Soft Pretzel Knots (With Various Toppings)

These soft pretzel knots are exactly like regular homemade soft pretzels, but shaped and tied like garlic knots. There’s more compacted surface area, which means there’s more room for toppings such as cinnamon sugar, garlic parmesan, or jalapeño cheddar. They’re also excellent for dipping and soaking up sauce like tomato sauce, bacon spinach dip, spicy cheese sauce, or your favorite mustard. The dough requires just 6 ingredients and there’s hardly any rise time, so this is a wonderful recipe for yeast beginners. Have fun shaping the knots (they don’t need to be perfect!) and enjoy warm flavorful homemade pretzels within an hour.

soft pretzel knots with different toppings including garlic parmesan, cinnamon sugar, and jalapeño cheddar

Warm pretzels! Toppings! Dips! All the good stuff in life is right here today!

Soft Pretzel Knots Details

  • Flavor: If you enjoy soft pretzels, you’ll love today’s soft pretzel knots. They’re completely homemade, so unlike store-bought frozen soft pretzels, each has that soft, warm, and fresh-from-the-oven taste and texture. You can keep the pretzels traditional with a sprinkling of coarse salt or try various toppings. There’s a detailed list of options below.
  • Texture: The difference between pretzel-shaped (or knot-shaped) bread and soft pretzels/soft pretzel knots is an alkaline bath. This is when shaped soft pretzel dough takes a dip in boiling water and baking soda, a surprisingly easy step that provides the iconic chewy pretzel texture and adds a deeper, richer color to the baked pretzels. The boiling water also locks in the shape so they don’t over-puff in the oven. (Without the baking soda bath, you lose texture, that deep brown color, and flavor. So, basically, you will have bread instead of a pretzel.) We do this key step when making regular soft pretzels, pretzel rolls, and soft pretzel bites, too.
  • Ease: Have you ever made my recipe for regular homemade soft pretzels? It was one of the first recipes I ever published, only to be republished with step-by-step photos a few years later. It’s become one of the most reader-loved recipes on this website because the pretzels are relatively quick, extremely easy, and deliver great taste. Same story with these pretzel knots! Though the recipe requires yeast, I always say that this pretzel dough is a terrific starting point for yeast beginners because there’s very little rise time. Shaping takes a little practice, but the knots do NOT need to be perfect. No matter the shape, they’ll still taste like pretzels. Still, if you’re a perfectionist, this recipe yields 14-15 knots so you have opportunity to get the shape right.

soft pretzel knots on white plate served with mustard

Soft Pretzels with a Slightly Different Shape

The goal for today’s soft pretzel knots recipe was to make a soft pretzel with more compacted surface area for toppings and for holding onto dips and sauces. I never stray from the original soft pretzel dough, so that’s what you’ll use as the base for these pretzel knots. You need just 6 basic ingredients to get started including warm water, yeast, a little sugar to feed the yeast, melted butter, salt, and all-purpose flour. (If you have it, the same amount of bread flour works too!)

The dough doesn’t require extended rise time and the baking soda bath is pretty quick, so besides the baking step, the longest stretch of time this recipe requires is shaping.

  • Divide the dough into 14-15 pieces, which is about 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) of dough each. Roll each into 14-inch ropes. Tie the ropes into a knot like you do when making garlic knots, then tuck the ends underneath. The ends are quite long so rather than tucking the ends straight underneath, I curve them around the pretzel before tucking under. You can see me do that in the video below.

Here are photos so you can visualize the process:

Whisk the warm water, yeast, and sugar together. Cover and let the mixture sit for a few minutes until foamy on top. Waiting for it to foam isn’t totally necessary, but it helps us see that the yeast is ready and active. The right photo below shows the dough before kneading.

dough in glass bowl

Knead the dough, cut into 14-15 sections, roll into ropes, and then shape into knots. The video tutorial located in the recipe shows these steps as well.

dough on marble cutting board

dough shaped into 14 inch rope

3 process photos showing shaping the dough into knots

dough knots on baking sheet before baking soda bath

The following photo shows the knots after the baking soda bath. At this point, they are ready to bake.

soft pretzel knots on baking sheet before baking

soft pretzel knots on baking sheet after baking

Topping Options

Immediately after the baking soda bath while the pretzel knots are still wet, sprinkle with coarse salt. Or if you’d like a different topping, skip the coarse salt and try:

  1. Cinnamon Sugar: Bake the pretzels completely plain without salt. Once done and still warm out of the oven, brush with melted butter then dip into a mix of cinnamon and granulated sugar.
  2. Garlic Parmesan: Bake the pretzels completely plain without salt. Once done and still warm out of the oven, brush with melted butter then dip into a mix of grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and Italian Seasoning. Italian Seasoning is a store-bought item, but you can make your own homemade Italian seasoning. You need 1 and 1/2 teaspoons.
  3. Jalapeño Cheddar: When the pretzels are still wet from the baking soda bath, sprinkle with coarse salt as if you were making plain salted pretzels. Arrange 2-3 thin slices of jalapeño on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, then return the oven to finish baking.

Detailed instructions for these toppings are available in the recipe notes below. I bet you could have fun with even more toppings such as everything bagels seasoning instead of coarse salt. Heavily sprinkle on the pretzels while they’re still wet from the baking soda bath before baking.

soft pretzel knots with different toppings including garlic parmesan, cinnamon sugar, and jalapeño cheddar

pretzel knots with spicy cheese dipping sauce

Great for Dipping & Soaking Up Sauce

The knot shape yields a doughier pretzel than the traditional soft pretzel shape, so they require longer in the oven. And because they have more interior, pretzel knots are perfect for dipping and soaking up sauce. Serve with:

  • Tomato Sauce (great with the garlic parmesan pretzels)
  • Bacon Spinach Dip (tasty with the salted pretzels)
  • Spicy Nacho Cheese Sauce (pictured above and delicious with the jalapeño cheddar or salted pretzels)
  • Salsa (try with jalapeño cheddar pretzels)
  • Pepperoni Pizza Dip (wonderful with the garlic parmesan or salted pretzels)
  • Stone Ground Mustard (always great with salted pretzels)
  • Homemade Pesto (try with the garlic parmesan or salted pretzels)
  • Maryland Crab Dip (love this with salted pretzels)

I always serve cinnamon sugar pretzels plain, but you could try vanilla icing if you wanted to serve them with a dip. Lots of options here, so have fun!

Print
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soft pretzel knots with different toppings including garlic parmesan, cinnamon sugar, and jalapeño cheddar

Soft Pretzel Knots

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 14-15 knots
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These soft pretzel knots are exactly like regular homemade soft pretzels, but shaped and tied like garlic knots. There’s more compact surface area, which means there’s more room for toppings such as cinnamon sugar, garlic parmesan, or jalapeño cheddar. Review recipe notes and watch the video tutorial before starting.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm– no need to take temperature but around 100°F (38°C) is great)
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (7ginstant or active dry yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
  • 3 and 3/4 – 4 cups (469-500gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for hands and work surface
  • toppings: coarse salt/coarse sea salt or toppings described in notes

Baking Soda Bath

  • 1/2 cup (120gbaking soda
  • 9 cups (2,160ml) water

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Whisk warm water, yeast, and sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle or dough hook attachment. (If you do not have a stand mixer, just use a regular large mixing bowl.) Cover yeast mixture and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until foamy on top. Add salt, melted butter, and 3 cups (375g) of flour. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if needed, then add 3/4 cup (95g) of flour. Beat on low speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. If dough is extremely sticky after 1 minute of mixing, add remaining 1/4 cup of flour and continue to beat for 1 more minute. (You can see in the video that I add the remaining flour.)
  2. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat on low speed for an additional 2 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes. Cover lightly with a towel and allow to rest for 10-30 minutes. (Meanwhile, I like to get the water + baking soda boiling as instructed in step 5.)
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Silicone baking mats are highly recommended over parchment paper. If using parchment paper, lightly spray with nonstick spray or grease with butter. Set aside.
  4. Shape: With a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or bench scraper, cut dough into 14-15 pieces, which is about 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of dough each. Sprinkle work surface very lightly with flour. (Tip: The heavier you flour the work surface, the harder it is to roll the dough. A little stickiness actually helps. You only need *a very light* dusting of flour.) Roll each piece of dough into a 14-inch rope. Tie the ropes into a knot, then tuck the ends underneath. The ends are quite long so rather than tucking the ends straight underneath, I curve them around the pretzel before tucking under. You can see that in the video below.
  5. Baking Soda Bath: Mix water and baking soda together in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Place 2-3 pretzels into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds, flipping halfway through. (Any longer than 30 seconds and your pretzels could take on a metallic taste.) The knot shape makes the dough heavy, so if the pretzel knots are sinking, use a spatula to get them off the bottom of the pot. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, lift the pretzel knots out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel knots onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle each with coarse sea salt while each are still wet or leave plain if using other toppings detailed in the notes below (you still need to salt them if doing the jalapeño cheddar pretzels). Repeat baking soda bath with remaining pretzel knots. If needed, you can cover and refrigerate the boiled/unbaked pretzels for up to 24 hours before baking.
  6. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown. I usually bake mine for the full 24 minutes to obtain a very deep color as pictured.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
  8. Cover and store leftover pretzels at room temperature for up to 3 days. They lose a little softness over time. To reheat, microwave for a few seconds or bake in a 350°F (177°C) for 5 minutes.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Baked and cooled pretzel knots freeze well up to 2-3 months. To reheat, bake frozen knots at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes or until warmed through or microwave frozen knots 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 knots while still cold, but allow some extra time, about 1 hour, for the pretzels to puff up before the baking soda bath and baking.
  2. Flour: If you have it, the same amount of bread flour works instead of all-purpose flour. Do not use whole wheat flour.
  3. Cinnamon Sugar: Bake the pretzels completely plain without salt in step 6. As the pretzel knots bake, melt 4 Tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter. Set aside. Combine 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Set aside. Once the pretzels are done and still warm out of the oven, brush each with melted butter then generously dip into cinnamon sugar. Pretzels are best served that day because due to the melted butter topping, they become soggy after a few hours.
  4. Garlic Parmesan: Bake the pretzels completely plain without salt in step 6. As the pretzel knots bake, melt 4 Tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter. Set aside. Combine 3/4 cup (about 68g) grated parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade Italian Seasoning. Set aside. Once the pretzels are done and still warm out of the oven, brush each with melted butter then generously dip into parmesan garlic mixture. Pretzels are best served that day because due to the melted butter topping, they become soggy after a few hours.
  5. Jalapeño Cheddar: When the pretzels are still wet from the baking soda bath, sprinkle with coarse salt as if you were making plain salted pretzels. Place 2-3 very thin slices of jalapeño on top of each, pressing them down to adhere as best they can. Bake for 15 minutes in step 6. Remove from the oven, use 1 cup (112g) shredded cheddar cheese and sprinkle each partially baked knot evenly with cheese, then return the knots to the oven to finish baking for the remaining time in step 6.

Keywords: soft pretzel knots

How to Join the September Sally's Baking Challenge

Make the soft pretzel knots with your desired toppings. If you aren’t into this recipe, here is the alternate baking challenge recipe:

  1. any previous challenge recipe you haven’t made yet OR
  2. Apple Cinnamon Spice Whoopie Pies

After you make the pretzel knots or the alternate recipe, email us your recipe photo. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below.

By emailing your recipe photo to us, you are automatically entered in the baking challenge. 1 winner receives a $250 Amazon Gift Card. The challenge is open to the whole world. Challenge ends on September 30th at 5pm eastern. The winner will be selected at random, emailed their prize, and posted in the October Baking Challenge blog post on October 1st 2021.

Visit the Sally’s Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions about Sally’s Baking Challenge. Sign up for Sally’s Baking Challenge emails so you’re alerted as soon as new challenge post is published!

147 Comments

  1. i love your pretzels, so i will definitely try these!

    1. Mine came out great! I wish I would have added that extra 1/4 cup flour. I had to add it after letting the dough sit. I think tacky is what we’re looking for rather than sticky. Mine was just too sticky to work with. I tried the cinnamon sugar, garlic parm and plain salt. All are amazing!

    2. An ancient family favorite, both on my husband’s and on my side! ❤️ Baked countless times!

  2. I am going to make these for the baking challenge! Look delicious! Can I make these sweet? Thanks!

    1. Hi Leah, you can certainly make them sweet using the cinnamon sugar topping. Enjoy!

  3. Lucinda Coble says:

    Loved this, so much easier then I thought prezels would be. Great they are ready to serve in 1 hr. Need to make then again with a few tweaks to cooking time. My 1st tray were a little large and I think slightly undercooked. 2nd tray were smaller but seemed a little dry, so I think overcooked. Might need to invest in a good oven thermometer.

    1. Am going to try the classic version.

      Regarding jalapeno – would it be worth considering dicing the jalapenos and mixing into the dough itself? Rather than on top?

      1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Marc, you can definitely give it a try. Let us know how it goes!

  4. Would I be able to use my bread machine for the dough part?

    1. Hi Karen, a few readers have used their bread machine when making regular pretzels using this dough. I do not have one to test it, so I can’t give any specific instructions.

  5. Is it possible to make these large, for a pretzel bun? Would you have to increase the recipe?

    1. Hi Ellen! I’m sure you could divide the dough into larger pieces to make fewer, but larger knots. No need to increase the recipe.

  6. Have you ever used gluten free flour for these

    1. Hi Sandy, my team and I haven’t tested it but let us know if you try it.

  7. Would bread flour work as well as AP flour?

    1. Absolutely! See recipe note.

  8. Laurie Chaplen says:

    Love pretzels – great for a back to school treat

  9. I have a garlic sensitivity so i can’t use garlic salt but would it be possible to brush with garlic infused oil instead of butter and then dip in the other seasonings listed? Not sure if there would be a difference for oil vs butter. Thanks!

    1. I can’t see why not!

  10. I don’t have any baking soda on hand, can I use baking powder instead?

    1. Hi Cassie, this is a long answer but the short answer is no. In regular baking recipes where baking powder and baking soda are used for leavening, you can (but not often) successfully test using a reduced amount of baking soda in place of baking powder. The two are not evenly interchangeable though and you can’t replace baking soda with baking powder unless you make changes to acidic ingredients in your recipe. However, in this recipe, it’s used for soaking the pretzels. Do not use baking powder in its place.

  11. Hi Sally, For warm water about what temperature would work? I made pretzels at one point in time but maybe the water was too hot and the yeast didn’t look how it should be?
    Thank you, (Praying that you all are doing well!)
    Siena

    1. Hi Siena, thank you! Around 100°F (38°C) is great.

  12. Sandy widmaier says:

    Hi sally. These are delicious. Made these early today. Very easy. Followed your directions precisely and they came out perfectly. My husband has already consumed the cinnamon sugar and I am having the Italian Parmesan for lunch. Thank you for such great recipes. Sandy

  13. This recipe is fabulous! Easy to make and delicious in your mouth! I love that you can make several varieties all at once, using the same dough. We tried cinnamon sugar, and the traditional salty. They’re both wonderful. This will definitely become a repeat recipe in our house.

  14. These were easy to make and are so yummy! I made some salted and some with everything but the bagel seasons. I will definitely make these again and try other toppings. It took a little practice to get the shaping right but, they tasted great even if not perfect. Thanks Sally for a great recipe.

  15. What a splendid way to kick off September with some warm, salty, buttered pretzel knots! I have made mini pretzel bites, bagels and buns, but hadn’t tried knots until now. After baking, I sliced the pretzels in half and made them into mini egg, sausage and cheese breakfast sandwiches. Yum! Thank you for sharing yet another easy and delicious recipe!

  16. Mine came out great! I wish I would have added that extra 1/4 cup flour. I had to add it after letting the dough sit. I think tacky is what we’re looking for rather than sticky. Mine was just too sticky to work with. I tried the cinnamon sugar, garlic parm and plain salt. All are amazing!

  17. These came out perfectly. So easy that I was able to make as an afternoon snack after work. Will be making again as soft pretzels are a family favorite.

  18. So, so good. The dough comes together really quickly and is easy to work with. I found the knot shape easier to form than the traditional pretzel twist and because they are so compact, you can get a nice deep brown crust on them without overbaking the interior.

    My guys couldn’t decide between the garlic parmesan and the cinnamon sugar, so I split the batch between then and both were great! Such an easy homemade snack, I’ll definitely make them again.

  19. I made these tonight and my family loved them!! Some of my siblings didn’t even eat their actual meal, they just ate these pretzels

  20. Any idea if a dairy-free butter substitute would work in the dough? Something like the vegan Earth Butter sticks?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jane, we haven’t tried it ourselves, but let us know if you do!

  21. I love this recipe so much. So simple with very little ingredients and it tastes amazing. I topped mine with everything seasoning as well as furikake seasoning and it’s so good! I also enjoy the pretzel bun recipe as well.

  22. Any suggestions for a substitute for the 1 tbs butter?

    1. Hi Gin, though I haven’t tested this, I’m sure 1 Tablespoon of olive oil would work.

  23. These were incredible!! My son loved these and he is picky. I’ll be making these weekly.

  24. Hi! Do you prefer to use instant or active dry yeast?

    1. Also would love to know your preference of sugar: brown or granulated?

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Caroline! That will depend on the recipe – granulated works best for these soft pretzel knots if you’re making the cinnamon sugar version. Our recipes will always say “granulated sugar” or “brown sugar” so you know which we’re using. Hope this helps!

    2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Caroline, we usually use instant, but both will work!

  25. The whole family loved these! The garlic-knot-esque flavored ones were great with our pizza night and the other pretzels were just as good as Auntie Anne’s!

  26. These turned out perfectly. Flavorful and soft. I topped mine with Everything But the Bagel seasoning.

  27. Would a tablespoon of olive oil or vegan butter work in the dough? We have a dairy allergy in the house.

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, though we haven’t tested this, we’re sure 1 Tablespoon of olive oil would work.

  28. Hi! I made these today with the cinnamon sugar topping and they were delicous! So easy and fun to make. Everybody enjoyed them. Thanks Sally for yet another amazing recipe!

  29. These were terrific! I used everything-bagel seasoning and cinnamon sugar for the toppings. I will definitely make these again. Thanks for the recipe!

  30. I have no yeast experience and love soft pretzels so really want to try these!
    My question is I don’t have a stand mixer. Can this dough be made without one? And should I do part with a hand mixer, like the first step mixing yeast? I really hope I can make these. Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth, you sure can. After whisking the warm water, yeast, and sugar together, you can use your hand mixer for the rest of the mixing process. Hope you enjoy these!

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