Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Pretzels are available crisp and hard from your grocery or, if you're lucky and in the right place, soft and chewy from street vendors. Our recipe is for the soft kind, made nicely chewy thanks to the use of King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour. Melted butter brushed over the crust is a bonus street vendors don't offer!

Want to make smaller, appetizer-size pretzels? See our instructions for pretzel bites in "tips," below.

Prep
20 mins
Bake
8 to 9 mins
Total
1 hr 10 mins
Yield
8 large pretzels
Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Instructions

  1. To make dough by hand or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and elastic, then proceed to step 4.

  2. To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to go through its kneading cycle, then proceed to step 4.

  3. To make dough with a food processor: Place the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the work bowl of a food processor equipped with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the water and process for 7 to 10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Process a further 45 seconds, then proceed to step 4.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 30 minutes.

  5. To make the topping: While the dough is rising, prepare the topping. Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).

  6. Preheat your oven to 475°F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper. 

  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g each).

  8. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Pour the baking soda/water into a 9" square pan.

  9. Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28" to 30" long), and twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Working with four pretzels at a time, place them in the pan with the baking soda/water, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet. This baking soda bath will give the pretzels lovely golden-brown color.

  10. Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

  11. Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown.

  12. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you've used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that's what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make sweet pretzel bites: Roll the eight pieces of dough into 10" ropes. Cut each rope crosswise into 6 to 10 equal pieces. Dip the pieces into the baking soda solution, place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and top with pearl sugar, if desired. Bake in a 400°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven; if they haven't been topped with pearl sugar, roll the bites in melted butter (about 6 tablespoons should do it). Then shake in a paper bag with 6 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar.

  • To make savory pretzel bites: Roll the eight pieces of dough into 10" ropes. Cut each rope crosswise into 6 to 10 equal pieces. Dip the pieces into the baking soda solution, place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and top with pretzel salt or sea salt. Bake in a 400°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and roll the bites in melted butter; about 6 tablespoons should do it.