Soft, chewy, and packed with flavor – these homemade pretzels are the perfect snack or appetizer for parties, family gatherings, and other special events. Follow this simple pretzel recipe to make some terrific twisted baked goods for yourself.
Pretzels became my go-to lunch in middle school. I could get a huge pretzel with a side packet of cream cheese for under 2 bucks. Which, in my mind, was a deal that couldn’t be beat.
I know cream cheese sounds weird, but don’t knock it until you try it.
This homemade pretzel recipe is so chewy and delicious, you’ll want to make them for everyone in your life. These soft homemade pretzels are perfect to serve up as an appetizer or as a side alongside a large bowl of soup. Or even mix it up by making pretzel bites or buns.
So, whether you’re trying them plain, with cream cheese, or some other dipping sauce, get to mixing, baking and salting!
Steps to Making the Pretzels
If you’re looking to make homemade pretzel dough, then you should know that you can use a stand mixer to help with this process, but I used hand mixing and hand kneading. Either method will work, but you’ll want to follow these steps to get your pretzel recipe ready for baking:
1. Activate the yeast
2. Mix in the flour, salt, and sugar
3. Stir until it makes a loose, shaggy dough
4. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about ten minutes
5. Put the dough in a bowl, cover it, and let the dough rise for 1 hour
6. Bake the baking soda
7. Cut the dough into 8 even pieces, and roll and stretch them all into long, thin ropes
8. Shape and twist the ropes into pretzels, then let them rise, covered for 30 to 45 minutes
9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and bring water to a boil in a large pot
10. Add brown sugar and baking soda to the boiling water and turn the heat down
11. Soak the pretzels in the water for 1 minute on each side then remove them to a baking sheet
12. Bake the pretzels for 10-15 minutes until dark brown
13. Brush the pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle them with salt or other desired toppings
Follow this simple pretzel recipe to get amazing results every time.
Ingredients for a Homemade Pretzel Recipe
This pretzel recipe uses many of the basic baking ingredients – yeast, water, flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and brown sugar. Note that this recipe does use active dry yeast and not instant yeast. It just means we’ll have to activate the yeast with warm water before mixing the dough together.
We’ll also use butter and salt to top the pretzels when they’re finished baking. For the salt, you can just use some kosher salt. But to be truly authentic you can buy some coarse, crunchy pretzel salt for topping.
Baking some baking soda in the oven seems like a strange concept. But, it helps in this recipe.
Traditional pretzels are soaked in a lye bath before baking. The baking soda imitates a lye bath but isn’t as caustic. It causes the baking soda to become more alkali. By baking the baking soda, you can get results closer to what would come from using true lye.
Preparing Pretzel Recipe Dough
Pretzel dough follows the same basic steps as most bread doughs.
After activating the yeast and mixing together the ingredients to make a shaggy dough (as seen in the photo below), it takes time to knead the dough. Kneading the dough helps to form gluten and will take it from a loose, shaggy mess to a smooth, round ball of dough.
Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes until it forms a smooth dough that holds its shape relatively well.
Next, place the dough into a clean bowl and loosely cover it. I’d recommend using a clean kitchen towel to cover the bowl. I used plastic wrap here to get better photos and videos of the dough rising. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 to 1.5 hours until roughly doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen and looks nice and puffy, it is ready to go.
Shaping the Pretzels
Pretzel shaping is easier than you may think. They can honestly take any shape you want, but I’ll be covering the traditional pretzel shape in this post.
This traditional shape looks kind of like a bow or a knot, but to start making it we will need to cut the dough into individual pieces. Roll the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and use a bench scraper or knife to cut it into 8 roughly equal pieces. You can weigh the pieces for an accurate measure, but rough estimates work well enough.
Cover the divided-up dough with a clean towel and then take out one piece at a time to begin shaping. Roll and stretch them into a long, thin rope.
Then take both ends of the dough rope and begin turning them up into a ‘U’ shape. Bring the ends together and put one end over the other. Twist the two ends around each other once, and then rest them atop the base of the pretzel.
To help the ends stick down to the rest of the pretzel, you can use a dab of water underneath each end before lightly pressing the ends down onto the pretzel base. When all of the pretzels are formed, cover them loosely with a towel and let them rise again for 30 to 40 minutes until they look visibly puffed up.
Bathing and Baking Homemade Pretzels
Putting your food in a bath may seem a bit strange. But, for this pretzel recipe, it is an integral part of the process.
The brown sugar and baking soda bath create an alkaline bath that prevents the dough from springing up while baking in the way that traditional bread does. This gives pretzels their chewy texture, dark color, thicker ‘crust’, and unique density. It also helps to create the pretzel flavor.
Though traditionally this bath is done with lye, it can be a dangerous chemical and may not be widely available. So we’ll use baking soda. And, as noted above, we’ll bake the baking soda to make it even more alkaline to get closer to the traditional lye results.
Mix the brown sugar and baking soda into boiling water until dissolved and turn the heat down to a simmer. Then place the pretzels into the water and let them soak for a minute on each side. Then remove them to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake the pretzels in an oven preheated to 450°F (230°C). Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until they are dark brown in color.
Tips for the Best Pretzel Recipe
Here are a few simple tips for making the best pretzels:
Be careful when adding the baking soda to the boiling water. Use a wide, tall pot to give room for the water to boil a bit violently when adding the baking soda. And, rather than dumping it all in at once, slowly pour it in.
When soaking the shaped dough in the alkaline bath, use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to remove them from the bath and let them easily drain.
When you’re ready to top the pretzels, it is useful to set up a sort of topping station. I used a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with a cooling rack set inside it. The baking sheet will catch any dripping butter or extra toppings to make cleanup much easier.
Note that you can coat the pretzels in an egg wash before baking them to get an even darker color on the pretzels.
Variations and Toppings for Homemade Pretzels
You don’t have to make just the traditional shape when using this recipe. The dough can be formed and shaped into a variety of different foods, for example, buns, bites, and breadsticks.
Buns: Prepare the dough as directed, but when shaping form each piece of dough into a ball instead of a rope. Soak the dough balls in the alkaline bath for a minute on each side and place them on a lined baking sheet. Before baking, cut a shallow “X” on top of each bun.
Bites: Prepare, rise, and cut the dough as directed and then roll the pieces of dough into long ropes just as with regular shaping. But instead of twisting them together, cut the ropes into small one to two-inch pieces. These can then be soaked and baked with the same methods.
Bread Sticks: Prepare the dough, but cut it into twice as many (16) pieces. Roll the pieces into small logs and soak them in the baking soda bath. Then bake them as directed.
But the shapes aren’t the only options for customization, instead of the usual pretzel salt try some different flavor toppings or dipping sauces to mix things up with this same recipe.
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel – After basting the baked pretzels with butter, generously sprinkle them with a cinnamon sugar mixture. The best ratio seems to be 1 part cinnamon to 4 parts sugar.
Everything Pretzels – After basting the baked pretzels with butter, generously sprinkle them with an everything bagel seasoning. You can find a recipe to make your own seasoning or buy a premade everything bagel seasoning.
Parmesan Garlic – Sprinkle the parmesan garlic seasoning over the buttered pretzels. My recommendation is to find a garlic parmesan popcorn seasoning to do the trick here.
For dipping sauces, try any of the following: nacho cheese, cream cheese (try it, I promise you’ll love it!), honey mustard, garlic sauce, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, chocolate, and peanut butter.
You could even try dipping in some of the sauces or condiments we have here on the site:
However you customize your pretzels, follow this recipe to make it the most delicious snack.
How did yours turn out?
I’d love to hear when you try making homemade pretzels! Take a pic of your food and share your success with me by adding it to your Instagram stories or feed, and tagging me @doyouroux, or by using #doyouroux.
Plus, leave a rating to let me know how you liked the recipe. It helps me out a lot to know how things worked out… or didn’t.
Soft and Chewy Homemade PretzelsCourse: Appetizers, SnacksDifficulty: Intermediate
Follow this homemade pretzel recipe in your own kitchen for perfectly soft and chewy pretzels that are a great snack or party appetizer.
11 grams active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
430 grams warm water (1 3/4 cups) (around 105°F/41°C)
885 grams bread flour (6 cups)
28 grams granulated sugar (2 tablespoons)
21 grams salt (1 tablespoon)
210 grams baking soda (3/4 cup)
3,775 grams water (16 cups)
21 grams dark brown sugar (2 tablespoons)
Butter and pretzel salt for topping
- Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C)
- Stir together the yeast and warm water in a large bowl, and let it sit about 10 minutes until a bit foamy
- Add in the flour, sugar, and salt and mix them together to form a shaggy dough
- Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 10 to 15 minutes until it forms a smooth, elastic ball
- Place the dough in a clean bowl and let it rise, covered for about 1 to 1.5 hours until doubled in size
- While the dough is rising, spread the baking soda onto a foil-lined baking sheet and put it in the oven at 250°F (120°C) for an hour, then remove and let cool
- When the dough has risen, divide the dough into 8 even pieces, cover them to keep them from drying out, and then take each one and roll them into long, thin ropes
- Shape the pretzels by turning the ends up into a U shape, then bringing the ends together and putting one end over the other, twist the ends around each other once, and then place them atop the base of the initial U shape – use a dab of water underneath each end to help them stick to the pretzel
- Loosely cover the shaped pretzels and let them rise for 30 to 40 minutes until noticeably puffy
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C)
- In a wide, tall pot heat about 16 cups of water to a boil, add in the brown sugar and the baked baking soda, stir until dissolved, and then turn the heat down to a simmer
- Take each shaped pretzel and place them in the water bath to soak for 1 minute on each side then remove them to a parchment paper lined baking sheet – do not crowd the pot, just work in batches until all have been soaked
- Bake the pretzels at 450°F (230°C) for 10 to 15 minutes until dark brown
- Brush the pretzels with melted butter and generously sprinkle with pretzel salt – or top with other flavorings as desired
- You can also make pretzel buns, bites, or breadsticks with this recipe, just look in the post above for specific shaping instructions
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