Soft Pretzels

5 stars based on 5 votes

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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

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)

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    These were excellent! My picky 7 year old gobbled them up. I made 8 instead of 6 and even then they were a little pudgy! These would make fabulous mini- pretzel buns. I need more practice “pulling” the ropes. Pulling was much more effective than rolling them on the counter. Thank you!

    - Cook-E on October 13, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I love the recipe.
    But, can I make it healthier by adding or using whole wheat flour without compromising too much on taste?

    - Nan on October 2, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Nan, I’d start with half whole wheat and see how it turns out.

      - Jenn on October 2, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I took these to my Recipe Club get-together when our theme was Healthy Snacks. Boy, were they a hit! Absolutely NO leftovers!
    When I hand kneaded the dough, I found it to be the softest, most perfect dough I have ever felt!!! Highly recommended!

    - Diana Knight on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jenn! We have rapid rise yeast at home, but not the regular active dry. Is it possible to use rapid rise instead?

    - Lucy Humphreys on July 3, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Lucy, Unfortunately, rapid rise yeast and active dry yeast are not interchangeable without making alterations to the recipe. Sorry!

      - Jenn on July 5, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I found your sire via Pinterest looking for Soft Pretzels, and I am glad I stopped by. Thanks for sharing.

    - Janet on June 13, 2014 Reply
  • 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!

    - erika mallet on April 18, 2014 Reply
  • 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.

    - Sandy Stout on April 9, 2014 Reply
  • 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!

    - Angela on February 12, 2014 Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I am trying to bake for the first time and I wonder if I can use wax paper instead of parchment one?

    - Sasha on January 31, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Sasha, Unfortunately, wax paper is not good for baking; it can melt at high temperatures.

      - Jenn on January 31, 2014 Reply
  • Omg these are perfect. Just made them and they are brilliant!!! Thank you!

    - Jennifer on January 25, 2014 Reply
  • Will recipe work with nonfat lactose free milk?

    - Sharyn on January 22, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Sharyn, Yes, I think it’d be fine.

      - Jenn on January 22, 2014 Reply
  • 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

    - me on April 17, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Nicki, Unfortunately, no shortcuts with this one. Sorry!

      - Jenn on April 18, 2013 Reply
  • Can’t wait to try with grand kids!

    - Judee Diehl on March 15, 2013 Reply
  • 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!

    - patricia Barna on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • 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.

    - Cindy on January 11, 2013 Reply
  • i can never get my pretzles BROWN, they come out white as anything…

    - SPORATIC BAKER on October 18, 2012 Reply
  • Has anyone tried to make savory pretzels with this recipe? Wondering how they turned out.

    - Lauren on October 2, 2012 Reply
  • 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.

    - Kat D on June 27, 2012 Reply
  • 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!

    - Carrie Hirshfield on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Kids and I enjoyed making these. We shaped the dough into their initials for extra fun. Delicious too!

    - Tami on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • 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.

    - Mark on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • 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

    - Liz on June 3, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Liz, I believe the conversion is 2-1/4 teaspoons. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on June 5, 2012 Reply
  • So good, and I thought pretty easy!

    - Valerie on May 17, 2012 Reply
  • 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!

    - Helen on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • 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?

    - Candice on March 27, 2012 Reply
    • 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?

      - Jenn on March 28, 2012 Reply
  • We had a blast making these and they were so yummy!

    - Carissa on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • yummy!

    - Sherry on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I hope my pretzels turn out just as perfect looking as yours! They look delicious!

    - Christine M on March 5, 2012 Reply
  • What a fun, delicious activity!

    - Randi on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • 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!

    - Stephanie on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • OMG! I can not wait to give these on a try on a rainy, movie watching day!

    - Karie on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Pretzels remind me of my childhood afternoon snacks, and these are even more delicious!

    - Amanda on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I haven’t made these yet, but I can’t wait to try them – my younger son loves soft pretzels!!

    - Carly Blair on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • 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

    - Martha Nieder on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Mmm..I’m always getting those soft pretzels at the mall. It’s about time that I make some myself! :D

    - Caroline @ chocolate & carrots on February 29, 2012 Reply
  • 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.

    - Nan on February 26, 2012 Reply
  • 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 : )))

    - Patti on February 9, 2012 Reply
  • These look very good:) Why are they dipped on the baking soda mixture?

    - Sherri on January 12, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Sherri, The baking soda bath gives them a nice, shiny crust.

      - Jenn on January 12, 2012 Reply
  • 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!

    - Jenn on November 16, 2011 Reply
  • These sound wonderful… I was wondering if these could be frozen?

    - Michelle on November 15, 2011 Reply
  • 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!

    - Tammy Bane on April 19, 2010 Reply
  • 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!!

    - Tammy Bane on February 10, 2010 Reply
  • Can’t wait to try the pretzels. The recipes are very easy to follow and the pictures look so good my mouth is watering!

    - Anonymous on February 9, 2010 Reply
  • 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!

    - bethy on October 27, 2009 Reply
  • 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!

    - celia on October 21, 2009 Reply
  • 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!

    - Mrs Ergül on October 20, 2009 Reply
  • 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!

    - Mrs Ergül on October 20, 2009 Reply
  • Your pretzels are beautiful! I want to make some now.

    - lisaiscooking on October 17, 2009 Reply
  • Phyllis: Kosher salt works just fine. Enjoy!

    - Jenn on October 12, 2009 Reply
  • Can’t wait to try these! Do you happen to know where one can obtain pretzel salt?

    - Phyllis Kirigin on October 11, 2009 Reply
  • 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!

    - Wendy on October 1, 2009 Reply
  • Your pictures are AMAZING!

    - Wendy on October 1, 2009 Reply

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