These homemade fresh soft pretzels are buttery soft in texture, perfectly sweet and salty, and astonishingly simple to make: they require a quick kneading (by hand or in a mixer), a simple shaping, and no boiling. They are a massive hit with adults and children alike and truly irresistible straight out of the oven.
Adapted from my brother-in-law’s most wonderful girlfriend, Vicki Roberts.
- Yeast: If you are using active dry yeast, sprinkle it over the warm water with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let it stand for 15 minutes; then proceed with the recipe.
- Salt: I’ve been using fine sea salt in my bread recipes recently, but kosher salt is fine, too.
- Sugar: As noted in the post above, I tried several batches with lower amounts of sugar, and they just weren’t quite the same in texture, taste, and appearance.
For the dough:
- 5 cups (640 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) instant yeast, see notes above if using active-dry
- 1.5 teaspoons (9 grams) salt
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) sugar
- 1.5 cups (350 grams) warm water
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) neutral oil or olive oil
- 1/2 cup (115 g) baking soda
- 4 cups hot water
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and oil and stir with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms. Use your hands to knead the dough briefly in the bowl, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and continue kneading until the dough comes together and feels tacky to the touch, about a minute. Alternatively, you can do this all in your stand mixer, which will take roughly 3 minutes total. (The stand mixer is my preferred method.)
- Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with a towel or bowl cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. Longer is fine, too. Dough will not necessarily double in volume. This is fine.
- Heat oven to 425ºF.
- Turn dough out onto a work surface and portion into 12 pieces, using flour as needed if dough is sticky. Note: If you want identically sized pretzels, weigh your total dough, then divide by 12. (Each portion should roughly weigh 75 grams.) Also: Be careful about using too much flour here: it will make it difficult to roll out…just use a sprinkling to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Roll each portion into a 12-inch (roughly) log. You’ll roll each piece longer afterward, but the brief rest will allow the gluten to relax, making them easier to roll out longer later.
- Once all the portions have been rolled, continue to roll each portion to 22 to 24 inches long. Twist each piece into a pretzel shape. See video or photos for guidance. At this point, I like to transfer the shaped pretzels to a lightly oiled sheet pan.
- When all of the pretzels are shaped, dissolve the 1/2 cup of baking soda in 4 cups of hot water. You can use hot tap water here or boil 4 cups of water — I’ve been using my electric kettle. Stir to dissolve the baking soda.
- Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Working with one pretzel at a time, drop it into the water. Use a spider to remove it and transfer it to a parchment-lined sheet pan. (Note: I like to drop the pretzel in top-side down, then I use the spider to remove it and flip it onto the sheet pan top-side up. I find dipping it top-side down ensures the top of the pretzel gets sufficiently coated in the baking-soda solution, which promotes more even browning.) Repeat until all pretzels have been dipped.
- Sprinkle pretzels with salt. Transfer pan — I like to bake one pan at a time — to the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
- Remove pan from the oven and immediately brush the hot pretzels with the melted butter. Transfer pretzels to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining pan of pretzels.
- Let cool briefly. Serve warm. Pretzels reheat nicely — I love them halved, toasted, and spread with butter.
- Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Bread
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: easy, no-boil, sugar, oil, yeast