You know those recipes/foods that bring together, like, 5 super basic ingredients but blow your mind? Like sugar + butter + heavy cream + salt– they’re great and all, but boiled together in a pot? Oh hi sea salt caramels! Or blueberries, yogurt, and honey? Great. ORRRR you can have blueberry yogurt swirl popsicles. Oreos + cream cheese + chocolate– all awesome by themselves. But together?
Well, you know where I’m going with this.
That’s how I feel about today’s recipe. We’re bringing incredibly basic ingredients together– kitchen staples, really– to create something better. Basically, these soft pretzel rolls are just the RIGHT THING TO DO.
Are you familiar with my soft pretzel recipe? It’s a completely un-intimidating approach to making pretzels from scratch. It’s a family recipe; we love it. I know I said it before, but it’s worth repeating: if you have zero skill in the kitchen, you can make the homemade soft pretzels.
Shaping the soft pretzels would be the trickiest part, if you can call it that. (PS: this video shows you how!) But what if we skip that shaping step and simply crafted the dough into balls? Soft pretzels… dinner style! The mealtime-appropriate version of soft pretzels. I know we all like the sounds of that.
Today let’s make easy pretzel ROLLS. I’m going to walk you through it real quick!
Let’s revisit the pretzel dough for a second. Warm water, 1 packet yeast, melted butter, brown sugar, salt, flour. Separate, they’re awesome. Together? SOFT PRETZELS! The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
To make the rolls, we’ll use the same exact pretzel dough. But today it requires a little extra rise time. We want the rolls to be a little fluffier than regular soft pretzels, so let’s give the dough a few extra minutes to rest.
Let the dough rise for about an hour. It’ll nearly double in size. See the photo above compared to this one below? About an hour between the two photos. (Use that time to begin prepping dinner!)
Punch down the dough to rid any air bubbles, then begin dividing it up to form the rolls. Aim for roughly 1/3 cup of dough each, which will yield about 12 rolls. Shape into balls.
Next step is KEY!
Well, each step is important but the baking soda bath is imperative. Why? It’s what gives pretzels that iconic flavor, golden brown texture, and super soft interior. Save time and get the water boiling as you’re shaping the dough into balls. Then drop each into the boiling water + baking soda for a quick soak. Worth it!
They look wrinkly and weird right now but if foods like sloppy joes + baked beans + casseroles teach us anything about life, it’s this: appearances can be pretty deceiving. Soon enough, those pale wrinkly buns (ahh! look away!) will transform into buttery + salty + golden brown carbs.
Score the tops of the rolls with a sharp knife once they come out of the baking soda bath. Give ’em a brush of melted butter and a sprinkle of coarse salt. (NOTE: I know it looks like I only have 9 rolls, but there’s a 4th row of rolls on the right of the pic!)
I like to bake the rolls squished together in a baking pan because they hold their shape much better. You can, however, separate them on a large baking sheet.
Big soft fluffy centers, golden buttery outside– divine. These easy pretzel rolls are the best ham & swiss sandwich delivery system. Soup’s favorite dunker. The most delicious way to wipe your saucy plate clean. And I feel pretty strongly about this one: the ONLY way to sop up a big ol’ serving of bacon spinach dip.
Ladies and gents, it’s the soft pretzel roll.
Easy Pretzel Rolls
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm-- no need to take temperature)
- 1 packet active dry or instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 and ¾ - 4 cups (460-500g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Baking Soda Bath
- ½ cup (120g) baking soda
- 9 cups (2,160ml) water
- Whisk yeast and warm water together. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Meanwhile, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter (reserve the rest for step 6). Whisk in salt, brown sugar, and melted butter. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon or dough hook attached to stand mixer until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup more, as needed. Poke the dough with your finger - if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. (At this point, it dough can be frozen. See freezing instructions below.) Place in a large greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm environment for 1 hour or until nearly doubled in size. (Tip: I preheat my oven to 200°F (93°C), turn it off, place the dough inside and shut the oven. This is the warm environment.)
- Once risen, punch dough down to release any air bubbles. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and, with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1/3 cup sections. You should have about 12. Shape into balls.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats OR line a 9x13 baking pan (I use a baking pan.) Set aside.
- Bring baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzel rolls into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel roll out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel rolls onto prepared baking sheet or close together in the baking pan. Using a sharp knife, score a couple slits into the top of each.
- Melt the remaining butter. Lightly brush each roll with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Bake for 22-26 minutes or until a deep golden brown on all sides.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm. Pretzel rolls may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days (they lose a little softness).
Make ahead tip: Pretzel rolls freeze well, up to 2 months. To reheat, bake frozen pretzel rolls at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes or until warmed through or microwave until warm. The prepared pretzel dough can be refrigerated for up to one day or frozen in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature, then allow to rise and continue with step 3.
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Also: cheesy pretzel twists, anyone?