The best homemade soft pretzels are buttery, salty, slightly sweet, and easy to make from scratch with ingredients that you probably already have on hand. This soft pretzel recipe is perfect for serving as a snack or party appetizer, or as a delicious side dish with soup or chili for dinner. Don't forget the honey mustard and cheese dip!
Easy Soft Pretzel Recipe
If my oldest son had to pick one favorite food to live on forever, it would definitely be soft pretzels! When he was an infant, his babysitter was an older Mennonite neighbor who used to make homemade soft pretzels with the kids. Gibbs learned to love them at a very young age (before he could even chew most solids!), so it's no surprise that he still gravitates towards them today. His top pick when we're out and about are Auntie Anne's pretzels -- you can't beat an airport or mall classic! That's why we were so excited when I finally learned out to make a perfect Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipe in the comfort of my own home. My child is now in heaven!
This recipe is a slight adaptation of the homemade soft pretzel recipe that I found in Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Table cookbook. The pretzels are big, soft, buttery, sweet and salty -- and utterly delicious! They get two giant thumbs-up from my pretzel-loving children, and I know that you'll love whipping up the easy recipe in your own kitchen as well.
How to Make Soft Pretzels
This simple recipe is easy to make in just a couple of hours. The dough only rises once, and the ingredients are very basic. I bet you already have everything that you need!
- Active dry yeast
- All-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil
- Baking soda
- Coarse salt
- Melted butter
Salt for Soft Pretzels
I use "pretzel salt," which I purchase at the local country market near our house. You can also find it online. If you don't want to buy pretzel salt, you can use coarse sea salt.
Step 1: Soften Yeast
Dissolve the yeast in a bowl of warm water and sugar for 10 minutes. It will look nice and foamy!
Step 2: Make Dough
Combine the dough ingredients in a stand mixer and knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Let Rise
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Here's what it looks like after proofing!
Step 4: How to Shape Soft Pretzels
To shape the dough into classic big pretzels, start by dividing the dough ball into 12 equal pieces. I use a bench scraper for this task, but a long, sharp knife will also work well.
Roll each piece of dough into a rope (about 24 inches long). It's just like you're playing with Play-Doh again! Lift the ends of the rope up, then twist.
Fold the twisted ends over and gently press down. Ta-da!
Step 5: Baking Soda Bath
Boil each pretzel for 20-30 seconds in a baking soda bath. This step gives the pretzels their classic flavor, golden brown color, chewy exterior and soft inside.
Step 6: Bake Soft Pretzels
Sprinkle the pretzels with salt and then bake in a 425° F oven until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
Step 7: Brush with Melted Butter
Finally, brush the hot pretzels with plenty of melted butter. This is a crucial step for a classic Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipe!
Soft Pretzel Dip
These buttery soft pretzels are absolute perfection on their own -- no additional sides necessary! That said, if you'd like to offer some dipping sauces with the warm pretzels, here are a few good options:
- Yellow mustard
- Honey mustard (this is our favorite store-bought version)
- Cheese dip (use this delicious all-purpose Velveeta cheese sauce recipe or try a zesty queso dip for added kick)
- Spinach Dip
The prepared pretzel dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight.
How to Store Soft Pretzels
Soft pretzels are best when enjoyed warm -- straight from the oven. You can store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 1 month, but the pretzels will not stay as chewy on the outside.
To reheat a day-old pretzel, microwave for about 20-30 seconds, just until warmed through. For best results, reheat the pretzels in the oven or toaster oven. Preheat the oven to 325° F, wrap the pretzel in foil, and bake for 5 minutes. For a crispier exterior, don't wrap in foil.
Easy Soft Pretzel Recipe Variations
- Soft Pretzel Bites. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (as described in the recipe), roll each piece into a rope shape, and then cut the rope into individual bite-size pieces. Proceed with the recipe instructions for the baking soda bath and baking.
- Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels. Omit the coarse salt. Bake the pretzels as instructed, brush with melted butter, and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
- Seasoning. Sprinkle the pretzels with other seasoning blends (besides the salt). For instance, try everything bagel seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or ranch seasoning.
- Add Cheese. Sprinkle the tops of the pretzels with grated Parmesan or cheddar cheeses before baking.
Tips for the Best Soft Pretzel Recipe
- If your pretzels puff up a lot (and look more like garlic knots than pretzels) once baked, squeeze the dough gently as you roll it into a rope. This will eliminate some of the air in the dough, which will help prevent the pretzels from getting quite as round. That said, a puffy, doughy pretzel is absolutely delicious, too!
- This pretzel dough is quite sweet and tastes very much like Auntie Anne's recipe. If you prefer a less-sweet dough, reduce the sugar to ¼ cup -- or even less, if desired.
- Boiling the unbaked pretzels in a baking soda bath causes them to instantly puff, creating a chewy interior and giving the exterior a head start on forming a crisp crust. The baking soda also produces pretzels with a deep golden brown and cracked appearance. Don't skip this important step -- it only takes a few minutes, but it yields the most delicious homemade pretzels.
More Homemade Yeast Breads to Try
- Soft Dinner Rolls
- Focaccia Bread
- Classic White Bread
- No-Knead Artisan Bread
- Honey Wheat Bread
- Homemade Baguette
- Crescent Rolls
- Farmhouse Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade Soft Pretzels
- 2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast (about 1 ½ tablespoons total)
- ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ¾ cups warm water (about 100-110° F)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
- 9 cups water
- ½ cup baking soda
- Coarse salt, to taste
- ¼ cup melted butter
- Combine the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and the warm water in a small bowl. Let rest for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It should look a little bit foamy.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together the flour, the remaining ½ cup of sugar, and the kosher salt. Add the oil and the yeast mixture, turn the mixer on medium-low speed, and mix for about 5 minutes (until the dough is smooth).
- Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Turn to coat the dough with grease on all sides. Cover and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Near the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Bring the 9 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil on the stovetop while you shape the dough. Stir to make sure that the baking soda dissolves.
- Punch down the dough to release the air. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 22-24 inches long). Twist each rope into a traditional pretzel shape.
- Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. (Do not boil for longer than 30 seconds, or the pretzels may have an unpleasant metallic taste.) Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and gently shake to remove as much excess water as possible. Place pretzel onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Repeat with remaining pretzels, arranging 6 pretzels on each pan.
- Bake pretzels in the 425° F oven until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Brush the warm pretzels with melted butter and serve immediately.
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