Easy Soft Pretzel Recipe

Homemade soft pretzels on a wooden cutting board with warm nacho cheese

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Hot, chewy soft pretzels are a delicious accompaniment to anything from a walk down a city street to great seats at a ballgame. They are also an easy snack to make at home, especially with kids. Traditional pretzels get their deep brown color and delicately crisp outer crust from being bathed in a mixture of water and lye, which is caustic and not safe for use by young children. Substitute a baking soda bath for the lye, and you'll end up with soft, golden pretzels safe for even little hands to create.

A Simple Snack That Kids of All Ages Can Help Make

Total Time: 2 hours | Prep Time: 45 minutes | Serves: 8 to 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus some for salting pretzels
  • 1 .25-ounce packet dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of water

Directions:

  1. Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and kosher salt. Sprinkle the entire contents of the yeast packet on top of the water. Let the yeast mixture stand for at least 5 minutes. The mixture is ready to use when it gets foamy.
  2. Stir the melted butter into the yeast mixture, making sure that it is completely blended in. 
  3. Fold in 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Stir it with a wooden spoon or mix with clean hands until the dough comes together.
  4. Use as much as you need of the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to dust your work surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead it gently for about 5 minutes or until it easily forms a smooth, flexible ball.
  5. Oil a deep bowl with vegetable or canola oil. Form the dough into a ball and put it in the oiled bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, and let it rise for about 1 hour or until the dough grows to twice its original size.
  6. Heat the oven to 475F. Coat two cookie sheets with a light film of vegetable or canola oil.
  7. Turn the risen dough out onto your floured surface and roll it into a thick log.  Use a sharp knife to slice the log into 8 to 12 equal slices.
  8. Roll each slice into a rope about the thickness of your thumb and 18 to 20 inches long. 
  9. Form each rope of dough into a pretzel shape by lifting the ends and crossing them. Twist them together at their middles and gently stick the ends to the bottom edge of the pretzel shape.
  10. Fill a pot or deep skillet with water. Stir in the baking soda and bring it just to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pretzel shapes two or three at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Simmer them for 60 seconds per side (because they float). Scoop them out with a skimmer or slotted spoon and place them on the oiled cookie sheets. Brush the tops of the pretzels with the egg wash, and sprinkle them generously with kosher salt.
  11. Bake the pretzels for 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Turn the baking sheets halfway through baking for a more uniform color.