Homemade Soft Pretzels
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Homemade Soft Pretzels — These jumbo pretzels are soft, chewy, and just like the IRRESISTIBLE ones at your local mall’s food court! Skip the mall and make these at home in ONE HOUR with this EASY to follow recipe and step-by-step photos! Whether you want to sprinkle them with coarse salt or cinnamon-sugar, these carby delights will be an automatic family FAVORITE!
Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
One of my favorite things about going to the mall is not just shopping. It’s actually going for my post-shopping treat that is a Wetzel’s Pretzels or Auntie Anne’s, depending on the mall.
Those buttery bites of pure unadulterated carbohydrates are what make dealing with the chaos of mall parking and food court lines totally worth it.
These homemade pretzels are every bit as good as store bought, ready in 45 minutes from start to finish, and are perfectly soft and chewy with a texture that you will love quite literally sinking your teeth into.
I sprinkle them with pretzel salt and also provide the easiest whisk-together cinnamon sugar dipping sauce recipe that’s optional.
Cheese dip is also welcome to apply.
Ingredients In Soft Pretzels
For this easy soft pretzel recipe, you’ll need the following common pantry ingredients:
- Beer or water
- Active dry yeast
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Kosher salt
- Tap water
- Baking soda
- Unsalted butter
- Pretzel salt (or another salt), optional
How to Make Homemade Soft Pretzels
Preheat your oven to 450F and add the beer or water to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top, and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it bubbles and is foamy.
If it’s not foamy, your yeast is bad and you need to start over.
Add the flour, sugar, and kosher salt to the bowl, and once a dough starts to form, scrape down the sides and turn the speed on medium-high and start to knead the dough for 2 minutes.
The dough will clean the sides of the bowl but the bottom may still stick which is okay. If the sides do not clean, add 1 tablespoon more of flour at a time until it does.
Try not to over-flour the dough because it will make the pretzels denser and tougher.
If you’re not using a stand mixer, stir to combine with a wooden spoon and then knead with your hands for 5 minutes and until a smooth dough forms. The dough may be a little sticky and that’s okay.
Lightly spray a medium-sized bowl with cooking spray and add the dough to the bowl and roll it around so it’s coated in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.
In a separate large shallow bowl, whisk together the water and baking soda until the baking soda has dissolved.
Cover two large sheet trays with parchment paper and set them aside.
How to Shape Pretzels
After the dough has sat for 20 minutes and risen, place the dough on a clean work surface that’s been lightly floured and divide it into 6 sections.
Roll out one section at a time into a long rope, about 30 inches long.
Make a U shape with the bottom of the U facing you.
Criss-cross the rope twice and fold it over itself to make a pretzel shape.
Secure the ends of the pretzels by pressing the ends into the bottom of the U shape so it sticks together.
Very gently place the pretzel into the baking soda water, noting it won’t completely keep its shape, but don’t worry.
Place the pretzel onto the lined baking sheet and maneuver the pretzel into whatever final shape you want.
Repeat with the remaining dough, place the pretzels about 2 inches apart on the sheet tray.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until dark golden brown. Immediately brush with softened butter.
You can also melt butter, and dip them fully in melted butter. You use more butter this way, they will be greasier, but in my opinion, probably even better. You only live once!
Then sprinkle the soft baked pretzels with pretzel salt or dip them in cinnamon-sugar for sweet pretzels.
Let your jumbo hot homemade pretzels cool slightly and serve with the dipping sauce of your choice. They’re so good hot, warm, and buttery, you may not even need a dipping sauce!
Is a Stand Mixer Necessary to Make Pretzels?
No, it’s not. If you have a stand mixer, use it with the dough hook to make your life easier.
But if you don’t have one, a large mixing bowl, wooden spoon, and five minutes of kneading is all that’s needed for this homemade soft pretzel recipe.
This isn’t a complicated dough that needs to be kneaded and kneaded. Nor is there a second rise which would also create extra kneading time so really don’t worry if you don’t have a stand mixer.
I do not recommend using a hand mixer though. They aren’t powerful enough. You need either a stand mixer or your own elbow grease, but not a handheld electric mixer.
What Type of Yeast Is Best for Pretzels?
For this soft baked pretzel recipe, you want to use active dry yeast.
You will need one packet, which is 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1/4-ounce if you are buying it in bulk rather than packets.
I have not tested the soft pretzel recipe with instant dry yeast but if that’s what you have on hand. I have a 2013 recipe for Soft Buttery One Hour Pretzels which uses instant yeast and works like a charm.
Do I Have to Do the Baking Soda Bath?
The baking soda bath can be skipped, but that is what gives the homemade soft pretzels their classic pretzel taste.
Although in these Soft Buttery One Hour Pretzels I don’t do it and they turn out fine. However, this current recipe tastes more classic and authentic when you do it.
Additionally, keep in mind that the baking soda bath will facilitate greater browning in the oven, so make sure to keep a very close eye on them when baking so they don’t get too dark on you accidentally.
Can I Make the Pretzels Smaller?
You can easily make these soft baked pretzels smaller by making 12 pretzels instead of six.
Cooking time will be reduced, likely by just a few minutes, so keep an eye on them since you’re cooking them in a very hot 450F degree oven and dough burns quickly.
Can Homemade Soft Pretzels Be Made Gluten-Free?
Gluten is what helps bread rise, and gives the chewy texture to bread and rolls, and especially to pretzels, that we all know and love.
In the absence of gluten, I don’t know from a food chemistry perspective how exactly you can still get the same rise and texture, which is why many people complain that gluten free bread is “just not the same”.
For that reason, I’ve never dabbled in making gluten-free yeasted bread but if you research thoroughly and are up for experimentation, I’m sure there is a way to come close to replicating the taste and texture of traditional bread and rolls.
However, don’t just replace gluten-free flour for all-purpose and expect the recipe to work because it likely won’t.
Dipping Sauces for Homemade Pretzels
For these pretzels I made the easiest sweet pretzel dip ever, a cinnamon-sugar dipping sauce.
For the cinnamon-sugar dipping sauce, it’s as easy as whisking together:
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
This dipping sauce tastes just like what you’d get at Wetzels Pretzels or Auntie Anne’s.
If you’re into sweet dips, this one is perfect with just the perfect amount of cinnamon and vanilla.
If you’re into a more savory dip like a cheese sauce, try one of the following instead:
- Beef Queso Dip
- 5-Minute Chili Cheese Dip
- Spicy Chorizo Queso
- Honey Mustard Sauce
- Smoky Mustard Dipping Sauce
Tips for the Best Soft Pretzels
I am sure many people will ask if they can substitute water for the beer in the recipe without issue, and the answer is yes, no problem you can use water. The beer doesn’t make the pretzels taste like beer nor make them taste like beer bread.
In my opinion, the beer helps enhance the texture slightly because beer just has a way of doing that in any type of dough recipe. However, you’ve got the instant dry yeast regardless if you’re using beer or not.
Don’t just guess at what temp 100 to 110F is. Too hot and you’ll kill the yeast and too cold and you won’t activate it. Use a food thermometer and take the temp of the beer or water.
I sprinkled these homemade jumbo pretzels with pretzel salt. This is more or less optional, but definitely keeps them more authentic.
If you don’t want to buy pretzel salt, I understand, and you’ll be fine using a very coarse or Kosher-type salt.
Some people love tons of salt on their pretzels and others pick or scrape off most of it. Do as you prefer when it comes to salting them lightly or aggressively.
For those of us who love sweet pretzels, you can’t go wrong with dipping them in cinnamon-sugar.
Add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon to 1 cup granulated sugar, mix, and then dip away after you’ve brushed the baked pretzels with melted butter.
To really hammer the cinnamon-sugar vibe home, make the cinnamon-sugar dipping sauce as outlined above.
To keep the pretzels vegan, use a vegan-certified beer or simply use water and also use a melted vegan buttery spread in place of the butter.
They’re practically naturally vegan and with a couple small tweaks, vegan pretzels are yours.
Keep a close eye on them when you’re baking them because 450F is a very hot oven and you don’t want them to burn. I’m insanely picky about how well-done my pretzels get and really don’t like them too dark!
- 12 ounces warm beer, or warm water (100-110°F)
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons or 1/4-ounce)
- 4 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups hot tap water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or vegan buttery spread), very soft* (See Notes)
- 1 tablespoon pretzel salt (or coarse or Kosher salt), to taste
- Preheat oven to 450F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Even though the dough needs to rest, still go ahead and preheat your oven to 450F since it's a very hot oven and it can take awhile for ovens to fully come up to that temperature.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or large mixing bowl, add the beer or water (take the temperature with a food thermometer; don't guess because too cold and the yeast won't activate and too hot you'll kill it), sprinkle the yeast over the top, stir, wait 5 minutes, and make sure it's bubbly and foamy. If it's not, your yeast is dead or bad, and you need to start over. Don't move on if it's not foamy because your pretzels will never turn out.
- Add the flour, sugar, and kosher salt to the bowl.
- If using a stand mixer, using the hook attachment, stir the mixture on low. Once a dough starts to form, scrape down the sides and turn the speed on medium-high and start to knead the dough for 2 minutes. The dough will clean the sides of the bowl but the bottom may still stick which is okay. If the sides do not clean, add 1 tablespoon more of flour at a time until it does. Don't over-flour the dough because the pretzels will be denser and tougher.
- If mixing by hand, stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl for 5 minutes until a smooth dough forms, the dough may be a little sticky and that’s okay; again don't over-flour the dough.
- Lightly spray a medium-sized bowl with cooking spray, add the dough to the bowl and roll it around so it’s coated in the oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20 minutes; it will rise.
- To a separate large bowl, add the water, baking soda, and whisk together until the baking soda has dissolved. If it all doesn’t dissolve fully, it's okay; set aside.
- After 20 minutes and your dough has risen, lightly flour your countertop or a clean work surface, place the dough on it, and divide it into 6 sections.
- Roll out one section at a time into a long rope about 30 inches long.
- Make a U shape with the bottom of the U facing you.
- Criss-cross the rope twice and fold it over itself to make a pretzel shape.
- Secure the ends of the pretzels by pressing the ends into the bottom of the U shape so it sticks together.
- Very gently place the pretzel into the baking soda water, noting it will not hold its shape completely and that's okay.
- Place the pretzel onto the prepared baking sheet and maneuver the pretzel into whatever final shape you want.
- Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the pretzels about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until as golden browned or as dark as desired. I suggest rotating your baking sheets once halfway through baking since all ovens have hot spots and the hotter the oven, the more noticeable this is. If possible, bake one sheet at a time rather than two at a time.
- Immediately brush with the butter and then sprinkle with pretzel salt, as desired.
- Alternatively, for cinnamon-sugar pretzels, in a large shallow bowl, mix together 1 cup granulated sugar with 2 to 3 tablespoons cinnamon, stir, and dredge pretzels in it.
- Let cool slightly momentarily and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice** (See Notes).
*You can also melt butter, and dip them fully (briefly submerge) into melted butter. You use more butter this way, they will be greasier, but in my opinion, probably even better. You only live once!
**Dipping sauce ideas: If you're into a more savory dip like a cheese sauce, this Beef Queso Dip, 5-Minute Chili Cheese Dip, or Spicy Chorizo Queso are all great options.
If you'd like to make a Cinnamon Sugar Dipping Sauce, whisk together 3 cups confectioners' sugar (sift if it's lumpy), 3 tablespoons milk (2%, whole, or half-and-half recommended), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Storage: Pretzels are best warm and fresh but will keep airtight at room temp for up to 3 days. Reheat for a few seconds in the microwave to soften them slightly, if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 275Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 5359mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 5g
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