Homemade soft pretzels are easier to make at home than you think. So soft, so buttery, they’re better than any food chain!
I have a slight obsession with soft pretzels. Where ever I am, if they are being offered, there’s a good chance I’m getting one.. or three. Call it a guilty pleasure but now that I can make homemade soft pretzels that are even better than any chain, my life is practically made!
Ingredients for Homemade Soft Pretzels
- Active dry yeast: It helps the dough to rise and makes the soft pretzels puff up as they bake.
- Water: Make sure your water is warm (not boiling), about 105°-115°F to best activate the yeast. You will also use boiling water for the baking soda bath later in the recipe.
- Baking soda: Used for the baking soda “bath” which is the most important steps in making homemade soft pretzels. This gives the pretzels their iconic golden, chewy outer exterior. It’s the ingredient that basically makes a pretzel, taste like a pretzel! And not a buttery, salted bread stick. ?
- Butter: I use unsalted butter in the dough and salted butter brushed on top of the pretzels just after baking. To simplify, you can just use unsalted since they are getting sprinkled with salt anyway. I like mine salty!
- Sugar: I use a small amount of white granulated sugar in this recipe.
- Fine and coarse sea salt: Fine is used in the dough – you can also just use regular table salt – and coarse sea salt is sprinkled on top of the pretzels before baking.
- All-Purpose Flour: Measuring the flour correctly is crucial. Too much flour and your dough will be dry and crumbly. Too little, and it will be wet, sticky and unworkable.
How to make quick and easy soft pretzels
- Mix and knead the dough: Combine yeast with warm water and sugar. Once mixture becomes “frothy” your yeast is ready. Stir in salt and melted butter. Add flour 1 cup at a time until dough is no longer sticky. You may need more or less than the recipe calls for. If you press your finger into the dough and it bounces back, it’s ready to knead! Knead dough for 5 more minutes until smooth and pliable.
- Let the dough rest: Shape dough into a large ball and place in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let it rest for 15 minutes. This is not to be confused with rising, it does not need to be doubled in size, the dough is just “resting.”
- Preheat oven: To 475°F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Prepare the baking soda bath: Combine the water and baking soda in a large pot and bring mixture to a boil. Take off heat and allow it to come down to a lukewarm temperature.
- Shape the pretzels: Flatten rested dough slightly with the palm of your hand into a circle. Cut dough into 8 sections (like a pizza). Roll each triangle into a long 3/4 inch rope, about 19-20 inches long. Shape dough into pretzel shape and place in baking soda bath for 2 minutes. Carefully pick pretzel up either by hand or spatula and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
- Add salt: Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse salt while still wet. Repeat these steps until all 8 pretzels are prepared and on the baking sheets.
- Bake: You want to bake the pretzels until golden brown, about 8-9 minutes.
- Brush with butter: Straight from the oven, brush the pretzels with melted butter. I like to use salted but you may use unsalted.
- Best served warm: Enjoy them fresh and hot out of the oven!
Frequently asked questions
How do I store homemade soft pretzels? :
Once cooled completely, wrap them up individually and tight in plastic wrap for up to two days. To reheat, pop them in the microwave for about a minute or so. Good as new!
Can I make the pretzel dough ahead of time?
I recommend preparing the dough only one day in advance. Prep the dough the day before following the recipe through to step 3 and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. When you are ready to make the soft pretzels, continue on with the recipe starting with shaping the dough then the baking soda bath, etc.
What is the best way to freeze baked pretzels?
Once baked and cooled completely, wrap each pretzel individually in a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Be sure to cover them completely! For extra protection and to ensure freshness, place them in a large ziplock bag before freezing.
Can I freeze raw pretzel dough?
Yes! Place raw dough into an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Can I make this recipe into pretzel bites?
Yes, yes, yesssss. When you get to the shaping step of the recipe, when you roll the dough into long ropes, just cut them into 1 inch pieces instead of shaping into a pretzel shape. Continue with the recipe as written. I also have this included in my recipe notes at the bottom of the recipe.
Why should you make soft pretzels at home?
- They have an incredible slightly chewy exterior, while the inside is super soft and fluffy.
- The flavor is out of this world! I mean, they are bathed in butter as soon as they come out of the oven….
- No more standing in long lines and spending a crazy amount of money on one pretzel when you can spend that amount or less and make an entire batch!
- They’re easier to make than you think!
To use any of these variations, you will omit the coarse salt sprinkled on top after baking. Use your imagination! There are so, so many more variations you can come up with! ?
Cinnamon sugar: After baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Everything but the bagel seasoning: Brush with melted butter after baking and sprinkle with seasoning.
Cheese: Before baking and while pretzels are still wet from baking soda bath, sprinkle with your desired flavor of cheese. Parmesan, asiago would both be absolutely delicious!
Garlic & herb: Brush with melted butter after baking and sprinkle with garlic salt and italian seasoning.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast 1 standard packet
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tbs unsalted butter melted
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour + up to 3/4 cup more if needed
2 cups water
- 4 tbs baking soda
- 1 tbs coarse salt for sprinkling on top
6 tbs salted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line a large baking sheet or two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine yeast with warm water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with hook attachment. Once mixture becomes "frothy" your yeast is ready. Stir in salt and 1 tbs of melted butter. Add flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need more or less depending on temperature differences. If you press your finger into the dough and it bounces back, it's ready to knead. Knead dough for 5 more minutes until smooth and pliable.
- Form dough into a ball by hand. Lightly grease the bowl used previously and place the dough back in to rest for 15 minutes. Cover with a damp towel.
- In a medium sized pot, boil 2 cups of water with 4 tbs of baking soda. Once the baking soda is mostly dissolved, take mixture off heat and allow it to come down to a lukewarm temperature. Pour into a 9×9 baking dish once cooled down.
- After 15 minutes, take dough out of the bowl and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Cut dough into 8 sections (like a pizza). Roll each triangle into a long rope, about 19-20 inches long. Shape dough into pretzel shape and place in baking soda bath for 2 minutes. If the whole pretzel isn't covered by the water, spoon it on top of the areas is doesn't reach. Once the 2 minutes is up, carefully pick pretzel up either by your hand or with the help of a fork or spatula and place on prepared baking sheet. You may have to re-shape slightly.
- Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse salt while still wet. Repeat these steps until all 8 pretzels are prepared and on the baking sheets.
- Bake pretzels for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately from the oven, brush (heavily) with 6 tbs of melted butter.
- These homemade soft pretzels are best served hot and fresh out of the oven but will keep for about 2 days stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Pop them in the microwave and they’re good as new!
- Make Ahead Instructions: Prepared dough can be made one day in advance. Shape the pretzels and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before popping them into the oven. Prepared dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator.
- Freezing Instructions: Freeze baked and cooled pretzels for up to 3 months. To reheat, bake (frozen) at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until center is warmed through. You can also microwave for a few minutes until heated through.
- Pretzel Bites: When rolling dough into a long rope in step 4, instead of shaping pieces into a large pretzel, cut the dough into 1-2 inch pieces. Follow the rest of the recipe instructions.
Recipe slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour.