Homemade soft pretzels are irresistible—the aroma alone will have everyone flocking to the kitchen. A soft crust with a bit of chewiness, a fluffy interior, and a sprinkle of salt make these disappear fast.
Adapted from Carlyn Berghoff | Nancy Ross Ryan | The Berghoff Café Cookbook | Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009
Pretzels are one of the world’s oldest snacks. Great-grandfather Herman ate them in Germany as a boy and here in America as an adult. It was natural that they would find their way into the Berghoff bar. Traditionally, shaped pretzel dough is briefly boiled in water, just like bagels, before being baked. This brief boiling gives both pretzels and bagels shiny crusts and a very chewy texture. I omitted the step of boiling the shaped dough when I developed our pretzel recipe for the home kitchen, so this pretzel is easy to shape and bake. It has a nice soft crust, easy to bite, easy to chew. The pretzel is best baked and eaten on the same day. Pretzels are fun for kids and grown-ups alike to shape. We recommend eating these pretzels with any Berghoff beer or a frosty mug of Berghoff Root Beer.–Carlyn Berghoff and Nancy Ross Ryan
Homemade Soft Pretzels
- 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
- One (1/4-ounce package or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter melted
- 1 large egg yolk lightly beaten
- 1 large egg white well beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel (coarse) salt as needed
Prepare the oven
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) Do not use a convection oven for this recipe.
Make the pretzel dough in a mixer
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt, and stir to mix; add the water, butter, and egg yolk, and mix on low until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead the dough at the lowest speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes, adding some or all of the remaining flour as needed. Cover with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Make the pretzel dough by hand
- In a 4-quart bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt, and whisk to mix; add the water, butter, and egg yolk and, using a large spoon, stir until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Remove the spoon and, using your hands, knead the dough right in the bowl until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes, adding some or all of the remaining flour as needed. Cover with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Make the pretzel dough in a food processor
- In the work bowl of a large-capacity (14-cup) food processor fitted with the plastic dough blade, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt, and pulse to mix. Add the water, butter, and egg yolk, and pulse until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and forms a cohesive mass. Add additional flour as needed through the feed tube.
Shape the pretzels
- Turn out the pretzel dough on a lightly floured board and knead briefly, about 1 minute. Cut the dough into twelve equal-size pieces. Roll out each dough piece into a 24-inch-long rope. Make a U shape with the rope. Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press the ends down onto the bottom of the U to seal, forming a “pretzel shape.” For small pretzels, cut the dough into 24 equal-size pieces. Roll out each dough piece into a 12-inch-long rope and shape the pretzels as directed.
- Gently place each pretzel on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet (two pans). Brush the tops lightly with the egg white mixture. Sprinkle each pretzel with 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt, or to taste. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the pretzels are browned and firm. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Originally published October 06, 2009.
What variations can I make to a pretzel recipe?Cheese Pretzels
Add 2 cups (8 ounces) of grated white Cheddar cheese to the dry ingredients and proceed with the recipe. Or add 1 cup (4 ounces) of grated Parmesan cheese to the flour and proceed with the recipe, then sprinkle a second cup of grated Parmesan (4 ounces) on the egg white–brushed pretzels before baking. Caraway Pretzels
Add 4 teaspoons of caraway seeds to the flour and proceed with the recipe. Top the pretzels with 1/2 cup of coarse salt before baking. Bacon Pretzels
Add 1/2 cup of bacon bits (from a jar or package) to the flour and proceed with the recipe. Sprinkle the pretzels with kosher salt as needed and 1/4 cup of bacon bits before baking. Chocolate Chip Pretzels
Increase the butter to 1/2 cup and the sugar to 1/3 cup, and prepare the dough according to the recipe. Add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the finished dough, kneading only long enough to incorporate the chips. Dust the baked pretzels with 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Cinnamon-Raisin Pretzels
Increase the butter to 1/2 cup and the sugar to 1/2 cup, and add 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Prepare the dough according to the recipe. Add 1/2 cup of dark raisins to the finished dough, kneading only long enough to incorporate. Dust the baked pretzels well with 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Mini-Pretzels
Make half-size versions of any of the above by dividing the dough into 24 equal-size pieces and rolling into 12-inch-long ropes. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Even though the pretzels were best slightly warm, they were still quite good the next day— still soft but a bit chewier. They took a little coaxing to roll them into ropes but once that was accomplished, by using a little more flour on our hands and working the surface, they were very easily shaped, even by our 10-year-old helper. The baking time was right on the money with this recipe, and the pretzels were nicely browned at exactly 14 minutes.
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These fresh-baked pretzels are delicious and fun to make. When following the instructions, the resulting dough is so soft—the phrase “like a baby’s bottom” may be appropriate. It’s not at all sticky and therefore highly pliable, able to conform to any shape.
Once baked, the pretzels maintain their softness and are wonderfully chewy, even fluffy. A little salt makes them delectable, though they’re improved by any of the recommended variation ingredients, especially bacon. After all, bacon makes everything better. I highly recommend this recipe if you’re craving soft pretzels.
This is a great, simple recipe. Most at-home cooks are likely to have all ingredients on hand. The dough is very easy to work with, measurements were exact, and the end result was just as pictured. These make a great school lunch item.
Sunday afternoon is football time at our house and the boys are always looking for something to snack on while watching the game, so I decided to give these a try. The recipe is simple and, with the exception of the yeast, uses ingredients most cooks probably have on hand.
The dough came together easily and the rising time was spot on. I used my oven on the proofing setting to let the dough rise and it doubled in an hour. Rolling out the 12 strands of dough evenly was a little tricky and took a bit of trial and error. I found the best method was holding the dough between my palms, perpendicular floor. I rubbed my palms together and let gravity help to stretch the dough into a long strand.
I made 12 large salted pretzels. The aroma while baking was very nice and the pretzels were delicious warm, just the right amount of chewiness inside and crunch outside. They were a bit salty for me but the salt is easily brushed off to individual taste.
I didn’t try any of the variations but definitely will next time. Pretzels can be successfully reheated for 10 seconds in the microwave.
This was a tough call, as I have fond memories of sitting in traffic outside of the Lincoln Tunnel and hitting up the street vendor for a pretzel and soda. This recipe comes close to the taste like a NY or even a Philly pretzel. As this recipe lacks the boiling step, the exterior is not crusty enough, however, the salt in combination with the soft and chewy inside is reminiscent of a pretzel.
While the tops brown up similar to a typical pretzel, the bottoms don’t take on the same color. For someone not familiar with this style of pretzel, it would make a nice game day snack. Mine were thick enough to turn into pretzel slider buns, which I used the next morning for breakfast by adding an LC chicken breakfast sausage patty, a bit of cheese, and a scrambled egg!
Soft pretzels aren’t something I’ve eaten often; I would say, in my lifetime, I’ve had 2. They’re just not that common in northern Canada. So, I couldn’t wait to try these and they were definitely worth the 45-year wait.
The dough came together very easily. I used a stand mixer but finished the kneading by hand. I prefer working dough this way, just to get a feeling for it. After 6 minutes in the mixer, I did another 2 minutes by hand. By then, the dough was silky and very elastic. After an hour, it was at least doubled and handled really well. I cut it into 12 pieces but found that rolling it out was difficult; the dough needed another 10-minute rest before I could easily shape it.
I brushed them with the egg white and sprinkled them with salt. On 4 of them, I used blue cheese-flavored sea salt and they were by far the best ones. After 14 minutes in the oven, the pretzels were golden and very puffy. And smelled incredible.
I think that my pretzels could have been rolled out longer and thinner but I found the dough was very puffy and elastic. I let it rest before trying to roll again but it probably needed more time. My pretzels came out of the oven quite puffed up—they don’t have that quintessential pretzel look.
I really liked this recipe; the dough is dense, chewy, and has a fantastic taste. And it’s really easy to work with. I’ll definitely be making these again.
I’ve made pretzels before but always with the boil/bake method. This is a bake-only recipe and I felt the flavor and texture were fantastic. I didn’t add any additional flavors, I followed the recipe as written. These were soft and a little chewy, they pulled apart nicely. The texture was also a bit like a buttery bread roll. If shaped differently, this same recipe would make a great pretzel bun. Loved the ease of this recipe, amateur bakers could make these.
These pretzels (besides making me thirsty) are a great quick bread variation to whip up to watch the big game or if you’re just in the mood for some soft pretzels but can’t get to the mall cause you’re stuck in lockdown.
They come together extremely easy, with ingredients you most likely have on hand, and you get the payout of a harder browned outside and pillowy-soft inside. These are a great way to keep your (or your kid’s…or husband’s) hands busy. They lend themselves to variation in both size and flavours and are definitely a big hit.
TIP: if the dough is dry when rolling out into ropes, LIGHTLY water hands (like just barely) so that you can get some grip on the dough while rolling. Since the dough isn’t covered while you’re rolling out, the edges may get dry and it can be frustrating to roll out. Also, don’t forget to be patient!
This recipe is wonderful. Everyone in the house liked them for different reasons. We ate them plain, they went into lunches as mini sandwiches, some were cut in half and toasted with butter, and were served with dinner in place of rolls.
I made the Parmesan version, and they were amazing. It seems like too much cheese, but is there really such a thing? Just keep sprinkling that cheese because what doesn’t stick to the pretzels creates a lovely frico layer at the bottom of the pretzel. So tasty.
I have a serious problem. I can’t be near a bag of pretzels. I can’t be left alone with a warm soft pretzel. You can imagine my excitement when I saw that a pretzel recipe needed a test…It was my obligation to help society determine if this was a recipe to keep or toss.
Armed with the recipe and the ingredients I must admit that I was perplexed. With no introduction, I assumed I was looking at a picture of hard pretzels. I assumed that despite my problem with eating them, hard pretzels could be stored in an airtight container and hidden out of sight. Perhaps they could be saved for my Super Bowl party for 2. And so I set out to bake them.
The recipe came together easily, the dough rose beautifully. No need for boiling so I continued to expect hard pretzels as the outcome. I made it in a stand mixer, I didn’t need to add extra flour for kneading, it doubled in an hour. The dough was easy to work with.
I made small pretzels. I used flaked salt as that was all I had on hand. And they were browned in 16 minutes. To my surprise, they continued to puff up and it was clear they were not going to be hard pretzels. The only problem was the need to eat 24 soft pretzels before they get stale.
They were yummy, easy to prepare, and stored well in the freezer. There is a part of me that was a little disappointed that they weren’t hard pretzels…Ah, the importance of headnotes to let you know what to expect from a recipe.
Just tried this recipe. Did a couple of tweaks: I gave them a 30second bath in a boiling water & baking soda solution before egg washing and baking. I baked them in my gas oven for 16 minutes then let it rest for five on the hot pan before cooling. I did half the dough regular salt and the other half cheesy with grated manchego & smoky paprika. They look good and taste good. However, the one hour rest time is too long, in my opinion. Shaping these into long ropes was a nightmare-they were so puffy and springy. I gave up on half the batch and just made rolls instead of the traditional pretzel shape. The taste was good but it was more like a bread roll in the light and fluffy texture than a chewy dense pretzel.
Thanks, Christina. I’m glad you’re enjoying them. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
I think dipping this pretzel in a bleu cheese mustard or any funky mustard for that matter would be a good addition as well.
Couldn’t agree more, Kelly!
I ended up with less time than I thought when making these, so shaped the dough into 24 little ‘pretzel bite’ balls, which I flattened slightly before glazing, sprinkling with salt and baking for 10 minutes. They were a big hit, and were especially lovely sliced open and filled with cheese. Next stop: cheese pretzel bites…