Pizza Dough Vs. Pretzel Dough – Exploring The Key Differences

In the world of cooking, there are so many different kinds of foods made in all sorts of ways. Two favorites are pizza and pretzels. What might surprise you is that they both start with the same basic thing: dough.

While both these beloved snacks start with dough as their foundation, the end results are remarkably distinct.

The main difference between pizza dough and pretzel dough lies in their composition, preparation techniques, and the culinary experiences they offer.

Aren’t Pretzel Dough And Pizza Dough The Same?

Though pizza dough and pretzel dough aren’t identical, pizza dough tends to be a little wetter. When boiled in water & baking soda bath before baking, pizza dough gets very close to the same results.

The majority of people living in North America have eaten a soft pretzel and a slice of pizza at least once. Due to the differences in the two end products, it may surprise you how similar the two doughs are.

In pretzel dough, malted syrup is present.  

All the rest of the ingredients are flour, water, a leavening agent, and whatever additional ingredients your recipe calls for, such as olive oil or spices.

Despite the malted syrup imparting the pretzel flavor, you can still make a pretzel without it.

It’s not the ingredients that make pizza dough different from pretzel dough, but what you do with it before you bake it.

Pretzel dough needs to be boiled before it can be baked. The two doughs are very different in terms of the foods they become.

What Is The Difference Between Pizza And Pretzel Dough?

The main difference between pizza dough and pretzel dough lies in their composition, preparation techniques, and the culinary experiences they offer.

Basic Dough Recipes

In most dough recipes, three parts flour and one part water are used as the base. Even if we disagree on this, following these steps won’t lead to overly wet dough.

According to some bakers, the ratio should be three to five, which is a large difference in percentage terms.

To make the dough rise, we add a leavening agent. Your dough will be dense, heavy, and brick-like without it.

Steam, baking powder, or baking soda are other alternatives to yeast, which is arguably the most popular and effective agent.


Pizza dough is typically a blend of simple ingredients – flour, water, yeast, salt, and often a bit of olive oil.

The goal is to create a slightly chewy yet crisp crust that serves as the base for various toppings, from tomato sauce and cheese to a plethora of meats, vegetables, and seasonings.

On the other hand, pretzel dough takes a slightly different route. It involves the same basic ingredients, but often includes a baking soda bath before baking. This bath gives pretzels their distinctive brown and shiny crust.

The dough itself is often slightly denser and chewier than pizza dough, enhancing the contrasting textures of the soft interior and the slightly crunchy exterior.

Pizza Dough vs. Pretzel Dough – Preparation Techniques

Pizza dough is typically made by mixing the ingredients together, kneading the dough to develop gluten structure, and allowing it to rise before shaping and baking.

The emphasis is on creating a dough that can be stretched out into a thin or thick crust, depending on personal preference.

Pretzel dough preparation involves a unique step called “boiling.” After the dough is shaped into the classic pretzel twists or other forms, it is briefly boiled in a water and baking soda solution.

This process gives pretzels their characteristic flavor and distinctive chewiness. Once boiled, the pretzels are then baked to perfection.

With a basic understanding of the differences between pizza dough and pretzel dough, we can now examine how the two doughs compare when cooked into delicious food.

Pizza Dough

Unlike pretzels, pizza is over 1,000 years old, so there are many ways to make the dough. Likewise, pizza crust at Pizza Hut tastes different from that at Domino’s because no one recipe works for both.

There are, however, a few basic recipes that work for pretzels as well. Unlike pretzels, there is no barley malt syrup, and nothing is boiled.

  1. Mix 1 cup warm water with 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon active dry yeast. Wait for the yeast to foam up after about five minutes.
  2. Stir constantly as you add 2 1/2 cups of flour to the mixture.
  3. Spice it up with your favorite spices. Add a teaspoon of garlic salt, 1 tablespoon each of oregano and basil, and 1 tablespoon of oregano.
  4. To keep the dough from getting sticky, add up to 1/2 cup additional flour to the resulting dough. Knead the dough for about five minutes.
  5. Let the bowl sit for 10 minutes covered with plastic. Unlike bread dough, you don’t need it to double in size since you’re not baking bread.
  6. The dough should be rolled out on a flour-dusted baking stone or baking sheet, shaped, topped, and baked for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees F.

Pretzel Dough

The original pretzel maker was an Italian man from the 7th century, although pretzels were brought to us by Germans.

As they spread across Europe, German immigrants eventually brought them to the United States. Pennsylvania bakes 80 percent of US pretzels today.

Pretzel dough recipes are as varied as pretzel makers themselves, but here’s a basic recipe for making pretzels:

  1. 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup, 1/2 cup warm water, and 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast are combined. The mixture should foam up after about five minutes of stirring.
  2. Add 3 1/4 cups flour plus more if necessary, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and 2 teaspoons salt.
  3. After kneading the dough for ten minutes, it should be firm and tacky to the touch.
  4. You should allow the dough to rise for about an hour.
  5. After the dough has risen, flatten it and then cut it into eighths like you would for a pizza crust.
  6. Create long and thin cylindrical shapes by rolling the pizza-slice-shaped dough.
  7. Making pretzels is as easy as tying the dough rope together.
  8. Using boiling water and baking soda, boil each for 30 seconds. Pretzels are made chewy on the inside and hard-ish on the outside by this step.
  9. For about ten minutes, bake at 450 degrees. They’re ready to serve once they’re golden brown.

As you can see, pizza dough is much simpler than pretzel dough, but it has similar steps. It’s not the same, but the similarity raises some questions.

Culinary Experience

The end results of these distinct doughs offer different culinary experiences. Pizza, with its versatile crust and varied toppings, is often associated with a hearty and satisfying meal.

The interplay of flavors between the crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings makes for a harmonious and filling dish.

Pretzels, on the other hand, are known for their salty and slightly crispy exterior that gives way to a chewy and flavorful interior.

They are often enjoyed as a snack or appetizer, with their unique taste and texture making them a delightful treat on their own or accompanied by dips.

Can I Make Pretzels With Pizza Dough?

Despite the differences between pizza dough and pretzel dough, you can make pretzels with pizza dough. There may be a little something missing if you omit the malt syrup, but you will never make a disgusting pretzel.

Make your own pizza dough or (for those who are less patient) buy premade pizza dough from the grocery store.

Start at step five of the steps for making pretzels listed above. Making pretzels is as easy as cutting the dough, making ropes from it, tying them into pretzels, boiling them, baking them, and eating them.

Since pizza dough contains more sugar, the pretzels may taste sweeter, but most people won’t notice unless they’re pretzel purists.

With warm cheese sauce dipped in salty pretzels, you may not miss the barley malt syrup at all.


As we’ve seen, it’s only the prep process that differs between pizza dough and pretzel dough, though minor differences in the ingredients can be made from pizza dough.

If the pretzels are boiled in baking soda before they are baked, they will have the soft, chewy texture you expect from warm pretzels.

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