Today’s easy Soft Pretzel Recipe is aptly named, because it occupies a soft spot in my heart. This is a shortcut version of the shopping mall favorite that’s fun (and 100% doable) at home.

The best soft pretzel recipe with salt

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Walking around the local shopping mall was *the* activity of my middle school days. No trip was complete without a stop at Auntie Anne’s.

The buttery scent of those soft pretzels still tantalizes me every time I pass by one at an airport or food court.

As I’ve grown older, knowing the dough is mass-produced and the “butter” is probably not butter at all makes me far less likely to purchase one.

It does not, however, stop my soft pretzel craving.

Easy soft pretzel recipe dipped in cheese

About Soft Pretzels

It is believed that soft pretzels originated from the Catholic Church.

Thanks to their simple ingredients list, soft pretzels were an approved food to eat during Lent. In addition to their beloved taste, pretzels were a symbol of love and luck.

Later, German immigrants settling in America brought pretzels with them.

However, a traditional German soft pretzel (or Bavarian pretzel) is different from the typical soft pretzel we may purchase from a mall or sporting event here in the United States.

The difference between a Bavarian pretzel and a soft pretzel (American-style) is the use of lye. Most American soft pretzel recipes dip the dough in a baking soda solution, while German pretzels use a lye solution.

From-scratch traditional soft pretzel recipes, like the ones highlighted in the box above, are a project.

  • The dough must be mixed, left to rise, shaped, then left to rise again.
  • Like bagels, pretzels are made in boiling water prior to baking to give them their snappy outsides and chewy insides (messy!).
  • Soft pretzels must be boiled, or dipped in a baking soda bath (or lye if you’re gusty and strict with your pretzel traditions).
  • THEN, they can be baked. At this point, I am hungry and tired.

I’ve done pretzels the old-fashioned way, and honestly…it’s a lot of work.

These EASY soft pretzels, however? You can be pulling them warm from the oven less than an hour from now!

A white plate with a pile of soft pretzels

The Easiest Soft Pretzel Recipe

Instead of boiling soft pretzels, you can create the same smooth, golden exterior by brushing the pretzel dough with an egg wash prior to baking.

  • Egg wash takes less than a minute to apply.
  • It saves you the mess of an extra large pot and hot baking soda water splashing all over your stove.

Egg wash also makes this soft pretzel recipe easy for kids to assist.

Soft pretzels with salt and dipping sauce

How to Make Homemade Soft Pretzels

This recipe is my go-to easy soft pretzel dough.

  • It only rises once for a fast 30 minutes, instead of twice.
  • You don’t need to boil the soft pretzel dough.
  • It uses whole wheat flour for a nutritional boost.

The kid in you will love the fun of rolling and shaping the dough; the adult in you will love their subtle whole wheat notes and ease of preparation.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: you’ll need to use yeast to make soft pretzels.

Don’t freak out! Yeast is an ingredient just like any other.

  • Take the temperature of your water, make sure your yeast isn’t expired, and you’ll be just fine.
  • I include a step to proof the yeast before adding it to the dough, so you’ll be sure it’s nice and active.

Tip!

Still scared of yeast? While I can’t recommend making soft pretzels without yeast, if you prefer no-yeast recipes, try this Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread or any of my quick bread recipes.

Once you have this basic pretzel dough down, you can add mix-ins or toppings.

Personally, I love creating a copycat Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel recipe inspired by my childhood favorite flavor, Glazin’ Raisin.

See more soft pretzel flavor ideas below.


The Ingredients

  • Yeast + Water. The combination of active dry yeast and warm cups water (temperature is very important here!) is critical for the pretzels’ fluffy, chewy texture.
  • Honey. A touch of sugar helps further activate the yeast. Plus, it adds a subtle sweetness to the dough.
  • Flour. I used a blend of white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. While the white whole wheat flour boosts the soft pretzel recipe’s nutrition content (hello, added vitamins and protein), it doesn’t negatively impact the light and fluffy texture.
  • Egg. Using an egg wash creates the perfect golden pretzel exterior and helps toppings stick to the pretzel.

The Directions

Yeast and water in a white bowl
  1. Stir the water, yeast, and honey together in medium bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Add the salt.
Dough being stirred in a bowl
  1. Slowly stir in the flours. Add any mix-ins in mixture.
Soft pretzel recipe dough in a white bowl
  1. Knead the dough, then transfer it to a bowl coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover with towel or plastic wrap.
rising Dough in a bowl
  1. Let rise for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into pieces.
Soft pretzel recipe dough being folded into shapes
  1. Roll the dough pieces into thin ropes on a lightly floured work surface, then twist each 16 inch rope into a shape of a pretzel.
A silicone baking mat with four baked pretzel treats
  1. Dip each pretzel into the egg before transferring to a baking sheet. Bake homemade soft pretzels at at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Four soft pretzels on a baking sheet
  1. Brush each pretzel with butter and finish with desired toppings. DIG IN!

Recipe Variations

Sweet Soft Pretzels

  • Drizzle with Icing. Make an easy vanilla icing by combining 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Drizzle it over the finished pretzels.
  • Add Chocolate Chips or Raisins. Knead 1/2 cup into the dough. Use raisins and drizzle with icing for a copycat Auntie Anne’s Glazin’ Raisin.
  • Cinnamon Sugar Stuffed Pretzels. After baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  • Spread with Nutella. Or try with peanut butter.

Savory Soft Pretzels

  • Cheesy Soft Pretzels. Sprinkle with Parmesan and garlic powder prior to baking.
  • German Soft Pretzels. Brush the finished pretzels with melted butter. Sprinkle with pretzel salt, (or coarse sea salt) on the top of each pretzel.
  • Everything Soft Pretzels. Sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning prior to baking. Spread with cream cheese.
  • Traditional Soft Pretzels. Sprinkle with pretzel salt prior to baking. Dip with cheese sauce (try this Vegan Queso) or mustard. A beer cheese dip would be awesome here, too or any kind of dipping sauces.
  • Soft Pretzel Bites. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites.
A soft pretzel being dipped into cheese

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Store pretzels in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or gently in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze pretzels in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw and enjoy as desired.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the recipe as directed through Step 5. Cover and refrigerate the dough until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

What to Serve with Soft Pretzels

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Stand Mixer

If you love to make things from scratch, this stand mixer is worth the investment. It has more than 15 optional attachments!

The best soft pretzel recipe with salt

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Only All-Purpose Flour?

If you don’t have any white whole wheat flour on hand, you can swap it for additional all-purpose flour.

What Can I Make with Leftover Soft Pretzels?

Try slicing them horizontally for a sandwich, toasting them for breakfast, cut them into pieces and toast them to make croutons, or make a French toast casserole like this Blueberry French Toast.

Can I Make Soft Pretzel Sticks Instead?

Yes, you can shape your soft pretzels however you please! Pretzel sticks are great for dipping. Form your pretzel dough into “x” and “o” shapes for a fun Valentine’s Day treat.

The best soft pretzel recipe with salt

Soft Pretzel Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Easy homemade soft pretzel recipe with no boiling required! Serve them as traditional pretzels or add your favorite sweet or savory toppings.

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 1 hr

Servings: 8 pretzels approx., depending on size

Ingredients
  

For the Soft Pretzels:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water 100-110 degrees F
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 ounce or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 to 2 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour divided
  • 1 large egg room temperature

For Topping (optional):

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • Pretzel salt
  • Cinnamon Sugar (I use 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon for each tablespoon sugar)
  • Finely grated Parmesan + Italian herbs
  • Everything bagel seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set aside two baking sheets covered in parchment paper or a silpat mat.
  • Make the Dough: In a large bowl (or the bowl of stand mixer), combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Stir and let sit for 1 minute. The yeast should be foamy. (If it is not, the yeast did not activate properly and this step must be repeated). Stir in the kosher salt.
  • With a wooden spoon (or the mixer’s paddle attachment), slowly stir in 2 cups of the white whole wheat flour and the all-purpose flour.
  • Continue to stir in the remaining 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky and bounces back when poked. (I used nearly 8 tablespoons, or the full 1/2 cups, but the amount you need may vary based on your flour brand, the moisture in the air, or what mood the flour is in that day). Stir in any desired mix-ins (they will continue to incorporate as you knead the dough).
  • With the dough hook, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Lightly coat a clean bowl with nonstick spray. Place the dough into the bowl, turn to coat the dough on all sides with the spray, then cover and let dough rise for 30 minutes.
  • Once dough has puffed, lightly flour a knife or bench scraper and cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Then, cut those 4 parts into 2 parts each.
  • Gently roll each piece of dough into a thin rope of even diameter on a lightly floured surface (the longer the rope, the larger your pretzel will be and it will have more of a classic pretzel "chew." Thicker ropes will yield fluffy, bread-like pretzels that are more soft and puffy. I rolled mine to be 16 inches.) To form the pretzel, lay the rope horizontally, then pick up each end and draw them upwards as if you were forming a circle, cross the ends, then draw them down to form a pretzel shape. Lightly press the dough ends of the rope to hold the shape.
  • In a shallow bowl or pie dish, beat the egg with 1 teaspoon of water to create an egg wash. Dip each entire pretzel into the egg wash and coat both sides. Place each pretzel on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, Watch closely to prevent burning. Let cool slightly.
  • Brush the warm pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle with desired toppings. Enjoy!

Notes

  • NOTES: If you’d like to make raisin pretzels, or add other mix-ins of choice, stir them into the dough after it is mixed but just before kneading; I’d recommend between 1/2 and 3/4 cup. 
  • TO STORE: Store pretzels in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze pretzels in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw and enjoy as desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pretzel (without toppings)Calories: 232kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 8gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 26mgPotassium: 80mgFiber: 5gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 95IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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22 Comments

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  1. Auntie Anne’s pretzels just taunt me like crazy! I already have to run through Target because of the tasty tasty popcorn smell and then as soon as I get into the actual mall, I’m acosted by the smell of those pretzels… The pictures of these pretzels look so much more tasty though!

    1. There is just no hiding from the scent of those pretzels, no matter where you are in the mall! Too funny about Target–it’s the truth. Thanks for your comment Kelly. I’m glad you like the look of these pretzels! Our batch didn’t last long.

  2. I love making pretzels, yeast bread, love raisins, love wheaty breads…pretty much everything here is awesome!

    1. Thanks so much Averie! I had way too much fun rolling and shaping the dough. Not quiet as much fun as I did EATING the pretzels, but it was an enjoyable process all around :-)

  3. Erin, thank you for a wonderful guest post!! Though, Liv is still bugging me to get baking. I think we have a project this weekend!

  4. Pretzels are sooo good and I know exactly which ones you’re talking about! They’re so irresistible! Yours looks so great homemade!! :)

    1. Thanks so much Julie. Soft pretzels are one of my all-time weaknesses, and I have zero intention of trying to overcome it!

  5. Such a cute blog! I have not made homemade pretzels before, it looks like it needs to be in my future!

    1. Thanks so much Lindsey! I’m so glad you found my site and decided to say hi. These pretzels are glorious, golden, and so easy! I think you’d love them.

  6. I’m sure yours are better than the mall version, being homemade with real ingredients. Yum.

    p.s. Your blog title caught my attention…I’m a law student myself…reading when I’m not eating you might say :)

    1. Hi Joyti! Yes, so you must understand a little of what life is like around here. So happy you said hi!
      And I can’t lie to you: I’m happily addicted to these whole wheat pretzels, and knowing what’s in them provides a little peace of mind while I’m wolfing them down :)

  7. Oh yum!
    Raisin pretzels are the BEST!!! I love them with that gooey icing although it is not to healthy of a topping : )5 stars

    1. ME TOO! Auntie Anne’s Glazin Raisin inspired this recipe. I loved it so much without the icing though, I ended up leaving it off. Sounds like a good reason to make them a second time :-)

  8. Hi Erin! I’m loving your recipes, and now that I’m spending lots of quality time feeding baby Charlie I’m finding myself wandering back here even more frequently for ideas! So, question. When do you add vital gluten to a recipe and when do you not need to?? I usually try to sub whole wheat flour into my recipes and have found that sometimes it works fine, other times eh… Not so well. Tips?! Take care!

    1. Megan, hello!! So happy you asked this question (and a big hello/hug to you, Charlie, and Nick).

      Vital gluten is a fabulous tool when you are looking to bake yeast breads with whole wheat flour. While hearty and delicious, whole wheat flour is much heavier than its white counter-parts. Vital gluten adds additonal protein, which in bread science translates to a much fluffier, lighter, and more tender final product. As a rule of thumb, when swapping out whole wheat flour for white, add 1 tablespoon of vital gluten for every 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Vital gluten is quite affordable and can be found at many grocery stores (and definitely at Whole Foods). I like Bob’s Red Mill brand. Also, allowing the bread to rise longer (an extra half hour to hour) when it is made with whole wheat flour definitely helps many recipes. Overnight in the fridge is even better and will give your bread a more intense flavor.

      Vital gluten will not, however, help you as much with quick breads or muffins. In this case, instead of adding vital gluten, try using a lighter version of whole wheat flour, like whole wheat white flour or whole wheat pastry flour (both available at most grocery stores). Using these two types, I’m able to create good quick breads that are 100% whole wheat. If you don’t feel like keeping that many varieties of flour in your pantry, you can also go half and half standard whole wheat flour/white flour.

      Whew! Hope that is helpful. I feel like I just wrote a small novel :-) Also, stay tuned for my post this coming Monday–I’ll be writing all about whole wheat bread. Yay carbs!

  9. So delicious and soft! Great for scratching an itch that only mall pretzels used to be able to. I’ll definitely be making these again for a party and school lunches.5 stars