There are kitchen discoveries that lead to nothing but trouble. The first time I caramelized sugar, I knew I was ruined. Why would anyone want to eat drab white sugar if they could eat it cooked to a 100x as delicious toasty amber syrup? The first time I tried browned butter, I went on a butter-browning bender (cookies! breadcrumbs! crispy treats!) which, frankly, shows little sign of abating today. So, it should be no surprise that when I finally cracked the authentic pretzel-making code six months ago, I didn’t know where to stop. Everything comes up pretzel now! I’ve made pretzel scones and pretzel challahs. I’m dreaming of pretzel shortbread and popovers, pretzel bagels and grissini. I might need an intervention.
But before you all gather round my canister of food-grade lye, my latex gloves and the onion goggles I really should have more shame about owning, and sit me down for a talk about where things are going, I think we need one more pretzel thing this year, and I’d like to believe I saved the best for last.
Everyone should have a great recipe in their arsenal for Parker House rolls, which are easily the most perfect little dinner rolls on earth. Rich with butter and milk, tender and stretchy underneath a lightly crisp shell, they’re easy to make and hard to mess up. Warm from the oven, they are never unwelcome, and we like them as much for brunch (butter and jam or lox and cream cheese, please), weeknight dinners (tiny pulled chicken sliders) and kindergartener-sized lunchbox sandwiches, as for dinner parties. And what better time to share my favorite recipe than right on the cusp of all of the holiday entertaining ahead? I mean, I figure we’re all going to be gluten/carb/refined sugar-free by New Year’s, we might as well live it up until then. So, that was my plan: share a classic recipe for Parker House rolls. But when I saw all of those lovely humps lined up in the pan, all I could hear was the little voice in my head that whispers pretzel them to everything. And I see no reason to argue with the voices when there’s deliciousness at stake.
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Pretzel Parker House Rolls
Yield: 16 small rolls. See note below about doubling.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons (half a 1/4-ounce or 7-gram packet) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to coat bowl
2 cups flour, either all-purpose or bread flour, or a mix thereof, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda or food-grade lye (see Notes below)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Pretzel salt, coarse salt or sesame seeds
Make dough: Warm milk and sugar together until they’re about 105 to 110°F (41 to 44°C) in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. If you don’t have a thermometer, the correct temperature is when you can dip your finger into the liquid without noticing any temperature change (i.e. not warmer or cooler than your finger). Add yeast to milk-sugar mixture and let stand for 5 to 7 minutes. It should dissolve and become slightly foamy.
Stir in butter, then 3/4 of flour, the salt, then remaining flour. Using spoon (for manual mixing) or dough hook (of a stand mixer), mix the dough until it forms a slightly sticky dough that balls together. If making by hand, turn out onto a floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a machine, let the dough hook do the work, running it for 5 minutes on low. If, at the end of the kneading process, the dough still feels quite sticky (a little sticky is good; more tips here), add 1 more tablespoon flour.
First rise: With kneaded dough on counter, butter or oil your mixing bowl. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free warmish spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Second rise: Butter an 8×8-inch square or equivalent size baking pan (such as a 9-inch round cake pan or deep-dish pie plate). Flour your counter and let dough fall out onto it. I like to take advantage of the round shape left by the bowl to divide my dough into even-enough wedges, like slices of a pie. Divide into 16 pieces. Form each into a round. Arrange seam side-down in prepared pan, with an even amount of space between rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour. About 10 minutes before the hour is up, begin the next step to heat the oven and prep pretzel wash.
Pretzel it! Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). If using the baking soda option, bring your water to a boil and slowly stir in baking soda — it will foam up. If using the food-grade lye option, do not heat your water, just stir the lye into the water in a sink, wearing gloves (see more precautions in Notes below).
Thoroughly brush tops and creases between rolls (as best as your brush can get in) with the lye or soda pretzel wash. Rinse brush and beat your egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the rolls a second time, this time with the egg wash. Sprinkle rolls with either sesame seeds or coarse salt. Use a sharp paring knife to make +-sign slashes in the top of each roll; you want to cut at least 1/2-inch down (I always make my cuts too shallow and they get lost when baked).
Bake: Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until a lovely brown on top. Let cool in pan on rack. Salt-topped rolls are best on the first day. Sesame-topped rolls keep better, and can easily be frozen and stashed for future bread
- Doubling this recipe: This can be doubled in a 9×13-inch pan, to yield 24 (in 4×6 rows), 28 (7×4 rows) or 35 (7×5) rows. For the 24-roll yield, allow 5 extra minutes of baking time.
- Soda vs. Lye Wash: I tested these a few ways. I realize that most people, people more sane than me, do not keep, or do not wish to keep, food-grade lye around to pretzel everything with, and made a batch half-brushed with the baking soda wash and half-brushed with the lye wash [see here] so you could see the difference. Yes, the baking soda wash is more pale, but you’d only know this if you were comparing it to the lye wash. The pretzel flavor is still there, which is what really matters.
- Glossiness: That said, I had really wanted these rolls to be glossier and in the next batch, followed the soda/lye washes with an egg wash. You can absolutely skip this if you don’t want the extra step (or don’t eat eggs), but it does add a nice sheen.
- Salt vs. Sesame Seeds: Finally, I sprinkled half of each batch with coarse salt and the other half with sesame seeds. It’s best to eat the salted ones right away; the salt will eventually dissolve when leftovers are wrapped, even in the freezer.
- Food-Grade Lye: If you’re thinking about trying out food-grade lye, here’s what you need to know: Lye is a strong akali which is highly soluble in water. Food-grade lye is FDA approved in the U.S. To use it, it’s best to wear latex gloves (though even dishwashing ones work), an apron and goggles (swim or onion goggles work too) for extra protection. Mix the lye in a
glass orplastic bowl, as lye can corrode reactive metals. I do this right in the bottom of an empty sink; it’s totally safe to pour down the drain with water running, so long as you don’t have a septic system (although I couldn’t find complete agreement about whether or not septic would be an issue) — food-grade lye is a very mild drain opener! To clean up, I usually wash my gloves while still wearing them, as if washing my hands, with dish soap and rinse down the sink before removing my gloves. It sounds scary, but it’s a very simple process. I bought my bottle of lye in the Williamsburg location of Brooklyn Kitchen. You can also order it from Amazon or Modernist Pantry.
296 comments on pretzel parker house rolls
you’re a genius. you know that, right?
I am now officially starving! The rolls look delicious
I don’t think any intervention is needed – pretzel anything sounds just perfect, starting with these beauties!
You are the best chef ever- these look amazing!
Oh wow, these look incredible. I’ve been meaning to try making my own pretzels but the whole lye situation scares me (anyone seen Fight Club?) These look much more manageable. Have to put this on my Thanksgiving menu ASAP.
As a relative newcomer to North America, and a Canadian resident, I don’t personally have a lot of experience with Parker House rolls. However, the adorable nestling of these amber-coloured puffs, their very obvious butteriness, and the general appeal of stuffing my face with pretzel dough that isn’t at all rough or dry is enough to sway me. Thanks for becoming obsessed enough with pretzel-making as to have come up with these!
Pretzel rolls for Thanksgiving sounds like a swell idea! And these look awesome. Yum!
This is genius, really. This just might be my contribution to my family Thanksgiving dinner, I mean who wouldn’t be impressed by these gorgeous rolls. Thanks again, Deb.
This is the awesomest thing in the history of awesome. I’m taking a sick day so I can go home and make these.
How about if you don’t want to pretzel them. What kind of wash would I use?
I just keep drooling when I’m on your blog! I’m not a big fan of Pretzels but absolutely love Parker House Rolls!! This might be my gateway into the Pretzel world! :) Awesome! These look delicious!
Just a slow clap and nodding of the head.
To heck with Kim Kardashian’s derriere. THIS is gonna break the internet!
I agree with Jenn. You are a genius. Your recipes are terrific-better and better. I love the idea of these rolls.
Are these are regular parker house rolls, with the salt on top creating the ‘pretzel’ taste? If not, what is the difference between a regular parker house roll recipe and these?
Jo Jo — Butter! 2 tablespoons melted butter is usually brushed over the rolls before baking. No need for egg glaze or soda/lye pretzel wash. A few flecks of sea salt, however, are wonderful on top of the butter, if it’s not salted.
Arlene — The soda/lye wash darkens the top and provides the pretzel flavor. Traditionally, pretzels are dipped into a lye bath, which is what separates them from rolls shaped like pretzels.
Any hints for doing these ahead? I’d like to bring them to Thanksgiving and probably wouldn’t be able to do any rises or bake them off right before. Do you think they’d be ok done in advance and warmed up?
Ah, now, there’s absolutely no shame in owning onion goggles! Those things have saved me from many a tear in the kitchen.
Oh goodness, rolls are wonderful, but pretzel rolls are even better!
FYI. Here’s a trick to get the baking soda to behave even more like lye: bake it in the oven for about an hour before dissolving it into boiling water. http://www.splendidtable.org/story/heres-a-substitute-for-lye-when-making-pretzels-at-home
Sam — Have you tried it? I brought it up in the last pretzel post — I hadn’t auditioned it — but I heard from people that it didn’t make things much darker or more pretzel-y than the standard baking soda wash so I skipped mentioning it here. Would love to hear if it worked well/better for anyone.
Isn’t that how they make laundry soda?
Ah, hell. I had thought about maybe not having rolls at Thanksgiving, and this just blew that right out of the turkey’s butt.
Thanks. Deb. I made your chicken stock from just chicken wings, etc. like you posted. It’s divine and so much less work. Now onto Parker House Rolls.
Thank god for you.
Since I discovered baked baking soda I have loved making pretzels at home. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Baked baking soda is stronger than regular strength and still requires gloves, buy no special ingredients! Just time and an oven. Check out Harold McGee’s article at the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dining/15curious.html
wow these look incredible. I’ve yet to make pretzel buns of my own, but I love them! I bet these are just perfect.
I have made pretzels with lye, baking soda, and baked baking soda, and I think the baked soda is very close to lye results! I may bake a bit longer than Harold calls for, but I can’t say that I pay much attention. Just stir ever once in a while until much lighter than you started.
These are insane! LOVE this idea – I’m already salivating thinking about these with a juicy red meat burger and sharp cheddar cheese. Thanks for sharing!
Wait – pretzel challah?! Recipe please!!
My German hubby is going to be very happy with you, I mean, me.
Would that everyones “buns” were this cute! The blue jeans manufacturers would be ecstatic. Instead I think I will make these cute buns and eat them all, which should make Omar the Tentmaker’s day. ( And mine too!)
I had no idea you could just brush on the soda/lye. This will make it possible for me to make that Pretzel pizza crust I’ve been having dreams about.
Such a good idea! These sound amazing.
These look like they’d be the perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner! Beautiful!
I already have food grade lye! And I have a cookie sheet that I made pretzels on once without parchment that will forever have the outline of pretzels. I think as long as you’re smart about using lye it’s not scary…I never wear goggles, but I also make sure I’m careful when I mix the lye and water so it doesn’t splash in my face.
Two clarification questions:
1. So if someone is picky about weighing their ingredients (all your fault, BTW!), is it 3.5 grams of yeast? Or is a packet of yeast 14 grams? I bought a jar so no longer have a clue!
2. By “add 3/4 of flour”, do you mean three-quarters OF the two cups of flour, then the salt, then the remaining 1/2 cup (one-quarter of two cups) of flour? or 3/4 cup of flour, then salt, then 1.25 cups of flour? (related: does it even matter THAT much?)
My pretzels are always a hit, BTW… I’ve made them with water and whey left over from making yogurt! My husband looooves them.
You have no idea how happy I got when I saw this recipe!! My family LOVES parker house rolls. And by loves, I mean we eat our weight in them every Christmas and Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to make this recipe and might even make it to bring for Thanksgiving this year! :)
I did a ton of research before finally coming up with an authentic pretzel: http://bit.ly/1m9MX9W
However, it never occurred to me to add the lye flavor to other breads. I always considered the chew—what you get from boiling the dough and then giving it a quick dip in the lye-infused water—to be integral to the whole pretzel thing. But I guess not! Now I’m eager to give this a go.
I just had a pretzel like this with some welsh rarebit-esque cheese at a restaurant in Seattle. I think it would be divine to try it at home!
Pretzel rolls are my favorite!!! I’ll have to make these for Thanksgiving :)
Torture. Delicious. I can’t wait to try those out.
We have done the whole lye-Bretzel-thing with gorgeous results and my husband is bugging me to do them again. Thanks for the support, Deb. And these look like German Laugenbrötchen though I suspect they will be deliciously soft on the inside. Torture, as I said.
Will food-grade lye react with an aluminum pan? I know my soapmaking lye would ruin it presto pronto!
No boiling, huh? Do they get the full pretzely flavor?
I adore pretzel rolls. I now must make these heavenly morsels.
PRETZEL GRISSINI?! recipe before new year’s, pretty please with a cherry on top?
Oh man do these look good! I would pretzel the bottom of my shoe if I could eat it afterward but Parker House rolls BEG to be pretzel-fied.
I’m totally down for the pretzel obsession. These look amazing!
Could you please weigh in on how best to make these ahead and/or travel with them? Are they conducive to either A) refrigeration during/after the proofing process so that they can be prepped ahead, then transported across town and baked before dinner, or B) baked in the morning and then rewarmed just before dinner? Or some third option I haven’t thought of? Thank you!
How funny! I just tried making pretzels for the first time 2 days ago. I knew the lye bath would make a superior pretzel, but I really didn’t want to deal with it, so I went with the baking soda. They were “okay”, but disappointing. Certainly not anything like real Bavarian pretzels. I wouldn’t bother to make pretzels again that way. But pretzel rolls, maybe.
oh god these look absolutely mouthwatering and takes me back to childhood!
mmm YUM! i love getting all geared up for using lye. makes me feel like a surgeon.
Doing ahead, three ways:
1. Make the dough and put it in the fridge in a bowl before the first rise. I haven’t tested this for a full 24 hours for the first proof in the fridge, but I did leave mine in for several hours on one of my batches and think it would be fine overnight. The next day, you can form the rolls and bake them off an hour later.
2. Do the first rise on the counter, form the rolls, put them in the fridge overnight in their baking pan. The next day, get them back almost to room temperature from the fridge and bake them off.
3. Bake them off in the morning; they’ll keep just fine until the evening. Although these rolls keep fine, they’re more wonderful on the first day. I’d either eat them the day I baked them, or bake them up to a week or two in advance and freeze them (use the sesame seed option, as I mentioned in the notes) and warm them up when you get where you’re going.
sarah — The boiling is usually only used with the baking soda pretzels, not the traditional Bavarian lye-dipped ones (lye should be kept cold). These rolls have the pretzel flavor and look, but not texture. Inside, they’re a true Parker House roll.
Kat — Yes. Aluminum is definitely reactive.
Jennifer Jo — Those are beautiful! I hadn’t heard of boiling then lye-dipping pretzels. I thought only a cold lye dip was needed to get the pretzel flavor color (or, I found this to be when I made these). It sounds like you experimented a lot — did you try it with and without boiling first and found the boiling superior? Thanks.
Jess — I will add the weights shortly so it will be less confusing but yes, 3.5 grams; packets are usually .25 ounces or 7 grams. 3/4 of the flour is 3/4 of the whole amount (you can just eyeball this). The main thing you’re trying to do is add the salt directly to the yeast mixture. Salt kills yeast. That’s why it’s usually mixed into flour before being added but that’s an extra bowl and step. This seems easier.
Emily — Great to know! I felt like the reviews were mixed last time. I’m glad to hear (and need to try it, too).
These will definitely happen in my kitchen sometime soon. I can’t wait to make these!
You, Mrs., are a genius!!!
I did the lye bath with your pretzel roll recipe and felt like I had found the holy grail. If anyone is wondering, the lye is worth it. I had pure lye on hand from making soap. In years past I had used baking soda and it just never was quite right. Now I have to make these for my daughter and her roommate who are coming home for Thanksgiving. I will make regular ones too as there is serious rebellion if I mess to much with that meal. My littlest will be back home next September and fell in love with German pretzel rolls. he will be thrilled when he finds out I can make them now.
Also your writing is wonderful.
P.S. I’ve been craving your green bean casserole for weeks now and I’m officially counting the days till I can eat it! 14 days to go.
Hi Deb, these look incredible. Quick question-should the yeast be instant yeast? And if not, can you use that?
I’m not the biggest pretzel fan, but I feel like this is an ideal balance. I can enjoy the fluffiness. I just wish I could eat from your batch though. I bet it’s better than mine. :] // ☼ itsCarmen.com ☼
Oh my. Parker rolls are my favorite and these look absolutely divine.
Have you ever tried snipping the +-signs in with kitchen shears? I wonder if that would be easier to get a deep cup without feeling like you’re squishing the rolls. (That’s what always holds me back!)
It is completely insane to me that something you need goggles and gloves to handle would be added to food you eat! Isn’t that a good sign that it may not be too good for your health?
Do you think you could make these with earth balance and almond milk or other dairy substitutes for this?
Vicki — Yes, it should work just fine.
Carolyn — I actually bought the goggles for onions, and the gloves to peel butternut squash without irritating my skin, so…
Kari — I haven’t. I should; I keep meaning to try it. But it shouldn’t deflate the rolls a whole lot, if the knife is sharp.
Oh goodness, I’ve been kind of intimidated by the idea of making homemade pretzel anything, but those look dang delicious!
Oh those look so good! I think my stomach just growled… :)
Re your question about the difference between boiling and not boiling: yes, I experimented, and the results are as follows:
“Unboiled pretzels are puffier, cakier, drier. The boiled pretzels are marvelously dense and chewy. It’s like the difference between a dinner roll and a bagel.”
(There is a photo illustrating the difference between the two in this post—it’s two photos above the recipe itself: http://bit.ly/1m9MX9W)
But I still think it’s a great idea to brush bread with the lye mixture. You won’t have the chew, but the lye would give it a huge flavor boost.
Made them today and love them ! So delicious! Thank you for the recipe.
speaking of browned butter ;) have you ever tried it on lobster or crabmeat rather than drawn butter? Or to dip artichoke leaves into? Omigosh!!!
Love all the pretzel goodness!
I was wondering if I made the dough and let it rise while I go to work, will that be top much rising time? Or if I made them on Monday night, will they still be good on Wednesday?
Have you ever tried this process with beer instead of lye or baking soda?
My grandmother made incredible parker house rolls, but never of the pretzel variety…I am gonna try this for sure!
They’re so tiny. :) I’ll probably just make them twice as big and only have 4 rolls per pan.
Great idea. Thank you!
Not to be anal, but, umm, frozen instead of freezed, just before Notes? (Sorry, it really bothered me.)
Wow. These rolls look amazing. Thanks for the recipe.
I wonder if you could slow rise these in the fridge on the second rise? Thinking ahead for Thanksgiving :)
As a resident of the other side of the world, thank you for the new (to me, anyway) half-year call-back links! And thanks for this must-try recipe!
Do you think there is ANY chance that non-gluten flour could be substituted in this recipe?
I’d also like to know whether this can be adapted using gluten-free flour.
These look lush! Will def try this weekend
oh yummy loooking
Hi Deb. I freeze a lot of breads. With these, at what step is best to do that. Before baking or after? Thanks.
“Freezed”? Frozen probably (unless you are of course boycotting a certain pop-culture icon right now and i missed it). I had to laugh when i read that. Knowing what an editing nut you usually are. In the final paragraph in the baking instructions. :) Meanwhile, i’m nursing a little one who is very sensitive to dairy and I foresee a very sad holiday season approaching! OH the butter, the cream, the yogurt, the EVERYTHING!
Can Koon Chun potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate (kansui) be substituted in equal quantities with the lye water? I.e., in this recipe, use 1 1/2 tsp Koon Chun added to 12 cup water?
Omigosh! I love it. THANK YOU for thinking of us down here. I’ve been living in Argentina for two years now and still go to my Northern Hemisphere reads – NYTimes “Food” section, Epicurious etc AND OF COURSE smitten kitchen. Smitten is actually the one I ALWAYS have to check. But when all you see are recipes for Thanksgiving and the trees are starting to bloom and strawberries are in the market. It’s really topsy-turvy! Thank you, thank you. I would never expect it but it’s a very considerate! But no matter what, I still enjoy each new recipe here and will be making these very soon.
Wow. This just made planning my contribution to Christmas dinner much, much easier. Thank you for this amazing recipe!
these look TO DIE FOR!! WOW! Incredible!!!
FYI. Here’s a trick to make +-sign slashes in the top of rolls, use a scissors to make a deep cut.
I can’t wait to try these, and then maybe this…. http://www.jonesdairyfarm.com/recipes/bacon/soft-pretzel-and-jones-bacon-stuffing-with-mustard-and-beer#.VGYaFPnF-Sp
These look so great! Can you use this dough to make normal pretzels? I have yet to find a good recipe.
have you considered pretzel hotdog roll? it seems impossible to find any worth eating. i believe jackson hole ski resort has a supplier who makes great rolls, and i think it is pretzel dough. so much more can go into a hotdog roll than hotdogs, too.
My question has always been–WHY did someone ever look at a container of lye and think dunking bits of unbaked bread dough in it before baking was a good idea?????
Along with the greatness of your recent obcession, I love the photo of you on the bowl!
Pretzel challah sounds AMAZING. Did you have a specific pretzel challah recipe – or could I just use this dough recipe for challah, braid it, and treat it with the soda wash? Should I double the dough recipe if using it for challah? How long would you bake it for?
Love, love, love it! I’ve never had a Parker House Pretzel roll. :/ Are these more on the pretzel chewy/doughy side or more like a dinner roll that looks like a pretzel? Also, are you on Pinterest?? Thank you and Happy Holidays!
Sorry… I found the Pinterest button to pin the recipe at the bottom of the html email, but there isn’t one available on this web page? Not the link to Pinterest to follow you… I saw that up on the left nav.
“Wait, really….but…but….” this was my mental process as I scrolled through your blog looking for your turkey recipe….you…don’t…have…one?
I am hosting my friend-groups third annual Friendsgiving and am expecting about 15 people. I fought hard for the right to cook the turkey this year an now am in panic mode. I turned to my two stand-bys – Bittman and you. Bittman has a simple, clear, straight forward recipe, but I was looking for your insight which often has a little more “zing” or creativity.
I’m trying to answer the question – to brine, or not brine. I don’t want to brine, but would like to do a rub of some sort, and then am thinking of inserting herd or herbed butter under the skin for roasting.
Do you have a recipe and I just missed it?
Wow, these look so perfect for the Thanksgiving table in a couple weeks. Or tonight, too. They look like they need to be eaten right now. Love the pretzel idea, what a genius thing to think of! :)
There goes my weekend! Mmm….
As someone who is never without a bag of pretzels (and who also has a big bucket of food-grade lye in the pantry), I’m in total agreement everything that deserves to be pretzeled.Your rolls look awesome! I was actually planning on makes some of my usual pretzel rolls this weekend but I think I’ll give these a whirl instead.
Deb, chemist here. Lye is sodium hydroxide and you’re right that it can be corrosive and should be handled with care. Sorry to tell you, though, that it can react with glass. Perhaps not in a very bad way (no explosions), but it will make glassware cloudy. Use a plastic bowl.
We (family) are currently obsessed with pretzel rolls and breads!!
Melanie — Nope, you didn’t miss it. I keep promising to make a turkey, and I never do. I’m a terrible blogger! (Who basically never eats turkey outside Thanksgiving, where someone else makes it.) I do have an idea for one, though. I’ll see if I have time to fiddle this weekend.
Marsha — At the bottom of each recipe, before the comments begin, is a “Pin” option that will open a bookmarklet that will allow you to choose any photo from the recipe to pin with. I promise, this will be easier to find one the redesign is complete. :)
Taste — These rolls taste like Parker House Rolls — tender, rich, soft — with a pretzel-flavored finish. They’re pretzel-flavored dinner rolls, not, say, pretzel rolls baked in a pan like dinner rolls.
Pretzel challah — Same challah recipe I always use, brushed with pretzel wash or you can make a larger batch of it (4 cups to 4 tablespoons) and gently dip the braided challah into it. It’s a little scary, but I should warn that my brushed challah came out very streaked — it might have been that I didn’t brush it throughly enough, but I won’t know until I try again.
leah — Good to know! I have actually had a jar of the lye mixture made all week (see above: pretzel-ing bender) and don’t notice any change to the glass, but I trust you.
hilly — Considering that pretzels originated from European monasteries in the Early Middle Ages, I suspect that the use of lye far predates modern packaging with hazard symbols on it. That said, I can’t find where I read it, but I remember reading that the idea of using a solution of an alkaline substance to change the pH of the surface of the food and improve browning may not have existed in pretzels original iteration, that came along later, but still very long ago. But, without a source to link to right now, I might be totally mis-remembering.
beverly, re: pretzel hot dog and hamburger buns — Yes, I have a recipe right here.
lev, re: classic pretzel knots — No, this is a Parker House Roll recipe with a pretzel finish and flavor at the edges. It would be too soft and tender (and sweeter) than a pretzel knot. You can use either this recipe or this one to make pretzel knots at home. For pretzel knots, it’s best to dip the rolls, so you’ll want to make more than the brushing-on solution stipulated here. I go through it all in the first link.
Arthur — Sadly, I don’t know enough about it to know, but I’m hoping one of the many lurking chemists in the comments can respond and help you.
Emily and handfulofshadows — I am so tired and ready for the weekend that I called my husband over and said “how is ‘freezed’ wrong?” before it clicked in my head. Anyway, thanks for the heads up. Now fixed. (P.S. You can use soy or almond milk and vegan butter or a neutral oil here; I’d expect it to work just fine.)
Karen — Sadly, I couldn’t get a straight read on whether or not you could dump it down the drain with a septic system. I thought you couldn’t, but then commenters on the last post where I talked about using lye to make pretzels said that they do pour it down their septic system drains but while running the water. As a non-expert in plumbing, I do not want to be responsible for breaking anything in your home! So, I’d advise caution unless an expert steps forward here. I figured you can pour it in an old water bottle — even diluting it more first — and toss the bottle in the garbage.
I have kept my extra lye solution in a jar (though, an earlier commenter says plastic is better) and other times in a plastic container for up to a week when I was testing a few rounds with pretzels. I’m not sure about longer. I honestly was too nervous to have it around (what with a 5 year-old, even though it was nowhere he could get to it). Lye is inexpensive; seems easier to just dump between uses, especially with such a small quantity as this.
Gluten-free flour — I have not tried it before in rolls, so I cannot say for sure.
Brandie — Yes, I give a few do-ahead suggestions in Comment #51 (which I need to move up to below the recipe, and will shortly). Option 2 is what you’re looking for.
sharyn — No, but I like where you’re going with this…
Wow let’s hear it for intervention. This rolls will definitely shine this holiday time.
Gosh, I am so clever. I made a rhyme. Laughing—-
What is the brand name of the pan you cooked the rolls in? Thanks. Susan
I am a professional baker and culinary teacher- OMG We made these today for lunch with the food grade lye etc. . . turn out fantastic. I think the only thing we missed a little was the chew or a regular pretzel- which parker house rolls should not be chewy. Anyway we made three times the batch and 6 of us ate them all. Kodos keep coming up with great ideas and recipes.
i made my first pretzel item just last week, homemade pretzel dogs. i ate mine, and my husband’s, and my kid’s! haha! these have thanksgiving written all over them.
In the South of Germany, their heartland, fresh-baked (lye-dipped) pretzels are sliced horizontally, spread with sweet butter and chopped chives.
I’ve made two batches of these rolls today for a dinner party tonight (along with your raspberry swirl cheesecake for dessert) but I mostly just want to thank you for including oven temperatures in Celsius – it saves me so much time Googling!
Now for the gushing – every recipe I have ever tried from your blog turns out perfectly – and believe me, I’ve tried plenty. I’ve built up a reputation amongst friends as a fantastic baker when in reality it’s entirely down to your foolproof recipes! My boyfriend even asks if what I’m making is from smitten kitchen beforehand to give his nod of approval :) I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before but your blog is wonderful and has given me the confidence to get in the kitchen and try my hand at anything – thank you!
Here’s an idea: pretzel stuffing. Just the right amount of salt and this bread would probably be perfect for the toasting and then braising and then stuffing (my mouth, of course!)
Love this pretzel idea!
If I make these ahead using option #2, could I brush them with the lye and egg before refrigerating? Or does that need to be done right before baking? Like Brandie, I’m thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and I’d love to get the lye step out of the way before the kitchen gets crowded.
This would be a great addition for Thanksgiving! Or any time, for that matter!
I really love the way these turned out. But I don’t think the ones I will try to make will come out like this.THese rolls are to die, good jobs on such a wonderful looking rolls.
Should I tell you that you can buy all kinds of “pretzel salt” at Kalustyan’s? No, I think I’ll hold that one back so that you don’t quit your life to become a FT pretzel maker. These look gorgeous Deb! Thanks for pushing inspiration further and further!
p.s when I was in the habit of making hundreds of PHR, I made the dough on day one. rolled all the dough on day two, and proofed & baked them off for the next 3 days. If a refrigerator is cold enough it will not overproof the dough in those days… ;
Off topic but I’m looking for some good quality baking sheets. The link in your ”Build your own smitten kitchen” Gift guide is broken. What do you use these days?
These look delicious! I’m in a baking mood this weekend so I might have to give it a try!
I made these yesterday and they were AMAZING. (I’m using past tense because they’re all gone now) :). I’m hosting friendsgiving this year and these rolls have been requested. They’re so good that I’m making a batch for my sister to take home with her tomorrow. This was my first time making dinner rolls. Thanks, Deb!
Those rolls really look delicious!
And for me, being born in Bavaria but having lived away from home for years now, just seeing something that looks like a “Bayerische Brezel” makes me feel homey.
Deb: any advice if using a sourdough starter for these? Should I? I plan to use my leftover devilish maple cream cheese spread from your Carrot Olive Oil Bread on these babies. Also, no shame in onion goggles – they really do work great if you have extremely sensitive eyes!
These look fab, Deb! I’m a pretzel and bread lover already, so now that you’ve combined the two, I’m dying to try these out. Pinned immediately!
Emily- re. sheet pans. I’m a fan of Chicago Metallic, but every year about this time Sur La Table does like 20 or 30 percent off their own bakeware, which is great for stocking up on a few missing items for relatively little $$. Their sheet pans are also pretty good. Chicago Metallic is my absolute favorite though, honestly for nostalgia and more out of habit, than anything (my mom used them growing up, and that’s what I learned to bake with).
Deb, I love your site. I am relatively new here, and I’m finding that I can’t go to the grocery store without planning at least one of your recipes first. So thank you.
Was too eager to wait for food grade lye from Amazon, so I found 100% lye crystals (Rooto brand) for drain cleaning at hardware store. Checked MSDS online, confirmed is 100% NaOH and used that. I figure the difference between that and food grade is possible trace chemicals and production methods and so I was okay taking the risk and using for such a small quantity washed on rolls. They came out beautifully and taste great!
These look amazing! And as for pretzel-everything…that would be my dreamworld! I can’t wait to give these a try!
I just made these. I’ve been testing out different roll recipes for a few weeks to find the perfect ones for Thanksgiving, and these are keepers. They are soft and chewy and pretzel-y and perfect. Bonus; my entire house smells like pretzels.
I just made these with the soda solution. They are delicious (I may have eaten four with blueberry preserves…) but they didn’t double in either allotted hour* and the soda and egg washes ended up pooled in between each roll in a kind of metallic-salty goo. Easily scraped off, and didn’t affect the taste of the rolls, but kind of off. So. Lesson learned: always let them rise!
*Pretty sure this is because I had to leave the yeast mixture for 45 minutes instead of 10. Not really avoidable.
Deb – I made these rolls tonight and they’re absolutely delicious. However, I’m wondering if there’s a good substitute for the butter (vegetable oil, etc). Thanks!
9 year old was the hit of dinner for helping make these (even with his sister). Everyone agrees they will replace our rolls on thanksgiving. Next time double batch… not a scrap left… thanks!
I made these with the baking soda (I toasted baking soda in the oven over an hour; it stayed white. Is that correct?) It was a brand new container of baking soda. When I mixed it into the boiling water, nothing foamed up.
I forged ahead .. they taste ok but the solution pooled underneath and made the bottoms dark. (I also did the egg wash.) What’s up?
These are in the oven right now, and I admit I’m a bit nervous. Was I supposed to brush the entire amount of baking soda solution over the rolls, or just until they seemed pretty wet and gooey?
I can’t wait to try this, they look delicious
This recipe is perfect! I just made them, they are cooling right now, so technically I haven’t even tasted them yet, but I can tell from how they look and how the whole house smells that they are delicious! Thanks, Deb!
This is absolute perfection! I’d gladly take pretzel anything – especially all those delicious items you mentioned wanting to make! Bring on the pretzel!
oh my! those are just perfectly amazing!
keren — That sounds amazing.
ila — Basically one more reason I need to live in southern Germany.
Susan — I used an 8×8 gold touch pan from Williams-Sonoma. I’ve been very happy with the ones I’ve purchased.
Kris — No need to brush the whole amount. Just get the rolls good and coated. Did they bake up wet and gooey?
kathy — Sorry they didn’t work out as expected. I’m not sure why the baking soda wouldn’t foam up (although, it doesn’t have to, it was more of a warning so you know it’s coming; it’s never not happened for me, though) unless yours was old. Regardless, if the tops became pretzel-y, it did it’s job. Did you brush all of it on? Only enough to coat them well (as I say to Kris, above) was needed. I hope that wasn’t unclear.
Sophia — PHR are traditionally made with butter, but there’s no reason you can’t use a neutral oil or olive oil, if you’d prefer.
Baking Soda was from a brand new big bag from Costco; I’m sure there’s good turnover there. No foaming. Could it have been because I’d baked the baking soda in the oven? Since I did a double recipe, I doubled the baking soda and water. When I painted on, it dripped down so bottoms became a swirly brown. There was A LOT left. They tasted OK but of course, did not look brown like yours since I did not use lye. I posted a photo on Chowhound.com and someone else who used your recipe and lye posted also. Take a look:http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/995940
kathy — I think they look great. As I showed here, you definitely get less color from the baking soda version — and I hadn’t even mentioned the baked baking soda this time from McGee because I had mentioned it as an option the last time I wrote about pretzels, but it seemed like commenters didn’t feel it was a great improvement over unbaked baking soda for all the extra work; although, just to make this more confusing, in earlier comments on this post, some people felt it was worthwhile. I digress. Was there any kind of recognizable pretzel flavor? I know the color isn’t as deep, but the flavor should be there. And thanks for sharing it on Chowhound; I love the discussions over there (even when people aren’t happy with my recipes!).
Dashed home and made a batch of pretzel scones using my go to scones recipe. Sounded inspired, was disappointing. Responses from home were; “Why?” and “What happened to the scones,” and “Give the rest to the chickens.”
I’m bookmarking this recipe; I’m always looking for different ways to use up buttermilk/sour milk (which I seem to have an endless supply of in my fridge :) ).
Before you have your intervention, how about pretzel croissants? :)
terri — AHEM. I am 99.9% certain that “pretzel wash” is totally lye. I do not have it in me, however, to make homemade croissants — maybe I’ll change my mind in the future? It’s just such an insane amount of work and they’re not great on day 2. I leave it to the pros. :)
KO — Funny. Well, I didn’t say they were ready for prime time, heh, but the babysitter/husband/kid did like them! I found the pretzel flavor a little clashy with the scones. It might be better on a biscuit…
This looks amazing again.. love your website and about to purchase your book. But I am not sure if the Bookdepository version is Metric.
Thanks for sharing.
Ling — Thank you. So, both versions — the US and the UK editions of the book — have metrics/weights, but the UK version is more thorough. Looks like the Book Depository sells both; the UK edition has the pink cookies on the cover. Hope that helps.
This looks great! I envision pretzel rolls with hot cheese dipping sauce at our annual Christmas Party. Wondering if the dough recipe could also be prepared in a breadmaker? Would it still turn out? Has anyone tried it that way? Thanks!
Made these and they turned out great!
To save the drainage of our house, how else would you dispose of the lye solution? I don’t want it to corrode the weak spots. :(
Kim — Are you not able to use drain opener? Because this is much, much, much more mild than drain opener. If that’s safe, this definitely is.
I just made these with the baking soda. It was delicious and very easy. Thank you!
I’m looking forward to trying these for Thanksgiving. I was trying to figure out the best way to make the rolls into balls based on your post. Do you roll up the wedges then pinch the bottoms somehow? Any advice, Deb?
Katie — I do, and I so wish I had someone in the kitchen with me who could take a quick video of how I do it. It’s not complicated, but it’s harder to tell than show. But I’ll try: basically, you’ve got the round-ish shape of dough on the counter and you put your hands down around it. Then, use the sides of your hands to pull down and stretch the top of the round taut while turning it. The “pinches” go under so they’re not seen and the top forms a nice tight round. I use this for large round loaves of bread too.
I made these– fantastic! Thank you so much, Deb! I will never, every buy rolls ever again. I could not stop eating them! I am going to make some more soon with a bit of whole wheat flour so I won’t feel so guilty with every delicious mouthful!
I used 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour and the rest AP. They are baking now, but they barely rose at all (I know its not a yeast problem). Its such a disappointment when you show up the first rise and can’t tell the difference. Hopefully the taste makes up for it.
I’m super excited to make these for Friendsgiving this weekend! Curious, if I bake my baking soda as Harold McGee suggested, should I still dissolve in boiling water, or rather use room temp water? (And thanks for all the amazing delicious posts, Deb!)
Made these. They are delish! I used the baking soda wash, and mine are gorgeously brown. Also used TJ Bagel Seasoning and it’s amazing.
I just made a pre-Thanksgiving test batch and I am sold! Delish and super-easy. Our pan of 16 rolls is sadly now down to 5 and they’ve been out of the oven for less than 20 minutes (don’t judge!). My head is spinning thinking of all the other things I can pretzel! Thank you!
Does anyone know if I can make these without the pretzel treatment? I’m looking for a reliable roll recipe for thanksgiving (I always have a hard time with yeast bread recipes). Thanks!
karen — Absolutely. Brush them with 2 tablespoons melted butter, and I like to sprinkle them with some sea salt.
I have been following this blog for years now and you hit it out of the park every time. I made these last weekend and they lasted 2 days… I am making a double or a triple batch on thursday!
Hi Deb – wondering why the option of AP flour, bread flour, or a mix of both? Any thoughts on how the extra protein of bread flour would affect the finished roll? I have both in my cupboard and am trying to decide which to use. Thanks!
jen — Absolutely. I mention bread flour as an option in the recipe (all or in part). I use half of each here.
Can I leave the rolls at 2nd rise phase for 24 or even 48 hours and then bake them?
Hi Kelly — I’d trust it for 24 in the fridge but not 48. You’d probably want to use a little less yeast for a longer than 24 hour rise. Happy baking!
Sorry, I’m sure they are very good. But the are NOT pretzels. Pretzels must be boiled.
Period, not if ands or buts!
Deb, I’m halfway through making the recipe (I’d been eyeing them since they were published…) and am hoping to bake some tonight and some tomorrow. Any problem if I make the baking soda/water solution tonight and stick it in the fridge overnight for the next batch? Thanks!
Julie — I haven’t tried it with the baking soda solution, but I definitely have with the lye one and it works fine. Not sure it needs to be chilled, but for the baking soda, you’ll want to rewarm it. Good luck!
These look great! For do ahead option #2, do you do the baking soda wash before or after the rolls hang out in the fridge overnight? Thanks!
Hayley — I’ve only done it after; not sure if it would work before but I suppose it cannot hurt to find out.
These look amazing! What kind of milk do you use – whole? Does it matter? Can’t wait to try these for Thanksgiving dinner!
Also, how do you prep your countertop for breadmaking? What do you clean it with? There may be another post about this, so I’ll go do a search… :)
Kathleen — Er, a sponge? I don’t do anything special. I’m not a huge germaphobe unless there’s recently been raw meat on it, then I go a little nuts cleaning it twice. I mean, I want everything clean but the counter is only used for food and the food will be cooked at a high temperature.
Kathleen — I use whole. You should be fine with any kind here, although some fat is better than no fat, for flavor.
If I bake these the day before I want to serve them, should I still freeze them or let them hang out in the fridge? And would you keep them in the pan or put them in a plastic bag? I know these questions are a little silly, but I’m new to baking breads.
Kelly — I haven’t made these in advance, however, here’s a good article on the science of storing bread. They recommend freezing. [I actually usually freeze my homemade bread if I’m not going to use it in the first day, so maybe I was onto something.]
After the second rise can I leave these in the refrigerator until I’m ready to bake them for dinner tomorrow?
viviana — I’d do the second rise IN the fridge and then take them out 30 to 60 minutes before so they warm up a bit and finish proofing before baking.
Did a test run of these last night before doing another batch today and had a few questions if you’re still checking the site on the holiday.
Texture and such was great but the brown color from the lye was very spotty, not looking like yours. Wondering if the egg wash diluted the lye somehow? Would it be better to just do the lye wash and not the egg?
Also, used 100% bread flour as that’s what I had on hand. Any thoughts on whether this could have affected the color and if I’d be better off doing 50/50?
Wonderful recipe. They came out beautiful – and are cooling now. I wish I didn’t have to wait a few hours to try them. I did end up needing about 1/2 cup extra flour – else the dough was more like waffle batter than a dough. Even with the extra, it was plenty sticky.
I made these with the baking soda wash, and they weren’t pretzel tasting at all. BUT I topped them with everything bagel topping (Fairway’s baking department gave me nearly a pound when I inquired about buying some) and they were out of this world. It’s my new favorite bread topping. I’m imaging sandwich buns… And challah…
I made these with the baking soda wash and they turned out great! The pretzel top was not as thick as with a regular pretzel, but it still tasted good. The rolls turned a really nice golden brown. Eating them now (second day) with some cheese and mustard. So good.
I cannot thank you enough for this recipe. Pretzels are a very old family tradition for me, but the lye has always scared me off from making them. Now that I have a daughter, though, I wanted to incorporate something ancestral in our Thanksgiving dinner. I made these and they were amazing!
I plan to make them every year now!
One question I had for you — could this recipe be done with whole wheat flour?
Sara — I’ve done a half-swap with white whole wheat flour and a 1/3 swap with regular whole wheat flour and both were great. You can go higher in proportion, but you lose a little in tender texture.
Deb, I used the DIY lye recipe from Harold McGee via Splendid table and it worked perfectly. It imparted a wonderful burnished shade of brown and noticeable pretzel flavor. My rolls achieved the same color as yours that received the lye treatment. You should definitely give it a try; it will not be a wasted effort.
I made these for Thanksgiving. I doubled the recipe and pretzelized only one batch. I ‘baked’ the baking soda for about about 2 hours at (I learned that from another pretzel recipe in the 1/27/13 SF Chronicle) and the tops came out nice and dark. Another keeper!
Oops, forgot the temperature: bake baking soda in a 250 degree oven for 1 to 2 hours.
made this thanksgiving day – and we DEVOURED
…them. also made a batch stuffed with a homemade spinach dip and that was even better. LOVE.
Amazing recipe! I made these for Thanksgiving and felt compelled to leave a note of thanks…Even though I do a ton of baking (cookies, bars, cakes) I don’t have a lot of experience making yeast based bread items so I was a bit panicked that I would mess these up somehow- but they turned out beautifully. I was thrilled. You were completely right- they are ‘easy to make and hard to mess up’. I used the baking soda method and they came out perfectly pretzel-ly. In fact, they were almost gone before the actual dinner took place and my husband now thinks that he can request them at least once a week. Another parker house pretzel roll monster has been created!
Deb, absolutely magnificent. Thank you so much for this lovely inspiration, your careful testing and detailed notes. I was going to buy rolls this year — for both Thanksgiving feasts I was part of — I KNOW! But I have had too many batches in the past that don’t rise or don’t turn out and the extra stress just didn’t feel worth it. I’m so glad I decided to start these at 10pm and bake them off the next morning…. they KIND OF made me a rock star at the table! My own mother declared herself out of the roll business! Not a single one was left. For the next feast I made another (double) batch. Epic win!! So, so tender, so soft, so tasty and brown. And easy enough for ME! xoxo
I’ve made these twice now, both with baking soda and both doubled. They’re really. really great. It’s nice to have rolls that hold their own without needing to be buttered! I also didn’t have a stand mixer/bread hook so I did it manually and it really wasn’t that bad. I will say that mine look quite different from the photos, partially due to the lack of lye and partially due to prominent scoring and very square-like shapes. I would love to try the lye but don’t trust my Czech translation skills as that’s where I am, much too risky. Thanks for another great one Deb!
And yet another wonderful looking delight from you. Pretzels are a favorite of mine. These look like a perfect appetizer to serve with maybe a beer-cheese, horseradish-bacon or buffalo chicken dip and a sparkling beverage for the holidays- I will buy Lye for the first time- just to try these.
So am I the only person who had problems with the dough before the first rise? I dont have a bread machine/stand mixer and by hand the dough was so runny it was akin to trying to knead soup rather than dough. I think about a half cup of flour layer I was able to knead it. Anyone else have this issue or know of a way around it without adding too much flour? I had the same problem attempting to make a boule a while back. Tell me what I’m doing wrong please! I love making bread!
Hey! I have been trying to make this recipe, it looks magnificent. However the yeast are not responding at all like you said they would…. is there any basic error that I should avoid? or any reason why it is happening?
Hi Deb! Wondering if you think these would be good with buttermilk instead of regular milk. I’ve made buttermilk parker house rolls before, which I loved, but am worried about that interfering with the pretzel flavor?
Jenni — I wouldn’t worry about it; I think buttermilk could be great here. Plus, these are more Parker-House-rolls-with-a-hint-of-pretzel than pretzels shaped like Parker House rolls. I hope that makes sense.
I have spent countless hours obsessing about the perfect soft, traditional dinner roll for holiday meals. Un-pretzeled, are these a contender and would I just skip the Pretzel-it step? Brush with some butter or egg wash instead? My arsenal is missing a PHR recipe!
Lou Ann — These will be great even without the pretzeling. Instead, brush them with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Top with any seeds or sea salt flakes you like, or nothing at all.
these look AMAZING…i can’t wait to try these! my favorite part of your blog is that you link all of your old posts from years ago. great way to index your content. i’m so glad i found your blog; i’m looking to start putting more recipes on mine!
I had the same problem as Vanessa (189), the dough was super runny in my stand up mixer, and even with adding several extra tablespoons of flour it still remained really sticky. The end result was that the dough didn’t rise & the rolls ended up being pretty solid. I’d love to know what I’m doing wrong because my husband loves pretzels.
Just made these in my 8″ Pyrex. Super overcrowded and smushed together looking. They look and smell fab though! Anyone else have this problem?next time I’ll make in a 9″ pan
I made these yesterday. The dough was very sticky and at first I didn’t think the dough hook in my Kitchenaid was really kneading it properly, but I got two nice rises out of the dough. For the pretzeling, I used about 1/3 cup of baked baking soda dissolved in water and an egg wash and got great color and taste. These rolls were much lighter than the light brioche buns on your site, although those had better flavor.
THAnk you for this recipie!
I wonder how using instant yeast instead of active dry yeast would affect the recepie? Should I skip melting it in milk with sugar?
I would appreciate your reply.
It would work. You will not need to warm the liquid; you can add instant yeast right in with the flour. However, I do find that instant yeast takes often twice the amount of time (if not slightly more) than active dry does to double the first time, just to give you a heads up.
Hi, do you think these could be made ahead. By that I mean I would like to form the rolls, dip the whole roll in the lye solution, place them in the pan and put in the fridge overnight. Take them out the next day to proof, then salt and bake them. I do not know if the dipping would do something to the outside of the bun that would prevent it from proofing, like forming a skin or something. Thank you for your help.
Jen — It can form a little bit of a skin, so best to dip or brush right closer to the time you bake them.
I made these and they were absolutely wonderful! I looked down after I pulled them out of the oven and buttered them and half of them were gone…and I was the only one in the house, now where could they have gone… :)
Immediately when I went to score these with a bread lame, the rolls deflated. Did I do something wrong??
Andrea — Had you already brushed them? I find with the pretzel dips, this can happen. They should recover. Did they?
Hi Deb, thanks for your reply. They did recover while baking.
Wonderful recipe – very easy to follow and the rolls are delicious! I’ll have to give the pretzel challah a try soon, too. Thank you Deb!
I’ve always been a bit afraid of making home-made rolls, but these delivered – they puffed up beautifully, were light and buttery, and took on a great color. For some reason I couldn’t get them 100% uniform – it might have been because the only plan available was a cake round? Anyways, we used this as our “bun” for a simple Bobby Flay hamburger recipe and made a chipotle – goat cheese spread for the “cheese” element. Great stuff. Thanks again for the recipe!
I saw this recipe and thought it would make great hamburger buns just made them I made into 5 balls and flattened them to make into burger buns and let rise and the came out perfect sent a picture to hubby he raced home from work to get one and on way back to work he called me and kept saying how good they were while eating can’t wait for dinner now to make my burgers
What are your thoughts/opinions/guidelines on freezing these rolls?
Trying them out for Canadian Thanksgiving with my in laws… must impress!
Julia — I’d freeze them after the second rise, and would not brush on the pretzel wash until they were defrosted.
I followed the link back here from your cider sangria post. I’ve got the dough rising already! Looking forward to trying these once I realized I didn’t need lye to make them.
Is part of Brooklyn called Williamsburg? I’m confused by that mention of “the Williamsburg location of Brooklyn Kitchen” – I was thinking “Oh, maybe I can pick up some lye when I drive across Virginia for Thanksgiving” but the only store location I can find is actually in New York. I know there are other Williamsburgs besides the historical one in my home state, but I never heard of it as a borough of New York.
Thanks for linking to the other post regarding kneading sticky dough. I don’t know if my instincts to avoid waste will ever come to terms with letting dough stick to my hands/the counter, so I keep adding flour, but I did try to add less today, kneading and turning as quickly as I could until eventually the dough started sticking again even in that brief moment of contact before dusting the counter again with flour… How do you physically knead if you’re constantly scraping the dough off the counter to turn it? I imagine there’s some sweet spot that I never quite hit.
Lily — Ha, that is really confusing. Williamsburg is a part of Brooklyn, but Brooklyn Kitchen is a store in Williamsburg that has an outpost on the west side of Manhattan (or at least did; I haven’t checked in forever). As for kneading, just work quickly, keep it moving. I use a dough scraper all the time (also great for cleaning up counters), so if it does stick a little, I just scrape it off and get back to kneading.
OK. Thanks for writing back, Deb! I will be brave and give that a try next time. I do have a dough scraper, but no practice using it during kneading, mostly just to cut dough into pieces after kneading and to help clean up when I’m done. Time to grow new skills! Also, a belated congratulations on your little girl <3
I just made these with the baking soda wash. They turned out beautiful and taste delicious. I am going to make these on Thanksgiving. I have the food grade lye but I didn’t use it because I only have the Wilton cake pans that are made of aluminum. What brand of pan did you use in this picture? Are there any pans you can recommend I use with lye? Thank you.
Kathy — Lye can corrode reactive metals, so aluminum is an issue, but most baking pans with aluminum are coated in something else. I’m using a W-S gold touch pan which is aluminized steel coated in a nonstick layer. You’d want to use something coated or something nonreactive (straight stainless steel shouldn’t be).
Made these for our Thanksgiving Day meal, and I’m sorry to say they were a big disappointment. No one cared for them. They were just tasteless lumps of mushy bread, with nothing about them, either in flavor or texture, that was remotely pretzel-ish (I used the baking soda wash). And so much effort for so little result! Maybe for my family Parker House rolls are just too much of a bland 1950’s thing that can’t compete with all the interesting bread options that are available now. But this is my first Smitten Kitchen fail, so I can’t be too upset.
I made these yesterday and they’re really really good. I did the baking soda option and they were pretzly tasting but in a subtle way. I used all bread flour with great results. Also, I always use SAF instant yeast and everything goes into the mixing bowl of the stand mixer at one time – no yeast dissolving. Saves bowls and time.
These are fantastic! I’ve loved your pretzels for years, but just tried these this week. We’ve had them twice in three days! Super simple and tasty.
I read that if one bakes the baking soda in the oven to heighten alkalinity, the results will be the same as using the food grade lye. Have not tried this myself.
Hi Deb, I have made these a few times and they are delicious! Unfortunately each time I use lye, it melts the bristles on my pastry brush even with rinsing in soapy water immediately after use. I’m using a standard bristled 1” flat brush. Do you have a special type of pastry brush you use? Thanks!
Molly — I use this brush and haven’t had a problem. I can’t figure out why it would melt the bristles of yours; even if they were plastic, it shouldn’t corrode plastic, just glass and/or reactive metals.
These look so lovely, and I’d love to do them for thanksgiving. Any thoughts about doing the day before. I was thinking the second rise in the fridge and taking them out and bringing to room temp before “pretzeling”? Would love your thoughts!
That’s exactly how I’d do it.
When making these ahead, I was planning to do the first rise, out them in the pan, refrigerate, and then pull them out the next day to bake.
Question: Can I apply the lue and egg wash before stowing them in the ‘fridge or should I do that right before baking?
Hi Deb! I made these a few years ago for Thanksgiving to much acclaim from my family (thank you) and they were so good that I promptly ordered a bottle of lye from amazon. I’m excited to make them again but as I was reading over the recipe in advance, I had a question I couldn’t find the answer to elsewhere on the site or in the FAQs. It calls for milk, are we talking whole milk (probably, because higher fat content = tender delicious rolls) or can I get away with the 1% that’s already in my fridge? Thanks!
I always use whole milk because it’s what we keep around but I expect it to work well with any fat level. Good luck! Don’t inhale! (No seriously.)
Can you make the dough in advance and freeze or refridgerate like pie dough?
I’m more interested in freezing pre-rise dough for a couple days…
Depending on how far in advance, freezing can be better (I’d say more than 2 to 3 days.) Otherwise, in the fridge, they’ll rise very very slowly.
Hi Deb! Wondering if you’d refrigerate after the first rise or second rise. Making these for Friendsgiving but would love to just be able to pop them in the oven when I arrive at a friend’s house.
Thanks so much!
Is there a way to make these non-dairy? Would soy milk or another substitute work? Thanks!
I’d expect it to work just fine.
Hi Deb, only instant dried yeast on hand. Just not going to store again tonight , can’t bear the thought. Ok to use? Many thanks!!!
You’ll probably be just fine. Sometimes the rising time is faster, sometimes slower, but both will get you there. No need to warm-proof rapid rise yeast, just mix it right in with the flour.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and thank you for your quick response. You are a cook’s treasure.
Sorry , I meant Rapid Rise yeast!
This was my first time making dinner rolls. These were insanely good! I tried the baking soda wash method, and there was a distinct pretzel-ish flavour. The sweetness of the buns really complemented the salt sprinkled on top. My family could not stop eating them and the four of us polished off the entire batch :) .
Just made the dough and was hoping it’ll be okay to cold proof overnight in the fridge (maybe even 2 days)? I do this whenever I make bagels and it seems to develop a lot of flavor – will it (fingers crossed) with for these to have a cold first rise?
Ugh. I thought the 2 Tbs of milk was to be saved for later in the recipe since it said “and.” Not sure why I thought that. So I never ended up adding it to my dough. Is it ruined?
Oh wow, these are good! I used the baking soda option and while they aren’t that beautiful dark pretzel-brown they still taste totally pretzely. Unfortunately I was at the end of the box of kosher salt so what I sprinkled on top was much finer than usual, and much of it already dissolved into the egg wash, but they taste amazing. I’m betting these would be great even without the pretzel part too, if anyone is looking for some plain dinner rolls. Thanks for the excellent recipe Deb!
Oh and an update–these rolls flew off the table at thanksgiving dinner. I am kicking myself for not making a double batch because I sure would have liked some leftover rolls. I’m going to go ahead and recommend anyone making these just make a double batch right off the bat!
I made two batches of these with the baking soda method. The first one turned out pale on top, it didn’t look like pretzels but it was still delicious. For the second batch I doubled the amount of baking soda in the baking soda wash, and due to oven space constraints and timing, I had to bake them on the top rack above the turkey, and they turned out just like your photo (and still delicious). Another note…in the single recipe in the 8×8 pan, there isn’t enough room between them, and the rolls all run together and lose their shape. I think next time I’ll space them out on a baking sheet and see how they turn out.
Thanks for the great recipe! Happy thanksgiving!
Excellent. I made with baked soda from Bittman’s method, and found it minimally extra effort (except for time, yes), and probably a little browner. Now I have a half cup or so of sodium carbonate for future batches. I will definitely make future batches.
Using scissors to snip the crosses didn’t work as well as hoped because the rolls puckered up like lips pulled by the scissors. Cute, but not the intended effect.
Hi Deb – these look scrumptious! Any chance there’s a vegan sub for the egg wash here?
I have made these so many times since I first saw them here, with the pretzel top, without, with candied pecans rolled in the dough–YUM! Thank you!
Can I refrigerate them in the pan after first rise and shaping? If so, how long do you think would be okay? And, do I let them rise for the second hour after taking them out of the fridge?
I made a double batch of these today topped with everything bagel seasoning and they were delicious!
I did need to add quite a bit of extra flour for it to come together into a soft dough. I used the “scoop and level” method KA Flour recommends and needed maybe an extra half cup of flour, plus more dusted in during kneading.
I made these last night and they were delicious. I have a question: is there a trick for slashing the tops of the rolls after the second rise? Rolls were beautifully risen, but every time I slashed the tops, they deflated. I used a sharp paring knife, but the dough was very soft and it was difficult to cut into the dough without deflating the rolls. Could the problem be over proofed dough? Any responses would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Nope, just sharp sharp sharp so it cuts before dragging the dough.
I just made these and had the exact same deflate problem
I keep a package of razor blades in my kitchen for just this reason. You can buy a pack of 100 on Amazon for like $10, use one any time you need to score bread, and then toss when you’re done so they never dull. There’s also a dough scoring tool called a lame you could use, but it’s a curved blade, so that may not be ideal for these rolls.
These are utterly amazing. I always make a double batch and they are gone quickly. I recommend using Trader Joe’s “Everything Bagel” mix on top – silly good.
Hi Deb, no punching after the first rise to let the air out?
I’m hoping to make these for Thanksgiving this year, but I’m traveling a few hours on Thanksgiving morning…what would you do? Do second rise in the fridge and bake first thing in the morning before departing? Second rise in fridge and then transport and bake at location? Bake the night before? Thanks! Loved seeing you at Sixth and I in DC :)
Highly recommended!! I made these last night, and while I am an experienced baker, I had never really tangled with a yeasted dinner roll before. Followed directions to the letter, and they turned out perfect. This might be the new bonus thing I show up to potlucks with. I made one batch for a dinner party for six and had a few leftover. Thanks, Deb! ❤️
Hi Deb, M’lady
Next week I am attending a Friendsgiving potluck dinner and I would like to bring these rolls but am worried about the kitchen being too crowded so I am hoping to freeze and bake there. What are the instructions on doing that?
Thank you kindly!
I’ve had great success with just taking these out of the pan (they are all conjoined after baking), putting them in a ziploc bag, and heating them for a few minutes in the oven wherever I’m going – basically just while people are getting everything to the table. You can put them right on the rack, or on a piece of foil. You can do this if you’ve frozen them as well. I’ve never had a complaint – or leftovers!
Is there a way to get your recipes, especially bread recipes in weight measurements? I’m going to make the pretzel rolls and prefer to weigh the ingredients. Thanks!
Looks like a great recipe — Please add weights in grams/ounces to your recipes?
Can I skip the pretzel part and just make yummy rolls? Looking for a roll recipe to make for Thanksgiving!
These were great.
I want to quadruple the size for hamburger buns. Would you make any changes to the recipe?
I’m not sure how many this would make (4? 6?) but it should work just fine.
Hello Debbie! Is there supposed to be egg in the ingredients list? It seems all Parker House rolls recipes, including the recipe from the Omni Parker hotel, uses egg in the dough!
Not in this version — but I promise, they’re the best ones. :)
I made these twice, and both times they turned out dense– not nearly as fluffy as they appear to be in the pictures. Though they tasted fine, they were nearly indistinguishable from a Sister Shubert pan of rolls from the freezer section. The only difference being the pretzel effect, which I only applied to one batch. What am I doing wrong?
Sounds like you might be kneading them for too long! The longer you knead them the more the gluten developes and you’ll end up with dense, chewy and tough rolls. If you are using a stand mixer five minutes on the dot did it for me in terms of kneading. If you are doing it by hand I would totally recommend reading Deb’s other posts about bread making, internal temperature, etc. Good luck with your next batch!
Now our go-to recipe for dinner rolls! They’re the special touch for celebrations all year. Thank you
This is a go to recipe that I use all the time. Easy and delish.
Alright so I scoured the comments and couldn’t find anything about freezing them! So I went rogue and let them do the first rise, put them in a buttered pan then wrapped them up nice and tight in the freezer. I am going to pull them out on Tuesday morning around 7 AM, let them defrost for a few hours, complete the second rise, baking soda/egg wash them and bake them in the afternoon. We’ll see how it goes. Parker House Rolls are my sister’s absolute favorite! My boyfriend and I are going to her house for New Years and because she missed out on Thanksgiving I promised her I would make Parker House Rolls. I can’t wait to surprise her with these!
Hi! Any recommendations on prepping these the day before? I’d like to make the dough at home Wednesday AM and then bake them off Thursday on the big day. Thanks!
I may be the odd man out here, but do you think this recipe is a good one for Parker house rolls without “pretzeling “ them?
Hey Deb – so excited to try this version out for Thanksgiving! But I have (I’m guessing we all have) many other dishes that need our attention and are competing for limited counter space on Thursday. Is it alright to make the dough ahead of time and let it rest in the fridge before first rise?
I figured it’s probably butter to ask you before I just roll with that plan.
I made these for 2019 Thanksgiving dinner. Although I haven’t tried them yet, they look and smell amazing. I used baking soda method and got a nice browning. Definitely not pretzel brown, but lovely for a dinner roll. I cut the first row, but then stopped because it was deflating the rolls and my cuts were not clean. I doubled the recipe, but used a 9×12.5 pan, which was a little too small; the rolls were butted against each other. I do not think it inhibited the rise too much.
I want to serve these as part of buffet at Christmas. Would they work if they were made as individual rolls, on a sheet pan, not touching or should I bake as per recipe and pull apart before reheating? Just want to end up with individual rolls for guests to grab, not sure best way to achieve this.
can I make these with oat milk.
Probably it will be fine.
I have a question! How many grams should have one cup of flour in this recipe?
For this recipe, I’d say 130 to 135 grams.
Hey Deb if you make these again sometime soon and weigh your ingredients could you post an update? I’ve made these twice weighing 130g flour for a cup and wound up needed to add another half a cup of flour almost- sometimes a little more.
my buns look wonderful and domed after the second rise, but then they deflate when brushing and cutting, and they don’t “re-dome” while baking. yours do! how come?
thanks, from the jungles of Costa Rica
Hi Deb, I think I may have found a typo in the amount of yeast. In your cranberry orange roll recipe, a 7 gram packet of yeast is 2 and a half teaspoons, not 1 and a half. Is this correct?
I’m not following — I think these measurements are consistent.
Here: 1 1/4 teaspoons (half a 1/4-ounce or 7-gram packet) active dry yeast
Cranberry buns: 1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
… Or is it the 2 1/4 vs. 2 1/2 teaspoons? I actually see both measurements used, it’s possible it varies by brand.
I’ve made these twice so far. 1st time APF & 2nd 1/2 Bread Flour & 1/2 APF. I like the APF better.
1st time I did as Deb recommended, made ahead/refrigerated after 1st rise. I got a much better rise the 2 nd time. I recommend making them ahead of time and reheating.
I don’t know what, if any thing I did wrong but when I tried to score the rolls they deflated a bit. I’d like to try SAF yeast–Stella Parks go to, but I don’t use yeast much other than winter/holiday time so not sure its worth it.
Next time I won’t bother w scoring them.
My pretzel wash didn’t work as well as Deb’s in the photo.
They were a HUGE hit–both at TG & later that weekend.
I made these today and they were delicious! One question though: they ended up quite flat despite timing my prooving closely which I don’t usually do. Any thoughts on why this could have happened? I was careful not to knock the air out when shaping.
They might have just needed more time, especially if your kitchen runs cool.
I always proof things in my pre warmed oven so I dunno. Maybe too much heat?
It could be the opposite problem, you’re right — if it seemed puffy and then collapsed, it could have over-proofed. I’m sorry, this must be a frustrating set of answers!
You can actually create your own food grade lye.
Preheat oven to 300°
Spread 1/3 – 1/2 cup of baking soda on a glass or ceramic baking dish ( it can corrode aluminum pans)and bake for an hour. Let cool and carefully place in an airtight container.
Use gloves because it can cause burns to skin
Can you prepare the rolls to a certain point and then bake them the next day…please let me know if possible and how to do this. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving
Yes, you can shape them in the pan and leave them covered in the fridge overnight, baking them right before dinner.
Made these on a previous Thanksgiving and recalled them being good. Made them again this year, and the test-roll I baked in advance in the toaster oven was a bit bland. (though that was without pretzeling) I feel like these would benefit from full-salt butter, plus the called-for salt. Or just a bit more salt. Overall pretty good though.
Anyway leaving this comment so I can find it the next time I decide to make these.