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Appetizers, Breads

Homemade Pretzels

by Nick

A few weeks ago I went up to NYC for a friend’s birthday party (Hi Liz!). Being in New York reminded me of one of my favorite street foods. Whether it’s in New York or in Philly or anywhere else really, I’m almost always up for a good soft pretzel with a bit of spicy mustard.

After I got back I just had to give homemade pretzels a shot. Turns out these were a huge success.

There’s really only two secrets to making a really good soft pretzel and we will get to both of them. One of them is kind of optional even. But let’s get down to business.

Yield
8 Pretzels
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Homemade Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups warm water, 110 degrees or should be pretty warm to the touch.
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 Teaspoons active dry yeast (1 envelope)
  • 22 ounces All-purpose flour, about 4.5 Cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil
  • 15 Cups water
  • 1 Cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • Pretzel salt

Directions

1) Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast into a bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes.

2) Mix in the melted butter and flour. If you have a mixer, just put on the dough hook and let it work until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should form a soft ball after about 4 or 5 minutes.

3) Without a mixer, to simulate a dough hook, dip your hand in a cup of water every few minutes and use it to mix the dough vigorously. After a few minutes it comes together in a nice ball. This dough does not need to pass the windowpane test.

4) After 5 minutes or so of kneading, transfer the dough to a bowl that has been coated with vegetable oil and turn it a few times to coat the dough ball with oil. Cover it and let it sit at room temperature for 60 minutes to rise.

5) Take the dough and divide it evenly (a dough cutter is helpful here) into 8 pieces. Each piece should weigh about 4 ounces.

6) Roll the dough out into about a 2 foot strip, starting from the center and rolling out gently. If it isn’t stretching you can hold the dough by both ends and gently whip it up and down. It will loosen up the gluten a bit. Then take the left end and wrap it to the center and then overlay the right side. Then kind of adjust it so it's pretzel-like.

7) Bring the water and baking soda to a rolling boil and gently lay in a pretzel, one or two at a time. You’ll need a pretty good sized pot. The pretzel will float and after about 30 seconds, flip it over in the water with a spatula to get the other side. Then after another 30 gently lift it out and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet, ready to go for the oven.

8) Once the pretzels come out of the boil, brush them with some egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water) and then sprinkle them generously with the pretzel salt.

9) Bake at 450 degrees for about 14 minutes.

10) Immediately move them to a cooling rack.

11) After they cool you can pile them high on a plate. Or eat them right away! I like mine with just a bit of mustard.

Recipe from Alton Brown.

Making the dough

This dough is pretty easy to pull together. Combine your water, sugar, salt and yeast into a bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes. It should start to foam as the yeast comes alive.

Froth and foam is good.

Froth and foam is good.

Then mix in your melted butter and flour. If you have a mixer, just put on the dough hook and let it work until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should form a soft ball after about 4 or 5 minutes.

I, however, do not have a mixer, so I just mixed it by hand. To simulate a dough hook, I dip my hand in a cup of water every few minutes and use it to mix the dough vigorously. After a few minutes it comes together in a nice ball. This dough does not need to pass the windowpane test.

After 5 minutes or so of kneading, transfer the dough to a bowl that has been coated with vegetable oil and turn it a few times to coat the dough ball with oil. Cover it and let it sit at room temperature for 60 minutes to rise.

Should come out looking about like this.

After just an hour rise.

After just an hour rise.

Shaping the Pretzels

Making these guys is not as hard as you might thing. Take your dough and divide it evenly (a dough cutter is helpful here) into 8 pieces. If you are anal like me you can weigh your dough before hand and then you’ll know that each piece should weigh about 4 ounces. Or you can just eyeball it.

In my opinion, there’s no need to do any fancy schmancy pretzel shaping. I like to do a very basic shape. Roll your dough out into about a 2 foot strip, starting from the center and rolling out gently. If it isn’t stretching you can hold the dough by both ends and gently whip it up and down. It will loosen up the gluten a bit.

Then take the left end and wrap it to the center and then overlay the right side. Then kind of adjust it so the pretzel looks like, well, a pretzel.

Make sense?

Make sense?

Boiling the pretzels

This is tip number one in making an awesome soft pretzel. Just like it is important to boil bagels, boiling the pretzels will give them a good texture and also let them get really browned in the oven.

Bring your water and baking soda to a rolling boil and gently lay in a pretzel, one or two at a time. You’ll need a pretty good sized pot. The pretzel will float and after about 30 seconds, flip it over in the water with a spatula to get the other side. Then after another 30 gently lift it out and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet, ready to go for the oven.

WARNING:  When you add the baking soda to the boiling water, do so slowly.  If you pour it all at once, it’ll explode.  Think volcano science experiment….

Just like a bagel.

Just like a bagel.

Your pretzels shouldn’t fall apart in the water, but if they do, just kind of reform the pretzel when it comes out of the water. Out of my 8, I had one pretzel that kind of fell apart, but it was pretty easy to reform it once I got it out of the water.

Pretzel salt

Tip two in making a good at-home pretzel is using the right salt. If you really want the pretzel like they have on the streets, you’ll need to buy some pretzel salt. It’s in larger granules than Kosher salt, but because it is just compacted salt, it dissolves really easily, filling your mouth with that familiar salty taste.

See the difference?

See the difference?

I think you could use Kosher salt or sea salt, but if you have the time it would be worth looking for some. I wasn’t able to find any in the grocery store, but it isn’t too expensive to order some online.

Once your pretzels come out of the boil, brush them with some egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water) and then sprinkle them generously with the salt.

In my opinion, good salt makes a good pretzel.

In my opinion, good salt makes a good pretzel.

These guys need to bake at 450 degrees for about 14 minutes. They should be golden brown when they come out. Immediately move them to a cooling rack.

All lined up.

All lined up.

After they cool you can pile them high on a plate.

Good lookin' plate.

Good lookin’ plate.

Or eat them right away! I like mine with just a bit of mustard. If you wanted to go all out, you could even make some homemade mustard for these guys.

All it needs is a little mustard.

All it needs is a little mustard.

These turned out pretty perfect honestly. They were a bit crunchy but soft and bready on the inside. The salt was great and they were as fresh as you can get.

I can’t imagine a reason why you shouldn’t make these. They would make you some serious friends at a party.

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33 comments on “Homemade Pretzels

  1. They look amazing! I've made them before, but never boiled them. Now you've inspired me to give them another go, with the boiling step. I can almost taste them!

  2. They look amazing…..now I'm hungry for one (or 2 or 3). I'm going to make them on Sunday when I have out of town guests arriving. Will make a nice evening snack. Maybe our Bulk Barn will have pretzel salt….they seem to have everything else you can imagine. Thanks for the recipe. :)

  3. I seen AB's episode on the soft pretzel, thanks for posting the recipe, I am going to have to make these this weekend. This will give me some time to find some good spicy, and grainy german mustard. Yumm !

    Piece, and Poptarts (:> [::]

  4. @Anne. I didn't try to freeze but if I were going to I would try to freeze them right before the baking step. So still boil then, sprinkle salt, etc.

    Then put them in the freezer on a baking sheet until they are frozen and then wrap them up and store them in the freezer until you need them.

    I think you could also freeze them after you baked them, but I always prefer to freeze before baking so you can have the fresh baked taste ;)

  5. They look really awesome. Sara has made some of the Bavarian variety in the past to great success.

    I don't think we've ever come in contact with a scenario where there were enough left to be frozen. I think it's pretty much a: "If you plan on making X pretzel, plan on eating X pretzel in the 48 hours following taking them out of the oven (and probably 50% in the first 20 minutes).

  6. I'm totally going to make these. I've been looking for a recipe and found yours on Tastespotting. Thanks for the tutorial!

  7. You make this sound so easy! I've had nothing but bad and worse luck with anything yeast-related, but you make me want to try again. The pretzels looks wonderful. Great job!

    ~Michelle

  8. Ran into your website a few days ago and love the recipes you post. A few nights ago I followed the brickle recipe and last night I made these pretzels, both ROCK! Also, I'm rising dough for the no-knead bread right now and am pretty excited, because if it turns out half as good as the other two, I'll be a happy camper. Anywho. Just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy macheesmo (recipes/descriptions/comments/pictures) and will be back regularly to check for new entries. Keep up the great work!

  9. I made these a long, long, time ago…when I was a teen. I've got to make them again because I ADORE pretzels….with mustard…YUM! Your tutorial is THE BOMB. Awesome!

  10. Thanks for the recipe. I lost my recipe from years ago for boiling pretzels. Never thot to google it before. No one else ever heard of boiling them. I have just been making "bread sticks", but thot that boiling made them taste better.

    Thanks again.

  11. I just pulled mine out of the oven. They look and smell amazing. Thanks for the recipe. I am going to melt some wonderful sharp cheddar and find a cold beverage and begin my feast.

  12. These were great. I'm not really a cook but how the yeast was prepared sure worked good. I only cook or bake because my granddaughter enjoys doing these things and this was a winner. They weren't pretty, I had to make them smaller, and I used kosher salt. Both my grandkids say next time I have to put hot dogs inside.

  13. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I just made a batch of these pretzels — I ended up making them a bit smaller so there would be more to go around — 16 pretzels total. This time I made them with salt, next time it will be cinnamon/sugar. Yum!
    My recent post

  14. Woah, I'm link-surfing around through your archives, and I can't believe I've never seen this homemade pretzel post before. Holy smokes, I'm dying to eat one of these right now!

  15. We made these this weekend while (literally) waiting for paint to dry. We lacked skillz in making large pretzels so we made mostly small braided ones. They were VERY good. Just shared the recipe on twitter. Thank you!
    My recent post Frame Worthy

  16. After discussing with Betsy this weekend, I'm making these for our October supper club (appropriately themed as "Octoberfest"). I can't wait to try it!

  17. Just found these in a “related post” link… I make this same recipe after I saw Alton do it… Another trick I do is roll out my links and then wrap them each around a hot dog. They turn out super good!

    1. Heya… a bit confusing but it’s actually 15. That’s for boiling the pretzels. There is water above in the recipe for actually making the pretzels.

      The reason it is so specific is because you need the right ratio of water to baking soda (15:1).

      Hope that helps!

  18. I did everything step by step. I was a little concerned because I only have all purpose self rising flour and the directions didn’t specify. Everything seemed to turn out alright until, that is, they all fell apart in the water. I don’t know if it’s because the flour or if I did something wrong. I also couldn’t seem to get the dough into a ball before that; they just stayed in a lump of sticky dough. Finally I got the broken pretzels into the oven and smoked up the house before realizing the parchment paper still had baking soda water on it (which is why the smoke). Lastly, check the recommendations on the box of parchment paper, mine (Reynold’s Genuine) is only approved for temps up to 420*F.I’m not sure why they were sticky or why they kept falling apart in the water. *sigh* I thought I could do this but I suppose I need to work at it a bit more. Any advice on how to correct my mishaps?

    1. Heya Christine, sorry… self rising flour definitely won’t work for this recipe. If you use just all-purpose flour you’ll have better results. I’ll adjust the recipe to specify that.

      I think it was probably downhill from there for ya.. try it with just normal flour. I make these pretty regularly and they always turn out well. Good luck and write back if you give it another shot!

  19. So, I found your pretzel recipe and decided to go for it. Everything went well during the process except when I rolled out the pretzels, they would keep shrinking smaller. I finally just kept moving along with the recipe knowing they would be big/fat pretzels instead of skinny. They taste amazing! But how do I get them to not shrink up? I would like to try them again but I want them to turn out like yours. Any ideas or solutions would be appreciated.

  20. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. cheers

    1. Hi Dakota, It’s a wordpress based site and Lindsay from Purr Designs helped me with the design plus some customizations of my own. Good luck!

  21. Hello I’m in the middle of making these. I used to make these in high school. I lost that recipe. So I have found your site. Very easy to follow directions. My only concern is the dough. I have done everything exact. I oiled the bowl and stuck my ball of dough in there but now it looks flat. I did drain the excess oil out. Not sure how it happened but im sure its not suppose to look like that. Will see how they turn out after I get to the baking stage. Good thing I was talk tricks on how to fix things if and when needed.

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