This homemade soft pretzel recipe is easy to make in about 1 hour with ingredients you likely already have on hand, and they taste insanely good! See notes above for possible variations you can make too.
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115°F) milk*
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt*, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 (0.25-ounce) package active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for brushing
- 9 cups water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg (whisked with 1 tablespoon water)
- Mix the dough. Whisk together the warm milk, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Sprinkle the yeast on top, and wait 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.
- Knead the dough. Add the flour and melted butter. Then either (a) use a spoon to mix everything in until combined, and then use your hands to knead the dough for about 4 minutes until it is smooth, adding a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky or (b) if using a stand mixer, place the dough hook on the mixer and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until the dough is smooth, adding a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky.
- Let the dough rise. Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
- Heat oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, then set aside.
- Prepare the boiling water solution. Combine the water and baking soda in a stockpot or very large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Form the pretzels. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a lightly-oiled work surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into an even 20-inch* rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, then cross the ends over each other and press then onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
- Boil the pretzels. Very carefully, use a spatula to transfer the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for about 30 seconds each. Use the spatula to transfer the pretzel to the parchment-lined pan, and repeat with the remaining pretzels.
- Add egg wash and salt. Finally, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt.
- Bake. Bake until the pretzels reach your desired level of golden brown color, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- (Optional: Brush with extra butter.) If you would like your pretzels to taste extra buttery, brush them with extra melted butter just before serving.
- Serve warm. These pretzels taste best the day they have been baked, and even better hot out of the oven. So serve warm and enjoy!
Milk: I used 2% cow’s milk for this recipe, but any kind of dairy milk, unsweetened almond milk or oat milk would also work. Or you are also welcome to just make this recipe with water instead of milk.
Salt: I just used basic coarse sea salt in this recipe. But feel free to sprinkle the pretzels with actual pretzel salt, if you prefer.
Rope Length: Feel free to roll out your pretzel dough as short or long as you would like, depending on how large/skinny, or small/thick you would like your pretzels to be.
Make-Ahead Instructions: If you would like to prep the dough the day beforehand, you can follow the recipe through step 3. Then transfer the bowl with the dough (still covered) to the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and continue on with the recipe (forming the dough into pretzels, etc.) the following day.