August Bake-Along: Homemade Soft Pretzels

These homemade soft pretzels are the best of the best – a chewy exterior with an incredibly soft inside that just melts in your mouth. Such a fun snack to make with kids – bake up huge pretzels, regular-size, pretzel bites, or even make pretzel dogs with this dough. Perfect for afternoon snacks, movie nights, game days, or “just because”.

Welcome to the August Bake-Along! I’m excited to bake with you this month; I picked a recipe that might get us ready for football season and fall festivities 🙂
I am a bona fide soft pretzel addict. Whether I’m at the mall, at a sporting event, or at a restaurant that’s offering Oktoberfest specials, there’s absolutely no question that I’m going to get a soft pretzel.
There’s something so satisfying about that distinctive chewy exterior paired with the warm, soft interior of a pretzel that makes them irresistible. It’s a snack food that transcends seasons – whether you’re enjoying a baseball game on a warm summer evening, partaking in Oktoberfest festivities during the fall, catching a hockey game in the dead of winter, or strolling the mall any time of year, soft pretzels are where it’s at.

This is my third iteration of a soft pretzel recipe… my first attempt was over twelve years ago(!)… then I moved on to another recipe a few months later, and then finally settled on this fabulous version about eight years ago, and it’s the only one I’ve been making since. I’ve found that this recipe produces the softest, chewiest, most “traditional” tasting soft pretzels that I’ve made to date.
Let’s talk about how to make them!

Homemade Soft Pretzels: Step by Step
It might not seem like it at first glance, but homemade soft pretzels are a relatively easy process and don’t take very long as far as kitchen projects go. You’ll be rewarded with some of the most AMAZING pretzels! Here we go…

Combine water, sugar and salt, then add yeast – Once this mixture is combined, we’ll let it sit for a few minutes until it “blooms” (i.e. the yeast starts to wake up and get foamy).
Add flour and butter – This is all you need to make the dough and it can be mixed together by hand with a spoon or using a stand mixer and dough hook.
Knead until smooth – Whichever method you use, the dough should be kneaded until soft and just slightly tacky.
Let dough rise – Cover the bowl and place in a warm, draft-free spot until dough is doubled in size; usually 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Prepare the baking soda bath – Combine water and baking sode in a large pot and bring to a boil.
Shape the pretzels – See the photos below and the video for step-by-step shaping details. It goes quickly once you get the hang of it if you’ve never done it before!
Dip the pretzels in baking soda bath – Very important! They only need to be in the water bath for about 30 seconds, otherwise, they will take on too much of the baking soda taste. A quick dip, then remove with a slotted spatula.
Brush and sprinkle – Brush the pretzels with an egg wash (or melted butter if you want more of a buttery flavor) and sprinkle with salt or whatever other topping you might like.
Bake! – Less than 15 minutes in the oven, or until golden brown (or however done you prefer your pretzels!), let them cool for a few minutes, then dig in!

Recipe Notes for Soft Pretzels
A few quick tips to help you make some ah-mazing pretzels!

Both instant and active dry yeasts can be used in this recipe; I still like to let the yeast sit with the water, sugar, and salt even if using instant.
The dough can be made using a mixer or by hand, I have done both successfully.
This recipe makes eight large pretzels; if you want slightly smaller pretzels, you can easily divide the dough into 12 portions instead. Check for doneness a couple of minutes early.
The egg wash on the pretzels gives them a little shine and I find it softens the exterior a bit. For a more traditional taste, omit the egg wash and just use salt when the pretzels come out of the water bath. For more of an Auntie Anne’s buttery flavor, brush the pretzels with melted butter when they come out of the water bath and again when they come out of the oven.
These pretzels can be frozen after baked and cooled; wrap well in plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag. To reheat, place in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for about 15 minutes, or heated through. Alternately, you can also microwave from frozen until heated through.
I have used this recipe to make pretzel bites, as well (directions here, along with a spicy dipping sauce).

You don’t have to be an expert at baking with yeast to turn out some fantastic soft pretzels. Before long, you’ll be twisting and shaping dough like a pro. If you’ve been nervous about working with yeast in the past, this recipe is a fabulous place to start, as it’s basic, easy and incredibly forgiving.
Once you have this basic recipe down, you can use it to make all sorts of adaptations: cinnamon-sugar pretzels, cheddar-jalapeno pretzels, pizza pretzels… there are so many flavor options!

To tackle soft pretzels and bake along with me this month, simply do the following:

Make the soft pretzels!
Snap a picture and either share it on social media (#BEBbakealong on Instagram or Twitter), upload it to the BEB Facebook group, or email it to me.
Check in on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month to see everyone’s soft pretzels!

Past Bake-Along Recipes:

Classic Pavlova
German Chocolate Cake
Angel Food Cake
Chocolate Souffle

Four years ago: Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles
Five years ago: Pretzel, Peanut Butter

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