gluten-free soft pretzels

I’ve been waiting awhile to post this recipe for gluten-free pretzels.

It’s not just that I have been making batch after batch with various recipes until I found the combination of flours and techniques that made them look like this (and taste as good as you imagine from the photo). That’s the usual routine around here. We don’t post a new baked good recipe until we know it will work for you.

Instead, I’ve been hesitant to post this recipe because it seems a little silly in the face of what is happening in the world right now.

A terrifyingly large earthquake in Japan. An even more devastating tsunami just after. A nuclear power plant on the verge of meltdown, stopped only temporarily by 50 people working in the darkness to pour sea water on increasingly hotter cores, trying to avoid hydrogen explosions.

And, because our eyes and hearts are so clearly focused on Japan, we can barely take in the ongoing oppression and deaths in Libya and Bahrain. Remember when Egypt was the top story of the day? How long has it been since most of us thought about Mubarak? It’s all moving too fast. I’m trying to absorb as much of these human stories as I can. I can’t take it all in.

No matter how happy I am with this soft pretzels recipe, no matter how hard we worked on it with your enjoyment in our minds, I just couldn’t see that this mattered right now.

So I have waited.

I kept breathing, and doing some tonglen, and mostly hugging Danny and Lu. We’ve kept the television off, because we don’t want her to see this suffering without the ability to understand it. (Last night, I switched on the television for her one show after we return from her daycare. The national news was on. Before I could switch to the On Demand channel, she saw a photograph of a vast field of tsunami debris in what used to be a rice paddy. She looked at it, then turned to me, with great seriousness. “Mama, a lot of cars.” Yes hon. A lot of cars.)

Still, Danny and I — like most of you — have been following the news constantly, on Twitter and The New York Times, talking about the devastation in hushed tones so Lu doesn’t pick up all that sadness. We’re going to bed with leaden-grey hearts, thinking about the mothers whose daughters were ripped from their arms by that wall of water.

It has been hard to celebrate pretzels.

However, our friend Jen wrote a beautiful post called “And We Keep Going,” all about this earth, and how tumultuous and beautiful it can be at the same time. She caught the complexity of all this and how important it is to retain our equanimity through heartbreak.

“I have seen a lot of people curse and hate earthquakes and tsunamis on Twitter and Facebook of late. Yes, I completely understand where those emotions come from and I too want very much to keep people safe from these violent and incredible phenomena. But I think it’s important to remember (and I believe the Japanese appreciate this better than most) that the Earth is dynamic: these very processes that can take lives with such indifference are also part of what makes life on this planet possible. Ours is a special planet. Understanding our complex home is essential to mitigating the loss. To think otherwise is just pretending. In the meantime, we are in this together.”

Our friend Tea wrote this poignant ode to the Japan she once knew as home.

“I wanted to share with you some pictures from my Japan—a beautiful, traditional place, far from the hustle-bustle of the cities. It is not unlike the small villages of the north that have been wiped out. I can’t stop thinking of the people there. My heart hurts for them.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from my Japanese homestay mother:
“The aftershock still come and it shakes. I sleep with my clothes on. A lot of people die, cities disappear. I pray for strength.”

Let’s do what we can to help them be strong.”

Thinking of what we can do to help people stay strong? Of course, we can give. (Tea also has a great list of places you can give money to help out the people of Japan.) Sabrina of Tomato Tart is having an online bake sale to help the people of Japan.

It was that bake sale that started me thinking about posting this pretzel recipe.

I can’t help the people of Japan by sitting here feeling heartbroken. I can bake.

I turned to you, readers and thoughtful people, on the Facebook page for this website. How can I post a pretzel recipe when this is going on?

Thank you for reminding me:

“Through any disaster, life goes on. As each of us eats a pretzel, or anything else, offer up a prayer of thanksgiving being grateful for what you have. And send some money for those who do not.”

— Jeanne Olesky Cowger

“I think it is in times of disaster and human suffering, food (shopping for, preparing, eating, sharing with others) can help heal the sorrow for human suffering. It isn’t silly. Sometimes, it may be exactly what somebody is looking for.”

— Kelly Libby

“I’m very worried about the state of our world, but there have to be simple pleasures that we share with like minded, kind people.”

— Si Issler

“Yes, we are being reminded of the impermanence of things. It’s so important to make the most of every moment.…including nurturing ourselves with good food : ) I struggle with this alot now too, as my son lives in the Tokyo area, and although he’s safe now, the future feels very uncertain/dangerous there. I just try and keep present and breathing.….and cooking actually helps.”

— Eileen Dailey

“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”  —Joseph Campbell (via Amanda Schaefer)

“It’s breaking my heart, especially as I have cousins there we can’t reach. But I think at times like these it is important to hold fast to the life we want to create in this world — one full of life, love, laughter & good food. If anybody knows how to eat, & how to feed a guest, it’s we Japanese! Shakata ga nai — it can’t be helped, it is what it is and we must move forward. All of these are fundamental tenants of Japanese culture. So post away, recognizing it as a healing offering. My heart, for one, feels a little bit stronger for the smell of home baked love.”

— Yuri Sagawa

Food is so much more than a meal, a snack, a craving satisfied. The chance to make food with people we love and feed each other? That’s at the core of life. Those without homes or family members or friends they love? They would love to be able to be in a warm kitchen, doing something as gloriously mundane as making pretzels.

I made my first batch of pretzels with our friend Irvin, while his wonderful partner AJ played with Lu in our kitchen. Every time I have made them since, Irvin and I have collaborated over email, talking about different flours and techniques. Each time I have made pretzels, Lu has shouted joyfully “Irvin! AJ!” And we have sat down together, she and Danny and I, with honey-brown pretzels in our hands, and shared this comfort together.

Community, play, kindness, and the gratitude for being alive right now? They all feel like they flavored these pretzels.

I think it’s the right time now.

GLUTEN-FREE SOFT PRETZELS, adapted from Alton Brown’s soft pretzel recipe

Pretzels await you. There are just a few things you need to know before you begin.

Read through this entire recipe before you reach for any flours. If you have never made pretzels before, you might think this recipe is daunting. It’s actually quite easy to make, as well as therapeutic to roll those ropes of dough beneath the palms of your hands. You have to slow down, pay attention to every step, and allow yourself to make mistakes. No one is good at making pretzels by scratch the first time.

I loved the buckwheat flour in this recipe because it provided protein and a soft texture. However, please know we did NOT use the standard buckwheat flour available in stores. For years I scratched my head as to why anyone likes buckwheat. It has a faintly bitter taste, like a wincing memory still playing in your brain the next day. We hadn’t bought any in years. However, recently, our friend Ali told us that commercial buckwheat is toasted before it is ground into a flour. That’s the bitterness I have been avoiding. Raw buckwheat, ground down into flour, has an entirely different taste, a little like wheat, almost sweet. Since then, I’ve been buying raw buckwheat groats and grinding them into flour in our blender. That’s what we used here. We encourage you to do the same. If you don’t have any raw groats, however, you could substitute an equal weight of sorghum or brown rice flour.

(As always, this is true for any ingredient in here that you cannot eat. That’s why we list our ingredients by weight instead of cups.)

Don’t skip the part about freezing the formed pretzel dough. It’s the secret to successful pretzels. The cold-to-slightly-frozen dough will stay in the simmering baking soda water for up to a minute. Without having lived in the freezer for a bit, the dough starts to fall apart in the water almost immediately. Once I figured this out, every pretzel we made stayed together.

In these times, we could all use a taste of something familiar, a comfort, something we thought we had lost and found again.

Enjoy the pretzels.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 ounces (58 grams) unsalted butter
1 ounce (28 grams) ground flaxseed
1 ounce (28 grams) ground chia seed

6 ounces (170 grams) sweet rice flour
4 ounces (115 grams) buckwheat flour (grind yourself)
4 ounces (115 grams) corn flour
4 ounces (115 grams) white rice flour
4 ounces (115 grams) potato starch

10 cups water
1 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon honey

Rising the yeast. Combine the warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn on the mixer, briefly, until they are combined. Leave the bowl in a warm place in the kitchen
until the yeast has doubled in volume, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Making the flaxseed/chia seed mixture. While the yeast is rising, melt the butter. When it is entirely melted and hot, pour it into a bowl with the flaxseed and chia seed. Whisk them all together, quickly, until the flaxseed and chia seed have combined with the butter. The mixture will look like wet, clumped sand.

Making the dough. Put the sweet rice flour, buckwheat flour, corn flour, white rice flour, and potato starch into a large bowl. Whisk them together until they are fully incorporated into one flour and aerated. Add this flour mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer, along with the flaxseed/chia seed mixture. Run the mixer on medium speed until the dough has formed and whirls around the paddle stiffly, about 5 minutes.

Letting the dough rise. Grease a large bowl. Add the dough, which will be stiffer than typical gluten-free bread dough but still not quite as stiff as a typical gluten dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place in your kitchen until it has risen by at least half its volume, about 1 hour.

Forming the pretzels. Take the risen dough out of the bowl. Divide it into balls of 85 grams (about 3 ounces) each. Dust the countertop with white rice flour. Roll each clump of dough into a tight ball, then roll it between your hands to make a thick cigar-shaped dough. Put that on the floured counter. Starting from the middle, slowly roll the dough back and forth, moving your hands gently toward the outside as you do. The dough should lengthen into a fairly even rope. Stop when it is about 16 inches long. Press along the length of the rope to make sure it is solid and not about to tear.

Pick up the rope of dough and form it into a large u, with the two ends at the top. Wind the two ends around each other, twice, then fold them onto the bottom of the rope. This should look like a pretzel. (This might take a few tries until this feels familiar.)

Freezing the dough. Put the completed pretzel dough onto a plate. Repeat until the plate is full. Put the full plate in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before you work with it again. Continue filling plates until you have rolled the entire dough into pretzels.

Making the baking soda water. Combine the water and baking soda in a large saucepan, stirring them together as the water comes to a full boil. Reduce the water to a lower temperature until it keeps at a steady simmer.

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 450°. Prepare a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Dunking in the baking soda water. Take one plate of the pretzel doughs out of the freezer. One at a time, lower the pretzel dough into the baking soda water, on a slotted spoon or peltex, for about 30 seconds. This will give it the pretzel taste. Do not go longer than 1 minute or the dough will start to fall apart. Lift the dunked dough, still in its original shape, onto a waiting baking sheet. Continue until the baking sheet is full.

Baking the pretzels. Whisk together the egg and honey. Brush the egg-honey wash over each pretzel. Top with coarse sea salt. Continue until all the pretzels are washed. Bake until the pretzels are firm to the touch and a lovely dark brown, about 15 to 18 minutes, depending on your oven.

Remove the pretzels from the oven and cool them on a cooling rack.

Finish the remaining pretzels with the baking soda water and oven until you have baked them all.

Makes about 12 pretzels.

67 comments on “gluten-free soft pretzels

  1. Nina

    I think pretzels are so appropriate. Life can be twisted, salty and crusted on the outside, but inside it is salty and, if you time it right, warm…

    Can’t wait to attempt pretzels, prepare for disaster, and ultimately bring aid to our stomachs when I finally get it right.

    Thanks, dear Shauna for the words, the pictures, and the emotions.

  2. Shuku

    What a beautiful, timely reminder, Shauna. One of my choir mates just emailed me from Japan — she’s a Japanese lady who sang with us for almost two lovely years before her work visa expired and she had to return to Japan. She is fine, thankfully, but what struck me was that in her email, what she talked about wasn’t what was happening, but simple day to day things that she took comfort in, including remembering singing with us. We have just recently had a tragedy in our family, and what kept me going was my kitchen — I couldn’t be there to help, but I could talk to them on the phone, and cook with my hands so I could stay calm.

    Thank you. Pretzels — I have –missed– those.

  3. Jen Yu

    My dearest Shauna… your big heart is always in the right place. I read your emotions and concerns for people around the world — fighting for freedom, for justice, for their very lives. You’re an open book like that. One of the many many reasons I love you. But I also love you for the joy in your eyes when you look at Lu, the affection in your voice when you talk about Danny. You know that I believe we get one chance. Here. Now. Mourn, empathize, remember, honor, but don’t let it consume you. If roles were reversed, I’m sure you would want others to celebrate life, live it, love it. So that is what we do. We carry the memories of those who have passed and they are a part of us — and we live life to the fullest making memories with others who will carry on after we’ve gone. That includes making pretzels. xo

  4. cari

    Whew, I can stop hitting reload. What a poignant piece of writing, so much of it resonates with me. As a fifty something news junkie I feel like I have seen so much overwhelming news this year. But this is by far the most catastrophic, is staggering, paralyzing really. “Ours is a special planet. Understanding our complex home is essential to mitigating the loss. To think otherwise is just pretending. In the meantime, we are in this together.” Each and everyone of us has the capacity to mitigate the loss through service work, financial donations, activism and being good stewards of the earth. I give often, I stand in solidarity with the oppressed on a daily basis, I keep bees, and yet, I could do more! Reading about those who stayed behind to try and tempter a potential neclear meltdown made me realize that I am really just a coward. This should be a call to action to all of us. Thanks for the reflections! I’ll be honest, I am probably not going to make these pretzels but I want that dang mustard. I am quite sure I could eat it by the spoonful. Oh, I almost forgot, I love that you are grinding!!!!

  5. Nicole

    Thanks for this. And for the reminder to celebrate the small, good things in life that really matter. It’s hard to imagine why it is possible that we can live quite happily on this side of the world while those in Japan are suffering so much. Japan is in my constant thoughts, and hopefully these pretzels will soon appear in my kitchen!

  6. Caneel

    Thank you for this post. The same thoughts have been in my head — and my heart has been so heavy these past several days. We haven’t turned on the news when the children are awake for the same reason — but the oldest has seen some images and has been having discussions in school. The youngest not so much, but we are focusing on telling them how we need to pray for the people in Japan and ways that we can help. What a wonderful way you tied your pretzels into all this.

    Also, I didn’t know that about the buckwheat! Thank you so much for that tip — I’ll be trying it! I can’t wait to try these pretzels — I’ve been missing hot, chewy pretzels! Our youngest doesn’t even know what one tastes like! :)

  7. Sarah

    I was thinking about how part of Jewish tradition is to sit Shiva after a death — one literally brings food to mourners to comfort them during their time of loss (the mourners themselves are not allowed to cook). You bring us all comfort during this tumultuous time…

  8. Alex

    I can’t wait to try these.

    While Tragedy strikes, life has to push forward. When things like this happen people think, “wow, life is so fragile and short..” and many vow to do great things and plan their “bucket list.” Me, to quote the movie “Up”, it’s the boring things that we remember most.…it’s the day to day living that helps us push past tragedy and move on. Baking encompasses this…it makes us stop and breathe. It makes the world slow down. One of the best memories I have of my dad is baking together, and even though he died a tragic death, everytime I use my mixer or sneak a bit of cookie dough…I think of him…and I slowly move on. Sometimes it’s the mundane, regular things that make all the difference.

  9. Gabrielle Smith

    Thank you so much for posting. As we go through this grieving process, I feel the need, the pull, to spend even more one on one mommy time with my children. It has again made me aware at how precious life is and to not take a millisecond for granted. Having said all that, one of my favorite one on one activities to do with my daughter is baking. She is allergic to wheat (to the point she swells up and stops breathing) so we bake a LOT of things from scratch. During these times we laugh, giggle, hug, make messes and talk about life. So thank you Shauna for giving us another recipe, another reason, another way to spend precious time together.

    One question: she is also very allergic to egg so we avoid that in recipes. Can I just use water and honey? Any substitution ideas would be great!

    Also: Anne Curry posted this on her twitter today and it is a thought I’ve had on my mind all day. I think you would like it too “GAMBARU in Japanese means: never ever, ever give up, even and especially when there is no chance of winning”.

    GAMBARU everyone.…GAMBARU mother earth.

  10. Angie Halten

    I’m going to bake these pretzels up for my St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. They will go great with a great big frosty mug of gluten free green beer!

    Thanks a bunch!

    Angie.

  11. Mandi

    What is the beautiful bright yellow sauce you show in the pictures? Mustard? Applesauce? I can’t tell but would love the recipe for when I make your pretzels. I’m so excited to give them a try!

  12. J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

    I believe that it is in the worst of times that the best of human nature often surfaces. Tough times are how we learn and grow, love and reason, channel independence, and lean on others for support. Good things can come of all bad situations, and this is why being paralyzed with fear and grief will only prolong the suffering.

    So whether it’s pretzels or any other everyday occurrence, life goes on. For this, I am thankful for all the pretzels and other goodness in the world.

  13. Sabrina Modelle

    Shauna,
    Your post (and your pretzels) are so beautiful. I, too, have been meditating a lot. Doing my metta practice more than usual. Sending love out to all beings. Sometimes it is all that we can do. Thank you for mentioning the bake sale. Your support is very meaningful. Thank you for your blog– it has inspired me so many times. Today is no exception.
    Warmly
    Sabrina

  14. Elinorina

    Amen, Shauna, and amen, too, to all the beautiful posts on the meaning of food in the midst of sadness and chaos. Offer up a prayer to whomever or whatever, giving thanks for what we have. And work to help others to have. What else is there? (And, heck yes, I am for sure going to try this recipe very very soon… As a displaced New Yorker, I so miss soft pretzels, with just a bit of salt — okay, a fair amount of salt — and yellow mustard… Total yum!)

  15. Kim(Cook It Allergy Free)

    Just in time for the baseball games this weekend! So glad to have the recipe now, my friend. It looks absolutely amazing. And, I always grind my buckwheat groats as well (for the bitterness and other health factors). Beautiful recipe.
    xo
    k

  16. Irvin

    Yay! I’m so glad that you finally posted this. You and I worked so hard on the recipe (well you mostly, I just gave a few thoughts via email). The world needs gluten free soft pretzels because everyone needs soft pretzels!

    And it will always make me happy that soft pretzels remind Lu of AJ and me. I love that.

    I was in the same situation as you, trying to figure how to post, especially since this past Monday was my first anniversary blog post. But someone gave me some really good advice that celebrating something for yourself, does not, in any way, diminish all the trauma and hurt in the world. Acknowledging that both can exist at the same time is hard, but ultimately that’s how life is, both good and bad at the same time.

    Jen, Tea and you all remind me of what I love about the blogging community. You all share so much of yourself and that is never a bad thing.

  17. Anna

    Thank you for your words about Japan — I have been reading your blog for a while now — truly inspiring, makes me want to eat anything you write about… Yet, I must say that there is nothing in the world that I have missed more than pretzels since going gluten free, and now there is a recipe! Shauna, you are amazing — I’m from Bavaria, so growing up with pretzels has made them my favourite food…until I found out that I’m a coeliac. I never thought I would have them again, but now.…ohhh, I’m so going to make these, thank you, thank you, thank you.…I can’t thank you enough for this recipe.

    (it’s funny to see you eat them with mustard, we only ever eat them with butter, or butter and mustard but only if we’re having them with sausages really :) ).

  18. Anna

    Oh and is there anything I can replace the chia seeds with? We can’t get them over here in Germany.

  19. Kristen

    Just wondering if anyone else has had problems eating Buckwheat? I felt awful the whole time I ate the foods I had made with it and have decided I must be allergic to it too, which is a shame b/c I really liked it. I used the Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill brand…anyone else have this experience?

    1. shauna

      It could be cross-contamination. I love Fairhaven but they make no promises of being gluten-free. Maybe try the Bob’s Red Mill brand?

      1. Kristen

        Thanks Shauna~ I’d like to try it again b/c it was really good, but had such a bad time with it that it will probably be a while!

  20. Ann from Montana

    Beautiful post AND comments AND I am sure I will experience both great joy and simple fun making these pretzels.

    The recent horrific events around the world can be overwhelming and if we allow it, can rob us and/or make us feel guilty about the good and simple things in our own lives. As someone else pointed out, we ourselves would want those we love to go on with joy, even if something horrible happend to us. I believe that if we succomb to dread, fear or too much (subjective :)! ) sorrow, then the “bad” thing wins.

    I also believe that there is Joy to be found in the horrific — in the heroic efforts of rescuers, in the rebuilding, in the finding of something that was thought to be lost, in the realization that this life on earth is a precious and fragile thing — every day is a gift.

    Thank you for the recipe, for sharing your thoughts, for making us think.

    1. shauna

      As I wrote in the headnote, you can replace any flour that does not work for you with another gluten-free flour, as long as you substitute by weight.

      1. BethofMtLebanon

        OK, me too, allergic to corn that is. I used Sorghum to replace the corn (4 ounces), in addition I subbed 3 ounces of brown rice and 3 ounces of white rice for the 6 ounces of sweet rice flour (I was out). I also needed more warm water than the recipe called for, different humidity in my kitchen. These are wonderful, half I sprinkled with salt and the others got a sugar cinnamon mix. I will make these again, thank you Shauna. Sending healing, positive thoughts, and prayers.…xoxo

  21. Nancy

    for the first time in a week i felt excited…thank you for posting these. now if only i could get you to airmail them to us ;)

  22. Christina

    Is there any way to make these pretzels without yeast? Good ole allergies… I’m aching for good bread

  23. Sarah

    Thank you for your web site. You are always so thought provoking. There is so much nonsense right now and your words are just the opposite. Your words are so worthwhile.

  24. Amy

    Christina, I’m planning on playing with this recipe for that very reason! I’m growing a GF wild yeast sourdough starter, I’ll have to play with the flour ratios (since half the starter is flour) and update later! :)

    1. Susan

      I’ve been looking everywhere for a gluten free pretzel with sourdough starter instead of yeast. If you have a recipe, do share! Would love it!

  25. Carla

    This is one recipe I haven’t tried yet. It looks like a labor of love! My husband would love me more if I did, though! Thanks for all your hard work in creating this one! Now off to go get some buckwheat and kosher salt! Thanks again!

  26. Marissa

    Thank you for this. I’ve wanted to comment so many numerous times in the past, but have not. This post, however, pulled me in completely and I am no longer a lurker. Things have been rough the last two weeks with Japan’s sorrows and with teacher layoffs. I did not get the pink slip this year, but too many people did and too many cuts are being made. I found myself coming back to your blog everyday multiple times a day, just in hopes to get that comfort I find from reading about your life and cooking adventures. It truly is all about the small things. Thank you so much for posting this thoughtful and amazing post — reading it was the hug I had been needing all week.

  27. K8

    Thanks for posting this Shauna. Since baking is perhaps the cooking act most associated with love, I think it’s entirely appropriate. You’ve given us all another way to spread love in our lives and to perform a ritual that has brought people together for millennia. As we roll the pretzels, we can take time to meditate on what is truly important in our lives — not cars or clothes or iPods or *stuff*, but those we love. And we can send a thought the way of all those in this world suffering any form of loss today.

  28. Kristy

    Thank you for your thoughtful post and for the recipe. I get a lot of happiness from reading your blog and it helps to have a diversion from all that is going on in the world. Compassionate hearts remain that way by having an outlet through small bursts of joy, pleasure in the senses, and a sense of community.

  29. Linda

    I made these today and they are a complete success. I used Sorghum flour instead of buckwheat. When I read the instruction to add salt to the yeast sugar mixture I wondered about the wisdom of this as salt inhibits yeast activity if in close proximity. I did it anyway and when my dough wasn’t rising well after 2 hours I weighed my options: pray it would work anyway, throw it out, or add more yeast (which would mean more water). I decided the dough ws stiff enough to handle more water and added the yeast sugar water. I decided on 1/3 cup water, 1 tps sugar and 1 tsp yeast. Once it had a chance to bloom I put it all in the stand mixer for a few minutes and back in my warm spot to rise. It rose this time, rolled out well and the rest is history. This dough almost acted like gluten dough. I’ll reexamine the ingredients to see why it wasn’t so sticky as other gluten-free dough.
    I longed for pretzels dipped in good mustard and I’m in bliss.

    1. shauna

      I’m so glad they worked! You know, I wondered the same thing about the salt and the yeast. But that’s how Alton Brown did it, and he’s a geeky scientist about all this. So I trusted him. I think the slight inhibition of yeast growth helps with the texture. In our warm place in the kitchen, it rose really well. But I love the playing you did. You’re a baker!

  30. Phil

    Made these today for the first time. Also the first time to grind my own flour in our Vita-Prep blender, from raw buckwheat groats — worked great. What didn’t work so well was the parchment paper. It stuck like crazy to the back of the pretzels. Fortunately, I used a Silplat for the 2nd pan, with much better success. I later went back and looked at the comments to the original Alton Brown recipe, and a lot of people mentioned the same problem with parchment paper sticking (plus one poor soul who used wax paper instead of parchment, with lamentable results).

  31. healing

    Yikes, the dough did not get stiff, but crumbly.…. not sure what happened. Any thoughts,
    it must have to do with how much the yeast should double, as the dough was dry.
    Hmmm. Love to hear an idea.
    Thanks

  32. healing

    Hello again, I am now trying the second batch, weighed everything, the dough is like glue.
    Hmmmm. now what. I will wait to see if it rises, miracle waiting to happen,…

  33. Anna

    I’ve had this recipe bookmarked since you first posted it, and finally made them this weekend! These pretzels are DELICIOUS!!! I never realized how much I miss soft pretzels until I tried these, but you can bet I’ll be snacking on them all week.
    One minor adaptation: I used a hand mixer with regular beaters and the “dough” was really crumbly at the end, so I added a little more warm water and just kneaded it together into a ball with my hands, until it was the consistency you described. This seemed to have worked well because they came out perfectly! Just a hint to anyone else without a beloved KitchenAid!
    Thanks, Shauna!

  34. healing

    The boys waited a few days until I finally was able to get the dough to rise. THey look about half the size, so I am learning the consistency of the dough makes such a difference when waiting for it to rise. They tasted great! I will try them again, and surely, hope for a bit more rising in the dough. Now I just need to find a dairy free cheese sauce dip to go with.
    Thanks Shauna for all your gifted efforts in helping others create comfort food, at such a time. The boys ate them so fast, I only had a few to freeze for later.
    Blessings,

  35. Karlie

    Made these today! I had a few troubles — despite the yeast blooming beautifully and the dough resting in a warm place, I got no rise at all. The dough, although covered well, seemed to dry from the inside. I tried to roll it but it just crumbled apart. I decided not to give up because I busted my knee getting the Kitchen-Aid down, so I beat in another 1/2 cup of milk and lo and behold it stuck!

    I still couldn’t get it to hold together in knots, but I made sticks and they were great anyway :) I can’t get GF buckwheat flour so I used Teff flour, and brown rice instead of white rice.

    I’m wondering if any part of the rise problem was due to the fact that I couldn’t grind the flax and chia, I crushed them as much as I could in my mortar and pestle but it really didn’t get powdery at all.

  36. Dee

    I’m late to this comment party by a good 6 months, but I was just re-reading this, and for some reason have the need to share this story. When my beloved Grandfather, whom I lived with for many years, passed away right in front of me in a very sudden and gruesome way, I was beyond devastated. I was completely crushed and in such shock and horror that I couldn’t function for days. After his funeral in this little country church in WV, the ladies of the church invited our family to come down to the church basement where they had prepared a FEAST for us. These were farmers’ wives. They had REAL ingredients. I will never ever forget sitting there with a slice of warm bread, slathering it in FRESH butter that one of the ladies churned and molded herself, washing it down with a glass of cold, raw milk she had just brought in that morning. I sat there with my eyes closed, tears streaming down my face, and the lady who made those treats came up to me, put her arm around me and said, “See honey, sometimes all you need to give you the strength to pick up the pieces and move on is a good meal made with love.” And she was right! After I ate their delicious food out of those 1979 Corelle baking dishes, I felt CLEANSED in a way I can’t explain.

    I offer this story, too little to late, just to say that food is SUPPOSED to be comforting. All these diet freaks who tell you not to eat for comfort are wrong. There is nothing wrong with eating a delicious pretzel with your family during a tragic time.

  37. Sylvia

    I was wondering if you really meant 1 cup of baking soda, as normally we would use around 1 teaspoon for that much flour.

    Also, I have no idea what chia is as I live in the UK. Is there something I can replace it with?

    The pictures of the pretzels are really impressive and I would love to have a go at them.

  38. Carradee

    The recipe looks good! My mother’s gluten-free, so I’ll be passing it on to her.

    I’m wondering, though, if you know what kind of flour(s) could be substituted for the rice? I’m rice intolerant, myself.

  39. Garrett

    I’m excited to try these soon, they look wonderful. Once you get to the freezing portion of the recipe can you completely freeze them and bake them at a later time or is there something about them being only partially frozen that lends to the texture? Thanks for the help, you have a beautiful website.

  40. Ann-Marie

    I am so excited to have found your blog Shauna! Your story is inspiring! I am new to gluten free baking so this was my second recipe that I have tried! I didn’t tell anyone it was gluten free and I got many compliments from the crowd that enjoyed them today!! I did end up freezing the dough for 2hours and let them thaw a bit before putting them in the baking soda water bath. They were super duper goodt! I did have to add a bit more water in the recipe than was posted here as it was still dry and crumbly when i had mixed it for a few minutes. Added some more water and got the smooth elastic texture of regular dough. Can’t wait to try out some more recipes!! Thanks again Shauna for sharing. I am off to buy your book now too!

  41. Sybil

    Beautiful website, beautiful sentiments. My daughter is celiac,and she was so excited about the soft pretzels that you can actually roll out! She misses the Auntie Anne’s when walking past at the mall.

  42. Sandra

    I have a random question, or maybe not so random…
    I will be doing some baking at a Renaissance Fair coming up in June. I am in charge of building an outdoor oven from the Medieval period and baking bread.
    This year one of my friends will be hanging out with our group and she can’t have any gluten so sadly won’t be able to eat the bread I make. I wanted to try making pretzels this year and was hoping to make them gluten free (and just not tell the fair-goers) so my friend can eat them too!
    I was directed by King Aurthur Flour to check out your pretzel recipe and it looks really good! Only problem is there are to many ingredients that would not have been available to your average Medieval baker. Do you have a slimmed down version? Or one that doesn’t include flax or chia or corn flour? There was not corn in England or potatoes in the 14th c, but I’m thinking the potato starch is a crucial ingredient so I’ll include that and just not tell anyone.
    If the above ingredients are critical to the pretzels tasting yummy then I’ll leave them in and deal with it, but if possible I’d love to make the recipe as period accurate as I can.
    Alternatively I could make the pretzel dough ahead of time and shape them, put them in the freezer as indicated in the recipe, then bring them into the fair completely frozen and dunk and bake them once they have thawed a little.
    I’d really appreciate any ideas or advice you guys might have!

  43. Andrew Cordova

    Shauna, these gluten free pretzels look amazing. It’s been so long since I’ve have a good pretzel. I miss dipping them in nacho cheese and mustard. I must make these.

  44. Herbert

    Dear Shauna,

    The pretzels eventually came out quite delicious! However, they needed a lot more water (about 3/4 cup extra) than was called for here. Everything else was measured appropriately by weight and the dough ended up very, very stiff (to the point where the mixer couldn’t handle it and I had to knead it by hand to be cohesive) and didn’t rise much because of that. I kneaded a good bit more water into the dough until it was just smooth enough to not crack when squished or rolled out. They were a bit dense and the flavor was perfect. I think next time they’ll come out better if I add the extra water at the beginning so they rise better.

    (I also used an egg and ghee wash instead of an egg and honey one, but that’s because I like my pretzels completely savory)

  45. Deanna

    Earlier this week I tried making a another recipe for gluten free soft pretzels and it was a total flop. It tasted bad, looked bad and went right into the garbage! So today I said ok I will try it again but with a new recipe. I have to say it was a success and went over very well! Everyone including those who aren’t gluten free loved them! When it comes to gluten free baking it is so nice to find a recipe that no one can tell it is gluten free. We will definitely make these again :)

  46. Sarah

    shauna–i am a philadelphia girl that has been transplanted to the south and gluten free for almost a year now.
    this recipe is GLORIOUS and it feels soooo good to make something that i’ve missed very much. thank you for all your do. you inspire me to try things i probably never would have with i was still eating gluten.

  47. Justin

    How would you recommend I modify the recipe to accomodate Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour (http://cup4cup.com/)? Here are the ingredients:

    Cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum.

    They say you can sub one cup of this blend with one cup of traditional flour.

    I would also be making pretzel bites, not whole pretzels, from this recipe:
    http://www.justgetoffyourbuttandbake.com/?p=932

    Thank you!
    Justin

  48. Dawn

    What can I use to subsitute for the butter? Can I use Coconut oil? My son has been bugging me to make pretzels.

  49. Dawn

    Another question, My son has Autism and we have cut out all the crud in our food so can I use stevia sugar and we don’t do yeast so what can I use? Love your web site, will return again but I’m getting a scale to weight out my ingredience! Thank you, Happy Holidays