I know we’ve done this before. Soft pretzels are nothing new around here.
But listen up. We’ve never gone into making easy homemade soft pretzels in great detail. And we’ve certainly never watched it here before. Especially that tricky shaping step! Which, after you’ll learn today, isn’t difficult at all. If you have zero skill in the kitchen, you can make homemade soft pretzels. Soft pretzels that LEGIT taste better than the ball park and dare I say it? Auntie Anne’s.
Did I just go there? Oh yes, I did.
This recipe, which first appeared on my blog in 2012, comes from my husband’s family. Kevin taught me how to make them 5 years ago. I was utterly clueless about where to begin with soft pretzels and yes, my husband taught me everything. I remember feeling pleasantly surprised at the ease and speed– it took us only 30 minutes to make 1 batch!
Over the years, I’ve added a smidge of melted butter and brown sugar to the dough– just to achieve that Auntie Anne’s flavor and texture. Furthermore, we’ve introduced the baking soda bath. While it sounds strange, this step is what gives pretzels that iconic flavor, golden brown texture, and super soft interior. If you get the water boiling ahead of time, it really only adds 5 minutes to the entire process. We do it every time now. It’s worth it!
There’s no wrong way to shape a pretzel, but let’s stick with tradition today. I have a lot of photos of the process and right before the recipe, you can watch a quick video tutorial. I promise you’ll no longer feel intimidated working with yeast, shaping pretzels, or the baking soda bath. I gotchu!!
STEP BY STEP PICS
Let’s chat about the dough. You need the simplest, most basic ingredients possible and I guarantee each one is in your kitchen right now. Warm water, 1 packet yeast, melted butter, brown sugar, salt, flour.
Let the yeast foam in the warm water for a sec, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix. You can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, a hand mixer, or– like you’ll notice in the video– no mixer at all. Pretzel dough is no diva. Work with what you’ve got.
Guess what? You don’t have to wait to let this dough rise. YES YES YES!! Well, we’ll let it rest for 10 minutes while you get the baking soda + water boiling on the stove but that’s it. Don’t have any patience? This is the recipe for you. By the way, did you know that some pretzel recipes call for rising overnight? I bet they’re remarkable pretzels but I’m majorly satisfied with this ultra quick dough!
Now it’s time to shape.
Roll 1/3 cup of dough into a long 20-22 inch rope.
Twist the ends and fold over. That’s a pretzel!
Now drop the pretzels into the boiling water + baking soda. Let them boil for 20-30 seconds each, then place onto a baking sheet. This pretzel dough makes 12 regular size soft pretzels, so I use 2 baking sheets. 6 on each.
Sprinkle with salt and bake in a hot oven.
That’s it, you’re done.
And if you want to kick your soft pretzel status into major high gear, add some spicy nacho cheese sauce. I mean, is cheese sauce ever just an option? DUH. I updated the recipe so now it’s a new and improved method with the same irresistible melty, spicy, cheesy magic. Check it out!
Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm-- no need to take temperature)
- 1 packet active dry or instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
- 3 and ¾ - 4 cups (460-500g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Baking Soda Bath
- ½ cup (120g) baking soda
- 9 cups (2,160ml) water
- Whisk the yeast into warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Whisk in salt, brown sugar, and melted butter. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup more, as needed. Poke the dough with your finger - if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Cover lightly with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, I like to get the water + baking soda boiling as instructed in step 6.)
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1/3 cup sections.
- Roll the dough into a 20-22 inch rope. Take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape.
- Bring baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with coarse sea salt. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm with spicy nacho cheese sauce. Pretzels may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days (they lose a little softness).
Make ahead tip: Pretzels freeze well, up to 2 months. To reheat, bake frozen pretzels at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes or until warmed through or microwave until warm. The prepared pretzel dough can be refrigerated for up to one day or frozen in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerated dough can be shaped into pretzels while still cold, but allow some extra time for the pretzels to puff up before the baking soda bath and baking.
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More Pretzel Recipes:
- Cheesy Pretzel Twists
- Homemade Crab Pretzels
- Homemade Pretzel Rolls
- Soft Pretzel Bites
- Easy Seasoned Pretzels