Chewy Soft Pretzels Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 1 hour + rising Bake: 15 min.
This beloved snack is a staple at German beer halls and breweries, but why make the trip when it's this easy to make soft pretzels at home?

Updated: Feb. 22, 2024

Whether we’re enjoying a pilsner at our favorite beer garden, taking in a baseball game at the stadium, or catching a flick at the theater, there’s one treat we all adore: soft pretzels.

Chewy, salty and often paired with a tempting dip (hello, nacho cheese dip), these pretzels always hit the spot. They’re a treat which not many of us bake at home, but it’s actually not challenging to learn to make them from scratch. In fact, we bet you’ve got all the ingredients and gear already on hand for our soft pretzel recipe. All you have to do is practice that perfect pretzel twist!

How to Make Soft Pretzels

When learning how to make soft pretzels, you want a tried-and-true template. Our soft pretzel recipe covers all the basics. It also allows for some customizing when it comes to your toppings. First, you make a yeasted dough and knead it until it’s supple. Then divide it into balls, and roll it into ropes. The fun part is the shaping, which isn’t as difficult as it looks (make sure to watch our helpful video to see how it’s done).

Once the pretzels are shaped, they take a dip in an alkaline bath (aka baking soda in water), which gives the pretzels their chewiness and dark-brown color. Then you swipe an egg wash on top, sprinkle on your favorite pretzel toppings, and bake until they’re soft, pillowy and chewy. It’s worth every bit of effort.

Soft Pretzel on Wire RackTMB STUDIO

Ingredients for Soft Pretzels

  • Yeast: Soft pretzels are made with a yeasted dough, so you’ll need active dry yeast for this recipe.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour is the go-to for soft pretzels, but you can also use bread flour if that’s what you’ve got.
  • Baking soda: Traditionally, pretzels get dunked in an alkaline bath made with lye, but baking soda is a great alternative. It gives the pretzels that caramelized color and helps with the texture.
  • Egg: An egg wash gives a nice shine to the soft pretzels when they come out of the oven. It also helps the toppings adhere to the pretzels.
  • Toppings: Kosher salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, grated Parmesan cheese and cinnamon-sugar are all excellent optional pretzel toppings. Or come up with your own spice combo!


Step 1: Proof the yeast

Soft Pretzel Proofing the YeastTMB STUDIO

Like with any yeasted bread, the first step is proofing the yeast. To activate the yeast, mix a packet with warm water (100ºF should do it) and a tablespoon of sugar. The small amount of sugar in this recipe isn’t to add sweetness—it’s to feed the yeast. You could use honey or agave syrup if you prefer.

Give the mix a quick stir, and let it sit for five minutes as you prep other ingredients. The yeast is ready to use when it’s foamy. If you don’t see any change in your mixture, the yeast may have expired or the water may have been too hot. If that happens, start again.

Step 2: Make the pretzel dough

Whisking the Flour for PretzelTMB STUDIO

Next, combine the yeast mixture, salt and 2 cups flour. Mix with your dough whisk or stand mixer. Gradually add in more flour until you’ve got a stiff dough.

Editor’s Tip: This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but you can use bread flour instead. The extra gluten in bread flour can help the pretzels hold their shape a bit better.

Step 3: Knead the dough

Kneading the DoughTMB STUDIO

Next, lightly flour your work surface. Just a sprinkling will do here; adding too much flour will make your dough dry and difficult to work with. While the dough may seem a little messy to start, it will become less sticky as you continue to knead. Kneading helps to hydrate the flour fully (meaning it will absorb some of the water) and helps to develop gluten, which gives soft pretzels their texture.

Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and can be stretched without tearing between your fingers. To tell if you’re kneading dough the right way, try the windowpane test.

Editor’s Tip: If you have a stand mixer, feel free to let the machine do the work. You can knead dough in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. The machine is pretty darn powerful, so you only need to let the mixer run for about two minutes to achieve the right consistency. You’ll know the dough is kneaded enough when it starts to pull away from the bowl and creep up the dough hook.

Step 4: Proof

Dough Resting in the BowlTMB STUDIO

After kneading the dough, it’s time to let it rise. Put the dough in a greased large bowl, turning dough once to grease the top. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, and let it rise in a warm spot in your kitchen until it doubles in size. This will take about an hour.

Editor’s Tip: If the temps in your home are too cool (yeasted dough proofs best in warm weather, above 75º), you can invest in one of these nifty dough rising mats, or you can convert your oven into a proofing chamber.

Step 5: Divide the dough

Making Balls our of DoughTMB STUDIO

Once the pretzel dough has doubled in size, punch it down, and place it on a clean work surface. From there, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Preheat oven to 425°.

Editor’s Tip: You can do this all by eye—divide the dough into quarters, then each quarter into thirds. You can also use a kitchen scale. Just weigh the dough, and divide the weight by 12. Once portioned, roll each section into a ball.

If you want to make oversized pretzels to share for a party, divide the dough into four.

Step 6: Roll into ropes, and shape

Rolling the Dough into Pretzel ShapesTMB STUDIO

Now for the twisted part of this process! Start by rolling each ball into a 22-inch rope (or 40 inches if you’re making oversized pretzels). That’s where your kitchen ruler comes in handy.

To make the pretzel shape, take each end of the rope, and make a U shape. Cross one end over the other, twist, and bring the twisted ends to the bottom of the U. Press the ends lightly into the dough to secure them in place. If they won’t stick, use a dab of water.

Editor’s Tip: If you can’t picture those movements, watch our video (above) to see the technique in action! Your first pretzel might not be the prettiest, but you’ll get the hang of it after one or two.

Step 7: Boil in a baking soda bath

Boiling Pretzel Dough in baking Soda Bath

To create the bath, bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Using a wire spider strainer, carefully place each pretzel into the bubbling water, and let it cook for 30 seconds. Lift the pretzel out, and let it drain on paper towels that have been lightly spritzed with cooking spray.

Editor’s Tip: Traditionally, food-safe lye was used for this step, but it’s much simpler to swap out the lye for baking soda (you can still use lye if you want to go the strictly authentic route). This step gives the pretzels their classic mahogany color and that delightful chewy texture. Don’t skip this step!

Step 8: Top and bake

Brushing the pretzels with egg whites and sprinkling salt on itTMB STUDIO

After all the pretzels are boiled, move them to a baking sheet that’s been greased with cooking spray or lined with a silicone mat. Don’t use parchment; the pretzels will stick to it. Brush each pretzel with egg wash, then top as desired (pretzel salt or coarse salt is classic).

Bake the pretzels until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes (or 16 to 20 minutes if you’re making oversized pretzels). Transfer pretzels to wire racks, and serve warm.

How to Eat Soft Pretzels

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To serve soft pretzels, be sure to have plenty of pretzel dip recipes at the ready. These are some of our favorites:

  • Obatzda: This traditional German cheese dip is made with cream cheese, Camembert, onion and a hint of caraway. It’s a must with homemade pretzels and German beers.
  • Mustard dip: Pretzels and mustard go together like peanut butter and jelly. This dip gets a bit of a kick thanks to spicy horseradish.
  • Bacon dip: Level up your basic mustard dip with this super-simple version made with bacon crumbles.
  • Orange marmalade: It may sound odd, but marmalade and pretzels are a great sweet-salty pairing.

You can also try different toppings on your pretzels:

  • Everything bagel seasoning: In addition to pretzel salt, shake on a bit of everything bagel seasoning before the pretzels go into the oven. The blend of garlic, sesame seeds and onion is perfect for pretzels.
  • Garlic and chives: While the pretzels are still warm, brush them with melted butter, then shake on a bit of garlic powder and chopped fresh chives from your herb garden. This is a combo that always satisfies.
  • Cinnamon-sugar: Skip the salt going into the oven. When your pretzels are warm, brush them with melted butter, and sprinkle with plenty of cinnamon and sugar.

How to Store Soft Pretzels

As soon as the soft pretzels come out of the oven, they are ready to enjoy. In fact, the sooner you eat these pretzels, the better. They are one of those bakes, like doughnuts and bagels, which taste best on the first day. Though, if you seal them up in an airtight container, they’ll last for two to three days. If they’re getting too stale, pop them in a 350° oven for a few minutes, or try this stale bread trick to revive the pretzels the next day.

How to Freeze Soft Pretzels

Freeze soft pretzels in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two months. The pretzel salt might melt, but that’s OK; they’ll still taste amazing. To reheat, let the pretzel sit out for 30 minutes to one hour, then microwave on high for a minute or two. For a crispier pretzel, pop in the toaster oven or a 350° oven for a few minutes.

Soft Pretzels Tips

Why do you boil soft pretzels before baking?

You need to boil soft pretzels before baking so they get the deep-mahogany color you’re familiar with, plus the chewy texture. Dissolve baking soda in the water first before giving the twisted dough a quick dip. That alkaline bath is what makes a pretzel taste like a pretzel.

What other pretzel shapes can you make?

To try out different pretzel shapes, use your bench scraper to cut the rope into small pieces for pretzel nuggets or slightly longer lengths for pretzel rods.

Watch how to Make Chewy Soft Pretzels

Chewy Soft Pretzels

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 1 dozen.


  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 to 4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Optional toppings: Kosher salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour; beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  2. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch down dough; divide and shape into 12 balls. Roll each into a 22-in. rope; shape into a pretzel.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°. Place water and baking soda in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Place pretzels, 1 at a time, in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove; drain on paper towels that have been lightly coated with cooking spray.
  5. Place pretzels on greased baking sheets. Brush with egg; top as desired. Bake until golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks; serve warm.

Nutrition Facts

1 pretzel: 164 calories, 1g fat (0 saturated fat), 16mg cholesterol, 400mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.

These homemade pretzels never last long around our house. My kids love to make them…and eat them! I serve them to company with a variety of dips, such as pizza sauce, ranch dressing, spinach dip or hot mustard. —Elvira Martens, Aldergrove, British Columbia