Healthy and Sane

Making pretzel sandwich buns (+Christina’s spice shop)

September 25th, 2011 · 32 Comments · baking, bread, favorite recipes, sandwich

pretzel sandwich

Last month, Rachel of Boston Food Bloggers organized a tour of the Taza chocolate factory, followed by a trip to a few of her favorite spots in Somerville. I’m rarely in the area so I took up the opportunity to not only meet a few new blog friends but also check out some of Somerville’s hidden gems.

Christina’s spice & specialty food perfectly fit the bill.

christina's spice & specialty foods

The shop is small but is jam packed with spices, sauces, and… specialty foods (yeah, I’m original like that). The photo above depicts tables full of spices, alphabetically organized (!!). This makes it really easy to find that spice you’ve been looking all over for… and a few others you didn’t know you needed but could not walk out of the shop without having.

The shelves were full of other fun goods…

christina's spice & specialty foods-2

…like every kind of salt imaginable…

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How cool are these long peppers?

christina's spice & specialty foods-3

I’ve heard a lot about preserved lemons lately. I will be definitely picking up a baggie next time!

christina's spice & specialty foods-5

christina's spice & specialty foods-6

Spices and herbs as far as the eye could see…

christina's spice & specialty foods-7

christina's spice & specialty foods-8

It was exciting and overwhelming. They had sumac – a spice I often see in my Please to the Table cookbook. I also picked up a few kinds of paprika (again, the book always calls for smoked, sweet or spicy and I just had the generic “paprika” from Whole Foods before). Then pretzel salt and fleur de sel caught my eye and of course I had to grab those (btw, everything is available in little baggies or in bottles. They also have empty bottles if you need them – pretty awesome!). And then it was time to cut myself off before too much damage could be done! Winking smile


I’ve been using the paprikas ever since. I think sumac will first go into a traditional plov (I’ll blog over at Russian Bites when I make that). And pretzel salt of course had to be put to use over some pretzels. Actually better than pretzels – pretzel buns for pretzel sandwiches. Oh yes!!

I used Alton Brown’s recipe for pretzels but instead of twisting the dough into the traditional pretzel braids, divided it into ten 3.5-3.75oz balls.


With the help of instant yeast and my trusty KitchenAid mixerwith a hook attachment, this dough came together in about 5 minutes. 50 minutes later it doubled in size and was very easy to work with. As I said before, I divided it into 10 balls for large sandwich buns.


After a quick dip in a baking soda bath, an egg wash…


… and a sprinkling of salt, they were ready to bake!


Quick tip – don’t be shy with the salt. Your buns will further grow in the oven so the salt will spread out. I could have probably tripled the amount I used!

Hello gorgeous!


The whole thing came together so quickly, this little experiment for sure was the beginning of something beautiful. A pretzel filled beautiful life! Smile I will no doubt will be making mini ones for sliders or any time a pretzel craving or an amazing-bun craving hits!



Fresh fig buratta, tomato, basil and dijon mustard sandwich = heaven on earth


Incredibly soft on the inside, chewy on the outside. These were out-of-this world amazing… and easy enough even for a weeknight project. Seriously!


Make them now. They will change your life. They changed mine! Open-mouthed smile

Where do you go to for hard to find spices?

Ever made pretzels?

How should I use my fleur de sel?

Tell me, tell me, tell me!!

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32 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living

    I MUST visit that spice shop! I need to set aside a few hours to leisurely browse ;). As for the pretzel sandwich buns… wow! I’ve been wanting to make them for a while, and yours turned out perfectly. John would absolutely love them.

    • #2 - Elina

      You would have loved that shop. I was like a kid in a candy store… expect it was filled with spices 😉
      As for John loving these, I have no doubt – Adam was nearly making a happy dance when he saw what just came out of the oven!

  • #3 - Elizabeth

    I have been obsessed with pretzel rolls lately. Swiss Bakers sells them at my market in Allston and makes a mozzarella tomato basil sandwich on them that is delightful.

    • #4 - Elina

      I’ve had those sandwiches… so delicious, you’re right. These pretzel rolls are a lot lighter so I actually think they are even better. I can’t wait for lunch!! :)

  • #5 - Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    Those pretzel rolls look amazing and I would love a trip to that spice store!

  • #6 - Michelle

    I’m a big fan of Christina’s! Those pretzel rolls look great!

  • #7 - Ranjani

    Making pretzels into sandwich buns is an amazing idea! I have to try this. Also, about preserved lemons – the ones you have been reading about are probably preserved in salt + lemon juice, not dried – they are super easy to make too! Let me know if you want a recipe.
    p.s. only one m in Somerville =).

  • #11 - betsy

    such a good idea, those look delicious!

    agree that Christina’s is awesome, so is their ice cream!

  • #13 - Daisy

    the sentence “A pretzel filled beautiful life” is a great one! these look insanely good!

  • #14 - Emily @ A Cambridge Story

    Oh how i absolutely adore homemade pretzel rolls! Yours look great! I use fleur de sel on pretty much anything… but sprinkled on the last heirloom tomatoes of the season could be good!

  • #15 - Kristin

    These look great! How long did the rolls have to bake?

    • #16 - Elina

      Mine took about 14 minutes at 450*. Basically until they are golden brown.

  • #17 - Megan

    I love pretzel rolls! I’ve just made them dinner roll size, but I need to make them sandwich-size.

  • #18 - Bridget

    Ahh I used to live so close to there! I’ve been to the ice cream shop but never wandered into the spice shop! Totally should have.
    Funny, I was having thought of pretzle making last weekend! Still want to make some soft pretzles :) Is it wishful thinking to hope you have some left for tonight?? 😉 See you soon!!

  • #19 - Adrienne

    Yay! I love Christina’s, it makes me so happy when other people love it too :)

    Oh, did you know you can make preserved lemons? Soooo easy, it takes like 20 minutes to put together and then you just stick them in the fridge for a few weeks before you use them. (I think your picture was of dried lemons).

    • #20 - Elina

      Oh yeah – just realized that it didn’t even say preserved lemons. Oops. I really should try making preserved lemons sometime. And maybe even pick up some of the dry ones and play around with those :)

  • #21 - shannon

    these look so so good!! i’ve been meaning to check out christinas… must do it soon :)

    • #22 - Elina

      Let me know if you go. I have a few more “weird” things on my list. I may even join you :)

  • #23 - Alaina

    Hmm, there is nothing like a good warm, soft pretzel! I will have to try these sometime for sandwiches. :-)

    Is this the Christina’s in Inman Square? Love her ice cream!

  • #25 - Ali

    Oh you inspired me to find a spice shop near me!! Can’t wait to try the pretzel rolls! Breafast sandwich on a pretzel roll?? Yum!

  • #26 - inna

    (that’s all i have to say)

  • #27 - natalie (the sweets life)

    ahh I recently made pretzel rolls and fell in love…but I just used regular sea salt..I need to get some pretzel salt, that is awesome!!

  • #28 - eatingrd

    What a neat spice shop!!! I’d be in sheer heaven. I’ve never actually made pretzels before, but those buns look fantastic :)

  • #29 - lauren

    I need to check that spice shop out next time I’m in Boston. I love browsing in places like that and I’m also guilty of just using “regular” paprika in everything.
    I have never had a pretzel roll, but I know I would love them. Yours look delicious, I just love the way the tops crack. I’ve made bagels once before, so I think I am up tackling this recipe soon. Very soon!

    • #30 - Elina

      These are 1,000 times easier than bagels. Check back here and let us know how it goes if you make them, ok?

  • #31 - Fun in the Kitchen | Faking it and Making it

    […] I’ve never made a pretzel, let alone a pretzel roll before, but last week when I saw Elina from Healthy and Sane blog about her results with Alton Brown’s recipe I knew that needed to change. I followed Alton’s recipe, but instead […]

  • #32 - Making toffee (and chocolate-almond toffee saltines) | Healthy and Sane

    […] was also possibly mentioned in relevant posts): making marshmallows, making challah bread, making pretzel sandwich buns, Italian bread, and making ricotta. I think it’s something about demystifying some of my favorite […]