Recipe summary

Hands-on time:
15 mins. to 25 mins.
Baking time:
10 mins. to 13 mins.
Total time:
1 hrs 55 mins. to 2 hrs 8 mins.
Yield:
6 rolls
These rolls, with their dense/chewy, soft-pretzel-like texture and braided pretzel shape, aren't your typical tender burger buns; but they're ideal for barbecued chicken, which demands a sturdier roll. A short bath in a baking soda/water solution before baking gives them their signature dark-gold pretzel color. We've added poultry seasoning, which yields wonderful flavor and makes them perfect for chicken; leave it out (or substitute onion powder) if you like.
Volume Ounces Grams

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, optional
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup lukewarm water*
  • *Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Topping

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda

Directions

  1. 1) To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or mixer, for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough, place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 45 minutes.
  2. 2) To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
  3. 3) To make dough with a food processor: Place all the dough ingredients except the water in the work bowl of a food processor equipped with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the water, and process for 7 to 10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Process a further 45 seconds. Flour the dough, place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 45 minutes.
  4. 4) While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
  5. 5) Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
  6. 6) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces; each piece will be about 90g, or 3 1/4 ounces. Shape the pieces into rough logs about 6" long.
  7. 7) Allow the logs to rest, lightly covered, for 15 minutes.
  8. 8) Roll each piece of dough into a 15" rope, and tie each rope into a square knot. Tuck the ends of the rope into the center of the knot to make a round roll.
  9. 9) Pour the baking soda/water into a 9" round cake pan. Place the rolls in the pan, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet. This baking soda "bath" will give the buns a nice, golden-brown color.
  10. 10) Allow the rolls to rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 450F.
  11. 11) Bake the rolls for 5 minutes. Tent them lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, or until they're golden brown and feel set on the bottom (when you pull one out of the oven and carefully poke its bottom).
  12. 12) Remove the rolls from the oven. Brush them with melted butter, if desired; this will give them a soft, buttery crust. Serve immediately; or cool, then wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
  13. 13) When ready to serve, warm the rolls gently on your barbecue grill, if desired. Split each roll, and fill with boneless grilled chicken, a hamburger, veggie burger, or your favorite grilled treat.
  14. Yield: 6 rolls.

Tips from our bakers

  • Make sure the water you use in the dough is warm to the touch (at least 105F); this will help it during its 40-minute rise.
  • Thanks to the first two recipe reviewers below, we've made some changes to this recipe: increasing the rise time and making six rather than eight buns, both of which will make a larger, softer bun; and increasing the baking time slightly, to avoid potentially doughy texture. Sometimes it takes a community to develop a recipe!
  • Use the poultry seasoning if you're planning on serving the buns with chicken; for hamburgers or other fillings, onion powder is preferable.