Old Fashioned Soft Pretzels Recipe (easy)

By Published On: February 29th, 20243.9 min readCategories: Recipes

Chewy, delicious soft pretzels are easy to make and every bit as good as the ones from a shop. Here’s my quick and simple recipe

freshly baked soft pretzels on a cutting board

Fresh, delicious homemade soft pretzels are a cinch to make

Pretzels have been around for more than a thousand years. They’re really just simple bread dipped in a baking soda bath to give them that hard exterior and chewy interior.

While we’re most familiar with the “knot” or “crossed arms” shape of a pretzel, you can actually make them in any shape you want. I am terrible at making them in the classic knot shape (as my photos will show), so I usually just twist them into something that resembles a knot. If your pretzels aren’t perfect either, don’t worry, they’ll still taste delicious!

The recipe below is adapted from a French bread recipe from the Breadmaker’s Apprentice.

Old Fashioned Soft Pretzel Recipe

Total time: 1 hour, 50 minutes (prep: 40 minutes, rest: 1 hour, bake: 10 minutes)
Makes: 8-12 pretzels
Oven: 375° F

Ingredients

  • 1½ tbsp active dry yeast (two .25 ounce pkgs)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp diastatic malt powder (optional)*
  • 1¾ cups warm water
  • 5½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ gallon (8 cups) water
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • Kosher salt (for sprinkling on baked pretzels)
  • ¼ stick (¼ cup) melted butter

*Diastatic malt powder kicks up the yeast a bit so it makes a dough that’s puffier and has larger air bubbles in the cooked pretzel (this is how rustic breads get that texture). You’ll find it in the baking section of specialty markets and online. If you don’t have the malt or don’t want the old fashioned texture, you can leave it out.

Instructions

Step 1 – Mix the yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar and the warm water in a bowl. Set aside for 10 – 15 minutes until the yeast starts to foam.

Step 2 – In a bowl, mix flour, diastatic malt, sugar and salt. Add yeast and oil, and mix on low until the dough is smooth. (I use a stand mixer and dough hook, which takes about 5 minutes. If you’re using a hand mixer, it might take a little longer.)

a ball of pretzel bread dough in a mixing bowl

The ingredients mixed into a smooth dough

Step 3 – Lightly grease a bowl and move your dough to it. Roll the dough ball around to get it greased all the way around. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm place like a sunny window or near a warm oven until the dough is doubled in size (about 1 hour if the dough is warmer than 80° F, and a little longer if it’s cooler than that).

Step 4 – Once the dough is doubled, preheat your oven to 425° F. Grease two baking sheets or (better) line them with parchment paper. Set aside.

Step 5 – Add the ½ gallon of water to a pan, add the baking soda and slowly bring it to a boil on the stove. Stir regularly to make sure the baking soda dissolves completely.

Step 6 – While the water is coming to a boil, punch your dough down to de-gas it, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 8 -12 pieces (depending on how big you want your pretzels).

Step 7 – Roll each piece of dough into a long rope about 2 feet long. Twist each end of the rope like crossed arms to make a traditional pretzel knot shape.

Step 8 – Drop each pretzel into the boiling water for 30 seconds (no more!), then lift the pretzel out of the water with a slotted spoon and tap off as much water as you can.

an uncooked pretzel in the soda water bath

30 seconds in the water bath

Place pretzel onto your baking sheets, arranging them far enough apart that they won’t stick to each other when they bake. Sprinkle the pretzels with kosher salt.

Step 9 – Bake pretzels until they’re golden brown until golden brown – around 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter.

freshly baked soft pretzels on a cutting board

Fresh, delicious homemade soft pretzels are a cinch to make

Your pretzels are ready to eat! Grab some spicy brown mustard or your favorite dip and enjoy!

Note: If you don’t eat them all in one sitting, make sure to store them in an airtight container to keep them soft and chewy. Also, this same recipe can be used to make pretzel buns and knots, so don’t worry if you (like me) are not the greatest pretzel shaper.

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About the Author

author avatar
Terri Osterfeld
I'm Sage's wife and the real person in charge of Sage's Acre. He gets the yard, I get the house and the kitchen (unless I need him to do something in the house). I love making comfort food and baking, especially bread. I have no special training, but I did raise a herd of children and burned plenty before I perfected my technique. I love the simple, practical and homegrown. I also have a weakness for dachshunds (don't judge!).

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