It is so easy to make homemade soft pretzels from scratch. They taste amazing and are just as good if not better than the ones you can buy at the theme parks which are definitely overpriced.
When I was a kid I loved getting soft pretzels from the various theme parks, ballparks, and county fairs and dipping them in mustard. Let’s be honest, I still love eating them as an adult, only now I make them at home.
If you are a pretzel lover then you have got to try these homemade soft pretzels. If I can do it, you can do it. Let’s get baking!
Step 1: Gather the ingredients
In order to make homemade soft pretzels you need several everyday ingredients:
- Yeast – I use active dry, but rapid-rise, or instant yeast will work fine too.
- Water – For both the dough and to soak the pretzels in. I always use filtered water, since my tap water doesn’t taste very good.
- Flour – All-purpose/plain flour or you can use bread flour as well.
- Sugar – Just a hint of sugar to amp up the flavor of the dough.
- Salt – For both the dough and to cover the outside. Table salt for the dough and Kosher salt for the outside, to give it that classic look.
- Oil – Olive, Coconut, Canola, etc.
- Baking soda – Traditionally food-grade lye is used, but baking soda works great.
- Egg – For the eggwash if you want to give the outside the classic shiny look.
Step 2: How to make homemade soft pretzels
Begin with the yeast. Take a medium bowl and add the water to it. Heat it up in the microwave, or heat it up in a pot on the stovetop, until it is about 105 to 115 F (40 to 44 C). It should feel like bath water temperature.
Add a pinch of the sugar to the water and then add in the yeast. Mix it for a few seconds with a fork or whisk and then let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it gets nice and foamy.
After the yeast is activated, pour it into a large bowl. Then add the oil and the rest of the sugar. If you don’t want much sweetness to the pretzel, only add about two tablespoons. If you want it slightly sweeter add 1/4 cup of sugar. Which is 4 tablespoons.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and the salt. Then add it little by little to the large bowl with the yeast mixture. Don’t add it all at once. Once the dough comes together and is tacky, it can be kneaded and leftover flour can be added as needed.
Step 3: Knead the pretzel dough
Now place the dough on a floured work surface and knead it for about 8 to 10 minutes. To knead, fold the dough over onto itself, and push it out with your palm stretching it a bit, then turn a quarter turn and fold and push, etc. Add the remaining flour about 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer sticky.
You can knead it by hand or use a stand mixer with a dough hook. You may not wind up using all of the flour.
Once you are done kneading shape the dough into a ball. Add a little bit of oil to a large bowl or spray it with cooking spray. Add the dough to the bowl and roll it around in the bowl to coat it with the oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour or so until it at least doubles in size.
Step 4: How to make the homemade soft pretzels shape
There are two classic shapes of soft pretzels that you can do. Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and divide it into 6 equal parts.
Then roll the dough into a long thing snake or rope that is about 20 inches long or so. Make a U shape and then fold them into each other and pinch them onto itself creating one type of pretzel shape.
For the other way roll it out a little bit longer and then make a U shape with the dough, twist the ends together and then fold them over and attach them to the dough.
Step 5: Dipping the soft pretzels
Now in order to create that classic exterior that soft pretzels have we need to dip the pretzel dough shapes in baking soda water.
Take 4 cups of really hot water and place it in a large bowl. Add the baking soda and whisk. Then dip the pretzels in the water for 15 to 20 seconds.
A traditional method would be to use boiling water and food-grade lye or even baking soda. Boiling the dough first will give it a more chewy texture. So that is an option. I personally don’t usually use boiling water. But if you do use a spider strainer or something to dip the dough in the boiling baking soda water. Boil them for 25 to 30 seconds, not very long.
After dipping them or boiling them place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Step 6: Bake the homemade soft pretzels
Preheat the oven to 450 F/232 C. Make a simple egg wash with an egg and a tablespoon of milk or water. Baste the tops of the pretzels if you like. Or you can leave them plain. Then sprinkle on the kosher salt on top to complete the classic soft pretzel look.
Bake them for 7 to 10 minutes until they are nice and golden brown.
Once they are done baking remove them from the oven and if you like immediately baste the tops with some melted butter.
In the image above the ones I am pointing to I basted with the egg wash as well as the top middle one. The other three I didn’t baste with the egg wash to show you the difference. They will taste the same however.
Another thing you can do is use the full 1/4 cup of sugar in the dough to make them sweeter. And then when they are done baking, baste them with butter and then sprinkle a cinnamon and sugar mix on top to make it more of a sweet variation.
They are ready to eat, dip them in mustard, cheese sauce, etc. Enjoy!
How long do homemade soft pretzels last?
They can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap or placed in a zip lock bag or an airtight container and they will last a few days at room temperature. Or place them in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer for a month or two.
Here are some other recipes you may like:
Homemade Soft Pretzels
- Wooden spoon
- Baking sheet pan
- Dough Cutter/Knife
- Silicone Mat (Optional)
- tongs or spider strainer
- 2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast 1 packet (7g)
- 3/4 cup of water 177ml
- 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour 300g
- 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup of sugar for less sweet, use 2 Tbsp (30g to 60g)
- 1 tsp. of salt 5g
- 2 tsp of olive oil 10ml
- 1/2 Cup of baking soda 90g
- 4 Cups of Hot Water 1 liter
Egg Wash and Topping (Optional)
- 1 egg optional for egg wash
- 1 tbsp milk optional for egg wash (15ml)
- Kosher Salt
- Heat the water until really warm, about 105 to 115 F (40 to 44 C) and add it to a large bowl. Add a pinch of the sugar and then the yeast. Give it a good mix and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
- Next, add in the oil and the rest of the sugar. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and the salt. Then add the flour a little at a time, whisking it in at first then switching to a wooden spoon when it becomes too thick. Once the dough comes together and is tacky, knead it on a floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes, add more of the flour as necessary. You may not need it all, however.Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray or drizzle a bit of oil in it. Then place the dough in the bowl and roll it around the bowl so it gets coated in oil. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rise for about an hour until at least doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450 F/232 C. With the rack in the middle position. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a long snake or rope, about 20 inches long or so. Pull each end toward you making an upside-down U. Curl each end and attach it to the top of the U, with one overlapping the other. Or twist the ends together once before attaching them for a different look.
- Heat up about 4 cups of water until it is really hot, then add in the baking soda. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda water for 15 to 20 seconds then place on a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper, or greased with cooking spray. Otherwise, the pretzels tend to stick to the pan. A different method would be to bring the water to a full boil, add the baking soda, and boil the pretzel dough for 25 to 30 seconds, and then place them on the baking sheet. You can use either way. Use a spider trainer or slotted spoon or something to put them in and take them out of the boiling water.
- Mix together the egg and the milk to create an egg wash, then baste the tops of the pretzels. Sprinkle on the kosher salt.Bake the pretzels on the middle rack for 7 to 10 minutes until nice and golden brown. Once out of the are done baking, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely. If you like, baste them with melted butter right when they come out of the oven.
- Serve them with mustard, or a cheese sauce, or eat them plain. Enjoy!
Do you like this recipe? Please give it a rating and comment down below, I really appreciate it. If you make it tag me on Instagram @inthekitchenwithmatt. Also, sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss out on any of my new posts and recipes.