These homemade pretzels are so perfectly soft with just the right amount of chewiness! They seriously give mall pretzels a run for their money.
Fun fact: making pretzels looks a lot harder than it actually is! I feel like what scared me off the most from making pretzels was the twisty, turny shape.
When I was a kid, I actually used to think there was some kind of cookie cutter that they used to get the iconic pretzel shape!
.............It made sense to me then, okay?
But getting older (and wiser) I NOW know it's just a quick process that you can break down into 4 steps!
Auntie Anne's pretzels are iconic, but wait until you try the homemade, warm, chewy, comforting, deliciousness that are these pretzels! And don't forget the cheese dip!
How to shape pretzels:
Shaping soft pretzels is super easy, and comes down to a simple 4 step process!
Step 1: Roll a piece of dough into a loooong rope (about 24 inches long)
Step 2: Shape the rope into a "U"
Step 3: Twist the 2 ends together twice -> either clockwise or counterclockwise work fine
Step 4: Pull the two ends down to the bottom of the pretzel and pinch to seal
You can see it all in action in the video below! For a visual, it'll look something like this:
My #1 tip when making pretzels: Use the right baking sheet!
If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this tip! Because the pretzels get dipped in a baking soda bath before being baked, they can't be baked in just any baking dish or sheet.
Baking soda can react with baking sheets that have any amount of aluminum in them. This can leave a metallic, off taste to the pretzels, AND it can even discolor them.
So you ought to use a non-reactive baking sheet. My go-to is either glass or ceramic, those are the safest bets because I know they don't have an ounce of aluminum in them! Pure stainless steel is also a good choice.
I use Anchor Hocking glassware, but you can use any brand you like. For ceramic, the KOOV Bakeware Set is the closest I could find to the baking dish I have (I bought mine a while back in person, so it's a bit different).
How to store pretzels:
Same as any regular, ole' bread, these pretzels taste best when fresh and warm! They will keep for around 3 days at room temperature, but they do harden as they sit. Keep stored in an airtight container or plastic bag to maximize freshness.
If you don't plan on finishing them within 3 days, you can freeze soft pretzels for up to 3 months. Cool them completely to room temperature. Then store in a freezer safe airtight container or heavy duty plastic bag. Seal well, and freeze!
To defrost, I like to stick my frozen pretzels in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. They'll defrost and warm up at the same time. You can also leave them out for a few hours on your counter until fully defrosted. But I would still heat them because warm pretzels = proper pretzels!
If you liked these soft pretzels, check out some of these other bread recipes!
Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe
For the pretzel dough:
- 1 cup warm water, between 105°F to 110°F
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 2 & ¼ teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 & ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and shaping
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the pretzel topping:
- 2 cups boiling water
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, for topping
- Make the pretzel dough: In a large bowl, combine water, sugar, and yeast. Stir to combine, and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam on top.
- Add the flour, salt, and butter to the yeast mixture. Mix together until you start to get a rough, shaggy dough. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, adding a bit of flour if it's too sticky, or until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky. (You can do this all by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment).
- Cover the dough and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until about doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line 2 large (non-reactive) baking dishes with parchment paper (I used glass bake ware). Set aside.
- Uncover your dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough down to deflate, then divide into 6 equal portions. Take one piece of dough and roll it into a rope that's about 24 inches long. Curve the dough into a "U" shape, then twist the 2 ends around each other twice. Bring the ends down to the bottom of the "U" and pinch to seal. (See below for video tutorial) Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
- Make the baking soda bath: In a 2 quart (glass or ceramic) baking dish, combine boiling water and baking soda together. Whisk to dissolve the baking soda. While the water is still warm, place the shaped pretzels into the bath and let sit for about 15 seconds on each side.
- Remove the pretzels from the baking soda and water mixture, and drain well. Transfer to your prepared baking dishes, leaving a bit of space between each pretzel. Sprinkle salt on top of each pretzel.
- Bake in the center of your preheated 400°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a deep golden brown on top. Cool slightly on the baking sheet before serving.