Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzel

A good soft pretzel recipe is something every mother should have in her repertoire. Kids love them, and they’re as much fun to make as they are to eat. Without a recipe to call my own, I scoured the Internet in search of the best recipe I could find. Two looked promising: the first was a traditional German-style soft pretzel, similar to the street vendor variety; the second, from Food Network, was supposedly a copy of Auntie Anne’s famous mall pretzels. I made both and then lined up a taste test panel of picky pretzel eaters (a.k.a. my kids, their friends and my husband). The Auntie Anne’s copy was the hands-down winner. The more traditional German-style pretzels were dense and chewy, much like they are on the street, but the replicas of Auntie Anne’s were light, a touch sweet, and deliciously buttery, just like they are at the mall.

Soft pretzel 1

Soft pretzel 5

Soft pretzel 6

Soft pretzel 7

Soft Pretzels

Print Recipe
Servings: 6
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast (not rapid rise yeast)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons for the dough; 3 tablespoons for brushing on finished pretzels)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • Coarse salt, to taste*

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it’s about 110 degrees (alternatively, warm it in the microwave for about 40 seconds); pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of the flour with a wooden spoon. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 ¼ cups flour and fine salt to make a sticky dough. Add more flour if necessary (you'll probably need a few tablespoons) to form dough into a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each into a pretzel shape (form a U-shape, then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press firmly onto the bottom of the pretzel).
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on a prepared baking sheet (re-shaping if necessary) and sprinkle lightly with course salt. Bake until golden, 10 – 12 minutes. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and brush on baked pretzels. The pretzels are best enjoyed fresh on the same day.
  4. *If you prefer a cinnamon sugar topping, omit the coarse salt. Brush with butter after baking and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar plus about 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon)
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  • Wendy

    Your pictures are AMAZING!

  • Wendy

    Can’t wait to try the pretzels. The recipes are very easy to follow and the pictures look so good my mouth is watering! Keep up the excellent work!

  • Can’t wait to try these! Do you happen to know where one can obtain pretzel salt?

  • Jenn

    Phyllis: Kosher salt works just fine. Enjoy!

  • Your pretzels are beautiful! I want to make some now.

  • Wow I will totally wanna try to make Auntie Anne’s pretzels. Love the chocolate ones! But my jaw dropped at seeing 1/3 cup of baking soda used in the recipe! Yet I will still like to try my hands at this!

  • Ah… I apologize for my mistake! I had no idea that was for dipping. What would the purpose be by the way? What changes do I have to make to the recipe if using instant yeast?? Thanks lots!

  • soft pretzels are one of my favorite snacks for when i’m going to a movie or a concert, but it would be far too dangerous for me to have the recipe, i’ll just look at the picture!

  • bethy

    i made them for a couple of play dates recently, and the kids had so much fun making the pretzels. and i can never pass up auntie anne’s pretzels, and these taste just like them! yum!

  • Can’t wait to try the pretzels. The recipes are very easy to follow and the pictures look so good my mouth is watering!

  • This is a wonderfully easy recipe to make and the kids and adults who have sampled my batch loved them!! Thanks for sharing such a yummy recipe!!

  • Huge hit among the kids and adults…..we actually made twice the number of pretzels and they were smaller, but less was wasted by the kids, and since they taste exactly as promised, we did not want to waste!

  • These sound wonderful… I was wondering if these could be frozen?

  • Hi Michelle, I’ve never tried freezing these pretzels but it’s one of those recipes that’s best fresh out of the oven. I don’t think they’d be nearly as good after being frozen. Hope that helps!

  • Sherri

    These look very good:) Why are they dipped on the baking soda mixture?

    • Jenn

      Hi Sherri, The baking soda bath gives them a nice, shiny crust.

  • Patti

    Made your soft pretzel recipe last night as a treat for Peter … he LOVES soft pretzels. They were delicious!!! I’m not very good at bread baking, but had no problem with the dough rising and the taste & texture of the pretzel were spot on!!! Thanks for another wonderful recipe : )))

  • Nan

    I’d rate these pretzels 10/10. With cinnamon and sugar, they taste like a healthier and better version of cinnabon rolls. I made these for with the kids and ended up eating half of them. Thanks again.

  • Mmm..I’m always getting those soft pretzels at the mall. It’s about time that I make some myself! :D

  • Martha Nieder

    I am trying to incorporate more whole wheat flour in these…trying to use less white and more whole flour. Love the soft pretzels. You have great recipes. M

  • Carly Blair

    I haven’t made these yet, but I can’t wait to try them – my younger son loves soft pretzels!!

  • Amanda

    Pretzels remind me of my childhood afternoon snacks, and these are even more delicious!

  • Karie

    OMG! I can not wait to give these on a try on a rainy, movie watching day!

  • Stephanie

    These look amazing! I can’t wait to try them. I have tried several recipes for soft pretzals and they are good, but not quite good enough. My hubby and I love to dip salty pretzals ino Broccolli Cheese soup! yummmm!

  • Randi

    What a fun, delicious activity!

  • Christine M

    I hope my pretzels turn out just as perfect looking as yours! They look delicious!

  • Sherry

    yummy!

  • Carissa

    We had a blast making these and they were so yummy!

  • Candice

    Looking to make these with the kids at my son’s birthday party. Would it be terrible if I didn’t let the dough rise for an hour?

    • Jenn

      Hi Candace, The dough does need to rise…you can put it in a warm spot to speed it up. Or maybe make another batch of dough before the kids come?

  • Helen

    The pretzels were easy and fun to make. It came out perfect and were so yummy. The recipe is a keeper. I can’t wait to make more!

  • Valerie

    So good, and I thought pretty easy!

  • Liz

    Hi Jenn, i have a question, I only have the dry yeast in a jar, not in a package. How much do I add in for the yeast? I would like to make some delious pretzels.

    Thanks

    • Jenn

      Hi Liz, I believe the conversion is 2-1/4 teaspoons. Hope that helps!

  • Mark

    I make these on the weekends for my family, and everyone loves them. The recipe is simple and easy to follow, which is great for me, too.

  • Tami

    Kids and I enjoyed making these. We shaped the dough into their initials for extra fun. Delicious too!

  • Carrie Hirshfield

    My kids, love this recipe. I usually melt some butter and dip the hot pretzels in and then a nice cinnamon sugar bath after. Yum!

  • Kat D

    The dipping of the the pretzels in the baking soda mix works so much better than boiling them in a baking soda solution. I’ve tried both methods.

    Also, you can form pretzel bites and stuff in some shredded cheese and bake as normal. Just keep an eye on them for leakage.

  • Lauren

    Has anyone tried to make savory pretzels with this recipe? Wondering how they turned out.

  • SPORATIC BAKER

    i can never get my pretzles BROWN, they come out white as anything…

  • Cindy

    I can’t believe no one else commented about the dough shrinking back after rolling and stretching it into a long rod. It was almost impossible to get the dough into a long, thin rope. I’ve noticed Auntie Annes pretzels are pretty thin. Anyway, I struggled through that and made some rather fat pretzels that were VERY GOOD. I would make these again, but maybe on a day when I had more patience & didn’t care how fat my pretzels were. Thanks for the recipe.

  • patricia Barna

    My husband and I love to make these together on a lazy weekend day. We didn’t change anything, great right out of the oven. try them it is worth it!

  • Judee Diehl

    Can’t wait to try with grand kids!

  • me

    hey jenn, i cant wait to try this recipe but i was wondering if there are any shortcuts to this recipe (buying premade ingreadiants, etc) also if anyone has recipe for sweet dipping glaze

    • Jenn

      Hi Nicki, Unfortunately, no shortcuts with this one. Sorry!

  • Sharyn

    Will recipe work with nonfat lactose free milk?

    • Jenn

      Hi Sharyn, Yes, I think it’d be fine.

  • Jennifer

    Omg these are perfect. Just made them and they are brilliant!!! Thank you!

  • Sasha

    Hi Jenn! I am trying to bake for the first time and I wonder if I can use wax paper instead of parchment one?

    • Jenn

      Hi Sasha, Unfortunately, wax paper is not good for baking; it can melt at high temperatures.

  • Angela

    How did you know I was looking for a soft pretzel recipe; smart lady. I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks a million. Now, I have to take my muffins from the oven!

  • Sandy Stout

    However delicious these may be, they aren’t really pretzels, which are dipped in boiling water (plus baking soda) to set the crust before baking.

  • erika mallet

    very easy to make and they taste amazing, i will put my oven at 400 the next time i make them because i almost burned them!

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