The Great Gluten-Free {German} Pretzel Taste Test

November 6, 2014

Germany gluten-free pretzel taste test_ 3 Pauly Seitz and Balviten brands with hummus

Being diagnosed with celiac whilst living in the land of beer and pretzels almost seems like a cruel joke. But as I've discovered with the ample baking I've been doing of late, being gluten-free doesn't mean giving up all the good stuff, or even the things traditionally made with gluten. While my first try with gluten-free beer was a bit of a bust (made me terribly ill), I've been a pretzel-lover long before I called Germany my home and was committed to finding a good gluten-free option. And so I set off on a taste-testing mission to find a safe version to satisfy not only my snack cravings, but my rather high food standards as well.

I will say up front that I did not include Schär pretzels, the ubiquitous brand for the gluten-free in Germany, because frankly, I think they suck and refused to buy them again solely for the purpose of this review. They belong in that category that I so often hear other celiacs refer to as "it's not horrible...", but that's not how I want to eat. I want to enjoy all my food, regardless of what it's made of. Gluten is not the answer to good food, as so many people are lead to believe with sad options like this. Amongst the first processed GF foods I tasted, these pretzels made me nearly cry with disappointment and I swore to never again feel so let-down by gluten-free foods. Thankfully, there are much better options out there.

I found an assortment of stick pretzels at a gluten-free online retailer I order from regularly and set to work over lunch one day last week. I had my husband weigh in for a second opinion, but as our dog wolfed down pretty much every one we let her try with no discerning preference, alas, there was no tie-breaker vote for the best ones. We ate them plain and dipped in our favorite lemon-coriander hummus, for different taste experiences. Good news for those with other allergies: these are all lactose-free and the first two claim to be safe from nut contamination as well.

Here is what I found...

Germany gluten-free pretzel taste test_ Polish Balviten Paluszki z solą salty sticks salzstangen

Balviten Paluszki z solą (Salty Sticks)

These long, thin pretzels from Poland seemed most like 'regular', made-with-gluten pretzels we had tasted before. The salt was not overwhelming and because of it's super-slim shape, it was more of the light, crispy outer part than the denser, more starchy consistency of heftier pretzels. My husband declared these his favorites, but there was something a bit chewy about the insides, almost as if they were a bit past their expiration date (they weren't), that turned me off. But I'm a big texture nut, which is often times just as important to me as the taste. I'm also partial to a snack that feels a bit more substantial, not making one down the whole bag in order to feel satiated. That said, these corn-based sticks are a good option for a light pretzel that makes you wonder why you ever ate gluten in the first place.

Buy them here

Germany gluten-free pretzel taste test_ 3 Pauly Mais salzstangen

3 Pauly Mais Salzstangen

These were the thickest and saltiest sticks of the bunch, with a slightly more airy consistency than the others. The light, nutty taste balanced well with the salt, but something inexplicable fell a little short for both of us on this one. On their own, they were a little lackluster, but it was as a dipping pretzel that these seemed to shine for their thickness, consistency and flavor. These seemed the most like a GF option trying to replace a gluten-filled one, rather than standing on its own as a good pretzel, regardless. While called 'corn salt-sticks', they are made from both corn and potato. With a flavorful dip, these are a solid option.

Buy them here

Germany gluten-free pretzel taste test_ Seitz salzsticks

Seitz Glutenfrei Salzsticks

Perhaps because I was a die-hard fan of Newman's Own thick pretzel sticks in the States (pre-diagnosis, of course), these sticks with their solid crunch quickly became my favorite. They are the heartiest of the bunch, harder with a more distinct, browned outer flavor that I just love. These had the least salt of them all and the strongest flavor, which is why I thought they stood up well on their own as well as with dips. These corn and rice pretzels are now regulars on my gluten-free online orders, but for those looking for a more traditional, lighter pretzel experience, you might be happiest with the Polish brand.

Buy them here

Germany gluten-free pretzel taste test_ lemon coriander hummus for dipping

And if you can get your hands on this fantastic hummus, that made me change my entire stance on hummus, I would highly recommend adding this to your GF pretzel, or other cracker/chip, routine. (We found it at denn's Biomarkt)

Happy snacking!

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