Authentic Pretzels

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Introduction: 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

Mix
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

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

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

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

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

3 People Made This Project!

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92 Discussions

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.???

great job on this

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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!

3 replies

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 ?

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

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!

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

IMG_20120123_154109.jpg

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

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 :-)

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.

4 replies

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.

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.

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

 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.


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

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