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Apr 2, 2008 06:04 AM

Homemade Soft Pretzels

I just made a second batch of homemade soft pretzels using Alton Brown's recipe. These are really good. My wife said they are better than soft pretzels from the mall. Has anyone else prepared homemade soft pretzels? What recipe do you use? I didn't have pretzel salt to sprinkle over the pretzels. I used coarse sea salt instead.

The recipe calls for a baking soda bath using 10 cups of water. I used 5 cups of water with 1/3 cup of baking soda. That amount works fine.

Alton Brown's Homemade Soft Pretzels

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  1. I made soft pretzels a couple of times when my kids were young. Very satisfying! I went straight for the Joy of cooking- yeah it was that long ago- and found the recipe very simple. No butter is needed nor is an egg wash. The great shine comes from the baking soda bath and then baking cooking system. I would consider enjoying the simpler way since everything tastes great with butter- but where is the challenge?

    2 Replies
    1. re: stlSarah

      Baking Illustrated (of the "Cooks Illustrated/Test Kitchen crew" has a recipe for them - I think it has a bit of honey in it... otherwise its pretty similar to AB's recipe.

      Pretzel salt is just coarse kosher salt.. sea salt would be find, albeit a bit more expensive.

      Mall pretzels can be pretty good, if they are fresh.. most of my disappointing ones have been the ones sitting a while or one's where the salt amount wasn't appropriate to my tastes, so making them at home would solve both those problems.

      1. re: grant.cook

        Actually, pretzel salt is milled, unlike kosher salt, not to dissolve quickly. It's worth having in your pantry.

    2. I'm a big fan of pretzels in general. I love 'em all--from the ones on NYC street corners to the ones at the mall to the ones frozen from sam's club. Love 'em.

      But I had this pretzel from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor once--it was so delicious I find myself daydreaming about it every once in a while. It was football shaped, and the sign said that they use a traditional recipe with lard and lye. Dear god, it was amazing. It was what you never knew a pretzel could be, even if you were already a pretzel fan. I'd love to find a recipe that has those two traditional (but not popular) ingredients.

      3 Replies
      1. re: modthyrth

        No lard, but the pretzel recipe in "A Baker's Odyssey" uses lye. Here's a picture of one from the bakery the recipe came from:

        1. re: modthyrth

          I just found this thread recently while making pretzels, and thought I should let you know that the NYTimes recently published a pretzel recipe adapted from that very same Zingermans.

        2. I tried to make these a few months ago, the only problem I had was the "bath", they became slimy and slippery trying to work with.

          They were edible, but not very good, I had no idea how glumpy they would be to make, and have not tried again!

          Did you all have the same rpoblem with the bath, and what did I do wrong?

          2 Replies
          1. re: hummingbird

            Well first, I'm weighing the flour instead of measuring by cups. The dough is firm and non-sticky to start with. I use 5-cups of water and 1/3 cup of baking soda in a 3-qt saucepan. When the liquid is boiling vigorously, I lower one pretzel into the liquid for 30-seconds. I then remove it, on a spatula, let it drip over the pan for a few seconds and return it to the parchment paper. I then dip the next one. I don't place all the pretzels in the bath at once. I don't handle them after dipping. Just brush on egg wash, sprinkle with salt and bake.

            1. re: hummingbird

              Both lye and baking soda are what are called "basic". Liquid that is basic will feel slimy or slippery by nature. That's how a base seems to work. I don't think acid stuff feels the same. Please don't touch strongly basic liquids. They penetrate the skin. I doubt the baking soda has the strength to be harmful, but the lye can be strong.

            2. I found a great pretzel recipe last year that yielded really delicious results.
              The bath was made up of water, beer and soda, iirc.
              I will post the recipe if anyone wants it, just have to dig it up.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rabaja

                Hello rabaja, I would be interested in trying your pretzel recipe, if you still have it. thanks!

              2. There is a recipe and video from NYC's Sigmund Pretzel Shop on

                And sourdough soft pretzels from Gesine Bullock-Prado, from her blog: