If you're intimidated by the idea of making pretzels at home, this is a great place to start. I’ve made this recipe just about as easy as I can. No unusual ingredients. No multi-part mixing. No extended fermentation. Just four easy steps: mix, ferment, boil, bake. Once you've got this down, the pretzel universe is at your fingertips: pretzel rolls, pretzel bites, you name it.
Editor's note: this recipe was tested in our professional test kitchen and in my home kitchen and I couldn't believe how easy these pretzels were to make. My kids and neighbors gave both the salty and sweet renditions rave reviews and they'll definitely be going in our regular rotation.
- 3 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 2 1/4 Teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 Cup warm water (115- to 120F)
- Baking soda
- 1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water
- Coarse salt as needed (optional)
Step 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 3 ¾ cups flour, 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1 ½ cups warm water
Step 2: Mix on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until dough is fairly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If it sticks to the bottom, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away.
Step 3: Lightly dust a clean surface with flour. Transfer dough from bowl to floured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth ball; if it’s too sticky add a tiny bit more flour, but you don’t want it too dry. Place inside a clean bowl that’s been coated lightly with nonstick spray. Cover bowl with plastic and leave in a warm place until dough roughly doubles in size, about an hour.
Step 4: When the dough has doubled, punch it down to remove carbon dioxide gas. Divide dough into 10 pieces — roughly 3 ounces each — and cover with plastic until shaping.
Step 5: Using both hands, roll out one dough piece into a thin rope roughly 18- to 24-inches long. Drag rope into a circle with the two ends crossed about an inch or two from the ends. Fold crossed ends back onto the opposite side of the circle, pressing down lightly to make sure they stick. Place onto a parchment-covered baking sheet and repeat with remaining pieces.
Step 6: Preheat oven to 435F. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, pour in enough cold water so that it is about 3- to 4-inches deep, keeping track of the total number of cups. Bring to a boil over high heat. For every cup of water, add 1 tablespoon baking soda, sprinkling it in carefully, as soda will cause water to foam up.
Step 7: Boil pretzels — as many at a time as will fit comfortably in your pan without touching — for 30 seconds, then carefully transfer back to the parchment-lined baking sheet. If pretzels sink your water is probably too shallow; you can keep them afloat with a spatula if need be so they don’t stick to the pan.
Step 8: Coat boiled pretzels in egg wash by brushing or dunking both sides, then sprinkle with coarse salt.
Step 9: Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then gobble ravenously.
VARIATION: For sweet pretzels, omit coarse salt. After baking and cooling, brush pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.