Homemade pretzel buns for hot dogs are long pretzel buns that are perfect for grilled bratwurst, hot dogs or to use as a sandwich roll. Called 'Laugenstangen' (lye sticks) in German, they are super soft and fluffy on the inside and taste just like from a really good German bakery. They are surprisingly easy to make, following the simple steps in this recipe.
This authentic German pretzel hot dog bun recipe is based on my popular soft pretzel recipe, using real lye (but that's nothing to be afraid of!). I have no doubt that these will be the best tasting pretzel hot dog buns you've ever had and I can't wait for you to try them!
If you're looking or burger buns (in pretzel version of course), then check out this recipe.
How to make them
You'll be surprised how easy it is to make homemade soft pretzel buns for hot dogs and brats at home.
Get ingredients together
You'll start by getting your ingredients ready (lye is really the only one that you need to think of ahead of time and I recommend getting this one for safety purposes).
Make the dough
Then you'll knead together a simple, yeast-based dough until it's smooth. This takes around 8 to 10 minutes, so I have my standmixer do the kneading for me.
Shape your pretzel hot dog buns
Normally you'd let a yeast dough rise before shaping, but you'll skip that step here. To shape your hot dog pretzel buns, you'll first divide up your dough into 8 pieces. I use a dough divider, but you can also use a knife.
You'll then shape rolls shapes and set those aside. I find that shaping round rolls first is easier. Watch the short video to help you with visuals for how to shape hot dog buns if necessary.
I then roll the round buns back and forth to create a long shape. Again, my video may help you there.
Let them rise
Now it's time to let your buns take a rest. I cover them with a clean kitchen towel and put them in a warm spot in my home for about 1 hour. I put mine too close together when I made them, so they ended up growing together. It ended up being no problem, I simply seperated them with a knife (or a dough cutter).
It would probably be best to give them a bit more space and divide them up between two baking sheets. I also place them on silicone baking mats, making them easy to remove after the rising and baking.
Sometimes the lye will make the pretzel buns so sticky that they are hard to remove from parchment paper. If you plan to bake pretzels a lot, it may be wise to invest in some silicone baking mats.
Some lye tips
Now it's time to dip them in lye. I highly suggest you read my tips in the recipe card, making this a safe undertaking. I prefer to do this directly under my vent hood turned to high or ideally outside (better if there is a breeze going). Ideally use a steel or glass bowl for mixing your lye solution.
I find that it's not necessary to use rubber gloves when dipping (after all, I've made pretzels a million times), but do use them if you're worried. I carefully drop the pretzel hot dog buns in by hand (or use your skimmer).
I then remove them with a steel skimmer to place them directly on the silicone baking mat. If you do end up getting lye on your hands, just wash off immediately.
Cut, sprinkle and bake
Sharpen a little knife and cut three diagonal slits into the top side of your hot dog buns. This is to allow them to rise in those specific places in the oven and to keep their elongated shapes (otherwise they may explode in odd places). Sprinkle with some pretzel salt and bake using your convection (hot circulating air) setting. I rotate them once through, after about 6 minutes.
Now it's time for your happy dance. You successfully made homemade pretzel buns for hot dogs or Bratwurst and I know you and whoever you share them with will LOVE them!
Hot dog and bratwurst recommendations
I suggest you stuff them with only the best of the best Bratwurst and hot dogs! The German-style butcher Schaller & Weber (from NYC) makes amazing German sausages that I can highly recommend. I have bought their product long before I started working with them. Martha Stewart even loves them so much that she just gave their cooked Bratwurst Martha's 'Good Things' stamp of approval.
To me, they taste just like home, especially when topped with their Düsseldorf mustard (and sauerkraut for the Americans). Schaller & Weber also make some great hot dogs and other German-style butcher products. And they ship! Perfect for presents too.
You're only a short list of ingredients away from making homemade hot dog buns (yes, the pretzel kind) at home.
- Flour. I use standard all-purpose flour. Save money here because it does the job just fine (some people use bread flour).
- Yeast. I use active-dry yeast and store it in the fridge when not in use. It's key to activate it with warm water and a little sugar before using for that fast rise effect.
- Sugar. Traditionally I use brown sugar for my pretzel recipe, but I happened to be out this time. I used plain sugar, so know either option works. The brown sugar adds a subtle, caramelized note.
- Salt. I use pink himalayan sea salt.
- Butter. I use grass-fed butter and you don't need much.
- Lye. This one's the key ingredient to making authentic-tasting homemade pretzel hot dog buns. I promise you will taste the difference. In the recipe card below, I point out a few safety precautions when using it. I also like to buy this kind because it comes in a childproof container that I store with my medicine (we have wild little kids at home).
- Pretzel Salt. Of course you would use kosher salt, which looks similar to pretzel salt. But in order to get the authentic pretzel look, I like to sprinkle my pretzels with pretzel salt before baking.
If you love this homemade pretzel hot dog buns recipe, then also check out my authentic traditional German pretzel recipe, my pretzel bun recipe (for burgers) and my fun bacon and cheese pretzels. Or how about an Oktoberfest-themed breakfast sandwich??
Homemade Pretzel Buns for Hot Dogs (Laugenstangen)
- 20 grams food-grade lye I am using a food-grade lye with a concentration of 100%. Your solution should have no more than 4% lye. You could also use baking soda instead of lye. See notes below.
- 500 milliliters water COLD water
- pretzel salt Kosher salt can be substituted, although pretzel salt makes your pretzels really authentic (and look like they came from a German bakery) and it's inexpensive!
- Stir together the Luke warm (barely warm) water, sugar and yeast and allow to bubble up, this should take 5 minutes. If it's not getting bubbly, your water may have been too hot or your yeast is bad. You'll have to repeat this step.15 grams sugar, 7 grams active dry yeast, 275 milliliters water
- Sift together the flour and salt, and add in the butter and the bubbly yeast mixture. Knead the dough on the low setting for 8 to 10 minutes using the dough hook.500 grams all-purpose flour, 10 grams sea salt, 30 grams butter
- Cover the dough with a piece of wax paper (or a clean linen towel) and let it rest for 5 minutes. This is to help prevent a skin from forming. Shape the dough into a long, even thickness log and divide into 8 equal pieces (see photo). Shape each piece of dough into little ball shapes first, and then into logs (about 10 in or 25 cm in length).
- Transfer the pretzel hot dog buns onto sheets of wax paper or silicone baking mats, cover with a clean linen towel, and let them rest and develop in a warm spot for about 60 minutes. I recommend using two baking mats and spreading them out. They stick to parchment paper A LOT, so I do not recommend placing them on parchment paper to let them rise OR to bake them.
- Prepare your lye solution in a well-ventilated area (like standing under a vent hood set to high or ideally being outside) because of potential fumes. I also recommend wearing a cloth or medical grade face mask and rubber gloves to be extra safe. Add the premeasured lye (it comes in dry granules) into COLD water, not the over way around. At this point, I like to step to the side for about 10 to 15 seconds to let potential fumes evaporate. Then carefully combine with a whisk until the solution is clear.Now dip the pretzel hot dog buns using a steel skimmer (you could also use two large spoons) for 5 to 10 seconds each before transferring them using your skimmer onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I have found the baking mats work better in releasing the pretzel rolls after baking, so it may be time to invest in some).Your pretzel buns will likely deflate during the dipping process, which is totally fine. They will end up looking just fine when they come out of the oven.20 grams food-grade lye, 500 milliliters water
- Take a small, sharp knife and cut 3 diagonal slits on the top of each hot dog bun to enable it to rise during the baking. Then sprinkle with the pretzel salt.pretzel salt
- Bake at 355° Fahrenheit or 180° Celsius (convection/Umluft setting) for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. I like to rotate them after 6 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing open longways and stuffing with grilled bratwurst, hot dogs or using them as sandwich buns.
- No Lye? Use baking soda instead. Dissolve ⅔ cup of the baked baking soda in 2 cups of water for your dipping solution. To get a more authentic pretzel taste, bake your baking soda before preparing the solution. On a baking sheet covered with foil, evenly sprinkle on the baking soda and bake for an hour at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius), making it more alkaline and closer to a PH value of lye. Then proceed with making the solution.
- Like Lighter Colored Pretzels? I dip my pretzels for just 5 to 10 seconds in a 4% lye solution (4 grams of lye per 100 ml of cold water). If you would like lighter colored pretzels, you have two choices. Either dip your pretzels for a shorter period of time or go with a more diluted solution.