One of the things that my husband and I always bond over is our mutual love for soft pretzels, and when you live in Eastern Pennsylvania (greater Philadelphia area), you most likely love them. These are, as my husband describes them, “pretzel-y.” In all seriousness, they are soft, easy-to-make, and delicious. We enjoy many snacks in this house, like cookies and brownies, but pretzels are definitely one of our favorites!
You can make these pretzels with only a few ingredients!
I love these pretzels because they:
- are easy to make,
- use simple ingredients, and
- are fun to make with family!
Vegan Soft Pretzels
If you would like to make these vegan, all you need to do is use a water wash for the coarse kosher salt instead of the egg wash. This recipe does not use butter, so this is the only modification you need, and it is an easy one.
How to Shape Soft Pretzels
Hand twisting soft pretzels is easy! I’ve outlined each step with photos below as a helpful guide. Once your dough has risen, you will want to divide it into eight (or sixteen for mini pretzels) equal sections.
Take each section, and roll it with your hands into a rope that is about 20 to 25 inches long. I used 25 inches. It will seem like it is too thin; however, your pretzels will increase in size after they are shaped and during the baking soda step, so you’ll want to start with a long piece of dough to leave room for the expansion. Take each end of the dough and form a U. Holding each end, bring it in and cross the ends, then cross them again, and flip it down on top of the bottom of the U. Using your finger, press the ends into the pretzel to complete the shape. I created a visual of each step below.
I used baking soda to make these pretzels. When you think of Bavarian-style pretzels you probably think of the deep brown color of the pretzel. Food-grade lye is used in pretzel making; however, this is not an ingredient I wish to use with young children around. Additionally, Philadelphia-style pretzels have a light outer crust and are a bit different from Bavarian-style pretzels. In this recipe I went with baking soda for safety reasons, and I feel it creates a nice pretzel.
Once you have shaped your pretzels you will want to boil them in water and baking soda to create the tasty outer crust of the pretzel. It is important that you only boil each pretzel for about 30 seconds because the pretzel will expand a bit while it is boiling.
When I adapted this recipe, I omitted the olive oil for taste. Additionally, I made the decision not to include butter in the dough to lighten up the recipe. This change also makes this a vegan pretzel if you use a water wash for the coarse kosher salt instead of the egg wash. Finally, I reduced the amount of baking soda and salt to conserve ingredients and for taste.
Easy Soft Pretzels
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours (Includes dough rising.)
Makes 8 servings
- Mixing bowl (medium/large)
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Plastic wrap/kitchen towel
- Stainless steel non-reactive pot (about 6 quart in size)
- Slotted stainless steel spoon
- Silicone basting brush
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons dry activated yeast (1 packet)
- 4 and 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- Course kosher salt
- 2 eggs (optional egg wash; can use water instead for vegan pretzels)
- In a mixing bowl, add the warm water and sugar and stir to combine. Add the yeast and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the flour and salt and mix the ingredients together into a shaggy dough. Use your hand to knead for a few minutes until a smooth dough is formed.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 1 hour.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into eight equal sections. Roll each section out into a long rope, about 25 inches long. Hand twist the pretzel and lay on the parchment paper.
- Fill your stainless steel pot about halfway with water. Add baking soda and bring it to a boil. Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds, and use a slotted spoon to flip the pretzel halfway at 15 seconds.
- Using the slotted spoon, transfer the pretzels to the parchment-lined baking sheet and apply the egg wash, or water wash if vegan, and add the coarse kosher salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (I used 15 minutes) or until the pretzel turns a nice even brown color. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Best served warm, enjoy!
Adapted from Tasty Homemade Soft Pretzels.