Best ever homemade soft pretzel recipe! These are so chewy and good- perfect with a sprinkling of salt and a dunk in grainy mustard.

Abundant basket full of burnished brown soft pretzels, nestled into an orange plaid napkin.

*I originally posted this soft pretzel recipe on October 26, 2017. I thought it was about time for a refresh. So I’ve simplified the recipe, added a new video, and provided lots more tips for success. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these soft pretzels as much as we do.*

It’s October, and when I think of October I think of one thing.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I think of a few things: apple cider donuts, Halloween, and all sorts of pumpkin spice recipes. But there’s one other thing!

Homemade soft pretzels. Mmmmm.

I try to bake up at least one batch every fall. Preferably on a chilly, gray day while all my boys are watching football on tv. They’re the perfect finger food for game day!

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe, baked and presented on a plaid napkin.

WHAT DO SOFT PRETZELS TASTE LIKE?

Soft pretzels are a type of yeast bread that have been around for centuries. There’s some debate as to where they were invented, but it was most definitely somewhere in Europe, likely by clergy people of some kind.

The shape is meant to resemble hands clasped in prayer.

I live in Pennsylvania, the undisputed soft pretzel capital of the world. We love our pretzels here! I’ve learned TONS about soft pretzels throughout my lifetime, and you might even say I’m a bit of a soft pretzel expert.

Soft pretzels taste yeasty and savory, with a soft, pillowy interior and a chewy, toasty outside crust.

This recipe also contains beer (it’s optional, see below) and that flavor comes through for sure. So you may notice a slightly floral or pleasingly bitter taste as well.

They’re usually sprinkled with salt so they make a really satisfying salty snack.

HOW TO MAKE THIS SOFT PRETZEL RECIPE

This recipe is made with just a handful of basic pantry staples, and each of the steps are very easy to do, but there are a lot of them. So I’m breaking this section down into 4 main categories:

  1. Make the Dough
  2. Shape the Pretzels
  3. Boil, and
  4. Bake

MAKE THE DOUGH

To make the dough, start by dissolving your dry active yeast in sweetened water. I add warm water to a little bit of brown sugar, sprinkle the yeast on top, and give it 5 minutes or so to dissolve and get foamy.

Sprinkling dry active yeast over warm water.

The brown sugar is meant to feed the yeast. Because it’s such a small amount, the final result does not taste sweet.

Make sure your water is warm but not hot. If it’s too hot it could kill the yeast. Aim for the temperature of a baby’s bath, or around 105 degrees F.

The foam tells you that the yeast is alive and well! When you see that you know that it’s working.

Foamy yeast mixture in a large glass mixing bowl.

If you don’t see that, move the bowl to a warmer spot and give it another 5 minutes. Also be sure to check that your yeast packet wasn’t past its expiration date!

Once you know your yeast is thriving, stir in the flour, salt, and beer.

Adding flour, salt, and beer to soft pretzel dough.

Use a beer that has a flavor you enjoy, because it will definitely come through. I include some specific suggestions in the video below.

Or if you don’t want to use beer, you can substitute with water.

After a couple of minutes of mixing, you should have a very stiff dough that gathers itself into a ball and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Stiff pretzel dough in a stand mixer.

Continue to knead the dough (by hand or by machine, it’s up to you!) until the dough feels silky and elastic. This usually takes about 10 minutes, but you can know for sure you’ve kneaded enough by performing the “windowpane test.”

There’s info on this in the video I’ve embedded. You’ll find it at the bottom of the recipe card.

Kneading pretzel dough in a stand mixer until silky and elastic.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, mist the bowl with non-stick spray and pop it back in. Cover it lightly with plastic wrap, put it in a cozy place, and give it its first rise.

SHAPE THE PRETZELS

After the dough has had a nice long nap, it should have doubled in volume. It will be big and poofy and full of air!

Soft pretzel dough risen to twice its original volume.

Punch the air out and divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

Pretzel dough divided into 8 equal portions.

Cover 7 of the dough balls lightly with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.

The 8th will be used to make your first pretzel.

Rolling a long, skinny rope of soft pretzel dough.

Roll it into a long, skinny rope.

Forming a "U" shape with pretzel dough.

Then, grab both ends of the rope, pull it into a “U” shape, and draw the ends down towards the center, twisting them once around each other.

Pulling the ends of the soft pretzel dough down and towards the center.

Shaping soft pretzels.

Twisting soft pretzel dough rope.

Shaped, unbaked soft pretzel.

The pretzels might look a little small and skinny at this stage, but don’t worry, they’re going to grow a ton!

In fact, it’s best if they’re pretty skinny because if they’re fat now, they’ll get even fatter as they rise. And you don’t want those pretty loops to close up! They can get brown and toasty and flavorful, as long as they get some air around them while they’re baking.

Unbaked soft pretzels on parchment sheets.

Pick up the pretzel and place it on its own, individual sheet of parchment paper. Then slide it onto a baking tray.

This is my pro tip and boy did I learn it the hard way. Picking up the pretzels to boil them in the next step can really do a number on them. That kind of rough handling can deflate them and they end up flat and sad.

But if you can slide them gently off the tray by the paper it’s so much gentler and they hold their full, pudgy shape so much better!

Continue shaping pretzels, placing them on sheets of parchment, then baking trays, with the remaining dough balls.

When all of your pretzels have been shaped, cover them once again with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow them their second rest.

BOIL THEM

While the uncooked pretzels are resting and rising, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Then add the baking soda.

Be careful! The baking soda will cause the hot water to really fizz up a lot.

Once the pretzels have risen to twice their original volume, grab one gently by the parchment paper, taking care not to knock all that beautiful air out, and slip it into the bath.

Slipping soft pretzels into their water bath.

When the paper has released from the pretzel, just pull it away and discard it.

You can see what this looks like in the video below.

Allow it to boil for about a minute on each side.

Then remove it from the water, drain it on a clean towel, and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Boiled soft pretzels being placed on a baking tray.

Continue this process until you have all 8 pretzels boiled.

BAKE THEM

Brush the pretzels with egg wash, taking care to reach into every nook and cranny. The egg wash really gives the pretzels the most beautiful shiny brown color.

And while the egg is still wet, sprinkle them with salt.

Sprinkling unbaked soft pretzels with salt.

Pretzel salt is probably best. You can get it here: Pretzel Salt.

But honestly, I just use coarse kosher salt. It’s my all-purpose salt for baking and cooking and it works well enough for me.

Slip the trays into the oven and bake the pretzels until they are nicely browned.

And serve them warm if you can! They’re SO GOOD fresh from the oven.

HOW TO SERVE THEM

My favorite way to eat pretzels is with mustard. Yellow mustard is good, but spicy brown mustard is even better, in my opinion.

They’re also amazing with a dip! Here are a few suggestions:

Imagine a big soft pretzel board with several dips to choose from! Now that’s a party!

INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS

Are soft pretzels bad for you? It’s tough to say. I did include a full nutritional workup in the recipe card below, so you can judge for yourself.

But if you have a food sensitivity they definitely can be, without some smart ingredient subs.

  • For gluten-free soft pretzels, use a gf flour blend that can sub 1:1 for regular flour.
  • For an egg-free, vegan version use a plant-based egg substitute that can sub 1:1 for chicken eggs.
  • This recipe is naturally vegetarian, nut-free, and dairy-free.

Homemade soft pretzel, torn into bite-sized pieces and served with brown mustard for dipping.

OVERNIGHT INSTRUCTIONS

If you’d like to spread out all the steps over a couple of days, you can allow the pretzels their second rest in the fridge overnight.

So, follow the recipe instructions right up to the point where the pretzels have been shaped and placed on parchment.

Cover them with greased plastic wrap, but instead of allowing them to rise in a warm place, pop them into the fridge for up to 2 days, or the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

When you’re ready to finish them up in the oven, just thaw them at room temperature first. Once they’ve bulked up to 2x their original size, they’re ready for the egg wash, salt, and for the oven.

CAN THESE BE MADE AHEAD?

These are a great make-ahead snack and you can even break up the prep by following the instructions above for overnight soft pretzels. Or you can do it all at once, but be sure to follow these storage instructions.

Soft pretzels will be ok at room temperature for a couple of days. Slip them into a plastic bag, but don’t seal it up airtight. If there isn’t any airflow, they can become soggy and wrinkly.

If you want to keep them for more than a day or two, they’ll last around a week in the fridge. But again, plastic bag with a little air circulating.

You can also wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them. They should keep for months in the freezer. Allow them to thaw (uncovered) at room temperature, in the microwave, or in a warm oven.

A crusty, burnished brown homemade soft pretzel, torn in two, with one end dipped in brown mustard.  Sitting on crumpled parchment paper with an orange plaid cloth in the background.

A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE CHEWY BREAD RECIPES:

  1. Bread Bowls (for soup or dips)
  2. Easy Ciabatta Bread
  3. New York Bagel Recipe
  4. Crusty French Baguettes

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5 from 2 votes
Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
Prep Time
2 hrs 40 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Resting Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
3 hrs
 

Best ever homemade soft pretzel recipe! These are so chewy and good- perfect with a sprinkling of salt and a dunk in grainy mustard.

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: German
Keyword: how to make soft pretzels, soft pretzel, soft pretzel recipe, soft pretzel recipes, soft pretzels
Servings: 8 soft pretzels
Calories: 189 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine the warm water, brown sugar, and dry yeast in a large bowl.

  2. When the yeast mixture looks foamy, stir in the flour, salt, and beer until a stiff dough forms.

  3. Knead the dough until it feels silky and elastic (approx. 10 minutes).

  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (approx. 90 minutes).

  5. Punch down the dough, and divide it into 8 equal portions.
  6. Roll each portion of dough into a rope about 20-inches long.
  7. Twist into a pretzel shape (see video below) and place each one on its own sheet of parchment, on a baking sheet.

  8. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled in volume (approx. 30 minutes).

  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  10. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer, and add the baking soda (liquid will foam up and then settle back down).
  11. Boil the pretzels (one or two at a time) in the liquid for 1 minute on each side.
  12. Drain on clean towels, then transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets.
  13. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with salt.

  14. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until dark brown and shiny.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*Instant yeast may be substituted.  Rise time may need to be reduced by 10 to 15 minutes.  You'll know your dough is done rising when it has doubled in volume.

**Bread flour has a higher gluten content, and will yield chewier soft pretzels.  All-purpose flour can be substituted.

©Baking a Moment

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 pretzel)
Calories 189 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g
Sodium 1662mg72%
Potassium 65mg2%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1IU0%
Vitamin C 0.003mg0%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
These are made with beer so they have a really full, yeasty flavor. And they are pillowy-soft yet stretchy and chewy at the same time. So good with a sprinkling of crunchy salt and a dip in grainy mustard! Or beer cheese!

I would recommend using a strong IPA for this recipe. It will give the most flavor. But it would also work really well with a dark stout like Guinness. The alcohol will evaporate during the cooking process, but if you prefer not to use beer you can just substitute with tepid water.

If you’re intimidated by the shaping process, don’t be! Just have fun with it. Here’s a step-by-step picture tutorial so you can see how to form the twisty soft pretzel shape.

How to twist a soft pretzel shape, plus the BEST homemade soft pretzel recipe!  #food #recipes #bread #pretzels

If the dough is too smooth and slippery to form the ropes, try moistening your hands a bit with water.

And don’t forget the egg wash! Everything you read says the baking soda bath is what gives the soft pretzels that gorgeous burnished brown color, but trust me. If you don’t brush on the egg wash you will not get the color.

I think you’ll really enjoy these homemade soft pretzels! It’s such a fun kitchen project and the result is so hearty and delicious!

More great bread recipes on my “Bread Recipes” Pinterest board!


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5 from 2 votes
Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
Prep Time
2 hrs 40 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Resting Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
3 hrs
 

Best ever homemade soft pretzel recipe! These are so chewy and good- perfect with a sprinkling of salt and a dunk in grainy mustard.

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: German
Keyword: how to make soft pretzels, soft pretzel, soft pretzel recipe, soft pretzel recipes, soft pretzels
Servings: 8 soft pretzels
Calories: 189 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine the warm water, brown sugar, and dry yeast in a large bowl.

  2. When the yeast mixture looks foamy, stir in the flour, salt, and beer until a stiff dough forms.

  3. Knead the dough until it feels silky and elastic (approx. 10 minutes).

  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (approx. 90 minutes).

  5. Punch down the dough, and divide it into 8 equal portions.
  6. Roll each portion of dough into a rope about 20-inches long.
  7. Twist into a pretzel shape (see video below) and place each one on its own sheet of parchment, on a baking sheet.

  8. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled in volume (approx. 30 minutes).

  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  10. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer, and add the baking soda (liquid will foam up and then settle back down).
  11. Boil the pretzels (one or two at a time) in the liquid for 1 minute on each side.
  12. Drain on clean towels, then transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets.
  13. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with salt.

  14. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until dark brown and shiny.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*Instant yeast may be substituted.  Rise time may need to be reduced by 10 to 15 minutes.  You'll know your dough is done rising when it has doubled in volume.

**Bread flour has a higher gluten content, and will yield chewier soft pretzels.  All-purpose flour can be substituted.

©Baking a Moment

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 pretzel)
Calories 189 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g
Sodium 1662mg72%
Potassium 65mg2%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1IU0%
Vitamin C 0.003mg0%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.