Introduction: How to Make Homemade Soft Pretzels
Making homemade soft pretzels is easy and tasty! With just a few pantry staples, you'll be in yeasty, buttery pretzel heaven in just a few easy steps!
To make pretzels at home, you will need:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet of active dry yeast)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (+ up to 3/4 cup more, if needed)
Baking Soda Bath:
- 4 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 cups of water
- melted butter
- coarse sea salt
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Measuring spoons/cups
- Stand mixer with dough hook (or you can knead by hand)
Step 1: Prep for Pretzels!
To begin, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Parchment paper is a must, these pretzels will stick like the dickens otherwise, even if they are non-stick baking sheets!
Step 2: Bloom the Yeast
Add 1 cup of warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar to the mixing bowl. Let this mixture sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Note: If your yeast does not get foamy, you'll need to get new yeast and start over.
Step 3: Make the Dough
Once the yeast is ready, add the melted butter and salt. Add flour, one 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is no longer sticky. You may need to add more or less flour depending on the humidity in your area. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until a smooth dough forms. Cover with a clean tea towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Prepare Baking Soda Bath
While the dough is resting, you can prepare the baking soda bath. Add 2 cups of water to a medium sized pot. Add 4 tablespoons of baking soda and whisk. Heat until the baking soda is dissolved then remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
Baking soda is important in pretzel making because it is what gives the pretzels their shiny brown crust and distinctive flavor. It also helps the interior of the dough puff up more aiding in the chewy texture you expect from a soft pretzel. Don't skip this step, I promise it's worth the extra effort!
Step 5: Shape the Pretzels
After the dough has rested for 15 minutes, cut it into 8 equal pieces. I find cutting the dough like a pizza helps keep the pieces rather equal.
Roll each piece of dough out into a long rope, about 15 inches long.
To form a pretzel, make a U shape. Twist the ends of the dough over each other, then bring the ends up and over the top of the U shape. Press the overlapping pieces down slightly to form the classic pretzel shape. Complete for all 8 pieces of dough.
Feel free to get creative with your pretzel shapes! You can make pretzel bites, buns, braids and more. This step is especially enjoyable if you're making this recipe with kids, let them have fun and experiment!
Step 6: Time for a Baking Soda Bath!
Place each pretzel into the baking soda bath. The bath should be lukewarm by now. Let each pretzel soak for a minute then carefully move it to the prepared baking sheet. You may need to readjust your shape slightly. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt while the pretzel is wet. Repeat for remaining pretzels.
Step 7: Bake!
Bake pretzels in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until browned. Immediately after removing from oven, brush pretzels with melted butter. Serve immediately!
If you'd like a sweet pretzel, skip the salt in the previous step, bake the pretzels then brush with melted butter and cover with cinnamon sugar! Shake off excess sugar. Serve immediately, yum!
These are best if served fresh, but you may also store them in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature. Reheat them in microwave for about 40 seconds before serving.