Personally, pretzels have always been one of my favorite snack foods. There is just something wonderfully appealing about a pretzel shape, and even a pretzel stick.
Truth be told, I prefer them to potato chips, Doritos and tortilla chips. But, how can you enjoy deliciousness of grain-filled pretzels without overstepping the gluten-free diet?
Is it the combination of salty, crunchy texture and the grainy taste that makes them such a great snack? Perhaps, it is because pretzels can be made soft and salty as well as crisp and crunchy.
I remember repeatedly wishing to eat a bag full of pretzels while I was gluten-free. It was difficult to find bags of crisp and crunchy gluten-free pretzels in the stores. But, in time, my Mom actually found gluten-free pretzels that looked, tasted and were, even, packaged like your standard wheat pretzels.
I was so happy to enjoy my favorite snack food again and, now, you can too! I have listed the different brands of gluten-free crunchy pretzels below along with how and where you can buy them. Most, if not all, of these brands are completely gluten-free and manufactured in a special gluten-free facility.
- Ener-G Pretzels – These pretzels are not only gluten-free, they are wheat-free, lactose-free, milk-free and egg-free. Ener-G sells both plain and sesame pretzels. These are the first gluten-free pretzels that I ever tried and I found them to taste very close to the real thing! The texture was a little off, but, in our case, the taste made up for it. Ener-G pretzels are easy to locate in your local natural food store, such as Whole Foods Market. They are also available in most chain grocery stores.
- Glutino Pretzels – Glutino products are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility which processes gluten-free, wheat-free, milk-free, casein-free and egg-free foods. These pretzels come in sticks as well as a standard pretzel shape. They taste almost identical to wheat-based pretzels and their texture is also very similar to the ordinary ones. Glutino pretzels are almost always available in chain grocery stores, though you might find a better deal on them online.
- Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzel Sticks– These pretzel sticks are certified gluten-free, dairy-free, casein-free and egg-free. They come in regular packs and in 100-calorie packs. Snyder’s look and taste really close to the usual grain-based pretzels. While they may be harder to locate in the stores, these pretzels are readily available at reasonable prices.
Of course, soft pretzels are very good too! So here’s a specialty for all you soft pretzel fans, a recipe so that you can make them at home yourself! There is nothing better than a hot, chewy, homemade pretzel on a long afternoon or evening.
Gluten-Free Deliciously Soft Pretzels
Prep Time: 90 minutes.
Cooking Time: Approximately 3 hours.
Yields: Approximately 12 pretzels
- 2 cups of white rice flour
- 1 cup of brown rice flour
- ¾ cup of tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 cup of warm water plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons of light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
For Water Bath
- 4 quarts of water
- ¼ cup of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- For the Topping:
- Kosher salt or pretzel salt
- In bowl of stand mixer, combine white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, xanthan gum, and baking powder.
- Whisk to combine. In small bowl, combine 1 cup warm water and active dry yeast. Stir. Allow to stand for three minutes.
- Add water-yeast mixture, egg, light corn syrup, and vegetable oil to dry ingredients.
- Fit stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until dough forms, about 4 minutes. The dough should be firm but not dry.
- If any dry ingredients remain at the bottom of the bowl or if the dough seems dry, add the additional 2 tablespoons water.
- Turn dough out onto lightly white rice-floured counter.
- Knead dough into a ball until smooth. Take care not to use too much pressure while kneading.
- Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 425°F.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boiling.
- Turn dough out onto a very lightly white rice floured counter top.
- Punch down dough gently to deflate.
- Cut into 12 pieces.
- Cover dough with plastic wrap.
- One at a time, knead each piece of dough until smooth. Then, roll out the dough pieces into 12 to14-inch logs. (You want little to no white rice flour on the area of the counter where you are rolling the dough. If there is too much flour on the outside of the dough, the pretzel dough won’t stick to itself when you go to shape it.)
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working one log at a time, form the dough into a into “u”. Twist each end together and then press the rope into the bottom of the “u”. You want to press the dough firmly to ensure the ends stick to the “u” or the pretzel can unravel during boiling.
- Place shaped pretzels on prepared baking sheet.
- Add the baking soda and granulated sugar to the boiling water.
- One at a time, boil the pretzels. If the pretzel floats, boil for about five seconds. If the pretzel sinks, wait for it to float to the top of the water and then remove. Return boiled pretzels to the prepared baking sheets.
- Sprinkle generously with kosher or pretzel salt.
- Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway during baking.
- Remove and allow pretzels to cool. Pretzels are best served the day they’re made.
- If desired, freeze once cooled and reheat in a warm oven. Enjoy!
Now, you can enjoy the deliciousness of both crunchy and soft pretzels in a totally gluten-free way! The gluten-free diet no longer needs to be long and mundane. You can still eat the same snacks that you used to love growing up without suffering those horrible gluten-based side-effects. Learn to love food again!
Image courtesy plantetc1