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Apr 22, 2023

Pretzel Buns (Laugenbrötchen)

I've always wanted to try making pretzel buns. They look so gorgeous with their dark outer crust contrasted against the white interior. 

Laugenbrötchen in a basket.

The interior of these pretzel buns, (the buns are also known as laugenbrötchen), is soft and dense, and the crust is thin and crispy, just like a soft pretzel. 

You can use this recipe to make six sandwich sized buns or 12 dinner roll sized buns. 


This is a leaner dough, with just a little bit of butter and barley malt syrup for enrichment. It rises quickly too. In fact, you can begin making these buns midmorning and have them ready for lunch. 

From your pantry: All purpose flour, salt, and instant yeast, along with water. 

Butter: Either salted or unsalted is fine. 

Barley malt syrup: If you can't find it, you can substitute brown sugar or honey. 

Topping: I used pretzel salt on 2/3 of the buns, and "everything bagel" topping on the rest. 

Laugenbrötchen Sandwich on a small plate.

What distinguishes pretzels is the deep brown burnished crust that you get by dipping them into an alkali bath before baking. 

Lye Bath vs. Baking Soda:

For the home cook, using a baking soda bath is safer and much more accessible. You will still get the dark brown crust, but it won't be quite as deeply burnished and shiny. There also is a slight difference in flavor. 

On the flip side, working with lye can be quite dangerous. First, use food grade lye. You must use rubber gloves and protective clothing and eyewear, make sure your are working in a well ventilated area, and you should protect your work surface with plastic coverings to prevent damage. 

Be sure to use stainless steel or glass for mixing the solution. To dispose of the lye bath, pour it directly down the drain. 

With the baking soda, you add it to boiling water while with the lye, the water should be cold. Definitely add the lye to the water, not the water to the lye. The solution should be about 4 percent lye by weight.  

If you choose to use a lye bath, dilute two tablespoons of the food grade lye in eight cups of cold water in a stainless steel bowl. Dip the shaped rolls for just ten seconds per side and place them on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. Wear gloves to score the rolls before baking. 

The first time I made these, I decided to challenge myself and make them using a lye bath (see results in the photo below). 

Laugenbrötchen mini rolls on a wire rack.

This time, I dipped them in a baking soda solution.

An option in the middle is to bake your baking soda at 250 degrees F for at least an hour (and up to five hours) on a bking sheet to increase its alkali level. It can be a little more caustic to use, but nothing close to lye. 

Regardless of what method you use, once laugenbrötchen or pretzels are baked, they are totally safe. 

Laugenbrötchen on black plates.

To top the rolls, I used pretzel salt on some and Everything Bagel topping on the others. Unlike kosher or sea salt, pretzel salt won't melt into the surface of the buns as quickly. 

If you do have leftovers, keep them uncovered on a wire rack. The crust tends to get sticky when they are kept in a bag or covered container, especially the ones with salt. You can also freeze them by wrapping them individually in foil and then plastic wrap within the first few hours of baking them. 

Take the number of rolls you need out of the freezer about two hours before you need them and thaw unwrapped on a rack. 

Pretzel Buns on a blue plate.

Process for Making Pretzel Buns:

First, mix and knead the dough ingredients together by hand or with a stand mixer until you have a smooth dough. 

Next, let the dough rise until it has doubled. This dough rises very quickly so keep an eye on it. Once it has risen, divide the dough. If you are making sandwich-sized buns, divide it into six pieces. For dinner roll-sized buns, divide the dough into twelve pieces. 

After that, shape the dough into balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise for 20 to 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, bring eight cups of water to boil for the baking soda solution. Add the baking soda, stirring so that the mixture does not boil over, dip the rolls into the boiling solution for 30 seconds per side, and then place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with the topping of your choice and score the rolls with a razor blade or scizzors. 

Finally, bake them for about 20 minutes (15 minutes for 12 smaller rolls). 

Pretzel Bun Chicken Sandwich with fruit on the side.

More Sandwich Bun Recipes You May Also Enjoy:

New England Hot Dog Buns

White Rye Sandwich Buns

Steamed Bao Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Kaiser Rolls

Kimmelweck Rolls

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Updated April, 2023. Originally posted January, 2015. 

Pretzel buns on a blue plate.

Pretzel Buns (Laugenbrötchen) Recipe

Pretzel Buns (Laugenbrötchen) Recipe
Yield: 6 Buns
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
I've always wanted to try making pretzel buns. They look so gorgeous with their dark outer crust contrasted against the white interior.


For the Dough
  • 360 grams (3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons barley malt syrup (see note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons softened butter
  • 1 cup water, 105 degrees F
  • Pretzel salt, coarse sea salt, Everything Bagel topping, or topping of your choice (optional)
For the Alkali Water Bath
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the dough ingredients with the dough hook on low speed for one minute. Continue to mix on medium for an additional five minutes, until you have a smooth dough. Alternatively, you can knead by hand until you have a smooth dough.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.
  3. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and cut it into 6 equally sized pieces. I used a scale. Form each piece into a ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching them together.
  4. Place them seam side down onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Heat your oven to 450 degrees F and begin bringing 8 cups of water to a boil in a large (at least 4 quart) pot. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Add the baking soda to the boiling water, stirring to prevent it from boiling over.
  6. Boil each bun, one to two at a time, 30 seconds per side. Place them back onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle each roll with the topping of your choice, and cut a cross pattern with a lame/razor blade, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep.
  8. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


For the barley malt syrup, you can substitute brown sugar or honey.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

2 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

1 g

Carbs (grams)

49 g

Fiber (grams)

3 g

Net carbs

47 g

Sugar (grams)

2 g

Protein (grams)

8 g

Cholesterol (grams)

3 mg
rolls, pretzels
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Would you like to comment?

  1. I never knew that the lye made them that colour, where did you get it from?

    1. Hi Laura, I got it on Amazon, but I've heard some pharmacies might have it.

  2. Your pretzels look really great. I didn't know the lye water bath method. I'll try it.

  3. "I got blisters on my fingers!" (Old people unite!) Gorgeous as always, Karen. I adore anything pretzel and the lye bath really does make a difference. What's not to love about donning a hazmat suit for a day of baking?

    1. Exactly!! I felt like I should take a shower once I was done =)

  4. Sooooooo impressed, Karen! You truly are a master baker. Decked in latex gloves, stirring, concocting a lye bath - food grade...Woo hoo! And yes your gorgeous pretzel buns do look like little birdies awaiting their treats =)

    1. Like a witch over a cauldron! Thanks so much Kim =)

  5. Gorgeous, Karen! You are my bread hero :-)

  6. Oh my gosh Karen....these are amazing! You are such an incredible baker! I LOVE pretzel rolls, not sure if I have the skill to tackle them, though! And your photography....stunning! : )

    1. Thank you Anne! What a sweet comment. Big smile on my face!

  7. Amazing post, amazing job, I must say I did not get the reference, not for being young (which I am not), but because when I listened to the Beatles I did not speak English, so the lyrics meant nothing to me. Can you imagine that? ;-)

    the image of the birdies waiting to be fed - you hit that one perfectly! I cannot stop smiling....

    on a side note, I washed some glassware with acid today to get rid of iron - I guess I'm ready for some lye ;-)

    1. Ha ha Sally, regarding the Beatles. There was actually a long delay before Ringo shouted it out, and it was only on certain pressings of the White Album. I don't know why, whenever I hear "blisters," I immediately shout "I've got blistas on my fingas" in a Liverpudlian accent!

      I've got the outfit! Lol.

  8. I actually kinda like the blisters...they give 'em character - and the seeds are so pretty. I'm not gonna lie - I'm a bit freaked out to use lye. I always choose the baking soda method (or the baked baking soda bath).

  9. I've always heard that lye was the secret to pretzel anything. And I never thought I'd say I love blisters, but when confined to pretzel buns, I'm all in.

  10. I didn't realize that making Pretzel Buns was so fascinating and dangerous! These look delicious!

  11. Pretzel buns are a bit hit in my family. I need to use your recipe now to make them!

  12. Oh man I LOVE pretzel buns! I'm going to have to make a batch of these soon!

  13. Pretzel buns are a weakness of mine. If there's a burger on the menu with a pretzel bun, I'll order that. If I see them at the store, I buy them. Now, I can make them! They look delicious!


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