Pretzel Buns

This recipe was developed by America’s Test Kitchen Kids. This recipe relies on the power of a stand mixer to knead the dough. We don’t recommend kneading this dough by hand — it’s very stiff and would require more than 20 minutes of kneading. Safety considerations: This recipe uses the microwave, oven, and a knife.

Serves: 8Difficulty: Hard

Serves: 8


  • 3 3⁄4 cups (20⅔ ounces) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 cups (12 ounces) room-temperature water plus ½ cup (4 ounces) water, measured separately
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, cracked into bowl and lightly beaten with fork


  • Gather the following equipment: Stand mixer with dough hook attachment, 4-cup liquid measuring cup, plastic wrap, parchment paper, a spoon, bench scraper or kitchen shears, paring knife, a whisk, 2 bowls (1 large, 1 small microwave-safe), rimmed baking sheet, oven mitts, a ruler, pastry brush, and a cooling rack.
  • In bowl of stand mixer, whisk together flour, yeast, and table salt. Lock bowl into place and attach dough hook to stand mixer.
  • In 4-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together oil, brown sugar, and 1½ cups room-temperature water until brown sugar has dissolved.
  • Start mixer on low speed and slowly pour in water mixture. Mix until no dry flour is visible, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and knead dough for 8 minutes. Stop mixer.
  • Transfer dough to clean counter and use your hands to knead dough for 30 seconds, then form dough into smooth ball.
  • Spray inside of large bowl with vegetable oil spray. Place dough in greased bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
  • While dough rises, line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Set aside.
  • Combine baking soda and remaining ½ cup water in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave until water looks clear, 1 to 2 minutes. Use oven mitts to remove bowl from microwave (be careful—bowl will be hot). Use spoon to stir mixture until baking soda has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  • When dough has doubled in size, transfer it to clean counter. Gently press and stretch dough into even 12-inch log, popping any large bubbles. Use bench scraper to cut log into 8 equal pieces.
  • Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, fold corners of dough into center and pinch edges together. Flip dough over. Use your cupped hand to drag dough in small circles until dough forms smooth ball and top feels tight. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
  • Dip each dough ball in baking soda–water mixture until coated all over. Let excess water drip off. Place dough ball, seam side down, on greased parchment–lined baking sheet.
  • Spray large piece of plastic wrap with vegetable oil spray. Cover baking sheet loosely with greased plastic and let dough balls rise until puffy, about 45 minutes. While dough balls rise, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • When dough balls are ready, discard plastic wrap. Use pastry brush to paint tops and sides of each roll with beaten egg (discard any remaining egg). Use paring knife to make 3 inch-long, ¼-inch-deep cross into top of each dough ball. Sprinkle tops of dough balls with pretzel salt.
  • Place baking sheet in oven. Bake until pretzel rolls are deep golden brown, 16 to 20 minutes.
  • Use oven mitts to remove baking sheet from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking sheet on cooling rack and let pretzel rolls cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving. (Cooled rolls can be stored in zipper-lock bag at room temperature for up to 2 days.)