August Bake-Along: Homemade Soft Pretzels

These homemade soft pretzels are the best of the best – a chewy exterior with an incredibly soft inside that just melts in your mouth. Such a fun snack to make with kids – bake up huge pretzels, regular-size, pretzel bites, or even make pretzel dogs with this dough. Perfect for afternoon snacks, movie nights, game days, or “just because”.

Soft pretzels on a plate with dipping mustard in the background.

Welcome to the August Bake-Along! I’m excited to bake with you this month; I picked a recipe that might get us ready for football season and fall festivities :)

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 absolutely no question that I’m going to get a soft pretzel.

There’s something so satisfying about that distinctive chewy exterior paired with the warm, soft interior 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.

Four soft pretzels out of the oven on a baking sheet.

This is my third iteration of a soft pretzel recipe… my first attempt was over twelve years ago(!)… then I moved on to another recipe a few months later, and then finally settled on this fabulous version about eight 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.

Let’s talk about how to make them!

Side by side photos of yeast and ingredients for dough in a mixing bowl.

 

Homemade Soft Pretzels: Step by Step

It might not seem like it at first glance, but homemade soft pretzels are a relatively easy process and don’t take very long as far as kitchen projects go. You’ll be rewarded with some of the most AMAZING pretzels! Here we go…

  1. Combine water, sugar and salt, then add yeast – Once this mixture is combined, we’ll let it sit for a few minutes until it “blooms” (i.e. the yeast starts to wake up and get foamy).
  2. Add flour and butter – This is all you need to make the dough and it can be mixed together by hand with a spoon or using a stand mixer and dough hook.
  3. Knead until smooth – Whichever method you use, the dough should be kneaded until soft and just slightly tacky.
  4. Let dough rise – Cover the bowl and place in a warm, draft-free spot until dough is doubled in size; usually 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Prepare the baking soda bath – Combine water and baking sode in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  6. Shape the pretzels – See the photos below and the video for step-by-step shaping details. It goes quickly once you get the hang of it if you’ve never done it before!
  7. Dip the pretzels in baking soda bath – Very important! They only need to be in the water bath for about 30 seconds, otherwise, they will take on too much of the baking soda taste. A quick dip, then remove with a slotted spatula.
  8. Brush and sprinkle – Brush the pretzels with an egg wash (or melted butter if you want more of a buttery flavor) and sprinkle with salt or whatever other topping you might like.
  9. Bake! – Less than 15 minutes in the oven, or until golden brown (or however done you prefer your pretzels!), let them cool for a few minutes, then dig in!

Side by side photos of shaggy dough and a smooth ball of dough.

Ball of dough in a bowl before and after rising.

Step by step photos of how to shape soft pretzels.

Recipe Notes for Soft Pretzels

A few quick tips to help you make some ah-mazing pretzels!

  • Both instant and active dry yeasts can be used in this recipe; I still like to let the yeast sit with the water, sugar, and salt even if using instant.
  • The dough can be made using a mixer or by hand, I have done both successfully.
  • This recipe makes eight large pretzels; if you want slightly smaller pretzels, you can easily divide the dough into 12 portions instead. Check for doneness a couple of minutes early.
  • The egg wash on the pretzels gives them a little shine and I find it softens the exterior a bit. For a more traditional taste, omit the egg wash and just use salt when the pretzels come out of the water bath. For more of an Auntie Anne’s buttery flavor, brush the pretzels with melted butter when they come out of the water bath and again when they come out of the oven.
  • These pretzels can be frozen after baked and cooled; wrap well in plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag. To reheat, place in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for about 15 minutes, or heated through. Alternately, you can also microwave from frozen until heated through.
  • I have used this recipe to make pretzel bites, as well (directions here, along with a spicy dipping sauce).

Soft pretzels on a baking sheet, shaped.

Shaped pretzels on a baking sheet, after water bath, before baking.

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. If you’ve been nervous about working with yeast in the past, 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: cinnamon-sugar pretzels, cheddar-jalapeno pretzels, pizza pretzels… there are so many flavor options!

Soft pretzels on wax paper with dipping mustard in the background.

JOIN THE BEB BAKE-ALONG!

To tackle soft pretzels and bake along with me this month, simply do the following:

  • Make the soft pretzels!
  • Snap a picture and either share it on social media (#BEBbakealong on Instagram or Twitter), upload it to the BEB Facebook group, or email it to me.
  • Check in on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month to see everyone’s soft pretzels!

Past Bake-Along Recipes:

A piece of soft pretzel being dipped into mustard.

Four years ago: Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles
Five years ago: Pretzel, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Malted Milkshake
Six years ago: Apricot Cream Cheese Babka
Eight years ago: Double Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Spread
Nine years ago: Salted Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Watch How to Make Homemade Soft Pretzels:

Soft Pretzels

Servings 8 pretzels
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Resting time 1 hour
Total 1 hour 45 minutes
Course:Bread, Snack
Cuisine:American
Author: Michelle
My favorite recipe for classic soft pretzels. Perfect plain or dipped in your favorite mustard sauce!

Ingredients:

For the Pretzel Dough

  • cups
    warm water
  • 1
    tablespoon
    light brown sugar
  • 2
    teaspoons
    kosher salt
  • teaspoons
    active dry or instant yeast
    (1 packet)
  • cups
    all-purpose flour
  • 4
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (melted)

For the Baking Soda Water Bath

  • 10
    cups
    water
  • 2/3
    cup
    baking soda

For the Egg Wash

  • 1
    egg yolk
  • 1
    tablespoon
    water

For Topping

  • Coarse salt
    (for sprinkling)

Directions:

Make the Pretzel Dough

  1. Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl until the sugar and salt have dissolved, then 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. (Alternately, you can mix the dough with a wooden spoon until it comes together, then need by hand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and just slightly tacky.)

  3. Place the dough 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 or silicone baking mats; set aside.

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

  6. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a clean 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 twice and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the prepared baking sheets.

  7. Gently lower the pretzels into the boiling water, 2 at a time, 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 or melted butter (see notes) and sprinkle with coarse salt.

  8. Bake until dark golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Soft pretzels are best eaten fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • Both instant and active dry yeasts can be used in this recipe; I still like to let the yeast sit with the water, sugar, and salt even if using instant.
  • The dough can be made using a mixer or by hand, I have done both successfully.
  • This recipe makes eight large pretzels; if you want slightly smaller pretzels, you can easily divide the dough into 12 portions instead. Check for doneness a couple of minutes early.
  • The egg wash on the pretzels gives them a little shine and I find it softens the exterior a bit. For a more traditional taste, omit the egg wash and just use salt when the pretzels come out of the water bath. For more of an Auntie Anne's buttery flavor, brush the pretzels with melted butter when they come out of the water bath and again when they come out of the oven.
  • These pretzels can be frozen after baked and cooled; wrap well in plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag. To reheat, place in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for about 15 minutes, or heated through. Alternately, you can also microwave from frozen until heated through.
  • I have used this recipe to make pretzel bites, as well (directions here, along with a spicy dipping sauce).
Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition:

Calories: 330kcal
Fat: 7g
Saturated fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 39mg
Sodium: 3343mg
Potassium: 107mg
Carbohydrates: 56g
Fiber: 2g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 9g
Vitamin A: 205%
Calcium: 26%
Iron: 3.4%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in January 2013; updated in August 2019 with a couple of tweaks, new photos and a video.