Soft Pretzels

January/February 1999

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A soft, doughy pretzel—twisted and salted—is the ultimate stadium food. But you don't need to be a season-ticket holder to get your hands on a great, hot, crusty one—you can make them at home. Malt syrup, which is made from corn and barley, is available at natural-foods stores. Serve warm soft pretzels in the traditional fashion with a crock of tangy mustard.

Soft Pretzels

Makes: 12 pretzels

Active Time:

Total Time:


  • Dough
  • 2 1/4 cups lukewarm water, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon malt syrup, or dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 7 1/2-9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Browning Solution & Topping
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2-3 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. To make dough: Combine 1/4 cup water, malt syrup (or corn syrup) and 3/4 teaspoon sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Whisk 7 1/2 cups flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in another bowl.
  2. Add the remaining 2 cups water, buttermilk and oil to yeast mixture. Gradually add flour mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, mix and knead the dough in a stand-up mixer fitted with a dough hook.)
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until just puffy but not doubled in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Dust 2 baking sheets with flour.
  6. Punch down the dough. Turn out onto work surface and knead several times. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll one piece into a 36-inch rope, lightly flouring work surface if necessary. Shape dough into a pretzel. Repeat with remaining pieces. Place pretzels 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Let pretzels rise, uncovered, at room temperature until slightly puffy, 20 to 30 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, until dough feels leathery, 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. To make browning solution & bake pretzels: Place rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 450°F. Coat 2 wire racks with cooking spray.
  8. Combine water and 2 cups sugar in a large bowl, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in baking soda.
  9. Dip pretzels one at a time into browning solution and place 2 inches apart on prepared racks. Sprinkle evenly with salt. Make a 2- to 3-inch horizontal slash across the bottom of each pretzel with a sharp paring knife. 10. Place wire racks directly into oven. Bake the pretzels until browned, 15 to 20 minutes, switching position of racks halfway through baking time. Cool on the racks.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: The pretzels are best served the day they are baked but will keep, well wrapped, in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat frozen pretzels on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.


Per pretzel: 345 calories; 2 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 72 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 2 g fiber; 663 mg sodium; 108 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Folate (60% daily value), Selenium (39% dv), Iron (21% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 5

Exchanges: 4 starch, 1/2 other carbohydrate

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Recipe Categories

Ease of Preparation
Type of Dish
Baked Goods, other
Total Time
More than 1 hour
8 or more
Preparation/ Technique
Health & Diet Considerations
Low cholesterol
Low saturated fat
Heart healthy
January/February 1999
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