Introduction: Easy Soft Pretzels

Picture of Easy Soft Pretzels

Looking for something to serve at your Super Bowl or Oscars night party? These easy to make pretzels will earn you high praise from your guests without having to kill yourself before your own party starts!

You can make them sweet or savory and, like bagels, these pretzels are boiled and then baked which isn't as hard as it sounds. So, let's get baking!

Step 1: Time & Materials

Picture of Time & Materials

Active time: 30-45 min; Total time: 2 hr 15- 2hr 30 min (a bit longer if making extra toppings)

1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water for proofing 10 cups for boiling 1 teaspoon for egg wash
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
4 1/2 cups All Purpose, non-bleached flour
2/3 of a cup of baking soda
4 tablespoons of butter
1 egg
Kosher salt for topping

Topping Options:

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey

2 large bowls
1 small bowl for melting butter
A cutting board or other larger surface
1 or more cup, measuring cup (liquid)
1 cup measuring cup (dry ingredients)
Dutch over or other large pot
Baking sheets (2 or more generally)
Parchment paper
Plastic wrap
Vegetable oil (spray or liquid)

Optional Materials:
Dough Divider/Scraper
Bagel strainer

Step 2: Proofing the Yeast

Picture of Proofing the Yeast

There are many forms of proofing in baking, this type of proofing just makes sure the yeast is active and ready to do its job!


1 tsp of active dry yeast (not rapid rise or 'bread machine' yeast)
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tsp of salt
1 and 1/2 cups of warm water (110 degrees F, at the temperature of a comfortable bath. Any hotter and you risk killing the yeast), stir to dissolve.

Let the mixture sit for five to ten minutes. The yeast is active when the mixture is foamy and smells a bit like bread.

Step 3: Preparing the Dough

Picture of Preparing the Dough

In one of the large bowls


4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
4 tablespoon’s of melted butter
add in yeast and water mixture

I started with a non-stick spatula and then moved onto my hands, but you can start with your hands if you want, but a mixer or food processor is NOT recommended. Mix the ingredients just enough to create a shaggy dough.

Step 4: Kneading the Dough

Picture of Kneading the Dough

Flour a clean work surface and roll the dough onto it.  Keep your flour nearby!

Knead for 5 minutes. If the dough sticks, re-flour your surface just enough to stop it from sticking.

Step 5: Proofing the Dough

Picture of Proofing the Dough

Another kind of proofing in baking bread is where you let the dough rest and rise before baking.

Oil a large bowl with a thick coating of vegetable oil. You can use liquid or spray. Place the dough inside, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Step 6: Pre-heat the Oven

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About a half hour into the rise, pre-heat your over to 450 F

Step 7: Knead and Divide

Picture of Knead and Divide

Again, flour a clean work surface.

Take the dough out of the bowl and knead again for about 5 min. 
Once kneaded, divide the dough (or cut with a dough divider/scraper) into 8-12 equal size pieces.

I tend to make a few pieces smaller than the others if I am making pretzels as just a snack--that way if you just want a small snack you have it!

Step 8: Roll & Twist

Picture of Roll & Twist
Next, roll the pieces out until they are about 2 ft long and thick as the diameter of your thumb. Then:
  • Form each piece into a U shape
  • Twist them around and roll corners towards the center
  • Twist the ends over each other once
  • Flatten ends down to the top of the bottom of the dough to make a pretzel shape
Place the pretzels on a baking sheet until you have them all formed.

Step 9: Boiling the Pretzels

Picture of Boiling the Pretzels

Cut parchment paper to match the size of your baking sheets then oil the sheets well. Spray oil works best here.

Meanwhile bring 10 cups of water and 2/3 of a cup of baking soda to a boil in a dutch oven.
Once fully boiling, place pretzels in 1 at a time for 30 seconds. This is where a bagel bagel strainer comes in handy, but a slotted spatula will work as well. You can place 3 or 4 in at a time depending on the size of the pretzels.

Remove and then set aside on the oiled parchment sheet on a baking tray.

Step 10: Toppings

Picture of Toppings

Beat 1 egg yolk with a tablespoon of water for egg wash
brush the pretzels with egg mixture and add sprinkle on your toppings.

Topping Options...

Kosher Salt

For garlic cheese pretzels:

Combine 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (don't use grated Parmesan cheese in plastic can if you can at all help it)
1 teaspoon garlic powder

For cinnamon pretzels:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons water, just enough to make a glaze and not be soupy.
Instead of brushing the pretzels with the egg wash, brush with honey. Once they have come out of the oven, brush with cinnamon-sugar glaze.

Step 11: Bake

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Bake the pretzels at 450 F 12-14 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets once half way through to ensure even baking. If you're only making one sheet, just bake in the middle rack.

Step 12: Eat and Enjoy!

Picture of Eat and Enjoy!

No one really needs an Instructable on how to enjoy fresh bread (or do they?!) but I like my savory pretzels with mustard and a root beer or cream soda to wash it down. How about you?  Let me know how YOURS turned out!


mrbiff (author)2011-02-01

You have truly inspired my husband!! He is working on these himself. But as I was listening to him working, I heard him say he was using parchment and baking these pretzels at 450 degrees! Just out of curiosity, what parchment paper do you use that can withstand oven temperatures of 450 degrees?? I know Reynolds brand is only good to 420, and it is the best I have ever been able to find.

My experience is that if your oven is too hot for the parchment, the paper starts to burn and your baked goods have a nice smokey flavor!

akaren1 (author)mrbiff2015-02-26

we use reyonlds parchment paper at our restaurant. we keep our ovens at 500 with no issue.

GeekFilter (author)mrbiff2011-02-01

I've made these 5 or 6 times (and other breads with parchment paper at similar heat) and I haven't had an issue with burning. It might be because the paper is oiled and cut to fit the baking sheet. Nothing hangs over and it isn't just plain paper, so it probably isn't actually 150 degrees on the paper itself (but that's a guess, I'm not 100% sure)

I do know it's a real mess if you try and make them directly on the sheet itself and often the combination of salt, baking soda, water and then heat can ruin your baking sheets.

I use Reynolds as well. Let me know if you have an issue with it!

mrbiff (author)GeekFilter2011-02-01

Ok this is the husband (mrbiff) responding. I did make these today and had no issues with the paper burning. So all is well. And the pretzels are amazing. Thanks so much!

nancyjohns (author)2013-12-22

They were amazing! Thanks!

nancyjohns (author)2013-11-29

Hey Rhi-Rainbow, look at this I found a website that converts it into metric

jdwaynes1980 (author)2012-01-19

Just wanted to say thank you for this excellent instructable. I've always wanted to make my own pretzels but never realized how easy it actually was until I stumbled across this yesterday. So I made them last night and they were excellent! I will probably make a batch of these about once a month from here on out. I love hem dipped in mustard as well, my wife enjoys them dipped in a cheese sauce. Again... Thank You!

GeekFilter (author)jdwaynes19802012-01-30

You're most welcome! I was the same way--totally convinced I would be stuck always getting pretzels at bakery. Never thought I could do them at home!

StupidGenius (author)2012-01-03

Whoops. Shoulda reviewed. Used egg whites instead of yolks. Didn't get as browned but Oh So Tasty anyway. Going to do this again tomorrow. Great recipe. Thanks.

Parrhesia (author)2011-11-11

I made one batch for my husband, who loves soft pretzels. They met with his approval :) As we were munching, I remembered that we had a couple packages of chicken apple sausage in the freezer, so now we also have bagels dogs (one of my great loves). I thawed the sausages first, wrapped 1/8 of the dough around each one, and used the same times & temps as the pretzels - they came out great! Next time, I'm adding a strip of smoked gouda in with the sausage.

Thanks for sharing this recipe - easy and very tasty!

Parrhesia (author)Parrhesia2011-11-11

I completely missed the bit about the baking soda until just now! Well...they're still tasty. I'll try following all of the instructions next time :)

girlsfrom711 (author)2011-10-24

My sister and I made these yesterday - and they turned out great! I'd never really baked anything before (other than pre-packaged cake mix). It was a great amount of fun. Thanks so much for your easy to follow instructions!

noworld4tomoro (author)2011-09-04

Just made them!! sooo delicious!!

Rhi-Rainbow (author)2011-02-09

Would you be able to add grams and ml to the instructions because I live in Britain, but would love to try this, and we don't have cups here :(

GeekFilter (author)Rhi-Rainbow2011-02-09

I can run the measurements through a conversion program, but may not be able to get to it until Saturday. I've been keeping up with Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy on BBC2 so I'll check out how she notes her recipes (she has both measurements if I remember properly) and see if she has any comments about the differences in flour here in the states.

We actually made these pretzels first for our "Sci-FI Friday" night which normally consist of mostly British TV--The It Crowd, Doctor Who, Being Human, Primeval, Merlin, Jekyll... Would love to get my hands on "Outcasts"!

Rhi-Rainbow (author)GeekFilter2011-07-23

So sorry for the late reply but if you like Doctor Who I recommend Torchwood, I know series 4 has gone over the pond but I'm not sure if the other series are popular...
Also if you like the IT crowd I recommend Peep Show
Also some more British TV recommendations: Blackbooks, Spaced and the Inbetweeners.
But film wise if you liked Spaced I really encourage you to watch Shaun of the Dead, same actors and really good comedy zombie flick :)
Also if you're looking for straight up zombies I'd go with 28 Days Later (not Weeks, that was done by an American and no offense it's just not as good =P)

If you have trouble finding any of it let me know and I'll have a look around the net
Anyway I recently made these and they were fab, but I forgot to do the boiling stage, and they turned out okay so is it necessary? Also for the salty ones I added black pepper, went down a treat :D
Thank you

Th0ughts (author)Rhi-Rainbow2011-02-10

use wolframalpha to do your conversions. it's an awesome site/program.

thegreat58 (author)2011-02-03

Hi, I've been making all kinds of bread, soft pretzels, bagles and the like for over forty years and have never heard of adding salt to the yeast when it's proofing, I've always added it to the dry ingredients, salt kills or inhibits the yeasts ability to proof.

lerd (author)thegreat582011-06-13

i agree i have always learned that the salt will actually cause the yeast to not do what it needs and in a sort "kill it" or at least debilitate it prety well at least according to the chefs in my culinary program.

GeekFilter (author)thegreat582011-02-03

I have heard the same thing, but many of the pretzel recipes I tired in the past mixed it all together. I've tried it both ways but didn't see a difference in the final outcome (and no one has reported them turning out flat so far).

Maybe I'll do another side by side but not sure my waistline can take another 2 batches!

spielzeuge (author)2011-04-22

WOW! Thank you somuch! I have been looking for a good pretzel recipe for many years! I made them tonight (only took maybe 2 hours from start to finish), and both my wife and I were knocked over by how good they turned out! I made a very slight change in that I did not add the egg wash before baking and only used salt. They came out as very traditional and spot on soft pretzels! I will be certainly making more! Thanks again!

mpino (author)2011-03-19

WOW, these were fantastic. So delicious and easy! We plan on making them many, many more times. My only advice is to make them to share, otherwise you'll end up eating them all yourself right out of the oven and getting a stomach ache... =)

cerizz (author)2011-03-13

Thank you so much for the recipe! I made some today and they turned out great. My husband even found them better than the ones he usually buys from the bakery! :-)

GeekFilter (author)cerizz2011-03-13

Wow, that's great!

bryanbrews (author)2011-03-11

I have made this recipe about 3 times now and I LOVE IT! The only problem is they really aren't as good the day after. How do I increase their shelf life beyond 1 day??

GeekFilter (author)bryanbrews2011-03-13

I will look into it. I'll try and make a batch this week or coming weekend and see what I can do. I think, unlike the preservative laden versions in malls, that they have a limited shelf life. How did you store them? I know you can't put them into plastic bags because the condensation turns them rubbery.

c_leah (author)2011-02-21

Is there a good spot to take a break on? I want to make these for my 21st birthday party, but I have a lot to do the day of the party. If I made them the day before would they still be good, or could I just separate the dough and do the boiling/baking process the next day? This will be my first time baking any kind of bread so I'm really clueless as to what I can and can't do with out hurting anything.

GeekFilter (author)c_leah2011-03-13

SO sorry for the delay in response (and to everyone else!) combine a heavy workload with equal parts winter cold and get complete loss of free time!

I am going to guess the part is already over?

vinced2 (author)2011-02-14

Mhmmhmhmmm Tasty!

Fun2Hold (author)2011-02-13

I made a batch of these for lunch today, and they were fantastic! I ended up needing to add quite a bit more flour than expected (I measured it by weight at 5oz per cup of flour) but that was only a minor issue.

They puffed up nicely and were really soft and chewy inside - JUST the way I like them. I actually turned ours into pretzel pizzas. We use our homemade marinara sauce and grated parmesan instead of mozzarella on top (along with pepperoni, of course!) The reason we didn't use mozzarella on them was because I was worried the cheese would drop down the holes and waste more than was necesary. That, and the saltiness of the parmesan actually worked well with the flavor of the pretzels.

Thank you for the great -ible! I will be making these again...and soon!

klincecum (author)2011-02-07

I made these this weekend for my extended family. Worked out great !
Don't be too worried if they look kind of weird after boiling. They bake up to be beautiful :)

DoofusOfTheDay (author)2011-02-04

I made some last night, good although the bottoms were a little soggy. I wonder if I should dry them a little on paper towels before throwing them in the oven?

When you take them out of the baking soda bath make sure they are thoroughly drained, that will help. I think if you put them on paper towels they may stick, but you could put them on a non oiled piece of parchment paper and that might whisk away some of the moisture from the bottoms.

dsurdenik (author)2011-02-06

Awesome instructable!! My wife and I made them on Super Bowl Sunday and enjoyed spending time together making them and will be taking them over to our friends later this afternoon.
The only suggestion: Add that you need baking soda to the first page, we didn't have any and so we had to run to the store while the dough was rising (not a big deal since it was a convenient time to do it) But if we would have known, then we would have picked it up at the grocery store when we bought the rest of the ingredients.
Have you had any luck freezing these for later? We will have to experiment....

GeekFilter (author)dsurdenik2011-02-06

ARGH! Can't believe I did that! I had it in the photo but not on the list. It's fixed now. I had parts of it in another document and was copy and pasting and re-arranging and that just got chopped somehow.

I'm glad you enjoyed them! Honestly they haven't lasted long enough to try freezing them. If you do, make sure they thoroughly cool and are as dry as they can be. One of the first times I mad them at the end of the day I put them in a plastic bag and the moisture trapped inside basically melted the salt and softened the coating. They were still good after a quick zap in the toaster oven, but they didn't look so great.


dsurdenik (author)dsurdenik2011-02-06

Oh and I will try to remember to vote for this in the contest, it is a great instructable!!!

Whatsername (author)2011-02-05

These ROCK! Easy, fun to make, really delicious, and they smell so good baking! Your instructable was so well done and thorough ~ made it foolproof.

I used Jane's Crazy mixed up salt for these, and they are wonderful. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

iburton (author)2011-02-05

These are seriously amazing AND easy! Just made a batch up, and will definitely be making them again very soon. You can count on my vote, once it opens up. Thanks!

maltesergr8 (author)2011-02-04

I like my savory pretzels with mustard, too. When you mentioned root beer and cream soda... Brought a big smile to my face & brought back wonderful memories of eating soft pretzels with my mom as a child.

Remember those frozen cherry cokes they used to sell at soft pretzel stands (at least they did in MI many years ago), that's my fav drink with pretzels!

Thx again!!

maltesergr8 (author)2011-02-04

GREAT 'ible!! Thank you so much for sharing ;)
BTW, just ordered a new breadmaker, so will post how that works out with pretzel dough.

Sabata (author)2011-02-03

Hmm, this has me thinking. My brother and I were recently talking about how good hamburgers and roast beast sammiches taste on pretzel rolls, but they can be hard to find at times. I just might have to make up a batch shaped a bit less like pretzels and a bit more like hamburger buns.

sdhardie (author)2011-02-03

Any chance the dough can be prepared in a bread machine?

GeekFilter (author)sdhardie2011-02-03

I suppose you could...I haven't tried it yet. Bread machines tend to over work the bread so if you do, I would try and keep the knead cycle to as close to 5 minutes as possible. If you try it let me know how it turns out!

waterbaby (author)2011-02-03

Just last night I had a hankering for a soft pretzel or two, and here the solution appears before me the very next day -- thanks!

Computothought (author)2011-02-01

Made different kinds of bread, but never pretzels. With this instructable, It is time to start something new..

maddly (author)2011-02-01

I tried the receipe and the Pretzels taste very very delicous...

l8nite (author)2011-01-31

great recipe and very well done "ible" One of the things I miss about living in the Philly Pa area is the street corner soft pretzals (no longer allowed) they always seemed to pick up a hint of car exhaust, 6 for a buck a bag would last me my entire route, you have my vote...

stefire (author)2011-01-31

Top notch instructable. Great subject, well explained, and photos were a perfect adjunct to get you instructions across. Bravo and delicious.

GeekFilter (author)stefire2011-01-31

Many thanks!

scoochmaroo (author)2011-01-31

Please bring these to me now.

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