Crunchy, toasty brown, and with the perfect sweet + salty balance, this Vegan Gluten-Free Homemade Pretzel Sticks recipe is ideal for snacking or dipping!
My thinking was “Hey soft pretzels are really tricky, let’s give the crunchy ones a try instead!” You have to imagine me saying that in a hopeful, optimistic, this-must-be-possible voice. The optimism lasted all the way through the kneading and the rolling and the twisting and the first 2/3 of the baking. And then it faded. Fast.
The crunchy part of the crunchy pretzel sticks was missing. There was no crunch. But then they cooled, and the crunch returned. Well sort of. They were crunchier than before, but still nowhere near Snyder’s level of snappy. But snappy enough to pretzel persevere on to trial number 2.
With a few ingredient tweaks and cook time changes, trial number 2 was snappy! Very snappy. If you love your teeth stay away kinda snappy. So now the challenge was finding the balance between chewy and dental emergency.
Trial number 3 was not the perfect balancing act I was hoping for–too soft again. But it wasn’t ingredients or cook time or temperature that was the problem, it was the pan arrangement. With four dozen pretzels on one pan, none of them got the proper heat necessary to become perfect pretzels. They needed more space to stretch out, express themselves, find their own happiness. Wait…are we still talking about pretzels?
Well as long as we agree “happiness” = crunchiness and “express themselves” = perfect golden brown edges, it still makes sense.
So for trial number 4 I didn’t change a single ingredient. All I did was use 2 pans instead of one and play with the oven temperature a little bit. And wow what a difference it made!
Finally the ideal crunchy pretzel stick. Crispy, toasty brown, and with the perfect snap! Plus a lovely balance of salty and sweet flavors–that’s my favorite part.
Vegan Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks Recipe
So now that you’ve heard the entire pretzel saga, let’s talk specifics of this pretzel sticks recipe…
Flours. These pretzels are made with my favorite flour combo: oat + tapioca. As long as you use certified gluten-free oats, they are totally gluten-free. And with the help of tapioca flour the dough is still incredibly soft and pliable, which is essential for pretzel twisting. Oh and it’s oil/fat free too!
Yes the tapioca flour is necessary. No I do not know if _______ flour will work instead. This is what I have tested and know to work. Just saying.
Yeast-Free. This pretzel sticks recipe is completely yeast free, relying on baking powder as the leavening agent. I know some people prefer yeast free recipes for dietary reasons, but I really love them mostly because they are faster. No waiting around on microscopic organisms to do their part. Just knead, roll, boil, brush, and bake!
“Egg” wash. To make the outsides extra toasty brown, most hard pretzel recipes use an egg wash. With a little research, I found a vegan alternative that not only makes for lovely browning but also adds to the flavor. It is made by whisking maple syrup and non-dairy milk together and then brushing that on the pretzels after boiling them in the baking soda solution. That layer of sweetness combined with the salty sprinkle on top is so delicious.
Baking. After lots of experimentation with oven time and temperature, I have found a slightly lower temp for a longer time to work best. Otherwise the outside cooks faster than the inside. However, a bit of high heat initially makes them crisper in the end, so preheat the oven to 400F and then reduce to 325F when you put the pretzels in.
As for the baking time, 50-55 minutes will yield a crunchy pretzel that keeps it’s crunch even days later. Less time than that and the inside will still be slightly chewy. Personally I don’t mind that–like a soft pretzel but in miniature. Also, the twists take longer to cook than the sticks, so at 50-55 minutes the twists may not be as crunchy as the sticks. And remember every oven is different so it might take some experimentation with your oven.
Okay, that’s all the pointers I can think of for now. I hope you enjoy these salt-sprinkled snappy snack sticks!
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- 3/4 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar (optional)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 3 tbsps baking soda (for boiling)
- 2 tbsp non-dairy milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Coarse salt for sprinkling on top
- Combine the flours, baking powder, coconut sugar, and salt. Stir.
- Add the boiling water. Mix/knead to form a cohesive dough. It should not be sticky, if it is add a little extra tapioca flour.
- Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out into thin ropes. Cut into sticks or twist into mini pretzel shapes. The dough will dry out as it sits, dampen your hands and proceed rolling to re-moisten it.
- Fill a large, shallow pan with water. Add the baking soda. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add some of the pretzels. Do not overcrowd them, I did it in about 6 batches.
- Boil for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the water and spread onto 2 or 3 baking pans lined with parchment paper. DO NOT overcrowd them.
- Continue until all pretzels have been boiled.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Mix together your egg wash. Brush a thin layer on all the pretzels.
- Top with coarse salt.
- Place the pans in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325F. Bake for 50-55 mins.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool for at least 15 mins before removing from the pan and eating.
- They are best fresh. Keep in an airtight container, but they may soften with time.