One of my all-time favorite snacks or treats are huge mall pretzels. I actually think those pretzels are the best things in the mall — way better than any kind of shopping!
So when I moved away from my home (that was right next to the mall) I knew it was about time to try to create my own soft pretzels from scratch. The goal was to make them at least as good as the ones you can get in the mall.
And the good news? They are WAY better. This recipe has been tested and re-tested so many times to make sure they are absolutely perfect and I totally love these!
They are soft, chewy, and the dough is slightly dense and salty flavored. I mean the salt on top definitely brings out that salty flavor and without that salt on top they aren’t overpoweringly salty.
In fact, if you aren’t a fan of the saltiness then you can always switch up how you top the pretzel. Another favorite way of dressing these pretzels is dipping them in melted butter and then in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
Talk about yum! I can’t decide which flavor I like better. It just depends on the day and my mood.
The great thing about this recipe is it is easy to adapt to a cinnamon sugar pretzel or you can just leave it as a salty pretzel. You can also try other flavor variations such as topping it with coconut or frosting — whatever you like the best. But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s talk about how to make these!
The dough does require some yeast and proofing of the yeast, but it’s really not too difficult at all.
The biggest thing to note when using yeast in this recipe is making sure it is “proofed” correctly. Essentially the yeast + water + sugar will get combined together and lightly stirred.
After about five minutes, they will have formed a frothy consistency and the yeast will dissolve. If your yeast mixture looks like that then it’s already a success!!
And if not, just quickly start again before you’ve added all of the other ingredients. Reasons your mixture may not work out is the yeast is old and dead, the water may have been too hot, the water may have been too cold, or you haven’t waited quite long enough.
I recommend the water being very warm to the touch, but not too hot you immediately pull your finger away from it.
The dough doesn’t take too long, mostly just time to rise. And after that you separate the dough into equal pieces. If you want to be really precise, you can pull out a kitchen scale and measure each of the weights of the pretzels making sure they all weigh about the same for best results. This is a step that doesn’t take too long, but brings great results and consistency throughout the recipe.
Once the dough has been sectioned, each piece gets rolled into a thick rope and then twisted into a pretzel form. To see the exact way to get the pretzel shape you can click here.
Once the pretzels are shaped then comes the fun step right before they get put into the oven.
To give them the signature taste and (hard on the outside, soft on the inside) these pretzels get dunked in a mixture of boiling water + baking soda. Be careful when you combine the boiling water and baking soda so the water doesn’t boil over.
By slowly adding the baking soda to the water it will keep it from bubbling over. Make sure to time how long the pretzels are in the water — only about 30-45 seconds and they are perfect!
Cover in an egg yolk wash + coarse sea salt, bake ’em, and these are ready to be devoured. Mall pretzels have nothing on these!
- 1 and ½ cups very warm water
- 1 and ½ tablespoons white sugar
- 2 and ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (not instant)
- 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups white flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 8 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- 1 large egg
- Coarse sea salt for topping
- Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Stir and allow to sit for five minutes or until the yeast dissolves and the mixture becomes foamy (if this doesn't happen your yeast is likely dead and you will need to start again).
- Add in the salt, flour, and butter. Knead in a stand mixer with the dough hook on low speed for 5-6 minutes. Add any additional flour until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl (up to ½ cup additional flour could be needed depending on how you measure your flour). Remove the dough from the bowl.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm environment for at least one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 pans with parchment paper and set aside. Boil the water in a large pot.
- Pull apart the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope and then form a U-shape. Cross the ends of the U over each other and press into the bottom of the pretzel twisting in the center. Add the baking soda to the boiling water and stir together.
- Place the formed pretzels in the boiling baking soda water and allow them to sit in the water for 30-45 seconds. Remove the pretzels with a slotted spoon onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Lightly beat an egg yolk and paint with a pastry brush over the pretzels. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake for 10-13 minutes or until a light golden brown color.