Soft Pretzels

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Similar to Auntie Anne’s, these soft pretzels are a touch sweet and deliciously buttery.

Every parent needs a good soft pretzel recipe. Kids love them, and they make a fun (albeit very messy!) rainy day baking project. These soft pretzels are my kids’ favorite. A touch sweet and very buttery, they taste just like Auntie Anne’s famous mall pretzels. I use a stand mixer for this recipe but if you don’t have one, feel free to mix and knead the dough by hand.

What You’ll Need To Make Soft Pretzels

ingredients for soft pretzelsHow To Make Soft Pretzels

warmed butter and milkWarm the milk and butter in the microwave until the butter is just melted, about 90 seconds; do not boil. (Alternatively, warm the butter and milk in a small saucepan.) Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved; set aside.

adding brown sugar to milk mixture

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2-1/2 cups of the flour with the yeast and salt.

flour, yeast and salt in mixerMix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.

mixed flour, yeast, and saltWith the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk mixture to the bowl.

adding milk mixture to dry ingredientsWhen the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch to the dough hook.

dough in cohesive massKnead, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes.

kneaded doughShape the dough into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.

dough ball in bowl Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

dough doubled in size

Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.

soft pretzel dough on floured surfaceShape the dough into a log and cut into six equal pieces.

Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 24-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch.

soft pretzel rope

Combine the baking soda with warm water in a 2-quart baking dish and stir until dissolved. Gently dip each “rope” into the soda solution. This solution is what gives the pretzels a nice golden brown crust.

dipping soft pretzel dough into baking soda solutionLet any excess liquid drip off, then form the dough into a pretzel shape directly on the prepared baking sheet (form a U-shape, then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over and under each other — making a twist in the middle — and press the ends onto the bottom of the pretzel). Sprinkle evenly with the coarse salt.

soft pretzels ready to bakeBake until golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Melt the remaining three tablespoons of butter and brush on the baked pretzels.

brushing baked soft pretzels with butter

Enjoy the pretzels warm out of the oven, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.

Note: This recipe was updated with new instructions and photos in 2019.

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Soft Pretzels

Similar to Auntie Anne’s, these soft pretzels are a touch sweet and deliciously buttery.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus 1 to 2 hours to rise

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons for the dough; 3 tablespoons for brushing on finished pretzels)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 package instant/rapid-rise yeast (1 package contains 2-1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk and butter in the microwave until the butter is just melted, about 90 seconds; do not boil. (Alternatively, warm the butter and milk in a small saucepan.) Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2-1/2 cups of the flour with the yeast and salt. Mix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk mixture to the bowl. When the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch to the dough hook. Knead, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, the dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand.) Shape the dough 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, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. In a 2-qt baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2-1/4 cups warm water. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved; set aside. (Dipping the pretzel dough in a baking soda solution gives the pretzels a nice golden brown crust.)
  5. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a log, then cut into 6 equal pieces; cover with a damp dishtowel so the dough doesn't dry out. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 24-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch.
  6. Using two hands, gently dip each "rope" into the soda solution. Let any excess liquid drip off, then form the dough into a pretzel shape directly on the prepared baking sheet (form a U-shape, then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over and under each other -- making a twist in the center -- and press the ends onto the bottom of the pretzel). Sprinkle evenly with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, 8 to 12 minutes; watch the bottoms carefully as they can burn.
  7. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the baked pretzels. The pretzels are best enjoyed warm out of the oven or fresh on the same day (reheat in the oven or microwave).
  8. Note: Active dry yeast may be used instead of instant yeast, however, the dough will take longer to rise. To give active dry yeast a boost, you can dissolve it in the warm milk and butter, let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.
  9. Note: 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)

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 pretzel
  • Calories: 331
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49 g
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Sodium: 2540 mg
  • Cholesterol: 30 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Do these pretzels freeze well?

    • — IS on October 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi, I haven’t frozen them, but I think they would freeze nicely. I’d thaw and reheat in a 350 oven for 5 to 10 min. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 11, 2021
      • Reply
      • Yes thank you!
        I did freeze them
        I will try thaw them out tomorrow in the oven

        • — IS on October 12, 2021
        • Reply
  • Hi Jen
    I’m looking for a soft pretzel recipe to serve with a beer cheese dip as part of a fall season charcuterie appetizer. Would your pretzel recipe be too sweet? Can I eliminate/reduce the brown sugar??
    These look so good!

    • — Lisa on October 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, the pretzels are not very sweet as is, but I’d cut the sugar in half. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

    Just waiting on my kazillionth Naan dough to rise, because your recipe is fabulous, and my kids LOVE IT.

    So, am going to try these pretzels next, as they look amazeballs.

    Though I did just want to check on your measurements as I vaguely recall some differences between tablespoon and teaspoon measurements between Australia and the US.

    In Australia, our tablespoon is 20ml, and teaspoon is 5ml. Is this the same in your recipes?

    Thanks and am signing up with you now to get my ‘home chef’ on!

    Take care and keep well.

    Jade (from sunny Australia) 😊

    • — Jade Webb on August 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jade, so glad the naan has been a hit! I never really think of teaspoons and tablespoons in terms of milliliters, but I just looked it up and see that in the US, a teaspoon is 5 mL and a tablespoon is 15 mL. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 24, 2021
      • Reply
  • Somehow I missed the addition of the brown sugar to the milk/butter mixture but everything worked out and they were still delicious!

    • — Lisalen on August 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Also, I liked the fluffiness of the baked pretzel as a opposed to a dense pretzel.

      • — Lisalen on August 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • These pretzels were delicious!!! 10/10 will be making again, probably immediately.

    • — Emma on June 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made these a few times and they have always turned out perfect. I most recently made them for a neighborhood cookoff. And they were the only dish that was completely gone, everything else had leftovers. I cut the dough into bite-sized pieces about 2 inches long. They cooked a little faster at around 5-6 mins in the oven. I also doubled the recipe with no issue. Thank you for the outstanding recipe.

    • — Mrs B on May 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was simple and easy to follow. I had all the ingredients on hand in my pantry, which is always nice. I followed the directions exactly and everything turned out perfect. I left three plain and put Parmesan cheese, onion powder, and sea salt on the other three. All were delicious! The inside texture was very soft and bread like.

    • — Laurie Scheitlin on May 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • If I want to make a cinnamon and sugar covered pretzel/pretzel bite what would I change/do/how?

    • — Kathleen on April 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, 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). And if you’d like to make pretzel bites, it’s definitely doable. Bake time should be less but it’s hard to say how much so I’d just keep a close eye on them. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • Delicious and soo easy to make. My 6 yr old inhaled the 1st one asap and asked to make more! Will definitely make again in the future. Thank you again for yet another easy winner Jen!

    • — Phung on March 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • If I wanted a less sweet pretzel and used less sugar is there anything else that I should alter in the recipe?

    • — Amanda Kingsbury on February 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • No, I don’t think you’d need to make any other modifications. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • Wow!!! These are delicious! The recipe is easy and they turned out amazing! I can’t wait to make them again with the cinnamon/sugar topping.

    • — Evann on February 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great pretzels, everyone loves them. They are definitely best eaten the day they are made, but they don’t usually last much longer anyway. I use the metric conversions for weighing the flour and have always had good results.

    • — Gordon on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Wonderfully delicious!! Super easy to make! Thank you.

    • — Kristine Roberts on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • These were AMAZING! I love a good pretzel and these hit the spot! Very easy recipe to follow as this was the first time I ever made pretzels and they turned out fantastic.

    • — AARPH on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I had my son make these today! Perfect project for a snowy day while I worked. They came out delicious! I wouldn’t change a thing!

    • — Kristine Roberts on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • These turned out super great! Soft and fluffy on the inside and the crust was surprisingly good- so glad we can make such yummy pretzles at home without figuring out the lye method. I struggled a bit with making the shape but after a few funny shaped ones and a quick search on youtube we got the hang of it! They’re homemade so it looks the part 😛

    • — Karin on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I LOVE these pretzels! They are so easy to make. I usually keep a few to eat right away and then freeze the rest (individually wrapped in Saran Wrap) so I can have one whenever I have the craving. You just rub them with some water, put salt on top, wrap loosely in foil, and heat at 350 for a few minutes. Thank you for this recipe!

    • — Heather on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Ohhhh, at home we’ve gone to heaven and come back! They are sooooo delicious and easy to make!
    I was going to refrigerate the dough and make it in the morning, but couldn’t resist the temptation and we had it as an evening treat.
    Dangerously niiiice.

    • — Idoya Garrido-Hicks on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is an easy to follow recipe. These pretzels turned out terrific. They really do taste like Aunt Annie’s Pretzels that are sold in the malls. Tasting these pretzels reminded me of fun times with family and friends. It will be fun to bring these treats when family and friends can get together in the future.

    • — Hope V Cotturo on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • If I want to make them in the morning and refrigerate until ready to bake, do I need to do anything special like proof them before baking?

    • — Daphnie on January 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Daphnie, I’ve never done it, but you can refrigerate the dough before shaping it into pretzels. Here are some tips that may help. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 18, 2021
      • Reply
      • So for this recipe when is the best time for Refrigeration, after rising or after dipping in the baking soda? Thanks

        • — Idoya Garrido-Hicks on January 28, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi, I’d refrigerate the dough before shaping it into pretzels and dipping them into the baking soda solution. Hope that helps!

          • — Jenn on January 28, 2021
          • Reply
  • Outstanding recipe. Easy to follow and delicious to eat. The whole family likes these, neighbors were stunned too. Definitely read the footnote if you want to opt for sweet over savory. Both are great! Also good to remember these are best when fresh out of the oven!

    • — Terri H. on December 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Your website and cookbook are always my go to sources when trying a new dish or ingredient. I don’t comment on every recipe I’ve made but this pretzel recipe was far easier and successful than I had imagined. I’m just starting to dabble in bread making so the detail and photos were much appreciated!

    • — Lisalen on December 17, 2020
    • Reply
  • What a great recipe!! I’ve tried to make soft pretzels in the past but they never turned out at good as these did. Served them to two guys from PA that said they were awesome. This is a must have recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

    • — D. Weso on December 17, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’ve made these several times. They’re great. Thank you. If doubling this recipe, should the yeast also be doubled?

    • — Matt on December 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like them! Yes, I’d double all the ingrdients.

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2020
      • Reply
  • Fun, delicious project to make with my 5 year old grandson on a cold Montana afternoon. Everyone loved them! The best!

    • — susan on November 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Loved these! I used a lye bath instead of the baking soda but the color, flavor and texture were perrrrrfect.

    • — Kimber on November 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • Making these for a small Oktoberfest party. If I double the recipe will they turn out fine? Thx Jenn, love your recipes!

    • — Karen on October 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure – hope everyone enjoys! 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • Loved this recipe!! Was searching for a soft pretzel recipe to make to enjoy while watching Wisconsin Badgers football. They serve 2 types of pretzels at Camp Randall, the usual stadium pretzel and freshly baked ones. Yours was an almost identical match to the freshly baked! Delicious! “ALMOST” made me forget I wasn’t sitting in my seat at the game! Thanks and #onwisconsin

    • — Gwen Loberger on October 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • I decided to try and make pretzels like I buy at the mall, so I took to the internet and discovered many copycat recipes. I came across yours and there was no longer a question of which one to use because none of your recipes have ever failed me. These pretzels were perfect! Buttery, lightly salted, slightly sweet with a bit of a crunch on the bottom, but warm and soft on the inside. They were exactly like what I get from the mall, and my family devoured them immediately.
    In my internet research I did discover that using food grade lye is the best way to get authentic results in flavor, color, and texture. I went ahead and bought a big jar of lye for $9 on Amazon. You only need to mix 37 grams of it with 4 cups of cold water and use that for the “bath”. I took the necessary precautions as far as using rubber gloves etc. Also, I made my ropes 3 feet long, formed them into pretzels, and then dipped them. I’m so excited to have nailed pretzels my first try!! I will be using this recipe again and again. Thanks!

    • — Tish on October 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • Question: Are they soft or more bread-like and tough pretzels? because i really want to make some soft pretzels and i don’t want to set myself up for disappointment.

    • — Kris on October 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • They are a little softer (so more like Annie Anne’s than what you’d get at a baseball game if that helps). 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 5, 2020
      • Reply

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