Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

I am a bona fide soft pretzel addict. Whether I’m at the mall, at a sporting event, or at a restaurant that’s offering Oktoberfest specials, there’s at least a 90% chance that I’m going to get a soft pretzel.

There’s something so satisfying about that distinctive chewy exterior paired with the warm, soft inside of a pretzel that makes them irresistible. It’s a snack food that transcends seasons – whether you’re enjoying a baseball game on a warm summer evening, partaking in Oktoberfest festivities during the fall, catching a hockey game in the dead of winter, or strolling the mall any time of year, soft pretzels are where it’s at.

Making Soft Pretzels

This is my third iteration of a soft pretzel recipe… my first attempt was nearly SIX years ago(!)… then I moved on to another recipe a few months later, and then finally settled on this fabulous version some two years ago, and it’s the only one I’ve been making since. I’ve found that this recipe produces the softest, chewiest, most “traditional” tasting soft pretzels that I’ve made to date. My deepest apologies for taking this long to get it up on the site!

You don’t have to be an expert at baking with yeast to turn out some fantastic soft pretzels. Before long, you’ll be twisting and shaping dough like a pro. So, if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to work with yeast, this recipe is a fabulous place to start, as it’s basic, easy and incredibly forgiving. Once you have this basic recipe down, you can use it to make all sorts of adaptations: mini pretzels, cinnamon-sugar pretzels, cheddar pretzels, or even pretzel dogs!

Soft Pretzels

One year ago: Chicken Noodle Soup and Oatmeal Carmelita Bars
Two years ago: Oatmeal Muffins with Dates, Cranberries and Pecans
Three years ago: Rugelach
Five years ago: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

Soft Pretzels

Yield: 8 pretzels

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

My favorite recipe for classic soft pretzels. Perfect plain or dipped in your favorite mustard sauce!

Ingredients:

1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
4½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cups baking soda
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, whisked together (for egg wash)
Coarse salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Combine the water, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.

2. Add the flour and butter. Use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with the vegetable oil; set aside.

5. Combine the water and baking soda in a large, wide pot (a Dutch oven works perfect for this). Bring the mixture to a rolling boil.

6. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.

7. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 2 or 3 at a time (or however many will fit comfortably given the size of your pot – don’t crowd them), for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large, flat spatula. Place the boiled pretzels back on the baking sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.

8. Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)

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126 Responses to “Soft Pretzels”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Aikko @ Bake Happy on January 7, 2013 at 12:32 am

    The only time I have pretzels are when I go to the mall and buy some from Auntie Anne’s. I particularly love it with Sugar and Cinnamon. Perhaps it’s time to make some myself. Thanks for sharing Michelle! Have a great week ahead! :)

    Reply

  2. Allison Day on January 7, 2013 at 12:33 am

    I have a serious weakness for soft pretzels, but I’ve never attempted them at home. Perhaps this will be the year I try to make them! Do you have any recommendations for good mustard sauce recipes? :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 7th, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Hi Allison, I’ve never made my own mustard sauce; I believe the one we had with the pretzels in the photo was purchased at Ikea in their little grocery section near the exit ;-)

      Reply

  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks on January 7, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Too funny….on my list of things to make THIS WEEK (and would have done it today but it was raining and I didnt want to make bread on a rainy day) was to make soft pretzels. I was going to use the Alton recipe & King Arthur and sort of roll them into one. Yours look so good I just want to grab one, and makes me want to make my pretzels finally!

    Reply

  4. Margriet on January 7, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Hi, thanks for this recipe! I love soft pretzels a lot and I would love to use your recipe.
    But I have a question: 2/3 cups of baking soda seems like a whole lot to me (although I am not very familiar with baking soda, I’m from the Netherlands and we usually use baking powder as a leavening agent). So, is 2/3 cups / 200 grams correct?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • Margriet on January 7th, 2013 at 2:42 am

      Oh sorry, I understand now, it’s not used as a leaving agent but for the water to boil the pretzels in. That explains a lot. :)

      Reply

      • Dan on August 12th, 2013 at 5:53 pm

        Baking soda is in baking powder. Baking soda rises at room temp, but baking powder does most of its rising with heat. Baking soda will have a slight bitter, unless the recipe has an acid in it (chocolate, yogurt, citrus, vinegar. etc.) where as baking powder has cream of tarter (acidic) to cut this.

        Reply

  5. Emma on January 7, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Ok, I’m so making this. Very soon. Will post pics of my success (or failure, but I highly doubt it will be a failure). I haven’t had a true “failure” from your recipes yet!

    Reply

  6. Linda on January 7, 2013 at 3:37 am

    I did not read the recipe very well and all I saw was 10 cups of water. Was reading your intstructions and am thinking that 10 cups of water to 1 pkg of yeast. Finally looked at the recipe again and saw 1 1/2 cup of water.

    Have never tasted one of these but they sound good.

    Reply

  7. Ellen on January 7, 2013 at 3:53 am

    I loooooove pretzels. I hope a recipe for that mustard comes along soon:)

    Reply

  8. Keisha on January 7, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Its like you read my mind and posted this recipe for me! I was just daydreaming about having a big, warm soft pretzel just yesterday! I can’t wait to try these.

    Reply

  9. megan @ whatmegansmaking on January 7, 2013 at 6:14 am

    I’ve been wanting to make soft pretzels for awhile now. I’ve made them in bite form, but I want to actually twist the pretzels :)

    Reply

  10. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on January 7, 2013 at 6:46 am

    I love soft pretzels and yours look amazing! I have been hearing about Alton’s pretzel recipe a lot lately, and with your recipe, I plan on making pretzels this week!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Reply

  11. Manon @ Des Moines Good Eats on January 7, 2013 at 7:06 am

    I’m addicted to soft pretzels, too, but have never been brave enough to try to make them myself–I may just have to give them a whirl!

    Reply

  12. leslie on January 7, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Soft pretzels are totally on my bucket list!!!!!!!

    Reply

  13. Meaghan on January 7, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Love soft pretzels- can’t wait to try this recipe. I just got a pastry mat similar to the one you show above as well!

    -m

    Reply

  14. Heather @ SugarDish(Me) on January 7, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Okay, so I’ve never made soft pretzels but they are definitely on my list. So funny that you posted this today because over the weekend we found a soft pretzel shop while we were out and about and went on a total binge, and my little guy’s been wanting more. Thanks!

    Reply

  15. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on January 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Soft pretzels are the best! My husband has been hinting that I need to make them again! :)

    Reply

  16. sally @ sallys baking addiction on January 7, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Michelle, since I made my first soft pretzel recipe last month during the holidays, i’ve been searching cookbooks and the internet for different varieties and I have always come back to Alton Brown’s. I’m glad you made it and shared these with us – I am a true believer in homemade pretzels now and can’t wait to try this version someday. :)

    Reply

  17. bridget {bake at 350} on January 7, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Totally swooning!

    Reply

  18. Kirsten on January 7, 2013 at 9:08 am

    I LOVE soft pretzels too! Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  19. Melanie on January 7, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Hubby is a big fan of soft pretzels, so soft pretzels have been on my to-do list for quite a long time. I’m so making these soon! I’m a big AB fan and your pics are great so I’m sure these can’t go wrong. Mmmmm, I can almost smell them now. thanks for sharing!!

    Reply

  20. Jade on January 7, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I love homemade soft pretzels; do you have any advice – I have stripped the gears on my artisan kitchenaide three different times making soft pretzels, and the last time I made them by hand :( too much kneading my arm was so swore.

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 7th, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Hi Jade, Yikes! I feel your pain. It got to the point where my Artisan was smoking every time I kneaded bread dough. If you find that you’re kneading a lot of dough in your mixer, I definitely recommend upgrading to the Professional series. It’s been a dream for me. Until then, lots of elbow grease!

      Reply

  21. Carolin on January 7, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Can we get the dip recipe or do we have to wait for it? =)

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 7th, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Hi Carolin, I apologize for any misunderstanding, I don’t have a homemade mustard dip recipe. I am working on a homemade cheese dipping sauce, though!

      Reply

  22. MJ on January 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I recently got into making homemade pretzels and my family loves them. I do mine slightly different – I do not put on the egg wash. I wait until they have been in the oven for 5 minutes – then I brush with butter and sprinkle the salt at that point. Then bake until golden brown – they taste similar to auntie annies!

    Reply

  23. Kelley @ the culinary enthusiast on January 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Looks good! One of my 2013 foodie goals is actually to make more yeasted breads. These WILL be made in my kitchen soon!

    Reply

  24. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on January 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I’ve been dying to make pretzels and was thinking of doing so in the coming weeks, and these definitely look like a great place to start!

    Reply

  25. Maria on January 7, 2013 at 9:51 am

    We love making soft pretzels!

    Reply

  26. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on January 7, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Such a fav in this house. Yum!

    Reply

  27. Michelle on January 7, 2013 at 9:54 am

    If I don’t want to add salt on top of the pretzels do I still need to do the egg wash?

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 7th, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Hi Michelle, I would, it gives them a nice golden brown color.

      Reply

  28. Jodi Pavlik on January 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I love soft pretzels too! I am just not sure if I have the patience for this process! I think the whole boiling water and putting them in there scares me!

    Reply

  29. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on January 7, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I had soft pretzels on my mind recently. These look perfect! I have yet to try Alton’s recipe but after seeing yours – I can’t wait!

    Reply

  30. Tina | My Life as a Mrs on January 7, 2013 at 10:32 am

    these look GREAT girl!!!

    Reply

  31. Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen on January 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I’m madly in love with soft pretzels and it was one of the first yeasted doughs I tried. So simply and totally amazing fresh outta the oven.

    Reply

  32. AndreaL on January 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Thank you for this recipe. My mom used to make a version of this so it touched me so very much to see something like she used to make. Note to the ladies – always get your mom’s recipes before its too late.

    Reply

  33. Laurie on January 7, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I’m so glad to see you adding photos of the recipe in progress in addition to your final finished end product pics.

    Is there a particular reason why you only crossed the ends of your pretzels rather than twisting them as is traditionally done?

    Also, if using instant yeast do you just skip the step of adding the yeast to the water and waiting for it to foam?

    Reply

  34. Jennifer Akridge on January 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Making soft pretzels is one of the things my grand daughters love to do at grandma’s house. Now we have a new recipe to test out. Their father, my son, particularly likes it when we make soft pretzels also. Thanks for the new adventure.

    Reply

  35. Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen on January 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    These look pretty easy to make! I’ve stopped getting pretzels from stands at games, etc. just because I don’t think they taste like they used to! They have become flavorless and blah. But, the one’s from Auntie Anne’s & The Pretzel Twister are a different story!

    Reply

  36. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on January 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    This is too funny because I’ve had soft pretzels on my mind for a week now. I have to make them at home because the ones at the mall, although soo tempting, are so horrible for you!

    Reply

  37. Rebecca on January 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    These are the best! Can you share a good cheese dip recipe for the pretzels? I can’t find one that we like…

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 7th, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Hi Rebecca, I am working on it! :)

      Reply

  38. Bree {Skinny Mommy} on January 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    OH my goodness these look so fabulous!

    Reply

  39. Anna Whiz on January 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I am trying to move away from using white flour. Any suggestions on how this would need to be modified for (at least partial) whole wheat flour?

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 7th, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      Hi Anna, I have not used any wheat flour in this recipe to date. You could give it a try, but I wouldn’t recommend substituting all of the flour for whole wheat. Even a partial substitution may affect the texture and outcome. Please let me know how it goes if you try it!

      Reply

      • Sara on September 21st, 2013 at 10:02 pm

        I used 1/2 ea white and whole wheat and it is delicious!

        Reply

  40. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up on January 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Like you, I cannot resist a good pretzel. I have been MEANING to bake some.. maybe with some cheese sauce! Great post!!

    Reply

  41. Sarah on January 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you for this! It reminds me of being back in New York City! And my boyfriend loves soft pretzels so I will definitely be making these!

    Reply

  42. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on January 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I LOVE SOFT PRETZELS!!! Can’t wait to make these!!

    Reply

  43. marie//littlekitchie on January 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    um, YES please! I’ve been wanting to make soft pretzels for a while now, and these pictures are convincing me even more! Looks delicious!

    Reply

  44. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on January 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Soft pretzels are amazing, nothing can compare! Yours are the perfect color and shape!

    Reply

  45. Tracy {pale yellow} on January 7, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks for posting a tried and true recipe, I can’t wait to try my hands at pretzel making!

    Reply

  46. Daniel on January 7, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Originally pretzels were boiled in a lye/water solution. Lye is not something most of us want to use in our home kitchens for cooking. However, if you bake the baking soda in a 200 degree oven for an hour the ph of the baking soda will be lowered and the resulting pretzel will be better.

    Reply

  47. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on January 7, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    If it weren’t so late and my mixer weren’t so loud, I’d be in the kitchen making pretzels right now. I haven’t had a homemade soft pretzel in far too long!

    Reply

  48. Laura Dembowski on January 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I haven’t had a soft pretzel in forever but they are one of my favorite childhood treats. Your sound and of course look amazing. I guess I need to get to work :)

    Reply

  49. Alley @ Alley's Recipe Book on January 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    This doesn’t sound too difficult… I will have to try it out some time soon. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  50. Mariam on January 8, 2013 at 1:13 am

    I love soft pretzels! Unfortitely it’s kind of hard to find here in Australia! I would so make these right now except it’s a scorching hot 43 degrees C heat wave and the last thing I want to do is bake!

    Reply

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