activate the yeast. You only want this about 100 degrees, so just warm to the touch. It won't properly activate the yeast if it's too hot or cold.
Active dry yeast- I didn't use Instant yeast for this recipe. The packets are great, or you can use the jars, which are useful if you bake often. Check the expiration date on the yeast; if it's open in your refrigerator, it's best used within four months, and six months if in the freezer.
Granulated sugar- This isn't to make the pretzel buns overly sweet but to activate the yeast. You can also use brown sugar or honey, which won't change the taste.
All-purpose flour- You don't need bread flour for these buns, just a mix of all-purpose flour and rye flour. I love to use a blend of flour for a lighter bun.
Rye flour- I used a dark rye, but if you prefer, use a lighter rye. My grains are ground in my Nutrimill, which I would be lost without. I used Bluebird Grain Farms Rye for this recipe and love them! They also have flour if you don't have the mill. Rye flour adds a yummy nutty taste to these buns and also an extra bit of fiber and nutrients.
Salt- I used kosher salt in the dough. You don't want to forget salting the dough because it can be pretty bland without it. Adding the coarse salt on top takes it to the next level and gives it the perfect finish!
Olive oil- Olive oil adds a bit of needed fat and moisture to the rye buns. You can also use melted butter if you prefer.
Baking soda- This is added to the boiling water. It's a vital ingredient that gives the buns their pretzel flavor.
Egg- You need an egg wash to make these rye pretzel buns a dark golden brown. It also gives the buns a delicious shine.
Milk- Milk is used in the egg wash. It helps thin the egg wash for easier brushing, and the sugar in the milk aids in browning the buns.
How To Make Rye Pretzel Buns
Active the yeast
Start this dough with active dry yeast. I start this in a little warm water (100 degrees Fahrenheit) and a touch of sweetener (sugar, in this case). If you prefer not to use granulated sugar, you can sub that out for honey, no problem!
You will know it is ready to go when the yeast gets foamy. It usually takes about 3-7 minutes. This will depend on the water temperature and the temperature in your house.
If it doesn't activate, try again with fresh ingredients, and be sure to check the date on your yeast and the water temperature. If it's too cold or too hot, it can cause the yeast to fail.
Mix the dough
For this recipe, I use the straight dough method. When the yeast is activated, everything is thrown into a large bowl together and mixed at once. I used my Bosch Universal Mixer stand mixer for this, and it worked great. Of course, you can also use your hands if you prefer not to use a mixer.
You'll mix the dough for 5-7 minutes. When done, the dough will be smooth.
Cover the dough and let it rise until it doubles in size. The rise time will depend on your dough and the temperature in your house. Mine rose in about 35 minutes, but yours may take a bit longer to fully double.
After the first rise, you'll separate it into six portions on a lightly floured surface.
This is a small batch, making five rolls. It's perfect for our family, as there are four of us. One of the boys always wants an extra, so it works out really well.
Roll each portion into a smooth ball, and flatten slightly, as shown in the photo below. Cover and allow your dough to rise a second time.
Boil the pretzel buns
Boiling the buns in a baking soda bath helps give the bread a gorgeous brown crust and that classic pretzel taste. It's super easy to do!
While the pretzel buns are rising, boil your water and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Setting aside a baking sheet covered with parchment paper is also helpful.
Once the water comes to a boil, add the baking soda. It will bubble up quickly.
The buns cook quickly in boiling water, about 30 seconds per side.
Brush on the egg wash
Place the buns on your prepared baking sheet and brush with the egg wash.
Score or cut your buns with a sharp knife. I love this bread lame if you are looking for one. You don't have to do this step, but I prefer to ensure they are vented where I want them to vent.
Bake until deep golden brown
Here they are, ready to go! I didn't have coarse sea salt, so I used my kosher salt. It tasted great, but the coarse salt or even pretzel salt is so much prettier on the final product. You're going to bake these until each delicious bun is a deep golden brown.
Place on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash.
Score or cut your buns with a sharp knife. I love this lame if you are looking for one. You don't have to do this step, but I prefer to make sure they are vented where I want them to vent.
These delicious pretzel buns are pretty simple to make. Let me share a few tips for perfection the first time.
- Be sure that the yeast is still good. I will keep mine in the freezer if I am not using it immediately. Or even the fridge is better than keeping it at room temp. Either way, check the expiration date and make sure it is good. Nothing is more frustrating than getting into a dough and not having it rise.
- The boiling baking soda solution gives the pretzel buns their distinctive chewiness and even some of the shiny color. Do not skip this part. Be sure the water is at a full rolling boil.
- Score the tops with a sharp knife or bread lame to allow venting and avoid large crust bubbles.
FAQ Rye Pretzel Buns
Rye flour is made from milling rye berries. They have a mild and nutty flavor that works amazingly well in baked goods as an alternative to wheat flour.
Nope! Because of the nature of the reaction, you can't sub it out in this recipe.
The pretzel flavor comes from the baking soda bath. The Maillard reaction that occurs when the dough is boiled in baking soda gives the buns their distinct flavor and dark brown crust.
The buns have a strong flavor that can withstand bold sauces, and loaded up burgers with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes- the works! They're also perfect with classic flavors that go great with pretzels, such as hot ham and cheese.
Other Rye Recipes
Rye pretzel buns
- ¾ cup water, warm I like it a little over 100 degrees, just warm to the touch
- 1 teaspoon yeast, active dry
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup rye flour I used a dark rye, but if you prefer, use a lighter rye.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 quarts water
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1-2 tablespoon coarse salt
- Activate yeast in warm water. You do this by adding the yeast and sugar to water, mixing briefly, then set it aside for 3-5 minutes. The yeast will start to get a little foamy.
- I mixed mine in a stand mixer, but it can also be done by hand if you prefer. The method is still the same.
- To the mixing bowl, pour in the activated yeast mixture, flours, salt, and olive oil. Mix for about 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. If you are mixing by hand, it is the same process.
- Cover and allow the dough to double. I keep my house pretty warm, so mine rose really fast- about 35 minutes.
- Divide dough into 6 pieces. Form into rolls. Cover again and allow to rise the second time.
- Towards the end of the rise, start your 2-3 quarts of water boiling. Also, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment and set it aside.
- Mix egg with milk and set aside. This will be your egg wash.
- Now, add your baking soda to the boiling water.
- Being careful, place your risen rolls into the boiling water. Boil for about 3o seconds , flip carefully, and boil on the other side for 30 seconds.
- Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash. If you want to, cut the X on the top of the rolls. Sprinkle with salt and move to a hot oven.
- Bake 12-16 minutes, depending on actual oven temp. You want the rolls to be a deep golden brown.
- These rolls are so great with any sandwich. I used them for our teriyaki chicken burgers, but they would be so great in so many burgers or sandwiches!