Looking to level up your burger game this summer with gluten free pretzel buns? This is the one and only recipe for gluten-free pretzel rolls you need. These gluten-free pretzel buns are soft and chewy and irresistibly delicious. Yes, they taste like the real deal (and this is coming from someone who grew up in the land of pretzels)
This small-batch recipe uses baking soda instead of lye to create the signature deep brown crust of pretzel buns we all know and love. It's an easy-to-follow recipe so you can make your own pretzel buns at home and skip the (over-priced) store-bought version.
- Recipe Ingredient Notes
- Ingredient Substitution Notes
- Tools Needed
- How to make Pretzel Dough
- Shaping and Proofing of Gluten Free Pretzel Buns
- Baking Soda Bath and Baking of Pretzel Buns
- Gluten Free Sourdough Pretzel Buns
- FAQ for Gluten Free Pretzel Buns
- Baking in grams
- Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
- Substitutions and Modifications
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Gluten Free Flour: This recipe for Gluten Free Pretzel Buns will not work with store-bought flour blends such as Cup4Cup or Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1. These blends are not designed to work for yeasted doughs. The flours used in this recipe are also used in my own gluten-free flour blend and should be staples in every gluten-free pantry.
- Super Fine Brown Rice Flour: This is what gives the pretzel buns their structure. I recommend using super fine brown rice flour since regular ground brown rice flour will give the buns a gritty texture. I do NOT recommend using white rice flour since it is lower in protein and will cause a gummy texture in the dough.
- Sorghum Flour: Sorghum Flour is high in protein, soft flour with light color. It helps the pretzels to get their light texture but also a depth of flavor.
- Tapioca Starch/Flour: Tapioca starch/flour gives baked goods a chewy texture, as well as, contributes to the browning.
- Corn Starch: Corn starch gives the gluten-free pretzels their classic crisp brown exterior.
Whole Psyllium Husks: This ingredient helps to reduce the crumbly structure often found in gluten free baked goods. It also gives the dough a wheat-like texture. I have only tested this recipe with Whole Psyllium Husks which can be found in your local health food store. I have NOT tested this recipe with Psyllium Husk Powder.
Whole Milk: I have tested this recipe with water and whole milk and highly recommend using whole milk if you can. The casein found in whole milk mimics gluten and helps to create the structure of the pretzels.
Ingredient Substitution Notes
If you must replace any of the ingredients used in the original recipe for Gluten-Free Pretzel Buns, please be aware your results may vary. I do not recommend replacing all the ingredients since you will be creating a whole new recipe.
Gluten-Free Flour Substitutions
- Super Fine Brown Rice Flour – cassava flour
- Sorghum Flour – millet or chickpea flour
- Tapioca Starch – potato starch
- Corn Starch – potato starch or tapioca starch
Whole Milk: Replace milk with 225 grams of water (preferably sparkling water) and 10 grams of apple cider vinegar. Please be aware the pretzel roll may rise less and will not b as fluffy. Non-dairy milk is an option but since it does not contain any casein like cow milk, it will not make a major difference in the appearance.
Egg Wash: You can use olive oil or neutral oil such as grapeseed oil instead.
Butter: If you are dairy-free, please substitute the butter with your favorite dairy-free butter substitute. I do not recommend oil.
To successfully make this gluten-free soft pretzel bun recipe, you will need the following equipment
- Digital Kitchen Scale is a must-have to make this recipe (or any of my recipes)
- Stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, hand mixer, or someone willing to knead the dough by hand
- two baking sheets, parchment paper
- A large pot or saucepan big enough to hold 12 cups of water, a slotted spoon or spatula, pastry brush, a sharp knife or razor blad
How to make Pretzel Dough
Making gluten-free soft pretzel buns at home is actually very simple but what you do need is time and some patience. The shaped pretzel buns do need to rise for at least 60 minutes until they are 50% larger than their original size.
Step 1: Lightly dust a parchment-lined baking pan with some tapioca starch and set aside (lightly! just like 10 grams of flour or less)
Step 2: Start by activating the yeast in the warm whole milk. Warm the milk in a small bowl in your microwave for 30-60 seconds. The temperature should be around 110F (No hotter than 115F or you will kill your yeast). I recommend using a digital thermometer to check the temperature. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warmed milk and allow for it to sit for 10-15 minutes. Your yeast will be ready when it looks bubbly and frothy. IF your yeast is not bubbly and frothy after 10 minutes, it should not be used in any recipes.
Step 3: In the bowl of your stand mixer combine brown rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, brown sugar, kosher salt, psyllium husk, and xanthan gum.
Step 4: When the yeast mixture is ready, add it to the dry ingredients along with the melted butter. Mix the mixture at a low speed to combine. Once the dough starts to come together, increase the speed of your mixer to medium-high and mix for 3-4 minutes. The dough will look soft and not like your typical bread dough (This is normal for Gluten Free bread doughs)
Step 5: With a flexible spatula or your hands, remove the dough from your mixing bowl and place it on the lightly floured sheet pan. The dough for gluten free pretzel rolls may be a bit tacky but this is normal. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes before proceeding with shaping the pretzels.
Shaping and Proofing of Gluten Free Pretzel Buns
Start with a clean work surface and have a little bit of tapioca starch nearby in case the pretzel dough is too sticky.
Step 1: Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly spray with a nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. If you skip spraying the parchment paper, the buns will most likely stick to the paper.
Step 2: Divide the gluten-free dough into equal pieces by weight. You should have around 580 grams of gluten-free pretzel dough. I feel 120g of dough makes the perfect sized bun for burgers and sandwiches.
Step 3: Shape into tight dough balls and carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Make sure you leave each pretzel bun enough room to rise. Repeat with all the dough.
Step 4: Once all the gluten free buns have been shaped allow for them to rise in a warm place until 50% bigger than their original size. I like to use my oven for this by preheating it for a few minutes until it's around 100F (check your oven thermometer!!), TURN OFF and place the sheet tray with the pretzels in the oven. Depending on how warm your kitchen/proofing enviroment is, this can take anywhere from 60-90 minutes.
Pro Tip: I like to lightly sprinkle the pretzels with a little water before proofing. The additional moisture seems to encourage the proofing and keeps the dough from drying out.
Baking Soda Bath and Baking of Pretzel Buns
Once the gluten-free pretzel buns are puffy looking and 50% bigger than their original size transfer them to the freezer (the whole sheet tray) Freezing the pretzel burger buns for 10-20 minutes, while you preheat the oven and prepare the baking soda bath. This will make them easier to handle.
The baking soda bath gives the pretzel buns their signature color and distinctive soft pretzel chew. While many bakers prefer using food-grade lye, I believe baking soda will achieve the same result and is safer to work with.
While the gluten free burger buns are in the freezer, preheat your oven to 425F and arrange your oven rack in the center of the oven.
For the Baking Soda Bath, bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Make sure it has enough space since the baking soda will foam up once you add it to the boiling water. While the water comes to a boil, line a baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray, prepare the egg wash (or olive oil) and your toppings of choice. For a classic soft pretzel, I like to use flaky sea salt, very coarse sea salt, or pretzel salt. Spraying the parchment paper with a non-stick spray is highly recommended unless you want your pretzels to stick to the parchment paper after being baked.
Once the water is at a boil, carefully add the baking soda. It will foam up!
Remove the pretzels from the freezer and with a slotted spoon, carefully add one pretzel to the boiling baking soda bath and allow to boil for 25-30 seconds. Make sure to carefully turn it over halfway through. Boiling the pretzel buns longer than 30 seconds may cause them to taste metallic (NOT a good taste). Remove the buns from the baking soda bath and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all the buns.
Once all the gluten free pretzel rolls have been boiled, brush them with the egg wash (or olive oil) and top them with your toppings of choice. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to score their top with an X. This will allow them to release steam while baking.
Place the pretzels in the center of your fully preheated oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until dark golden brown. I highly recommend keeping an eye on them after 14-15 minutes because no one likes burnt buns.
Remove the baked gluten-free pretzel rolls from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
These gluten-free soft pretzel buns are best enjoyed warm - right from the oven topped with a juicy burger. But if you happen to have any leftovers, store the baked rolls in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Gluten Free Sourdough Pretzel Buns
Do you happen to have a gluten-free sourdough starter in your fridge and not sure what to do with it? Add up to 30 grams of cold, straight from the fridge sourdough start to your gluten free pretzel dough (along with the yeast and milk) to give them a unique, more flavorful taste. No need to activate the sourdough before using it. Making a gluten-free sourdough starter is easier than you may think. I make mine with sorghum flour or a mixture of sorghum flour and buckwheat. My simple gluten free sourdough starter recipe can be found here: Gluten Free Sourdough Starter.
FAQ for Gluten Free Pretzel Buns
Can I skip the baking soda bath?
You can but you should not. The baking soda bath gives the pretzels their signature color and distinctive soft pretzel chew.
Can I make this recipe vegan?
Please make sure to read the Ingredient Substitution Notes regarding making this recipe for gluten free pretzel rolls vegan.
My dough is very sticky
This dough will be tacky but should be easy to work with. You may lightly flour your hands and workspace before rolling out the pretzels which should help with the stickiness. It's also important to mention that on a hot and humid day any bread dough can be challenging to work with.
Can I freeze unbaked pretzel buns?
To freeze the unbaked pretzel buns, I recommend freezing them after shaping and before rising. Once ready to bake, remove them from the freezer and allow for them to thaw in the fridge overnight, and proof them as directed in the recipe.
Can I freeze baked pretzel buns?
Yes. Place the baked, fully cooled pretzel buns in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw them at room temperature and “recrisp” them at 350F in your oven or Toaster oven for 5-10 minutes.
Can I skip the Psyllium Husk?
I do not recommend skipping the Psyllium Husk since it is an important contributor to the structure and crumb of my recipe for gluten-free pretzel rolls.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes, you can double this recipe.
Baking in grams
I share my recipes in grams and by weight since baking by weight is the most accurate way to bake. Digital Scales are very affordable and easy to use. You can purchase them on Amazon for less than a set of measuring cups. . For small amount under 10 grams I like to use this Precision Pocket Scale. Measuring cups are very inaccurate which can cause significant errors when it comes to gluten-free baking or baking in general. Especially since I bake with gluten-free flours which weigh differently than “regular” flours. I do provide some ingredients like spices and leavening agents in measuring spoons. To learn more about Baking with a digital scale, make sure to check out my post about Baking by weight.
Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
All my recipes are tested and developed with a conventional oven. I always bake my baked goods on the rack placed in the MIDDLE of my oven. This way the heat coming from the bottom will not burn my baked goods.
If you are baking with convection (fan-forced), please adjust the recipes accordingly. Be also prepared that the convection oven can cause your baked goods to dry out quickly and still be raw inside. Be aware that it takes at least 15-20 minutes for a standard American Oven to be fully preheated. I highly recommend investing in an Oven Thermometer.
Substitutions and Modifications
Any dietary or ingredient modifications/substitutions to this recipe may alter the end result in appearance and taste. I test my recipes several times as published in this post and The Gluten Free Austrian Blog is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe you find on our website.
To Activate Yeast
- 235 grams whole milk
- 5 grams active dry yeast
- pinch of granulated white sugar
For Gluten Free Soft Pretzel Dough
- 100 grams super-fine brown rice flour
- 65 grams sorghum flour
- 65 grams tapioca starch (plus more for shaping the rolls)
- 30 grams corn starch
- 20 grams light brown sugar
- 4.5 grams xanthan gum (1 ⅛ teaspoon)
- 3 grams kosher salt
- 2 grams whole psyllium husk (1 ¼ teaspoon)
- 20 grams unsalted butter, melted
For Baking Soda Bath
- 8 cups water
- 70 grams baking soda
- 1 egg yolk whisked together with 1 teaspoon of water
- Flaky Sea Salt or Pretzel Salt
How to make Gluten Free Pretzel Dough
- Warm 235 grams of milk in a small bowl to 110-114F.
- Add the active dry yeast and a pinch of sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Your yeast is ready to use when it looks bubbly and frothy.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer combine brown rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, brown sugar, kosher salt, psyllium husk, and xanthan gum
- When the yeast mixture is ready, add it to the dry ingredients along with the melted butter. Mix the mixture at a low speed to combine. Once the dough starts to come together, increase the speed of your mixer to medium-high and mix for 3-4 minutes. The dough will look soft
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it on the lightly floured sheet pan. The dough may be a bit tacky but this is normal. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes before proceeding with shaping the buns.
Shaping and rising of pretzel buns
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly spray with a nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Divide the gluten-free dough into equal pieces by weight.
- Shape into tight dough balls and carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Make sure you leave each pretzel bun enough room to rise. Repeat with all the dough.
- Allow for them to rise in a warm place until 50% bigger than their original size. I like to use my oven for this by preheating it for a few minutes until it’s around 100F (check your oven thermometer!!), TURN OFF and place the sheet tray with the pretzels in the oven. It can take anywhere from 60-90 minutes for the pretzels to be ready to be baked.
Baking soda bath and Baking
- Once the gluten-free pretzel buns have risen, transfer them on the sheet pan to the freezer for 10-20 minutes.
- While the pretzels are in the freezer, preheat your oven to 425F and arrange your oven rack in the center of the oven.
- For the Baking Soda Bath, bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Make sure it has enough space since the baking soda will foam up once you add it to the boiling water.
- While the water comes to a boil, line a baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray, prepare the egg wash (or olive oil) and your toppings of choice.
- Once the water is at a boil, carefully add the baking soda. It will foam up!
- Remove the pretzel buns from the freezer and with a slotted spoon, carefully add one pretzel to the boiling baking soda bath and allow to boil for 25-30 seconds. Make sure to carefully turn it over halfway through. Remove the buns from the baking soda bath and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all the buns.
- Once all the buns have been boiled, brush them with the egg wash (or olive oil) and top them with your toppings of choice. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to score the buns on the top.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes until dark golden brown.
- Remove the baked pretzel buns from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store any leftovers you may have in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for one month.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 245
Calories are a guestimate.