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Gluten-Free Hot Soft Pretzel

by Jeanette on March 14, 2011 · 42 Comments
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Gluten-Free Hot Soft Pretzel

One of the treats that my 8-year old son has been craving lately is a hot soft pretzel. Now that he’s on a gluten-free diet, I’ve been learning to bake quick breads and snacks (e.g., pumpkin muffins, almond scones, banana bread, granola bars), but I hadn’t tried baking yeasted breads yet. I haven’t made any yeasted breads or pretzels for that matter in a really long time. I was procrastinating as I knew I had to dedicate quite a bit of time to making these gluten-free hot soft pretzels.

Well, I was at the local health food store when I spotted a bag of Gluten-Free Dutch Country Soft Pretzels. I was really excited to have found some gluten-free hot pretzels and snatched up a pack. The ingredients included rice flour, corn starch and tapioca dextrin. I made one for my 8-year old after he came home from school and he was ecstatic.

After I had some time to analyze the pack of frozen pretzels more thoroughly, I reread the ingredient label, which included tapioca dextrin. I had assumed tapioca dextrin was the same thing as tapioca starch, but now I’m not sure. According to WikiAnswers, Tapioca Dextrin is used in the food industry as a carrier for flavorings and colors in dry preparations; and in liquids, to produce bland, low viscosity solutions and as a bland bulking agent.

I decided it was time to take the plunge and try making some gluten-free hot pretzels at home. I found a
recipe using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Mix, which is contains bean flours, more nutritious than the ingredients in the store-bought frozen pretzel.  I also consulted Alton Brown’s Homemade Soft Pretzel recipe to compare against this gluten-free recipe. I love Alton Brown for the precision in his recipes, so I knew I could rely on his method for making hot soft pretzels. Both recipes parboil the pretzels in a solution of water and baking soda before baking the pretzels, which helps ensure a nicely browned pretzel in the short amount of baking time, while ensuring a soft, tender doughy interior.

I was really pleased with the way these hot soft pretzels turned out. Although the dough was a bit trickier to twist into pretzels than regular yeasted dough, the finished product was doughy on the inside and crusty on the outside as hoped for. All of my kids loved these fresh hot soft pretzels straight out of the oven (they didn’t even ask if they were gluten-free!).

I’m always up for a challenge, and this was a good one. My next challenge will be a gluten-free  baguette.

Here’s the recipe for these brown, doughy Gluten-Free Hot Soft Pretzels.

Gluten-Free Hot Soft Pretzels

I made a few adjustments, adding olive oil to loosen up the dough, and brushing the tops of the pretzels with honey instead of egg since we have an egg-allergy.  I did not use xanthun gum, but you might want to add some to make the dough easier to work with.
Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon or 1 pack quick acting yeast
  • 1 tablespoon organic sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Mix or other gluten-free baking mix
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • honey, for brushing
  • kosher salt, for sprinkling on top

Combine water, yeast and sugar in a bowl; allow to sit for 5 minutes until mixture foams. Put baking mix, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Process until blended. Add olive oil and yeast mixture. Process until ball of dough forms. Process an additional minute to knead dough. Remove dough from food processor bowl and place in a mixing bowl. Brush top of dough lightly with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Turn dough out onto counter top or cutting board.  Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope, about the diameter of a pencil. If air pockets form, pinch dough along the length of the rope and then roll it out into a smooth rope.

Pinching the dough before rolling it into a smooth rope eliminates air pockets.

Form into a pretzel.

First, form a “U” shape.
Next, cross over ends.
Twist ends one more time and press ends onto body of pretzel. Use water to make ends stick.

Cover formed pretzels with plastic wrap and less rise at room temperature for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Bring water and baking soda to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and gently place pretzels in the water, cooking for 1 minute.

Parboiling the pretzels in a baking soda solution helps ensure a nice brown crusty exterior.

Remove pretzels from water and drain well.

Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Brush with honey and sprinkle with some kosher salt.

Bake until golden brown in color, about 14-16 minutes.

Makes 8 pretzels.

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  1. LaPhemmePhoodie says:

    These look great. I need to break out my spicy mustard for dipping and have a go at this recipe.

  2. gfe--gluten free easily says:

    Wow, Jeanette, you did a great job with these pretzels! I'm impressed and would love to try one. :-)

    Happy to be introduced to your blog … thanks so much for stopping by gfe, too!


  3. Pretend Chef says:

    I love a hot soft pretzel that is lightly salted. These sound so delicious and a great after school snack. Yummy!

  4. Wow – this is so impressive. I didn't know there was such a thing as GF pretzels. I bet your boys love these!

  5. I am seriously impressed, Jeanette. What a great GF treat!

  6. Jeanette says:

    Thanks everyone for the positive feedback! I was pleasantly surprised that these pretzels came out so well. When there's a will, there's a way, and I have to say there's probably nothing more motivating for a mother than to try to feed her child, in this case, a child with lots of allergies.

  7. Big Boys Oven says:

    this is fabulous!

  8. Jessica @ How Sweet says:

    These look delicious!

  9. These look delish! If you're not up for making them, you can find our gluten free soft pretzels in the frozen isle of Whole Foods around the country. Just launched, and the response has been very exciting.
    All the best,
    Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels

  10. Thanks Jessica – my son just gobbled up the last one today! Will have to make more soon.

  11. Kim – thanks for stopping by! I haven't seen your gluten-free pretzels in Whole Foods yet, but will keep an eye out. Unfortunately we have an egg allergy too, and I just noticed your gluten-free pretzels have egg in them (your regular pretzels, however, don't, but aren't gluten-free). Any chance you'll offer gluten-free, egg free, dairy free pretzels?

  12. CinnamonQuill/GlutenFreeFeed.com says:

    These look terrific! Hooray for soft pretzels…I made them a couple of years ago, but something tells me I'll be making them again soon. Your recipe is so allergy-friendly, too! My recipe relied on eggs and an egg-wash. I look forward to more of your recipes!

  13. Heidi @ Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom says:

    Jeanette, these look wonderful! I can't wait to try them in a few months, I really miss hot pretzels with mustard…yum! :0)

  14. Jeanette says:

    Thanks for the feedback on these hot soft pretzels. I've been finding gluten-free baking/cooking is so rewarding. At first I was so intimidated, but with the support of so many gluten-free bloggers, I view each recipe as a personal challenge. When it works, there's no better feeling.

  15. John Valenty says:

    I haven't found a soft recipe that didn't have rice flour it in yet! Thank you so much! I am so excited to make these.

  16. Gordon samuelson says:

    looks fanatically delish

  17. gluten free girl says:

    I like cupcakes. Are there any raspberry cupcake recipes that are gluten free?Thanks Jeanette

  18. Katherine says:

    I can’t use Bob’s Red Mill because they have nuts in the facility. I’d like to substitute a different gluten free baking mix. Does your mix have xanthan gum in it? What flours does it use? Thanks for your help! Super excited to make this for my 3 yr old!!

    • You can try substituting another gluten-free nut-free baking mix. Bob’s Red Mill’s GF Baking mix does not contain xanthun gum. It is made with bean flours, sorghum, potato starch and tapioca starch. You can add some xanthun gum – it might make the dough easier to handle. The general rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of xanthun gum to 1 cup of gluten-free flour mix. Hope this helps.

      • How do you store the uneaten pretzels? How about reheating when ready to eat?

        • Jeanette Jeanette says:

          If you’re not planning on eating them all at once, I would leave a few unbaked and refrigerate them in a ziploc bag. When you’re ready to eat them, bake them. You can also freeze the cooked (but unbaked) pretzels and pull them out when you want them.

      • My favorite gluten-free baking mixes are called “Pamela’s” – found in Whole Foods, but probably other health food stores. It’s fantastic and have made my baked goods taste better than the regular gluten versions!

  19. Hello and thanks for the delicious recipe. I just made these tasty pretzels and now notice that the “printable” version does not call for the additional hour and a half rise after the pretzels are formed. I was looking at the printable version while I prepared them, so not sure what would be different. I’ll try it the other version next time though and compare… thanks again,

  20. Hi – a little confused about when to add the olive oil. Recipe says “Put baking mix, salt, baking powder, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until blended. Add olive oil and yeast mixture.”

    Do I add the oil and process it with the baking mix, etc, or do I add it after? Does it matter?


    • Hi Sara,
      Thanks for your note – I’ve corrected the recipe instructions. Mix the dry ingredients together first, then add the wet ingredients.

  21. Hi Jeanette
    Great recipe, thank you! As well all know, some gluten-free foods look like the real thing but taste like the cardboard box they come in, with similar texture. These pretzels really taste like soft pretzels and the texture is very close as well.
    I live in Colorado and once I realized to cook them at about 10 – 10 1/2 minutes (just as the outside was golden brown rather than dark brown) they tasted even better. Thank you for sharing such an easy, great tasting recipe.

    • Paul, thanks for trying this recipe and for your feedback. I’m so glad they came out so well for you. My son was thrilled when I made these for him as he was craving a hot soft pretzel that tasted as good as he remembered before he was put on a gluten-free diet.

  22. FANTASTIC! Made these today with 3 cups Pamela’s bread mix and 1/2 cup chickpea flour – plenty of xanthum gum in the mix. My dough looked to be more moist than that in your picture but it was still incredibly easy to work!! That almost brought tears to my eyes. :) I used melted butter instead of olive oil and brushed with egg yolk that was beaten with 1 Tbs water before sprinkling crushed salt. One potential problem – be sure your water is barely boiling. A rolling boil will break your pretzels apart. I made ten pretzels that were about 5 x 4 inches. I think next time ( tomorrow?) I will make them a bit smaller for better snack size and ease of getting them out of the water. I had to slide two spatulas underneath these for adequate support. Thanks so much for putting this recipe to the test for us!!

    • Cris – so glad you tried this and it worked out so well. I like the chickpea flour you tried. Great tip about making sure water is just barely boiling. I remember when I first made these for my son – he was thrilled to pieces and all the other boys fought for a taste. Thanks so much for letting me know you tried this recipe – I always love hearing from readers that try my recipes and come back to tell me how they turned out.

  23. Question…I just tried these and they fell apart and were very gooey in texture, I didn’t see Xantham gum in the recipe so I didn’t add it. I’m guessing that was my probem wth the end product? I did turn down the boiling water to a simmer to help, and the rest of my ingredients were the same. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Jolene, the dough is a little tricky to work with. Xanthun gum might help to hold the dough together – the general rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon for every cup of gluten-free flour. The edges need to be pressed together well so they don’t fall apart when cooking. Also, as one reader pointed out, do not boil the pretzels or they will fall apart. I have now clarified that in the recipe. The pictures in this post might help so you can get an idea of the consistency of the dough before it went into the pot. I haven’t made these in a while, but I’m going to.

      • Thanks for the feedback, I will give it another go!

        • You’re welcome Jolene – I am going to give these another try myself soon.

          • I just made these and the consistency of the dough worked fine, but when forming the pretzels, it’s easier if you use your fingers to help shape the dough as it is quite fragile. If the rope breaks, just start over again and roll again. I did not use xanthun gum, but as I mention above, it might make the dough easier to work with. These are best hot out of the oven.

  24. I am making these pretzels right now. I have some concerns though. When you say Process the dough, would a kitchen aid mixer be appropriate for that? Or do you actually mean a food processor? I ask because as I was using the stand mixer, I noticed the dough was very dry and did not form a dough ball, but crumbles instead. It did stick together when I eventually wound up kneading it by hand. Also, when I was trying to roll out the dough to form the pretzels, It fell apart easily. I kept my hands wet and wet the dough a bit and kneaded each section a little more so it was softer and that seemed to help as well. I did manage to form the pretzels! I am letting them rest now and hopefully they wont fall apart in the water :/ I wonder if there is something I did wrong but i went over the recipe a few times and didnt miss any ingredients.

    • Hi Laura, the food processor tends to mix the dough better, but it sounds like you were able to get the dough to stick together. If you have xanthun gum, you could try adding a little (see notes above in other comments) – I didn’t use it, but it might help hold the dough together better. Because this is a gluten-free dough, it doesn’t work as easily as a wheat dough. Just make sure the ends are firmly “glued” together – you can use a little water to help. If the dough falls apart, just roll it back into a ball and start again. When you cook them, make sure the water is just barely simmering and gently place them in. If you have a spider strainer, that works well to remove them from the water. This is not the easiest recipe, so I am hopeful yours turn out.

  25. Thanks for this recipe! I made them over the weekend and they were great! I replaced the flour with another of Bob’s Red Mill which has xanthum gum mixed in, their baking and biscuit mix.

    • Jeanette Jeanette says:

      Gregory, your pretzels look like they came out great. Thanks for trying the recipe. It is a lot of work, but if you’re craving a hot soft pretzel, it’s worth it.

  26. I typically use flax seed to replace egg. I will try with this with the recipe to see what happens. I also tend not to use yeast, due to personal preference, but just baking soda. It usually results in denser doughs, but still should provide the the classic soft pretzel taste. (After all, mustard and sesames provide much of the flavor.) Thank s for sharing. I really crave this as reminiscent to my childhood at times, and can’t even find the conventional equivalent anymore.

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