Homemade Soft Pretzels

We love making this soft pretzel recipe on weekend afternoons! It's super fun to make, and the pretzels are always chewy, flavorful, and delicious.

Soft pretzels

If you love fall baking but need a break from pumpkin spice, make homemade soft pretzels! Way back in the early years of Love and Lemons, Jack and I shared a vegan soft pretzel recipe that continues to be one of the most popular recipes on the site. A few weeks ago, when we were in the mood for a fun weekend project, we decided to give the old recipe a go. Our homemade pretzels came out pretty well, but we thought we could make them even better.

This soft pretzel recipe is a new and improved version of the old one. It’s still vegan (no eggs or butter here!), and the pretzels are fantastic. They’re soft and chewy, with a classic sweet and salty pretzel flavor. I think you’ll love them, but almost more importantly, I think you’ll love making them. This is a great recipe for a cool, gray day, when nothing sounds better than holing up in a warm kitchen and making something that’s just as fun as it is delicious. Let’s bake!

Soft pretzel recipe ingredients

Soft Pretzel Recipe Ingredients

Good news! You only need a few ingredients to make this easy soft pretzel recipe:

  • All-purpose flour – This recipe calls for quite a bit of flour – 4 1/2 cups! – so measuring it accurately is important. Too much flour, and your dough will be dry. Too little, and it will be wet and sticky. I recommend using the spoon-and-level method for a precise flour measurement.
  • Active dry yeast – It helps the dough rise and makes the soft pretzels puff up as they bake.
  • Maple syrup – It activates the yeast and adds a subtle sweetness to the dough.
  • Water – To best activate the yeast, make sure your water is warm when you start making this soft pretzel recipe. We aim for 105°-115°F.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It adds richness to the dough, helping create the soft pretzels’ addictive chewy texture. A neutral-flavored oil, such as sunflower oil or canola oil, will work here too.
  • And salt – A soft pretzel essential! You’ll add fine sea salt to the dough. Then, once you’ve shaped the pretzels, you’ll sprinkle them generously with coarse sea salt.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Hands shaping ball of dough

How to Make Pretzels

Making this homemade pretzel recipe is a blast! Here’s how it goes:

First, make the dough. Activate the yeast by mixing it with the water and maple syrup. When the mixture foams, pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour, salt, and oil, and mix on medium-low speed until a cohesive dough forms around the hook.

Ball of dough in a large bowl

Then, let it rise. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a ball. Brush a large bowl with oil and place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough has almost doubled in size.

8 pieces of soft pretzel dough on marble

Next, shape the pretzels! After the dough rises, turn it out onto a clean, unfloured work surface, and divide it into 8 pieces.

Hands rolling homemade pretzel dough rope

Roll one into an 18-inch rope.

Hands bending rope of pretzel dough into U-shape

Grab the ends of the dough rope, and bend it into a U-shape.

Hands twisting soft pretzel dough

Cross one of the ends of the rope over the other, leaving a wide loop of dough below them. Then, wrap the dough ends around each other again to create the pretzel’s twist.

How to make pretzels - hands shaping dough on marble

Finally, fold the twist towards you, into the center of the dough loop, to make a pretzel shape. That’s it! Repeat with the remaining dough.

Last but not least, boil and bake. Boil the pretzels one at a time in a baking soda bath. Use a slotted spoon to lift each one out of the pot and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle it generously with coarse salt, and use a sharp knife to create a 4-inch slit at the bottom of each pretzel.

When all the soft pretzels are boiled and salted, transfer them to a 450° oven and bake until they’re golden brown and puffy. Enjoy!

soft pretzels on a baking sheet

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe Tips

  • Add more water or flour if you need to. If the dough seems too dry or wet when you’re mixing it together, don’t worry! Before it rises, you have some wiggle room to adjust its consistency. If it’s super dry and not coming together in the stand mixer, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does. Conversely, if it’s wet and sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it forms a cohesive, pliable dough.
  • Let the dough rise somewhere warm. Yeast responds to warmth, so, for an extra productive rise, stick the dough somewhere warm. We like to put ours on a sunny windowsill!
  • Boil and salt the pretzels one by one. In a traditional pretzel recipe, an egg wash or melted butter helps bind the coarse salt to the pretzels. We choose not to use eggs or butter in order to keep this recipe vegan, so it’s important that you sprinkle each pretzel with salt right after you boil it, while the dough is still wet. For the best results (and calmest salting process), I recommend boiling and salting each pretzel one by one.
  • Serve them with sauce. Not going to lie, these homemade soft pretzels are delicious on their own, especially when they’re still hot from the oven. But who doesn’t love soft pretzels with dipping sauce?? Make these guys even more fun and flavorful by dunking them in spicy mustard, vegan cheese, chipotle sauce, or vegan ranch dressing.

Homemade soft pretzel recipe

More Favorite Baking Recipes

If you love this soft pretzel recipe, try one of these fun baking projects next:

Homemade Soft Pretzels

rate this recipe:
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 14 mins
Rising Time: 1 hr
Serves 8
This homemade soft pretzel recipe is such a fun baking project! Enjoy them on their own, hot from the oven, or serve them with spicy mustard or vegan cheese for dipping.

Ingredients

For the pretzel dough

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 pkg. (¼ ounce) active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • cups warm water
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, more for brushing
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

For the poaching water

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda

Instructions

  • Prepare the pretzel dough: In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, yeast, and water and proof for 5 minutes or until foamy.
  • In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, place the flour, salt, olive oil, and the yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough is well-formed around the hook. If the dough is very dry after 3 minutes, add 1 tablespoon of water.
  • Transfer the dough to a clean lightly floured work surface and gently knead to form into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Brush a large bowl with ½ teaspoon of olive oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough is almost doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean (not floured) work surface and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll one piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Grab the ends of the dough rope to make a U shape. Cross one of the ends of the rope over the other, leaving a wide loop of dough below them. Then, wrap the dough ends around each other again to create the pretzel's twist. Fold the twist towards you, into the center of the dough loop, to make a pretzel shape. (See step-by-step photos above). Place it onto the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Prepare the poaching water: In a large pot, combine the 6 cups of water and the baking soda and bring to a boil. Drop pretzels, one at a time, into the pot. Boil for 30 seconds, then lift out using a slotted spoon and place onto the baking sheet. While the dough is still wet, sprinkle with coarse salt. Use a sharp knife to cut a 4-inch slit along the bottom of each pretzel.
  • Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown.

adapted from Alton Brown.

33 comments

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  1. Elizabeth
    09.29.2020

    Have you tried making these gluten free? Could I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF flour? My daughter would LOVE these if they can be gf!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      I’m sorry, I haven’t had success with a 1:1 GF swap.

  2. Trixie
    09.29.2020

    Could you use vegan butter to help hold the salt on?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      Hi Trixie, you could but it’s not necessary. The salt sticks to the wet dough very easily.

  3. Chandana Hathi
    09.29.2020

    I like my pretzels sweeter, could I add more maple syrup – 4 instead of 2 tbspn?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      I’m not sure how it would affect the dough – another idea is that you could bake them a tad less (so they’re not as brown), brush them with butter and dip in cinnamon sugar. I’d probably keep the base recipe as-is. Hope that helps!

  4. Karen
    09.29.2020

    Can gluten-free flour be substituted? Bob’s 1-1? Or another brand?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      Hi Karen, I’m sorry, I haven’t had success with a 1:1 GF swap.

      • Karen
        09.29.2020

        Maybe one day! 🙂

  5. Lisa
    09.29.2020

    Can this be made gluten free?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      Hi Lisa, I’m sorry, I haven’t had success with a 1:1 GF swap.

  6. Jennifer
    09.29.2020

    Can I use rye flour? If so any recommendations on how much rye and regular flour and water? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      Hi Jennifer, I don’t think it would be a 1:1 swap and since I haven’t tried it, I can’t recommend it.

  7. Heylen
    09.29.2020

    Love all your recipes, thank you for sharing them!
    Could I make this with GF all purpose flour King Arthur or 1:1 GF ? Thanks.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      Hi Heylen, I don’t think it would be a 1:1 swap. I’d maybe check King Arthur’s site to see if they have a GF recipe using their flour.

  8. Tania
    09.29.2020

    Looks amazing! I don’t have a mixer with a dough hook. Any hands only kneading option?

    • Nell
      09.29.2020

      I’m wondering the same thing!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      Hi Tania, you could do it by hand – I’d knead for 7 to 10 minutes.

      • Tania
        09.29.2020

        Thank you!! I’ll let you know if I try it out 🙂

  9. Mike
    09.29.2020

    I am not a fan of sweet and savory mixed together. Can skip the syrup?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.29.2020

      They’re not sweet, it’s necessary to activate the yeast. You won’t taste it, I promise!

  10. Michelle
    09.30.2020

    These look amazing and I am excited to try them. In Step #6 you say “Use a sharp knife to cut a 4-inch slit along the bottom of each pretzel.” but I can’t really see this from the photos. Can you explain what this is for?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.30.2020

      Hi Michelle, it allows steam to escape as the pretzels bake – you can see it a little bit in the top photo of the finished pretzels. I didn’t get a photo of that step with the dough.

      • Michelle
        09.30.2020

        Oh! I get it! Thanks!!!!

  11. Brenda
    09.30.2020

    I’d love to try these! Can I swap the maple syrup with honey? Would that work? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.01.2020

      Hi Brenda, I haven’t tried but I think that would be fine. I think granulated sugar would be fine as well.

  12. Jennifer
    10.01.2020

    5 stars
    These are fabulous made them this morning. I used 2 cups of rye flour and 2.5 of regular all else the same. Huge hit. Thanks for another delicious recipe

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.06.2020

      I’m so glad they were a hit with the rye flour!

  13. Carrie
    10.01.2020

    5 stars
    I just made these with my 3-year-old and they turned out fantastic! Super easy and clear directions. We ate two and froze the rest.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.06.2020

      I’m so glad you both loved them!

  14. Sharon from Instagram.com
    10.05.2020

    5 stars
    I made these this past weekend after making the original recipe! This dough is DEFINITELY much easier to work with than the original recipe and the dough actually rises properly. The only reason I prefer the old dough recipe a little better is because the dough doesn’t puff up as much. These pretzels are quite thick so they’re more bread-y in my opinion. I might try dividing the dough into 10 or 12 next time so I have thinner ropes before turning them into pretzels which I think may help. Either way, I still love this recipe and I still can’t believe it’s vegan!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.05.2020

      Hi Sharon, I’m so glad you enjoyed them before and now again! 🙂 We had an 18-24 inch rope range before, so if you roll them longer they won’t be as puffy.

  15. Michelle Henke
    10.24.2020

    We live in high altitude and wanted to ask if we need to do anything different?

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.