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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Soft Pretzels


This is not the first time these soft pretzels have appeared on the blog.  Almost exactly one year ago, I hosted a summer fun and games night for my friends, and I served these pretzels.  They were a huge hit!  At that time, I mentioned that it might be a good idea to experimenting with freezing the pretzels at some point in the process to avoid having to make them fresh just before a party, therefore making them more party-friendly.  In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to keep myself fairly busy in the kitchen, and I never got around to the pretzel experiments, but I also never forgot.  Finally I decided to just buckle down and make it happen.

So, recently I tried three different methods of making the pretzels.  First, I made them the usual way – shaping the dough, boiling, baking and serving all at once (pretzel A).  I also tried freezing some that had been freshly boiled and baked (pretzel B).  I thawed these in the microwave on defrost and then rewarmed in the oven.  Finally, I tried freezing some of the shaped pretzels after shaping (pretzel C).  I boiled these directly from the freezer, adding about 15 seconds to the boiling time, and baking for a minute or two longer than normal.

The verdict?  All three methods work wonderfully.  Ben and I agreed that of the two pretzels that had been frozen, those that were boiled directly from the freezer and then baked (pretzel C) were just ever so slightly better in texture than those that had been frozen after baking. That said, all of the options were fantastic and I would not hesitate to serve any of them at the party.  That is fantastic news, so you can choose whatever option is most convenient for your schedule.  I have left the recipe below as is, but just know that you have several prep choices available.

Soft Pretzels
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Ingredients:
For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

Directions:
To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast.  Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.


In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.


Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope.


Make a U-shape with the rope and holding the ends of the rope…



cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel.  Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.


Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet.  Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Alton Brown via Food Network

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for this! We’ve been slightly obsessed with these pretzels since you posted the recipe last year. It’s great to know how they can be frozen! I make some of the batch half-sized and they are perfect for my 4 year old! We also eat them with spicy mustard (like at The Rathskeller, but not so hot) and have found that Silver Springs brand mustard (I think it’s the Beer ‘n Brat variety) is our favorite.

  • http://keepitsweet.wordpress.com KeepItSweet

    that is good to know! soft pretzles are my sister’s favorite food and i really need to try to make them

  • Renee

    These look awesome! I love pretzels. My kids and I get the ones at Sam’s all the time from the snack counter. I love your website. Just stumbled across it the other day.

  • Andrea R.

    Ok this I’ve done before, and my kids loved to help with this!

  • http://tideandthyme.com Laura

    Always wanted to try making these…everyone in our house adore them. A nice spicy mustard to serve along side. Mmmm!

  • http://www.thebrunettefoodie.com The Brunette Foodie

    I need to try these! I found another soft pretzel recipe about 6 months ago on another blog, and it was horrible.

    I’m determined to make some decent soft pretzels before this year is up!

  • http://www.joyincooking.blogspot.com Lisa H.

    Thank you for sharing this again with the tips for making ahead/freezing. I find this kind of information extremely helpful, especially since I’ve gone back to work full-time, and most of my cooking/baking has to be done ahead of time.

  • http://thesugarqueenbakes.blogspot.com/ Kathy @ The Sugar Queen

    I love soft pretzels, and have always wanted to try making them! These look so good, I will just have to make them myself!

  • http://cook.fly2honey.se Tabbatha S.

    So funny, I have been sitting on a blog post that is almost exactly like this. Pretzels are the best “back-to-school” food EVER! I have a different, sweeter recipe, but you can’t beat Alton’s methodology, he really has the science down.

    I was just about to make a BIG batch this weekend to freeze so I am thoroughly thrilled that you posted this with your tips.

    {Btw, your pretzels look to perfect. I want to see the “real” ones!}

  • http://telly21182.blogspot.com Angie (Telly’s Tasty Tidbits)

    So funny, the next blog post I’m working on is this same recipe – so glad to hear that they freeze well because I was thinking about trying that out this weekend if I make some more.

  • http://www.bambinoclark.blogspot.com happy hopefuls

    We were at a baseball game the other day and the first vendor we saw was a pretzel person. We didn’t buy one but talked about it the whole time… Now my mouth is watering and I wish I would’ve done it. Even if I had too much of the other goodness…

    Yum!

  • http://www.thesingledish.com Heather @ The Single Dish

    Love these! Maybe I will make them this weekend when I have the extra time. They are such a great back-to-school recipe, great for the lunch box!

  • Melissa

    These pretzels look great, thanks for letting us know how well they freeze!
    Quick question, where did you purchase your baking mat (where you roll your dough out)? Thanks!

  • http://theobsessivechef.blogspot.com StephenC

    I probably wouldn’t make these myself, but I sure would like to have one of yours!

  • http://www.blueeyedbakers.com The Blue-Eyed Bakers

    Oh yum…being the carb lovers that we are we’re always up for some big chewy soft pretzels! We will definitely give these a try…yum yum yum.

  • http://theregoesthecupcake.wordpress.com theregoesthecupcake

    These are on my list for making this weekend. I am very new to making bread and as I found with the buns I made last weekend, I had a heck of a time dividing into equal parts. I know this is a newbie question but what method do you use for dividing into equal parts? I would use a scale but its not like dough appreciates have bits torn or added to it. I was rather disturbed with my assortment of mismatched buns.

    Thanks, Kelly

  • Meghan

    Annie,
    I’m confused. Of the two from your freezer, which one was better, the one that you cooked directly from the freezer or the one that you baked, then froze. I wanted to make this for my husband’s birthday party next weekend.
    Thanks-
    I think I was confused with the labeling of ‘b’ and ‘c’.

  • http://odwink.blogspot.com/ HPD

    Gorgeous!

  • http://healthyabundance.wordpress.com Janet

    It’s just a little bit cool here this morning, the first hint that we’ve had that fall might be coming. I think that these soft pretzels would be the absolute greatest thing for a fall party. I grew up in Cincinnati, where soft pretzels are food for the soul. Here in Colorado, you find them at malls (meh) and upscale brewpubs ($$). I’ll be making these really soon.
    On another note, this is yet another reason that I really should get a chest freezer. Your blog is full of examples of how to use them to save time and money. I HATE my side-by-side fridge/freezer. That freezer is too small!
    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, once again…

  • Annie

    Pampered Chef.

  • Annie

    I use my scale, and I have no problem with tearing bits off/adding to other dough balls. You should reshape the balls afterward anyway.

  • Annie

    Pretzel C is best (the one boiled from the freezer).

  • http://theriesenbergfamily.blogspot.com Megan

    You won’t believe when I tell you that I was just yesterday thinking about freezing these pretzels and wondered if you had any tips. I’ve made these pretzels at least a handful of times and they are always a hit. I’m having a tailgate this weekend and wanted to make the pretzels but didn’t want too much fuss Saturday morning. Perfect timing and can’t wait to try it out. Thanks!

  • http://comfortofcooking.blogspot.com Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking

    Soft pretzels are so much fun, and yours look fantastic! Thank you for that helpful guide to shaping them, as well. I made them a few months ago and they were unlike any ballpark pretzel I’d ever had! Great job on these, and cute photo of your wedding rings sitting by the side, haha!

  • http://www.citywifecountrylife.com Farmer’s City Wife

    How timely! Yesterday I was looking up pretzel recipes because I want to make pretzel rolls or pretzel buns for a bratwurst/kraut/mustard sandwich. I knew we wouldn’t be able to eat 8 whole rolls but I didn’t know how well the pretzel dough freezes. Thanks!

    Now I just wonder if this recipe would work for buns instead of pretzels…

  • http://kelseysappleaday.blogspot.com Kelsey

    Wonderful, Annie! Soft pretzels are on my 30. I know which recipe I’ll be using!

  • http://www.wwwssfi.blogspot.com SAB

    These look great! Your recipes and photos are awesome! Keep doing what your doing, I really enjoy reading what you have to say. I blog as well at Saffron & Semper Fi, mainly recipes, photos and what not. Maybe you can check it out sometime? Thanks!

  • Donna C

    Thank you! this looks really fun to try….especially with winter coming!

    So it was Pretzel C, not B……?

  • http://recipesmademyway.blogspot.com Reagan @ Recipesmademyway

    These look SO good!! I’m definitely adding this to my list of “to make”!! (It is getting REALLY long :) I just made pizza bites last week and they were SO good!! Thanks for all of the great recipes!

  • b*schus

    Thank you so much! Last year, I spent the entire morning before our annual Oktoberfest party making a pretzel mess in my kitchen (since I know they taste best fresh baked). They were a hit, but I was thinking of just skipping them altogether this year since it was such a hassle. Now I can prepare early!!

  • Mary Beth

    We recently ate at Hannah’s Bretzel in Chicago (www.hannahsbretzel.com) and loved the bread for their delicious sandwiches. I see someone else already commented about wondering if this recipe would make good rolls. Any thoughts?

  • Annie

    I think this recipe would be a little dense for a sandwich roll, but I’m sure good recipes are out there.

  • Erika

    I am so excited to see this recipe! I signed on today specifically looking for a pretzel recipe and look what I see for today’s post! :)

  • http://www.tastyretreat.com Ari

    Thanks for taking one for the team and conducting this important research! I’m sure having all those pretzels around was just horrible. :-)

  • http://www.hjselchphotography.blogspot.com Heidi Selch

    quick yeast question….
    I have never worked with instant yeast. Its different than fast active dry yeast, right?
    I checked for instant yeast at my grocery store and walmart and could not find it.
    Thanks for all the great recipies!

  • Annie

    Instant yeast=rapid rise yeast=bread machine yeast.

  • Heather Trabucco

    i saw this recipe yesterday, and after baking and candy making all day, i ended up making these! this recipe totally replaces my previous recipe as this yields exactly the type of pretzel i envision as the best. i’m thinking these would also be great as bite sized pieces with a chedder mustard sauce. yum-o

  • Joan

    Great recipe! Saw it on FoodGawker. I checked it out to see if differed from my favorite soft pretzel recipe. (No major changes from mine.)
    You might try freezing the pretzels after boiling, but before baking. I have the best luck that way (works well with bagels, too!)
    Keep up the good work!

  • Sue

    Annie- any tips on adapting this to a freezable pretzel dog recipe? I am thinking make dough through first rise, wrap around dog, freeze, then boil for 1 min (dough-dog ensemble) and bake? Have you done this??? I’m having a birthday party for my daughter and thought it’d be a nice twist. (for birthday luncheons, as a rule, we serve hot dogs on a spool…..)

  • Annie

    I’ve never tried it. Your idea sounds like it would work to me. Good luck!

  • APL

    These were so easy and such a big hit! They were exactly like baseball stadium pretzels, and I just still can’t believe how easy they were.

  • http://runs-with-spatulas.blogspot.com Danielle

    I just used this dough to make stuffed pretzels last night and it turned out fantastic! This dough is so easy to work with!

    A quick question for you — when you unfroze your “B” pretzels, how long did you defrost for in the microwave and on what settings and for how low did you put them in the oven? Thanks!

  • Annie

    I honestly don’t know for sure, and all microwaves vary. Just a couple of minutes for each part, I think.

  • Amy

    Annie, these are absolutely fantastic. I didn’t have a mixer at the boyfriend’s house, so we did these by hand and they were still really easy.

  • Teresa

    Could margarine be used instead of unsalted butter if in a pinch?

  • Annie

    That’s your call, but I never use margarine for anything.

  • DM

    Any feedback on how long these stay good when setting out at a party? Seems like a soft pretzel would get tough after a bit, but .. .. not sure.

  • Annie

    They do fine as long as they are warmed up right before the party. In my experience, they never sit out for long anyway because they get eaten.

  • Denise

    I made these earlier today and they are delicious! One problem…mine turned out a little ‘spongy’. I guess that would be the best word to describe the texture. They taste great but the texture doesn’t look as nice and smooth as yours:( Any ideas what I may have done wrong? I am determined to make a beautiful AND delicious soft pretzel!

  • Annie

    The smoothness of the final appearance all has to do with how you shape the dough. It just takes practice, I think, but if your dough is not smooth you may need to add more flour so it isn’t sticky and therefore easier to shape.

  • http://www.scriberson.blogspot.com Sarah S

    I have made these several times and they are awesome! I even substituted half whole wheat bread flour and they were still good.

  • http://healthyabundance.wordpress.com Janet

    I’m going to make these for my daughter’s Halloween party at school. One of her classmates is allergic to all sorts of things, including dairy and eggs. I’m going to substitute Earth Balance for butter (it’s basically vegan margarine) and leave off the egg wash on his pretzel. I’ll report back and let you know how they turn out. I’m sure I’ll miss the buttery flavor, but it’s worth it not to have a kid go into anaphylactic shock. :-)

  • Ariana

    Are these best served warm? Or will they be ok if I bake a day ahead and serve at room temp for my son’s class? Thanks

  • http://tramskitchen.wordpress.com Tram Nguyen

    How were the vegan pretzels? I work with a few vegan ladies and I was thinking about altering this recipe to suit their needs.

  • http://www.ahealthyabundance.com Janet

    The vegan pretzels were good, and very much appreciated by the guests with the restricted diets! The outside was not as glossy, but they were still delicious, and the salt stuck to the pretzels just fine.

  • Nikki

    All i can say is these things rock!!! With 3 kids who love soft pretzels, they devoured them and the hubby loved them too!! keep it up i cant stop looking at your blog and finding recipes i am addicted making your hummus, pita bread and baba ganoush today and i cant wait!! kieep up the good work girl!!!

  • Sammie

    These pretzels look REALLY good! I am thinking of making these either tomorrow or today. I have one question though, what should I do if I don’t have a paddle or dough hook attachment?

    Thanks.

  • Annie

    Do you have a stand mixer? The paddle is just the basic flat beater. See the FAQ page as well – you can make any dough by hand that you can make with a mixer.

  • Beth

    I made these for a party recently, and I didn’t realize the recipe only yielded 8 pretzels – I was expecting 20 guests (guess I should have looked ahead). Not to worry! I cut them into bite-sized pieces and put them on a plate with toothpicks. They were the biggest hit at the party, and when people asked for the recipe I referred them to your blog! Thanks!

  • http://maedeforyou.blogspot.com Josie

    Hi Annie! These look great and I can’t wait to try them (in fact…as I write, they are in the “rising” stage!) I don’t know if you will get this in time, but I was wondering if I am doing version ‘C’ and freezing before boiling, would I still do the egg wash before freezing – or do that after I take them out of the freezer and before boiling? Thanks for your help! :) I love your blog and recipes!

  • Annie

    I think either way would work. Enjoy!

  • Lisa

    Made these tonight and my 4 kids thought I was the best mom ever! My youngest asked if I would make more and slice them for sandwich bread for his first day of school lunch! This recipe is so easy and definitely a keeper! Thanks for starting a new tradition at our house!

  • Ashley

    I just made these and they are FANTASTIC. You are truly amazing Annie! How do you think you would make cinnamon sugar pretzels? Maybe do the egg wash then cover them with cinnamon-sugar then bake? Or would you do it after they are out of the oven?

  • Annie

    Definitely do it before baking. I would brush them either with melted butter or an egg wash and then top with the cinnamon-sugar. Enjoy!

  • http://amandacathleen.wordpress.com Amanda Cathleen

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! My kids used to buy lunch more frequently but this year I’m packing way more, one of the lunches that my 10 year old son misses the most is the hot ham and cheese on a pretzel bun (he doesn’t miss them so much anymore, I guess they aren’t as good as they where last year). I promised him that I would try to replicate them even though I had no idea how or if I could make pretzels. These worked perfectly!! So happy! All my kids said that they taste like the mall pretzels but better. I’m planning them again. They where way easier than what I thought. One thing I did though was double the water to 20C but used the same amount of baking soda. When I put 10C of water into my stock pot it didn’t look like enough for the pretzels to move without touching the bottom.

  • Jenn

    These came out incredibly delicious! I’m a little addicted to these now! Thanks so much for this amazing recipe.

  • ana

    These were fantastic – better than Auntie Annes! We made them much smaller (maybe 1/2 or 1/3 the size) – for a more manageable size. We’ll be making them for DS’s 2nd birthday this weekend.

  • Karline Threadgill

    These were so delicious. I linked to your page since your pictures are so fantastic!

  • Karl B

    This recipe call for warm water, but your bagel recipe says room temp, but both recipes use instant yeast. To make it even more confusing, even the package of Fleischman Instant Yeast says to use warm water. I thought the whole point of instant was that you didn’t have to proof with warm water?

  • Anonymous

    Follow the recipe as listed. Some recipes are different than others. It’s not so confusing then :)

  • Atomic17

    These are looking great, baking in the oven now for super owl party! Thanks!

  • Wendy Campbell

    Just made these heart-shaped for my daughter’s Valentine party–yummy! Thanks!

  • Jenny Trimble

    My sons are allergic to eggs and I was wondering if it would still be good w/o the egg wash. Thanks for the info!

  • Anonymous

    You could probably just brush with a bit of cream instead. Enjoy!

  • Rachel

    Found this blog while googling soft pretzel recipes. Made them today using freshly ground whole wheat flour and they’re delicious! Thanks!

  • Rahaf

    These were sooo good! Just right! So fluffy on the inside, but beautifully golden on the outside. The baking-soda flavor was just right, not too overwhelming, not too faint. Everyone loved them! My dad, being the Middle Eastern he is, dipped them in olive oil (go figure) and raved about them. I also drizzled a couple with honey before baking-yum.
    I did make cinnamon-sugar pretzels as well. After trial and error, heres the deal: Let them dry a bit after the baking soda dip and egg brush, and then brush over with melted butter generously. Immediately cover in sugar and cinnamon mixture according to your preferences. Watch carefully in the oven-these bake a bit faster than the salted ones and can burn quickly!
    Thanks!

  • Colleen Occhiogrosso

    Annie I can’t wait to try these!! I love following your blog! How would you alter this if you wanted to make a pretzel dog? Should I wrap the hotdog in the dough and flash boil it together, followed by baking next? Or do I skip the boil? Thoughts? Thanks!
    ~Colleen

  • annieseats

    I’m not really sure what would be the best way to go. I guess you’d have to wrap, boil, and then bake as normal. Good luck!

  • Katrin

    Baked them today – turned out amazing! Baked half and froze the others (before boiling). Love the blog!

  • Sdavis

    I bought some Italian sausage and wrapped them with the pretzel dough boiled and them baked them according to the directions very good

  • Heathermcglown

    Annie! I just made these and they were divine. I followed your directions to the “t” except that I baked mine for 24 minutes. They were so tender and delicious. I made homemade cheese dip with cheddar and buttermilk that went perfectly with them. Thank you for a fabulous recipe.

  • Dgooch

    How long do u bake after frozen for this method?

  • annieseats

    These instructions are included in the text of the post. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mariam.metwally.9 Mariam Metwally

    My sister and I attempted these this morning, they are wonderful!

  • Lindsay

    Hi Annie! I’m planning on making these for our Super Bowl party this year and thought it would be cute to shape them into mini football outlines. Do you think the baking time would vary if they were smaller in size? I’m assuming the dough still needs the same amount of time to cook but would hate to burn them. Thank you for your help!

  • annieseats

    Unfortunately, they aren’t going to keep a football shape after boiling/baking. But, I’m doing a post specifically on pretzel bites for the super bowl this week, and the bite size ones are reminiscent of footballs. So, just keep your eyes peeled for that post :)

  • Lindsay

    I worried about that. Leave it to you to come to the rescue with the perfect recipe, though! I can’t wait!

  • http://www.facebook.com/erinpthatsme86 Erin Michelle Paulsen

    just made these, but as bites. they are so delicious! thanks

  • Yvonne

    I made these today, and they are delicious! I popped six of them in the freezer fully baked, so I’ll be interested to see how fresh they taste after I warm them up in a few weeks. Thanks for another great recipe, Annie!

  • Keturah

    Made these with my kids yesterday. The kids had so much fun and the pretzels were delicious! Thank you for posting so many helpful pictures. I’m curious about the baking mat you’re using, though. I would like to have one like it.

  • Amy Griscom

    Help! I cannot get my dough to rise. Any suggestions? I redid the recipe four times and each unsuccessfully.

  • annieseats

    Sounds like an issue with the yeast. Are you measuring the temp of the water with a thermometer?

  • Amy Griscom

    Did it! I think temperature was an issue and not dissolving the yeast enough.

  • annieseats

    Great! Glad you got it figured out :)