Homemade Soft Pretzels
Just a few simple ingredients is all you need to make these irresistible Homemade Soft Pretzels. This recipe yields pretzels with a warm, buttery, salty exterior and they are delicious by themselves, or dunked in your favorite cheese dip! They are so easy to make and also fun - if you have kids make sure to get them involved. Be sure to watch the video in the blog post for how to shape pretzels!
Who can resist the smell of pretzels baking?!? My nose can smell them from a mile away. They tie with cinnamon buns for the best mall food smells! These soft pretzels are a touch sweet and very buttery, and dare I say they are just as good or even better than the malls ones. They have a soft interior, and chewy, salty exterior. You will find yourself coming back for seconds and thirds every time you make them! This recipe is so easy, between making the dough ropes, dunking in the baking soda mixture, and brushing with melted butter, they come together in 1½ hours. Well worth the wait I promise you. Get ready for it to become your family favorite!
How to make pretzels
Don’t be intimidated - these are easier than you think to make and the dough is quite forgiving - these easy steps help to break down the process:
- Make the dough: Mix together the warm milk with the yeast and allow to settle for 2 min then stir In the sugar and part of the flour. Add in the softened butter and the rest of the flour until a sticky shaggy dough forms. Either use a wooden spoon to combine the dough, and knead it by hand for about 5 minutes until smooth. Or if you are using a stand mixer, use the dough hook to knead it for about 5 minutes until smooth.
- Let the dough rise: Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled approx 1 hr - see recipe notes for more info on this.
- Shape the pretzels: Turn dough out onto a lightly-oiled work surface and divide into 6 or 12 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, then cross the ends over each other and press then onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel
- Dip pretzels into baking soda water bath to give them that extra chew factor. Then place them on prepared pan. Brush with egg wash - optional. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt.
- Bake: Bake them until the pretzels reach your desired level of golden brown color, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Serve: Eat these hot out the oven - brush with melted butter and enjoy.
These fluffy, chewy, twists of heaven are perfect all on their own or even with a cinnamon sugar twist - see recipe notes for more details. We love to dunk ours in my tasty nacho cheese sauce but they are also great to dip into my Smoky Jalapeño Cheddar Potato Soup. These go pretty fast in our home so I definitely recommend a double batch. Enjoy!
- 1 cup milk warmed (lukewarm or just slightly warmer than lukewarm but not hot)
- 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoon)
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened), divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup baking soda (for water bath)
- 1 egg whisked for egg wash (optional)
- A little coarse salt (for sprinkling)
- Pour warmed milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon.
- Stir 2 tablespoons of the butter into the mix. Add the remaining 1¼ cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. (Or use a standing mixer with hook attachment and knead 5 min) Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper
- Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a clean surface. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape. (See video for easy demo)
- Stir the baking soda in 3 cups warm water until dissolved, in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. (If you are going to brush on the egg wash this is the time to do it- before sprinkling salt over) Then bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven then melt remaining butter and brush them immediately and serve warm on their own or with my tasty simple nacho cheese sauce. Pretzels may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days (they lose a little softness). Reheat in toaster oven for best results.
- Freezing Instructions: Baked and cooled pretzels freeze well, up to 2 months. To reheat, bake frozen pretzels at 350°F for 20 minutes or until warmed through or microwave until warm.
- Getting a good rise: I like to let my bread rise in the oven. Turn the oven to the lowest setting for just a few minutes, then turn it off. Place the dough in the center of the oven. Allow it to rise until almost doubled. Or if your place is like mine and is particularly dry I skip heating the oven but I place a glass baking dish on the bottom rack of the oven and fill it with boiling water. Then place my dough on the middle or top rack and shut the door. The steam and heat from the boiling water will create a warm and steamy environment for the dough—exactly what you want for a good rise.
- Adding extra flour: Flour absorbs moisture in the air. You will have to add more flour in humid climates especially to get the dough just right. Different brands of flour could also have different effects on baked goods so don’t worry if you need to add a bit of extra flour if your dough is too sticky. When adding extra flour it’s always best to add it in a little at a time - I recommend 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Make them sweet: After brushing with butter you can either sprinkle with coarse salt as described or for a sweeter take you can sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar