Cravings for the chewy exterior and fluffy, tender interior of a soft pretzel can strike at any time. Luckily, buttery soft pretzels are simple to make and only require a handful of ingredients and little bit of know-how. Using a KitchenAid® stand mixer can help accelerate the process and give your pretzel dough a thorough, even knead to help you end up with the right color, texture and taste for every batch. Read on to learn more about how to make soft pretzels and discover unique dip ideas.
WHAT MAKES A PRETZEL DOUGH DIFFERENT?
Pretzels share a lot of similarities with other types of homemade breads and bagels, often including the type of flour used, but their ultimate taste and texture is unique. Unlike bagels—which also have a crusty exterior— pretzels’ distinct texture and flavor is a result of the preparatory baking soda bath required before baking. A 30-second dunk in this alkaline solution gelatinizes and helps cook the exterior of the pretzel dough prior to baking, preventing it from rising during the baking process. Baking soda in the boiling water helps pretzels achieve their golden-brown and chewy exterior while preserving the soft and fluffy interior.
EASY PRETZEL RECIPE
Basic soft pretzels provide the perfect canvas for creating unique flavor and topping combinations. Read the stand mixer pretzel recipe below to discover 12 steps for making a quintessential homemade soft pretzel, and learn tips that can help you achieve the color, texture and flavor combinations you want. Use a KitchenAid® stand mixer to mix and knead in the same bowl and cut down on manual kneading time when you use the included KitchenAid® Dough Hook Accessory.
Active dry yeast
Coarse kosher salt (optional, for basic salted pretzels)
Preheat your oven to 450°F, then line two large sheet pans with parchment paper and set them aside. Be sure to bake no more than four to a tray if you don’t want your pretzels to touch while baking. Otherwise, you can pull them apart at the seams for a more rustic look.
STEP 2: BLOOM YEAST
Combine brown sugar, water and yeast, then gently whisk to incorporate the ingredients. Allow the yeast to bloom for three to four minutes. For the best results, use lukewarm water in the mixture and make sure the yeast is foamy and silky before adding it to the remaining ingredients.
STEP 3: COMBINE AND KNEAD INGREDIENTS
Add flour and salt to your KitchenAid® stand mixer bowl, then secure the Dough Hook Accessory included with your mixer and set the stand mixer speed to four. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl as it mixes and allow the dough to knead for four to five minutes, until it appears smooth and smacks against the sides of the bowl.
Spray the inside of a large glass bowl with cooking oil. Remove pretzel dough from the mixer bowl and sculpt it into a smooth ball. Place the dough into the glass bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap, allowing it to rise for the next 30 minutes.
STEP 5: ROLL DOUGH
Lightly spray your countertop with cooking oil—allowing for some tackiness between the dough and countertop—then divide pretzel dough into eight even pieces. Roll one piece at a time into a rope that’s about 22–24 inches in length. If your dough continually bounces back, roll each rope out partially first to allow the dough time to rest, then circle back around to roll each rope out completely.
STEP 6: SHAPE DOUGH
Next, mold each piece of dough into a pretzel shape. Place one rope in front of you, holding an end in each hand, then pull both ends upward into a “U” shape. Twist the ends around each other twice. Then, rotate the twisted portion of the dough onto the bottom of the “U” shape and press the ends into the dough to form a pretzel shape.
STEP 7: SOAK PRETZELS
A baking soda bath is essential to achieving the rich mahogany color and chewy crust that defines a soft pretzel. To prepare the baking soda bath, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then add baking soda and whisk the mixture vigorously.
Place 2–3 pretzels in the water at once and allow each to soak for 30 seconds, then use a large skimmer to retrieve the pretzels, allow excess water to drip off and place pretzels onto the prepared baking sheet(s).
STEP 8: APPLY EGG WASH
Use a pastry brush to lightly coat pretzel dough with an egg wash. For the best results, dilute eggs with a liquid additive like milk, water or cream. Egg washes with a higher fat content will likely achieve a darker color with less shine, while those with a lower fat content will be shinier and lighter in color.
STEP 9: TOP PRETZELS
If you plan to bake traditional soft pretzels with a coarse salt topping—or an everything pretzel with toppings like dried minced garlic, dried minced onion, sesame seeds and poppy seeds—sprinkle these toppings on prior to baking pretzels in the oven. Sweet variations with cinnamon or sugar should be topped after baking.
STEP 10: BAKE
With the egg wash and toppings applied, place pretzels into the oven and bake for 10–12 minutes. Pretzels should most likely be deep brown and glossy when they’ve finished baking, but this can vary depending on the composition of your egg wash.
STEP 11: BUTTER AND TOP
Immediately remove pretzels from the oven and use a pastry brush to generously brush with butter on the front and back of the pretzels. For cinnamon sugar pretzels, combine sugar and cinnamon, then turn buttered pretzels in the mixture until they’re evenly coated.
STEP 12: SERVE FRESH OR STORE
Soft pretzels are best served warm straight from the oven, but you can save them for later if you keep them in an optimal environment. Like other types of bread, soft pretzels save best in a bread box or paper bag that allows some air circulation to help prevent pretzels from turning mushy. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days, then consider utilizing any remaining pretzels for recipes like pretzel croutons, pretzel chips or even pretzel bread pudding. You can also allow baked pretzels to cool and freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight and freezer-safe container.
SHOP KITCHENAID®STAND MIXER
ACCESSORIES AND ATTACHMENTS FOR MAKING PRETZELS
WHAT IS THE MIXING METHOD FOR PRETZELS?
Soft pretzel dough requires thorough kneading in order to maintain its structure and create a tender and fluffy interior. Once yeast is activated and added to other pretzel ingredients, kneading the pretzel dough develops the gluten necessary for a successful bake. Though you can knead dough by hand, kneading dough with tools like a KitchenAid® stand mixer or food processor can enable more time-efficient and even kneading that’s easier on your hands and wrists.
DO YOU HAVE TO BOIL PRETZELS BEFORE BAKING?
Pretzel dough requires a brief baking soda or lye soak in order to achieve its distinct color, flavor and texture. This 30-second, pre-bake soak increases the alkalinity of the pretzel’s exterior, allowing it to brown rapidly and preserve its fluffy, doughy interior while developing a crusty and chewy exterior.
CAN I MAKE SWEET PRETZELS RATHER THAN SAVORY ONES?
Salted soft pretzels are staples at stadiums and fairs, but sweet soft pretzels can be just as satisfying and made with an endless variety of toppings, dips and even fillings. You can whip up a batch of Nutella stuffed pretzels for a decadent surprise in every bite, or try a twist on a traditional pretzel recipe with soft pretzel chocolate chip pull apart bread. You can dress up any soft pretzel with sprinkled on toppings like mini chocolate chips, cinnamon and sugar, caramel drizzle and more.
Fresh is always best, but it is possible to make and freeze the dough in advance. Make pretzel dough ahead of time and freeze it for up to 3 months so you can spend more time exploring dips and toppings for your next pretzel craving. Be sure to freeze dough in an airtight, freezer-safe container and thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Once you’ve removed cold dough from the refrigerator, roll and twist it into a pretzel shape, then allow about an hour for the dough to proof before you immerse it in a boiling water and baking soda bath and bake according to your recipe’s instructions.