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Soft Pretzels

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Fun to make and even more delightful to eat, these buttery, slightly sweet soft pretzels taste just like Auntie Anne’s.

Soft Pretzels

Every parent and grandparent should have a go-to soft pretzel for those rainy days when you need a fun baking project—just be prepared for a light dusting of flour all over the kitchen! My kids adore these homemade soft pretzels. They’re slightly sweet, buttery, and almost identical to Auntie Anne’s famous mall pretzels. The real enjoyment for kids comes from rolling and twisting the dough into classic pretzel shapes, though can shape the dough into pretzel bites, too. While I prefer using a stand mixer, kneading the dough by hand is just as effective.

“I made these for a party. They were amazing. I love Auntie Anne’s pretzels and these tasted just like them.”

Cheri T.

Homemade soft pretzels are easily customized. For those who love the traditional salted version, follow the recipe as is. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, skip the coarse salt, brush the pretzels with butter after baking, and then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. And for the adults, pair these pretzels with mustard or beer cheese dip for extra flavor.

What You’ll Need To Make Soft Pretzels

ingredients for soft pretzels

Step-by-Step Instructions

Warm the milk and 2 tablespoons of the 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.)

warmed butter and milk

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 the flour with the yeast and salt.

flour, yeast and salt in mixer

Mix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.

mixed flour, yeast, and salt

With the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk mixture to the bowl.

adding milk mixture to dry ingredients

When the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch to the dough hook.

dough in cohesive mass

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

kneaded dough

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

pretzel dough in bowl

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

pretzel dough after rise

Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn it out onto a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a log and cut into six equal pieces.

pretzel dough cut into sixthsRoll 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.

rolled out pretzel dough

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 alkaline solution is what gives the pretzels their signature dark brown, shiny crust and distinctive flavor. The solution causes a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction, which results in browning and a distinctive taste. Without this step, the pretzels would not have the same taste, texture, or appearance that we associate with them.

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.

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Soft Pretzels

Fun to make and even more delightful to eat, these buttery, slightly sweet soft pretzels taste just like Auntie Anne’s.

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
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast (1 package)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk and 2 tablespoons of the 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 the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk/butter mixture to the bowl. When the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed 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 2¼ 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 clean work surface. (If the dough seems sticky, you can dust it with a bit of flour as needed.) 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 (½ cup sugar plus about ¾ teaspoon cinnamon)
  10. Make-Ahead Instructions: After the dough has risen, it can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for a few months. Thaw the frozen dough in the refrigerator before using. The dough can be shaped into pretzel bites while still cool, but allow about 30 minutes for the bites to puff up a bit before dipping and baking.

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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Comments

  • This was my first time making soft pretzels! This recipe was so easy and the pretzels were so amazing. I will be making these again and again!!

    • — Kelly on February 3, 2024
    • Reply
  • Can’t wait to try these with my kids! Question- do you use a particular milk? 1%, 2%, whole milk? I’m sure you can use any type or it would’ve been stated but what is your preferred milk choice?

    • — Sarah on January 9, 2024
    • Reply
    • I usually have a variety in my fridge (just b/c of the work I do), so I use whatever I have on hand at the time. Anything you usually buy is fine. Hope you all enjoy them!

      • — Jenn on January 9, 2024
      • Reply
  • These were great. Nice crust and a soft inside. Took about 16 minutes in my older oven.

    • — Cari on October 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • i made these and they are beyond fantastic! i would recommend letting the shaped pretzels set/rise after dipping them in the baking soda water for around 5 minutes it makes them super soft!

    • — olivia on August 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Best soft pretzles I have ever made. Awesome recipe!

    • — Shannon on August 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • These are so yummy!! But I’m having trouble with their shape. Once in the oven they seem to puff up substantially and they come out looking more like rolls than a pretzel. Help!!

    • — Jessica on July 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jessica, Sorry you’re having a bit of a problem with them; next time you make them, I’d try rolling them so the ropes are a bit thinner.

      • — Jenn on July 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • The center is beautiful and fluffy, just like Auntie Anne’s. I wish the outside formed more of a crust. If I make this next time, I’d opt to do a baking soda bath with boiling water for a few seconds.

    • — Natalie R Ruckel on June 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi! Just realized i don’t have brown sugar. Is omitting this ok? Can i use granulated sugar? Thanks!

    • — Maria on February 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Maria, White sugar should be fine. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi, quick question. I’ve always been told not to add salt with yeast at the same time since it supposed to kill the yeast. Is this true for the pretzels or should I not worry about that? Thanks in advance!

    • — Eileen on February 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Eileen, This is not a concern here because it’s such a small amount of salt. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • Quick question about measuring flour for your recipes. Lately I’ve been weighing flour.. it’s usually faster and less mess 🙂 However, I’ve noticed that the amount on your recipes per the toggle function equals 130 g / cup whereas the KA AP bag indicates 120 g / cup. Is it better to check the toggle for the weight instead of just going with the KA conversion? I understand that it’s not a huge amount, but just curious:)

    Have both of your cookbooks and really enjoy your recipes and teaching style!

    • — Kimberly on February 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Kimberly, I know that KA’s bag has 120 grams as the equivalent of 1 cup, but I consistently get 130 grams for 1 cup, so I’d stick with what I have in the recipe for the most accurate measurements. 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 22, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thanks so much for you quick reply; it’s pretty special that we get to have our questions answered by a chef & cookbook author😀

        • — Kimberly on February 25, 2023
        • Reply
  • I should have weighed my flour. I found three cups too much. Checked other pretzel recipes and found 21/4 c. Second try is proofing.I shall let you know how they turn out. Thanks for all your recipes Jenn. This is the first time I’ve encountered a concern.

    • — Donna on February 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’m planning on making these tomorrow with my grandson, but I’m concerned with the sodium count (>2000?); can I make that number go down w/o sacrificing anything?

    • — Sandra D on February 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sandra, the one way you can reduce the sodium is by cutting back a bit on the added salt. You could get away with reducing the fine salt to 3/4 teaspoon and the coarse salt to 1/2 teaspoon. I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on February 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • Unkind remarks don’t help anyone, Joe. I’m curious why, as a serious baker, you tried this amateur recipe that called for instant yeast and no washing soda or lye dip. I’m a fairly serous baker and intend to try this recipe in spite of your poor review!

    • — Diane on February 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • These are amazing! I’m late to the stand mixer game, and just got one. This was my first stand mixer recipe to try. My 22 year old son, who is an Aunt Annie’s fan, said (without any prompting) that he thought they tasted just like Aunt Annie’s.

    • — Jacqueline on December 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Great recipe, just follow the measurements as close as you can!

    • — Everett on December 24, 2022
    • Reply

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