Homemade Soft Pretzels

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Soft Pretzels 2Where I grew up, football was a big deal.  Especially Friday night high school football.  Texas can claim the high school football craze all they want, but I can attest that my home town in Michigan was just as into it, if not more.  If Halloween fell on Friday, it was postponed to Saturday.  If there was an away game, our city turned into a ghost town.  Our team competed in the state finals all four years I was there, with two victories.  We were pumped, excited, and proud.

Professional (NFL) football was a big deal, too, despite a winning season or not.  Some people boycott the Super Bowl if their favorite team is not in it.  But, the way I was brought up, you still watch it for at least three reasons: One – the commercials; two – the half time show; and, three – the food!

Soft Pretzels 1Being in the south now, football is a big deal once again…glory!  We’re ecstatic to attend a party on Sunday where I’ve decided to bring these soft pretzels, in miniature form. If you like soft pretzels, you will love these.  Perfectly fluffy in the inside, enveloped in a golden salty shell.

The original recipe calls for eight big pretzels, but I decided to scale them down into smaller portions to serve a crowd.  The recipe below gives instructions for both sizes.  I also made them ahead of time to store in the freezer and warm in the oven on game day.  Freeze them before or after baking, either way works just as well and saves you time.

And, for those of you intimidated by shaping a perfect pretzel, it’s easier than I should even admit. Just roll the piece of dough into a long rope, hold the ends and cross them over one another then twist. Place the ends at the center of the rope. For those visual people (like me) here is some photo help:
Soft Pretzels Collage

UPDATE:  Below is a photo of what these look like as eight large soft pretzels:
Soft pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 8 large pretzels, or 30 small pretzels

Serving Size: 1 large pretzels or 2 small pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 22 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil (nonstick) spray, for pan and bowl
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cups baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Add the flour and mix with the dough hook attachment on low speed. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, wipe the bowl and then spray with the vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, turning once to cover both sides with the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with vegetable oil; set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water to a boil in a large sauce pan or stock pot, then add the baking soda.

Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface or pastry mat. Divide into 8 equal large pieces (about 4.5 oz each) or 30 small pieces (about 1.2 oz each) and shape into balls. Roll each dough ball into a rope (24 inches long for the large pretzels or 10-12 inches long if making the smaller pretzels.) Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other, twist one turn, then press onto the center of the rope, to form a pretzel shape. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheets.

Working with one to two pretzels at a time, boil each pretzel for 30 seconds. Use a large slotted spoon or spatula to remove from the water and return to the pan. Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash then sprinkle with kosher or pretzel salt.

Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown (approximately 12 to 14 minutes for 8 large pretzels, or 10 to 12 minutes for 30 small pretzels.) Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Note: If you do not plan to consume pretzels the same day, then I would suggest freezing them immediately after they hit room temperature. The more fresh they are when you freeze them, the better. Throw them in a freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes (until heated through). This is what I do, and they taste just as fresh!

Source: Adapted from Alton Brown, via The Food Network


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  1. I moved to the U.P 6 years ago, and the whole Halloween thing is weird! Halloween not on Halloween in some places and trick-or-treating in the dark?!?!? Winter like almost 7 mos. out of the year?? The trade off is the awesome and pristine beauty that lies within this area, and the more relaxed attitude you don’t get in the more “expanded” areas. Thanks for the pretzel recipe!!

  2. Nikki, you’re a Texas girl too?! I knew we had an instant connection! I’m coming to your house. These look amazing!!!

  3. ::drool:: I’m loving pretzels lately, and cookie is kicking me for not making these soft version pretzels, too!! These look absolutely gorgeous Nikki, and I’m one for all the commercials and a little bit of football (when my team plays!!). haha

  4. Can’t wait to try with granchildren…

  5. Love that they are mini pretzels. If I have time this weekend I may need to make a batch with some cheesy dipping sauce.

  6. These look amazing! I love getting soft pretzels at the mall but they’re so huge that I can never finish one. I’m sure homemade will taste way better and the mini size is perfect.

  7. I just found your blog. I love your recipes. Is there a way to just follow your blog through blogger?

    • Hi Valerie,

      This is a WordPress blog, so I’m not familiar with how Blogger works. You can subscribe via RSS or email. For RSS feed (like Google Reader) just click the orange box on the top right sidebar (next to the Twitter icon) and for email subscription, you can fill in your email address in the “Subscribe by Email” field. 🙂

  8. I made these yesterday – 8, not 30 because I’m lazy. I’ve never tried making pretzels before. I guess I was intimidated. Or lazy. They were easier than I thought they’d be to make. And they were delicious! Friends and family loved them! I am soooo going to make these again. Thanks for the recipe and inspiration!

  9. ShoeFanatic says:

    I made these last night for a Super Bowl party along with the honey mustard sauce a few posts down and they were a huge hit!!! Great recipe!

  10. hi! id like to try this recipe — im just wondering, can i make them and serve a day or two later ?

    • Hi Duby,
      If you do not plan to eat them the day you bake them, then store them in the freezer in a zipper tight freezer bag. (Freeze them immediately after they hit room temperature to preserve its freshness.) When ready to serve, reheat them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until heated through. They taste great this way, too! 🙂

      • Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly!!! Thanks to your advice, i decided to bake cookies instead …. and now i need an excuse to make these pretzels !!!!!!

        i’ll keep you posted when i do finally make them….
        ps – i love your blog…. keep up the great work 🙂

  11. I need an “is Spring ever going to get here dish.” Winter here in Upper Michigan gets…redundant? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz. (maybe I should just drink a lot of Brandy!) 😛

  12. These are wonderful. My daughter and I just whipped up a batch! Served with homemade marinara!

  13. Mike Garlock says:

    Just wondering I see there is 2/3 cup baking soda and it never says when to add that. Is that supposed to be in there with the flour and such? Thanks!

  14. Mike Garlock says:

    NM Found it…it’s been one of those mornings!

  15. I just finished making these and they are delicious!! One question, though. Any idea what would cause the egg wash to turn greenish around the bottome edge of the pretzels? It peels right off and doesn’t affect the taste. My son is grossed out, but that just means more for me!

  16. Tried to make these and they were way too sticky to make into anything resembling a pretzel. Had to chuck it all. Any tips?

    • I’m sorry to hear that Beth! When you were kneading the dough in the first step, did it still stick to the sides of the bowl? If so, you will want to add more flour, about a tablespoon at a time, until it does. Please try again, this is a great pretzel recipe! 🙂

  17. Linda B says:

    Been making soft pretzels for a long time. May I offer a suggestion? Instead of putting pretzels in paper-lined sheet to rise, lay out a strip of waxed paper on your countertop. Shape the pretzels and lay them on the waxed paper to rise. After your pretzels have risen appropriately, cut the paper between the pretzels, leaving a pretzel on a section of paper. You can then lift the pretzel with the waxed paper and put the pretzel into the simmering water/baking soda mixture. The waxed paper just slides out from underneath the pretzel. No more worries about fallen pretzels.

    Secondly – I never use the egg wash. If you sprinkle the pretzels right after the water/baking soda boil, while the pretzels are still wet, any toppings you use will stick just fine.

  18. I’ve never worked with yeast so I was super afraid these wouldn’t turn out. Also, it says use “instant” yeast and all they had at our store was rapid rise, so I looked up online and there were conflicting stories about the difference between the two. I just followed the recipe as is and it worked perfectly! These are soooo delicious too! So happy I found your recipe 🙂 Thank you

  19. thanks for posting this recipe (and the directions too). i just took them out of the oven and, omg…a bit of heaven in every bite! i salted some, brushed others with garlic butter and tossed the rest in cinnamon sugar. guess what we’re having for dinner?

  20. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, salt and water. but later i use the 10cups water?Bring the 10 cups of water to a boil in a large sauce pan or stock pot, then add the baking soda. do i need 10 cups water twice?

    • Hi Anthony,
      The water that you combine with the butter, sugar and salt is the 1 1/2 cups warm water listed with those ingredients. I edited the directions to make that clear. 🙂 Thanks!

  21. Hi! I just made these. I made them in the shape of M and 2s for my daughter’s birthday next weekend. They are absolutely delicious, but I had trouble with the wax paper that I baked them on. They stuck to the paper and for some, I had to rip the whole back off (which is a huge shame because they are so tasty). Any idea why this happened? It was sort of heartbreaking. lol 🙂

    • Hi Brooke,
      I love that you made them in different shapes! How cute and fun for your daughter’s birthday!!

      As far as the problem you had with the paper sticking… You shouldn’t bake them on wax paper. The wax just melts and then sticks. Use parchment paper instead, as the recipe instructs. 🙂

  22. I just wanted to say a HUGE thanks…I’m an American living in China, in a city with pretty much no foreign “goodness.” In other words, if we want something from home, we have to make it ourselves! A few of my friends and I get together once a month to make something special that we won’t normally take time to make: bagels, Christmas cookies, etc. Today’s was your pretzels! They came out perfectly, which is saying a lot when you live in China and are use to things turning out a little funny! WOW! I’ve also made many of your other recipes…right now, I’m passing around your pumpkin spice syrup one, since our Starbucks here doesn’t sell any pumpkin drinks. We’re all enjoying a “taste of home” thanks to you! So, please keep posting amazing, yet simple recipes that we can make over here!

  23. Thank you so much for the recipe! I made them for a movie night snack and they are amazing! My husband immediately asked for a second batch!

  24. UUUGGGGHHHHH… I am having to give up on my trying to make soft pretzels.
    Mine are just plain GROSS.
    I have gone through enough flour that I could have made cookies or zucchini bread for the neighbors.
    I keep wondering if I am doing something wrong in the boiling process.

  25. These were very yummy! My kiddos (2 and 4) had a great time rolling their pretzels out and creating their own pretzel twists. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  26. I made these yesterday and they are WONDERFUL!

    I recommend making a double batch because you will want more.

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