Don't get it twisted, homemade soft pretzels are much easier to make than they look. Even if you have zero skills in the kitchen, you can make homemade soft pretzels that will rival any mall or ballpark version.
To start, begin by swirling your yeast, sugar, and warm water (not hot or you can kill the yeast) into the bottom of your stand mixer until bubbling and foamy. Add in the rest of your ingredients, mix, rest, and that's it. Once your dough is fluffy and is at least double in size, turn it out on your work surface and separate it into 8 equal pieces. If you don't have a bench scraper, a long knife works well.
Once you master the dough, you can easily make pretzel bites, pretzel rolls, stuffed pretzels, or a topping for an awesome Oktoberfest Pot Pie. There’s no wrong way to shape a pretzel, but for this recipe, we're going with the traditional pretzel shape.
Take each of your 8 sections and roll them into a long rope, about 18" long and about 1-1 1/2" thick. Pick up each end of the rope and cross them over each other then press into the U-bend to form the shape of the pretzel. It may take you a few tries to get them really perfect, but once they're baked, any twist will look pretzel-like enough.
What gives the pretzel is characteristic color and soft, chewy interior? The secret is baking soda. Traditional Bavarian-style pretzels are dipped in a bath of lye, but you can get the same alkaline results from dipping them into a simmering bath of baking soda water.
The baking soda increases the alkalinity on the outside of the pretzel, speeding up the Maillard reaction and browning them quickly without overcooking the inside of the dough. Once your water and baking soda mixture comes to a boil, dip each pretzel in (one at a time is easier) for about 30 seconds, remove and place on your baking sheet.
Once you've made it through the rest of your pretzels, it's time for the egg wash. The egg wash is important in giving your pretzels their signature shininess and allowing the salt or seasoning to adhere to the dough before and after baking. We recommend adding a tablespoon of your favorite beer to your egg for an extra malty taste.
Brush egg wash over the tops of each pretzel, coating the entire surface, then sprinkle with your favorite seasoning or coarse salt. Place in a preheated oven at 450°F and watch the magic happen. Enjoy warm dipped in mustard or Beer Cheese Dip and a cold one.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Prep time: 90 minutes
Cook time: 14 minutes
|1 1/2 cups||Warm Water (110 - 115°F)|
|1 T||Light Brown Sugar|
|1 package||Active Dry Yeast|
|4 1/2 cups||Bread Flour (All-Purpose Flour works too)|
|2 tsp||Kosher Salt|
|2 T||Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled|
|1 tsp||Olive Oil|
|2 1/2 quarts||Water|
|2/3 cup||Baking Soda|
|1 T||Beer or Water|
|1-2 T||Ultimate Seasoning|
- Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast in a stand mixing bowl. Let stand 10 minutes, or until small bubbles form.
- Whisk flour and salt together, then add to yeast mixture. Pour butter and olive oil over flour. Using dough hook attachment, knead mixture on low speed for 5 minutes, until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl.
- Transfer dough to an oil-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm area to proof for 60-90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
- Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan. In a small bowl, whisk egg and beer until egg is beaten and mixture is well combined.
- Turn the dough out onto lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, 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 onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
- Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat, slotted spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg and beer mixture and sprinkle with seasoning.
- Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes, rotating halfway. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
*Note: If making pretzel bites, follow instructions above through turning out dough. Punch down dough and cut dough into 1-inch square pieces with a bench scraper or pastry cutter. Follow remaining instructions, but reduce baking time to 10 minutes.
*Note: Dough can also be prepared through step 3, then refrigerated overnight. The following day, continue with remaining instructions and increase baking time to 20 minutes.