Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels are always made with yeast dough and are in fact very similar to bagels in both composition and construction.

Although there is such a thing as salt-less pretzels, called “baldies,” I would suggest that they’re really not pretzels at all, but rather cruel jokes perpetrated by bitter bakers.

If you don’t have pretzel salt, coarse sea salt will do.


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (melted)
  • Vegetable oil (for the bowl and pan)
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk (beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
  • Pretzel salt
  1. Combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, the sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
  2. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
  5. Bring the 10 cups water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a 12-inch straight-sided saute pan or a roasting pan (something wide and shallow is best).
  6. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place on a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  7. One by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
  8. Bake until dark golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

If you don’t have pretzel salt, coarse sea salt will do.


Add yours
  1. 1

    Can anybody recommend a good pretzel salt for the exterior? There are a lot of options and if I have to buy a pound or five of pretzel salt I want it to be good. Thanks everybody!

  2. 3

    I’ve been making these since I first watched the episode. I’ve never had better, and I grew up on NY street pretzels. I sometimes sprinkle caraway seeds with the salt. I sometimes replace the water with beer. I often do double batches. After they cool I store them in freezer bags In the freezer. Reheat at 425 for 10 minutes. They reheat beautifully.

  3. 5

    Followed the recipe exactly and I was rewarded with some of the best pretzels I’ve ever had! I’ve been a fan and follower of Alton Brown since the beginning of good eats and this is more proof of why. AMAZING PRETZELS!

  4. 6
    Vera Moore

    Update to pretzels. I left them loosely covered, but even after fully cooling them before storage, they lost that good exterior AND the Kosher salt was melted away by this morning! How do I prevent this next time?

  5. 7
    Vera Moore

    These came out to be perfection. I only made a few changes and made 12 instead of 8. I rested them long enough to get a skin after shaping and I used Richard’s suggestion to use the cold water/baked-baking soda soak. Rather then brush with egg, I lightly brushed with veg. oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt. I baked at 375F for 19-21 minutes. The result was a nice evenly rich brown perfect pretzel exterior and chewy soft interior expected of a soft pretzel! I’ll be baking these once a week! Thanks

  6. 8
    Marian Cacciatore

    I just made these last weekend exactly as the recipe stated and they were perfect! No issues with dough stickiness at all. They were a huge hit too. Hands down my favorite recipe for pretzels now.

  7. 9

    The batter was way too sticky. I’m wondering if it was too warm (sitting on the stove) while rising? I tried adding flour. After a cup and still too sticky, I had to throw it away. 🙁

  8. 11

    Has anyone found the 22oz of flour to not quite be enough? Mine looked like Elmer’s glue and required several more tablespoons of flour to get it to any reasonable consistency and before it began pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

    • 12

      Hi there-as it happens we just finished making eight batches of these for an Oktoberfest party. Usually the 22 oz is just right; however, we had two or three batches which were quite gooey. My teen made the batches and I asked her about the amount of butter, etc. and she thought she had it all correct. She might have been using bread flour instead of all purpose, I’m not sure. The other batches were perfect exactly as measured. So-not really an answer-but we’ve had it happen.

  9. 13

    We just recently revealed the most effective reverse osmosis water filters as ranked by countless consumers, nonetheless, please do not confuse an RO system with a kitchen tap water filter system, which is much smaller sized, cheaper yet is additionally much less effective.

  10. 14

    My son issued a challenge! Ice cream stuffed pretzel. Could have been worse….or better. Open to suggestions. Froze for a couple minutes before water / baking soda bath and again after baking. It tasted good, but was messy. Loved the peanut butter / marshmallow / chocolate chip stuffed pretzels. Just need to learn to make them smaller so I can taste several flavors!

  11. 15

    Love them. I have made them as nuggets and stuffed them. Ham & cheese, dark chocolate salted caramel, blueberry jam. Pepperoni & cheese would probably be good. Did a couple with Nutella inside. So many ideas!

  12. 16

    They bake very nicely.

    For those with sticking issues. Either don’t use parchment paper and spray the sheet trays very well. Or use a slip pad.

  13. 17
    Janet Carnahan

    Using this recipe I cut down the baking soda to 1/3 cup which made a BIG difference. Also made two ropes and cut them into bites. Baked everything on baking sheet. Everything came out delicious. Did not cut the time at all, baked all for about 14 minutes. Instead of parchment paper used a silpat on the baking sheet. They did not stick and came out beautifully.

  14. 18
    frank ott

    I want to include this on my busy Octoberfest menu so need to nake day before. Anyone have a good way to store and reheat wiyh drying them out. Thanls

    • 19

      Frank, we have made these ahead for years, by the dozen! We host an annual Oktoberfest for about 50 people and the pretzels are famous. Here’s the trick: after cooking in the boiling water, bake for six minutes. They should just be able to hold their shape, barely brown. Transfer to racks to cool, then put the racks into the freezer for a few hours. Once the pretzels are frozen, bag up airtight into ziplocks. The day of our party we just pop them, still frozen onto cookie sheets, brush with egg, dust the salt and finish the baking. You would never know they were frozen. They are delicious! We make about 8-10 dozen. Also, we get about 14-16 pretzels per batch of dough and make them a little smaller.

  15. 22
    Becky W

    These are delicious but mine ALL stuck to the (oiled) parchment paper!
    Nobody else seems to have had this problem. Help!

    • 23

      I had the same issue the first time I made them. The next time, I blotted the bottom of the slotted spatula on a dish towel after lifting each pretzel out of the baking soda/water bath (before transferring the pretzel to the oiled parchment), to remove any excess liquid. No sticking! Hope this helps.

  16. 24
    Becky W

    I just made these and they are fabulous but they ALL stuck to my ( oiled) parchment paper! The delicious bottom crust peeled off as I tried to get them un stuck. Nobody else seems to have had this problem. Any suggestions for next time?

    • 26

      If you’re on Firefox select Tools -> Options -> Fonts and Colors -> Colors, then do your worst. Me, I’mna not a fan of frames, especially since the two menu frames above take up half the freakin’ screen and make reading the rest a royal pita. Alton, if you’re out there, if you really *are* ‘Alton’, fire your geek and find someone who knows how to design a usable page for your readers who just want to gather at your feet, sampling your pearls of culinary wisdom. And pin the menu bars to the side of the screen so we can read the rest in peace.

  17. 29
    Gary Z.

    Take the pretzels out just as they are getting golden brown. I usually pull them out at 12 minutes and they taste great. But this time, I left the second tray in longer and though they looked like beautiful traditional store-pretzel deep brown, they were bitter. With enough mustard they can be salvageable. But maybe dialing down the baking soda could help, too, if you want to go for the darker color and longer bake time.
    I’m surprised that Mr. Brown hasn’t addressed this issue here.

  18. 30

    I used pretzels as a side dish to homemade beef and mushroom stew with a thick rich gravy. Dipped into the stew these pretzels were fantastic. So much better than biscuits.

  19. 31

    JudyDawn on February 7, 2015 at 10:32am
    Made this recipe, pretzels looked beautiful but 2/3 cup baking soda is too much. Tasted good out of the oven but when cool, there is a bitter taste and I had to throw the rest out.

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