Gluten-free pretzels are an easy appetizer you can bake at home! Serve these soft pretzel bites with your favorite dipping sauce for an impressive game day snack.
Why You’ll Love Them
They turn out just like traditional pretzels! These pretzel bites have the same soft & chewy texture that you love, only without the gluten.
They’re easy to make. You don’t have to worry about a complicated folding technique with this recipe. Instead of creating classic pretzel shapes (which can fall apart in the baking soda bath) we will simply cut the dough into bite-sized pieces, for an easier option.
They’re allergy friendly. These gluten-free soft pretzels are made without dairy or nuts, and they are perfect for those following a gluten-free diet. I tested an egg-free version, too, but the middles turn out much more gummy that way. Be sure to always check the package labels, to ensure your ingredients are made in a gluten-free facility, to help avoid any cross-contamination.
They make a fun game-day snack. Your family & friends will be so impressed every time you make these! They turn perfectly golden and crack in the center, so they look like you bought them from a store.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in gluten-free pretzels?
- Gluten-free flour blend
- Active dry yeast
- Maple syrup
- Olive oil
- Baking soda
I’ve tested this recipe with King Arthur’s Gluten-free 1:1 blend and Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 blend, both of which include xanthan gum for good results. These flours can easily be found at Target stores and popular grocery chains.
I don’t recommend using Trader Joe’s 1:1 GF flour blend, as it does not turn out the same. (That flour produces much more dry and unappealing results!)
How to Make Gluten-Free Pretzels
1. Activate the yeast.
Fill a small bowl with very hot tap water and let it sit for 1 minute. This will warm up the bowl. Dump out the water, then to the warm bowl add the packet of yeast, the maple syrup, and a 1/4 cup of warm (not hot) water. Mix well, and set it aside for 5 minutes.
The mixture should develop a foam layer on top, letting you know that the yeast is good. If you don’t see any sort of bubbles on top, you may want to try another packet of yeast for the best results.
You can also use Instant Yeast for this recipe, and skip the activating process. Just be sure to add the water and maple syrup directly into the dough, so you’ll get the same liquid ratio.
2. Mix the dough.
In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine the gluten-free flour, egg, oil, salt, water, and yeast mixture. Stir well, until the dough sticks together and looks uniform.
Set it aside to rest for 10 minutes. Gluten-free dough doesn’t rise the same way a pretzel dough made with white flour would, so there’s no need to let it proof for too long.
3. Shape the pretzels.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, and roll one of them between your hands to form a ball. Place a piece of parchment paper down on the counter to prevent sticking, or you can use a lightly floured surface.
Use both hands to carefully roll the dough into a long rope, about a 1/2-inch thick and 12 to 14 inches long. Use a knife to cut the rope into 1 1/2-inch pieces, making several pretzel bites. (I usually get about 10 pieces per rope.)
Set those aside, and repeat the process with the remaining dough. You should get roughly 40 pretzel bites from this batch.
Fill a small saucepan with roughly 6 cups water, and bring it to a rolling boil. Add in 2 teaspoon of baking soda, which will bubble when you add it in. (We use this instead of lye to make an alkaline solution.)
Carefully drop several of the pretzel bites into the boiling water. Try to drop the pretzels in close to the surface, so you won’t get splashed with hot water during the process. I usually cook 6 to 8 pieces at a time.
When the pretzels float to the top, about 30 to 60 seconds, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water and transfer them to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Repeat with the remaining pretzel bites, until all of them have been boiled. This step will ensure they become nice and golden, like classic pretzels.
Once all of the pretzels have been transferred to the pan, sprinkle them generously with coarse sea salt (or a flaky sea salt like Maldon brand). Bake in an oven preheated to 400ºF for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
Let the pretzels cool for at least 5 minutes, and then they are ready to serve with your favorite dip, like a nacho cheese sauce or honey mustard. (Recipe below!)
Common Questions & Substitutions
Is yeast gluten-free? Yes, active dry yeast and instant yeast are both considered baker’s yeast, and they are naturally gluten-free.
How long do they last? Soft pretzels taste the best the first day you make them, but you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can pop them in the oven or air fryer for a few minutes at 350ºF, to warm them up again before serving.
Can I make them with a different flour? I’ve only tested this recipe with the gluten-free 1:1 flour blends mentioned above. If you need to use almond flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour, or another gluten-free option, I’d recommend looking for a different recipe that already tested it for you.
Can I use another sweetener? Yes. The sweetener helps to proof the yeast, but you can use a teaspoon of brown sugar or other granulated sugar, if you prefer.
Do I have to do the baking soda bath? This step will give you the most authentic, gold brown results. However, you could also brush the top of the pretzels with melted butter, if you want to try an alternative.
Can I make pretzels without using eggs? You’ll get gummy results if you leave the egg out of this recipe, but they are still edible. (Just not something I’d necessarily want to serve to company.) When testing a vegan version of this recipe, I replaced the egg with a teaspoon of baking powder, instead. This would potentially work well with all-purpose flour, but not with gluten-free flour blends.
- To proof the yeast, fill a small bowl with very hot tap water and set it aside for 1 minute. This will warm the bowl, to help activate the yeast. Pour the water out, then add the packet of yeast to the empty warm bowl. Add in the maple syrup and a ¼ cup of warm water, then mix well. Let the yeast rest for 5 minutes, and watch for a foam to develop on top. This means your yeast is active! (If it doesn't develop any bubbles, you might want to try another packet.)
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, egg, olive oil, and salt. When the yeast is done proofing, add that in, too, along with an additional 3 tablespoons of warm water. Stir the batter well, and add another tablespoon of water, the dough is looking too dry. Let the pretzel dough rest for 10 minutes. It won't rise much, due to the nature of gluten-free baking.
- When the batter is done resting, divide it into 4 equal parts. Roll one of those parts between your hands to form a ball, then set it down on a piece of parchment paper on your counter, to help prevent sticking. (You can also use a lightly floured surface, instead.) Roll the ball into a long rope, about a ½-inch thick, and 12 to 14 inches long. Use a knife to cut the rope into pieces about 1 to 1 ½-inches long, making roughly 10 to 12 pieces. Set those aside and repeat with the remaining dough. You should get at least 40 pieces in total from this batch.
- In a small saucepan, bring 5 to 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add in 2 teaspoons of baking soda, which will bubble when you add them. Carefully drop several of the pretzels bites into the boiling water. (Drop them as close to the surface as possible, so they don't splash you!) The pretzels should start to float to the surface in 30-60 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove them once that happens, and repeat with the remaining batch.
- Place the boiled pretzel bites on the large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (a half sheet should hold them all) and sprinkle the tops generously with flaky salt. Bake at 400ºF for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Let the pretzels cool briefly, and then they are ready to serve.
- Homemade pretzels are best the first day you make them, but you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
If you try these homemade gluten-free soft pretzels, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.