How To Make A Soft Pretzel

Eating a soft pretzel fills me with happy nostalgia. I have a vague yet comforting memory of pulling them apart while being pushed in a shopping carriage up and down the aisles of an early ’80’s big box store. Salty. Chewy. Warm. They’re pure comfort. Later we got them at the mall, a thinner, more buttery version that was super delicious, if a little tawdry. There’s just something about retail therapy combined with a twisty carb snack that resounds deeply in my all-American heart. With this recipe you achieve a big, fat pretzel with a great crust. I prefer mine with a grainy brown mustard, but you could brush them with butter or melt a little Velveeta  as a dipping sauce, for an even more decadent treat.

Soft Pretzel

Soft Pretzels
Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • vegetable oil/cooking spray
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • coarse salt


1. Combine water, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast on top and wait 5 minutes, until mixture starts to foam. Add flour and butter and begin to mix with dough hook attachment on low speed, until ingredients are combined. Turn up the mixer to medium speed and work until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough, coat the bowl with vegetable oil, return the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot in your kitchen until it doubles in size, about one hour.

Soft Pretzel

2. In the meantime, coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a deep skillet or roasting pan, combine the water and baking soda. In a bowl, beat egg and water. Ready your salt. Preheat oven to 450 and, when you’re ready, bring the water to a boil.

Soft Pretzel

3. On a lightly oiled work surface, divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a long, thin rope. Twist into pretzel shape.

Soft Pretzel

4. Give each pretzel a 30 second bath in the boiling water mixture, remove with a flat spatula and place on greased cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a deep, golden brown is achieved. Cool on a rack before serving.

Soft Pretzel

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. 1. Go to Bavaria.

    2. Have *B*retzels.

    3. Live the rest of your life in regret you’re stuck with pretzels.

    But in all seriousness, those look great, I just miss the ability to buy them on any street corner.

    Oh and that’s not because they were mass produced, no. They were hand made AND available on each street corner.

      1. Restaurant Grace is no Bavaria, but their sausage does come with a tiny soft pretzel, good enough to make you hate how small it is.

        And their foie gras three ways ain’t shabby either.

        1. I always run into a cost problem with stuff like this. It’s the Pai Men Miyake problem: If I know the pork belly buns cost $9 a dozen, it’s hard for me to pay that to eat just one or two. I haven’t tried the sausage and pretzel at Grace, but I would probably rather eat a dozen soft pretzels at home.

          1. This is sadly true. Great food in Portland tends to be expensive. But expensive is still better than none.

  2. I live dangerously and use a food grade lye dip for my pretzels to get that authentic flavor, color and texture. It makes all the difference and makes them stand out enough that people are always trying to get the recipe, but that’s all I do different.
    Another, cheaper/easier trick to getting it more flavorful is to cook your baking soda on a baking sheet (1 hour at 250*F) before using it in a boiling water dip.

  3. ” Great post Jillian. My memories are a bit different — Baltimore Orioles games with my dad as a kid, and getting the huge soft pretzels from the vendors outside the stadium. An 8-year old’s best friends are a baseball mitt, a soft pretzel, and a trip to the ballpark (even if it was in the nosebleed seats!)

  4. Made these today. Used Anne’s tip and heated the baking soda beforehand. So delish! Even my picky daughter took one right off the cooling rack(it was gone in a snap)! I ventured into sweet territory and made some incorporating nutmeg and cinnamon in the dough, brushing with melted butter, and sprinkling with cinnamon/sugar. Fabulous. Thanks!

    1. I love the idea of taking these into sweet town. And I would like to dip the sweet result in cream cheese frosting. That is all.

  5. I just made these gluten free – instead of all-purpose wheat flour, subbed 2 cups brown rice flour, 1 cup potato starch, 1 cup tapioca starch, 2/3 cup almond meal, 2 tsp xanthan gum. YUM!

    1. I would try freezing them shaped, but unbaked, and without salt. Then, when you are ready to cook, try baking them right from frozen.

  6. Oh my Jillian, your Pretzels look perfect, just like in Germany!!! We used to eat them all the time, dipping it into mustard sauce or even some cheese sauce. Have to try your recipe 🙂
    Judit & Corina

  7. I made soft pretzels this past weekend (before I saw this recipe, but I believe it was the same). Mine didn’t turn the deep brown that yours did. Any ideas on why? Is this an oven problem or is there some specific part of the process or ingredients that make them that color??

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