Introduction: Authentic Pretzels

Picture of Authentic Pretzels

These pretzels are boiled in baking soda solution for that unique chewy texture.

I served these with mustard for dipping at a Grey Cup party and they went over really well. They are quite simple to make but will really impress your guests.

This recipe makes 16 palm sized soft pretzels.

Step 1: Materials

1-1/2 C Water
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Packet Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Oil or Butter
~4-1/2 C Flour
1/2 C Baking Soda
Course Salt

Step 2: Prepare Dough

Picture of Prepare Dough

1-1/2 C Warm Water
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Packet Yeast

and let sit 10 minutes.

Stir in
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Oil or Butter
2 C Flour

Stir in as much additional Flour as you can then turn onto a floured board and knead for 7 to 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Important: do not add baking soda to dough!

Step 3: Rest Dough

Picture of Rest Dough

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

In the mean time bring 8 C of water and 1/2* C Baking Soda to boil in a large pot, and heat oven to 450F.

*Some people have found this to be too much. If you are worried cut it back to 1/3 or a 1/4 cup.

Step 4: Form Pretzels

Picture of Form Pretzels

Punch down dough and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope 16 to 20 inches long. To form pretzel shape, fold rope in half, twist twice and fold over. Press lightly to stick everything together and place directly into boiling water.

Step 5: Water Bath

Picture of Water Bath

Boil each pretzel for 1-2 minutes, turning once. With a slotted spoon transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with course salt.

Boil or dip? Some recipes call for dipping the pretzels in the baking soda solution but not boiling them. This gives the same chewy texture but allows the pretzels to puff up a lot more in the oven.

Step 6: Bake

Picture of Bake

Bake pretzels for 10 minutes at 450F. Transfer immediately to a cooling rack.


johnrad made it! (author)2017-03-27

Thanks for a great instructable! I've tried a few recipes and this is my favorite so far. I need to work on my pretzel folding skills, but the taste and texture was great.

shabbokamli (author)2015-04-27

yum yum yummy

mrcleanSF made it! (author)2015-03-29

loved it them. They were great and.

cvonpeters (author)2015-03-11

I'm sorry... I don't get it. when I boil soda in water, I get a pot of overflowing white gaseous bubbles, and my "pretzel" comes out looking like an undercooked sourcream donut.???

jerrodelliott made it! (author)2015-02-20


np_grum88 (author)2015-01-23

great job on this

peetle (author)2010-05-14

Watch out!  Don't place your pretzels on an aluminum pan in the oven.  The carbonate in the baking soda will react with the aluminum oxide surface layer of the pan and destroy the surface finish.  Ugly!

AmyR3 (author)peetle2014-10-06

awww now you tell me I ruined all my lovely fluffy pretzels now how am i going to bake them since all i have is the aluminum baking pan? if i cover with parchment paper ?

Mar HK (author)peetle2011-11-10

I did that years ago, but never quite figured out why it messed up my pans. Thanks!

bryandhispup (author)peetle2010-10-13

good tip, I would have done that... ha ha

mastermakoko (author)2012-07-28

how does the dough rise withought yeast or baking soda?

?? The dough has yeast.

craftknowitall (author)2012-07-28

The very first time I made soft pretzels, the recipe called to boiling the pretzels in lye water. I did it and they were GOOD!

bmelton1 (author)2012-01-23

TOP ROW: Cinnamon and sugar
SECOND ROW: Sea salt
BOTTOM ROW: Parmesan oregano

Sparkytastic (author)2011-12-13

Me and my wife just made these during the weekend.
They were AMAZING. Great instructable!

iheardabirdysay (author)2011-11-11

The baking soda (Na(CO3)2) acts in replacement of lye (NaOH) which is what is used in the industry. It has a higher pH than 7 so it is therefore considered alkaline. Lye is really dangerous to work with at home (as soap makers would know) and so baking soda is a nice substitute. Lye also makes the outside of the dough really sticky which is how salt sticks to it easier than the baking soda ones.

If you are curious on the science of it, here's what happens:

The gluten in the flour is protein, which on an atomic level is just a bunch of amino acids. What the baking soda solution is doing is breaking those amino acids apart into single free units (protein denaturation) which can now react with the sugar components of the flour (starch). The combination of free amino acids, sugar, in the presence of heat makes it that lovely brown color and imparts a specific "roasted"-like flavor. This is called Maillard browning.

I'm in school for food science. We learned this in our food chemistry class :-)

Calorie (author)2010-04-26

I think you boil bagels before you bake them as well. I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of the baking soda is. I wonder how much different it would be if you used no baking soda. The fact that you can use NaOH suggests that something molecular (duh) is happening. Either would alter and carbohydrates...but this is nerd talk. I might try some just with water.

Any how, I wouldn't worry about the whole authentic business. I mean, what is authentic anyways? I've lived in a number of English speaking areas. The English-English are quick to explain the differences between the languages.

Americans speak American-English. The Scots speak Scottish-English (and that changes from city to city.) Same for the Welsh (holla!) and the Irish.

And even the English-English can't agree on what the proper English language is. It's sort of pegged to the "Queen's English" or the BBC English.

Another cool things is that the educated mainland Chinese (who officially speak simplified Mandarin) are no longer learning English-English. Instead they are learning American-English.

So...enjoy your pretzels and labels be, well...ignored.

FenrisLokison (author)Calorie2011-10-27

I'm guessing that whoever invented the pretzel had access to baking soda (NaOH) and knew how to use it. Just a tiny bit like the inventor of the wheel knowing about bearings and how to use them -lol.

feralmonkey4 (author)Calorie2011-09-15

yes you boil bagels before baking the difference is you use sugar in the water for bagels because you want a chewy crust the baking soda gives a different crust texture.

zygomatic (author)Calorie2010-04-29

FYI  -  It's not NaOH (sodium hydroxide), it's NaHCO3 (sodium bicarbonate = baking soda), but you're right about the chemical aspect

Calorie (author)zygomatic2010-04-29

 I was referring to a response by  post by kochen375 below. To quote just a line:

"...or baking soda, is not authentic. You want a 4% sodium hydroxide solution."

I would cut & paste the full appropriate text but it seems that the paste  function has been disabled by Instructables. I'm not sure if it is an "incentive" to pony up the cash for a membership, but I say it's not cool.

jaston (author)2011-09-07

These look incredible! I am going to try to make a gluten free version :)
Thank you so much for sharing.

pl,okmijn (author)2010-04-19

 1/2 c baking soda?
Don't you mean 1/2 tbsp baking soda?

NoFiller (author)pl,okmijn2010-04-19

It's used in step 3 to prepare the baking soda solution used in step 5.

pl,okmijn (author)NoFiller2011-04-24

I get it now, it just looked like a lot at first.

bryandhispup (author)2010-10-13

Is there any good substitute for Baking soda? I am on a strict Sodium Reduced diet and I MUST avoid things like Salt and Baking Soda? can baking powder be used? or what about a NOSALT [tm] (Potassium Chloride) "salt"-water Boil?

Any suggestions? I LOVE soft pretzels and always regret indulging myself. if there were ANY way to enjoy them without all the salt I'd LOVE to know...

LingCullen (author)bryandhispup2011-01-29

you are just boiling in the B.S. I cut mine all the way back to a 1/4 cup in the 8 cups of water. I dont think that all of that salt would find itself into the pretzels themselves. Cut it back even further to 1/8th of a cup, i doubt you would see much difference. Use salt substitute in the pretzel itself if you like as well.

the amount of sodium in these that you would get from the Baking soda seems to me that it would be quite minimal.

randytrant (author)bryandhispup2010-11-22

use sugar, like a home made bagel.

sprockette (author)bryandhispup2010-10-21

i found this

which states that to provide the same amount of lift you'd need 4x as much baking powder, provided the recipe isn't acidic (which this one isn't)

however, because we're not using the baking soda to provide lift in this recipe, i'm not sure how it would work out...but the worst that could happen is you'd end up with less chewy and more risen pretzels!

bryandhispup (author)sprockette2010-10-22

Awesome, THANKS! gonna give some options a shot. ;)

LingCullen (author)2011-01-29

This recipe was a lot of fun! I cut my Baking soda back to about 1/4 of a cup and I let them boil for 45 seconds in the water to try and achieve a little in between the fluffy and not so fluffy stage. My boyfriend and I had a fun time shaping them and flavouring them too.

with these i used :Black salt, thai ginger salt, jalapeno salt, and cinnamon sugar.

Sooo good! thank you for the lovely instructable!

Vintageshake (author)2011-01-13

2 and 1/4 tsp of yeast equals one packet.

eternashine (author)2010-12-12

Mine didn't have that smooth crusty look, and took longer to cook..... Hmmm

Tahnka (author)2010-12-03

Kudos for showing the difference between boiled and dipped. I appreciate that.

jwallick55 (author)2010-09-19

Excellent pretzels!! Thanks for sharing.

thegreat58 (author)2010-07-31

Hey, I just made them, they turned out awesome!

mooseface97 (author)2010-07-17

how much is a packet of yeast.

1/4 oz (7g)

achancetocut (author)2010-06-27

A-ha! Second time we did them with no wheat flour, only white, 1/4 cup of baking soda for 8 cups water, LOTS of sea salt on top (except for 2 with cinnamon and sugar instead) and NO parchment paper. They were inhaled by everyone between 2 and 82. We have no real talent in the kitchen, but this easy treat makes us feel like pros.

TheChemiker (author)2010-06-23

Wow, these are amazing! Here are a few pointers when making them: Do not use parchment or wax paper, the pretzels just stick like glue to it, use baking spray. Also, this may be different for you, but boil them for about 5 seconds on each side for the best results. Boiling for 1-2 minutes killed 5 of them for me.

TheChemiker (author)TheChemiker2010-06-23

I would have pictures, but my family and me ate them too fast! I will make them again, though.

crzyuilter (author)2010-04-26

Has anyone tried these with whole wheat flour?  They sound yummy, but I don't use white flour.

dilinger (author)crzyuilter2010-04-26

 I'm wondering the exact same thing..

cjdiersen (author)dilinger2010-06-07

whole wheat (king arthur unbleached white whole wheat) flour must have less gluten than all-purpose white flour, as using 100% whole wheat produced okay-tasting pretzels, but they weren't chewy. Very forgettable. The dough also didn't have that springiness of the dough with white flour. Easier to roll out, but not as good. If you do 50/50 white and wheat the results are much better. I just made a batch with 1.5 cup white and 3 cup wheat that was pretty good. I'll be that with a little semolina or 00 flour you could use as much as 80 or 90% whole wheat. Then again, perhaps there are high-gluten whole wheat flours out there. Don't know, I'm not much of a cook. Perhaps someone who knows can chime in? Don't boil these more than a minute or so.

SeaLion (author)2010-04-28

1-1/2 C Water
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Packet Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Oil or Butter
~4-1/2 C Flour
1/2 C Baking Soda
Course Salt

When you say 1-1/2 C does that mean one and a half cup or 'half to a cup' of water? The hyphen makes it quite confusing. This also applies for the flour; 4 and a half cup, right? (I don't want to make the same mistake in misreading ingredients again...last time I did that, my bread was...well, not bread)

I shall try make them tomorrow :D

NoFiller (author)SeaLion2010-05-12

I mean 1.5 and 4.5 respectively. My other worry is people thinking it's 11/2 or something, ha ha. How would you write it?

SeaLion (author)NoFiller2010-05-13

Hmm...1.5 and 4.5 seems fine to me...though I guess if you wanted 1.5 you could've said 3/2 and 9/2 for 4.5...but I guess if I'm the only one who got caught out on this and no one else has asked about it, that means your notation is ok :D
(when I have more free time, I'm definitely making more of these too!!! :D)

xfirexstarzx (author)2010-05-11

 This turned out great! I always enjoy when people post up pics of their results so here they are!

They didn't turn out as good looking as I had hoped because I had a hard time rolling them all out and I was a little rushed for time. They sure taste great though! Thanks for the awesome instructable!

NoFiller (author)xfirexstarzx2010-05-12

I love when people post pictures, thank you!

I'm happy to hear they taste great. They sure look good from over here.

imboox2 (author)2010-04-28

I don't know if these will keep like ones I used to get from a neighbor/friend...if I had any left after a night of friends over I could pop them in the freezer and nuke them for some seconds (depends on the microwave) to thaw them and then put one or two in my bagel toaster to heat them up again.  Adjust the time in either for the chewyness or hardness. I like chewy, so little toasting.

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