Learn how to make a soft Pretzel Recipe like the pretzels from the mall! This pretzel recipe is a real copycat to Annies pretzels or the pretzel maker pretzel! What’s not to love about this buttery and soft pretzel dipped into cheese sauce?
Crisp Pretzels make a great dessert crust for a Jello pretzel salad or Cherry Cheesecake Pretzel Dessert! This Pretzel recipe is made from a sweet yeast dough similar to Cinnamon rolls and makes amazingly soft pretzels like the malls! For more cinnamon-flavored desserts try out this delicious Apple Cinnamon Cake Recipe. My husband can eat these hot soft pretzels any time of day as a snack or side, it’s the food that is irresistibly tasty!
What are Pretzels?
A pretzel is a sweet type of baked bread usually formed into a knot and flavored with salt. Popular soft pretzels include a German Bretzel or Annies Pretzels (Pretzel makers located in the shopping malls).
When at the mall, it’s hard to miss the pretzel aroma coming from Auntie Anne’s pretzels or the Pretzel Time Pretzels. Who can resist the freshly made lemonade, warm cheese dip, and the buttery soft and sweet pretzels speckled with coarse salt?! (There, I just said what to eat pretzels with!)
Aunt Annies pretzels, are not your Bavarian (Deutsche Kuche) soft German pretzels. They actually stand out from the other pretzel recipes by their light golden brown color and super fluffy dough. Not only are they thin and large pretzels but you can buy them in mini pretzel bites portions or wrapped around hot dogs!
Secret Ingredient to Soft Pretzels?
One day after making batches of pretzels, I decided to experiment with the dough. I added baking powder to the one and to my surprise the pretzel dough was incredibly fluffy, and just like the super soft pretzels from the mall! I was amazed, and even texted my friend to share the excitement of the superior results!
Furthermore, adding additional bicarbonate to the pretzel dough works as a dough conditioner and it has been proven to be a great dough enhancer for this Fluffy Pizza Crust too, just don’t overdo it, adding too much can affect the yeast. (Note: even the ingredients off of an Auntie Annes Pretzel box state dough conditioner as one of the ingredients.)
No-Boil vs Boiled Pretzels:
You would be surprised, that their pretzel-making process is a no-boil method and that they actually dip them in a special solution (simple alkaline wash) that gives them their golden-brown appearance during baking. The baking soda helps tremendously with the browning and if you miss this step they can come out rather spotty and unevenly brown. So, the pretzel logic behind this?
This no-boil method is sufficient for nicely browned pretzels and makes super soft pretzels like Anne’s. Whereas boiling the dough creates a chewier crust and in many cases a much deeper brown pretzel when baked, which brings out the cracked appearance. If you want chewy pretzels similar to a bagel or pretzel bun then boiling pretzels is something you may want to consider. I’m all about pretzels recipe made easy and even the Auntie Annes Pretzel Recipe doesn’t call for an egg wash or boiling.
This sweet bread dough is so easy to make even my 12-year old daughter whips up a batch of these pretzels with such little effort! They are highly addictive, so, you may want to double the batch of pretzels from the start!
I get all the expert tips to hand roll soft pretzels by an Auntie Annes Pretzel expert who demonstrates how to roll, twist, and bake an Auntie Annes Pretzel right from the headquarters located in Lancaster, PA! Watch how an expert from Auntie Annes Pretzels Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels.
To break down the Aunty Ann pretzel bakery process, simply use these steps as a guide to making the perfect pretzels:
How To Make Soft Pretzels:
- Start the pretzel dough by activating the yeast in warm milk and combining it with the remaining ingredients.
- Knead for about 2-4 minutes and form dough into a ball shape.
- Grease the top and let it rise for 45 minutes until doubled.
- Grease the area will you will be working on. Turnover the dough over and using a pizza cutter, make 6 strips of dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and work one piece of dough at a time.
- Stretch the strip of dough out, starting in the middle of the strip, and move your hands outward while pulling, stretching, and rolling the dough strip into a rope about the thickness of your finger (anywhere from 35 to 40-inches long.) Be sure not to over roll the dough.
- Now that the pretzel rolling technique is accomplished, it’s time to start twisting.
- Take both ends of the dough strip and hold it in the air, it’ll be a u-shape. Keeping your left hand still, take your right hand and wrap it around the left strip, to make a pretzel shape. Pinch the ends down to the bottom of the pretzel to seal the pretzel twist.
- After the pretzels are rolled and twisted, dip them into a special baking soda solution that gives their golden-brown appearance, during baking.
- Dip, dry, and place pretzels on a lined cookie sheet (6 large pretzels fit into a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.)
- Place the salt or other toppings on the pretzels.
- Now they’re ready to bake! The pretzels bake for about 7 minutes.
- Dip warm baked pretzels in clarified butter or melted butter before serving. Enjoy these butter pretzels with a pretzels cheese dip.
Ingredients for Pretzels:
You may be wondering what pretzels are made of or what’s in a pretzel. Homemade soft pretzels have simple and easy ingredients! This homemade pretzel recipe consists of baking staples that most cooks keep in their pantry. Soft pretzel recipes don’t require much.
- Milk- enriches bread dough. I like to use half water and half milk, however, you can do either all water or milk for easy soft pretzels. You want your liquid to be at about 105°F for the yeast to bloom properly.
- Yeast- dry active yeast is what you’ll want to use. Rapid dry yeast will work too.
- Butter- I use unsalted melted butter for the dough.
- Brown Sugar- brown sugar is what Auntie Anne’s pretzels, use for their pretzel dough.
- Salt- use good quality sea salt.
- Baking powder- works as a dough conditioner for these soft homemade pretzels.
- Basic Alkaline wash- is a simple baking soda and water solution made for dipping pretzels in. The baking soda helps with browning the pretzels during baking.
How To Shape a Pretzel?
To shape a pretzel you’ll want to stretch and roll the dough out to a long rope (about 35-40-inches long for extra large pretzels.) Then holding up the ends to make a u-shape you’ll want to keep your left hand still and use your right hand to twist and wrap around the left strip. This Pretzel making technique was demonstrated in Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Video (linked above.)
What To Dip Pretzels In?
Cheese sauce for pretzels is the most popular and common cheese dip served with pretzels at the shopping malls. You can make homemade cheese sauce by melting Velveeta cheese with milk or using jarred queso dip. Look for a mild cheese sauce labeled “Cheddar cheese sauce,” Jalapeno or Nacho flavored Cheese sauce will have a Mexican flavor profile.
Another way to flavor dips is to add 2 Tbsp of Franks hot red sauce to every cup 1/2 cup of cheese sauce for a spicy kick. I also love dipping these pretzels into a sweet mustard sauce (go figure I love honey mustard pretzels Synder’s pretzels!)
How To Store and Freeze?
To preserve pretzels, it is best to eat them freshly baked or keep them frozen. Freezing pretzels on the day of baking keep them tasting fresh when thawed. It’s best to cool any baked pretzels first before placing them into a freezer bag for longer storage. Once the pretzels are cooled transfer them to freezer bags and keep them at room temperature for up to 1 day. If you are not planning to use them up within that time then freeze them for up to 3 months.
To reheat: thaw completely and wrap pretzels in aluminum foil then bake for 7-8 minutes until warmed. You can also microwave thawed pretzels in 30-second intervals until warm.
How Are Pretzels Made?
I watched a pretzel expert roll, twist, and bake pretzels from the famous Auntie Annes Pretzel factory located in Lancaster, PA. This easy pretzel recipe was recreated to make a pretzel dough like the Famous Pretzel Pretzel Stop or Pretzel bakery like the Malls.
- Soft Ranch pretzels: omit the salt and add one packet of Dry Ranch to the dough and proceed with the recipe. To make hard seasoned pretzels, dry the baked pretzels out by baking at 200°F for 2-2.5 hours until crisp.
- Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels: when craving dessert, dip these warm pretzels into melted butter then coat in a cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Cheese Pretzels: to make a cheese pretzel add 4 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese to the dough.
- Pretzel Bites Recipe: make the pretzel recipe as directed, only rather than shaping pretzels cut the rope into small 2-inch strips instead.
When is Pretzel Day?
National Pretzel Day is April 26th.
- Pretzel bread is best with pretzel salt or coarse kosher salt. I had coarse sea salt on hand that works great too! Be sure to add the salt topping before baking to adhere to the pretzels better.
- To make dairy-free pretzels use dairy-free butter and water in the place of milk. The dairy in this pretzel recipe enriches the dough, however, a recipe for pretzels can be made with or without milk.
- Make pretzel dogs by rolling the dough out thin and wrapping it around hot dogs.
- To make soft Pretzel bites, make the pretzels recipe as directed only instead of shaping them into pretzel twists, cut them into short strips using a pizza cutter or bench scraper.
- You can freeze soft pretzels, simply cool them, and stack them between parchment paper for easy freezing. Keep frozen inside a 2.5- gallon-sized freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- Dip with Mild cheddar cheese dip (Gehl’s) for savory pretzels or sweet chocolate sauce and caramel sauce for dessert pretzels.
- Make sourdough pretzels by adding a 1/2 cup of active sourdough starter in place of the yeast. Decrease the liquid to a total of 3/4 cup rather than a cup.
- Seasoned pretzels can be coated with salt, cinnamon sugar, or dry ranch seasoning, for extra flavor. To make spicy pretzels flavor the cheese sauce with hot sauce or cayenne pepper.
- You can attempt gluten-free pretzels by using a Gluten-free baking flour (like Bob’s Mill.)
- Pretzel knots or pretzel rolls are best with melted butter and coarse salt. Roll the pretzel dough very thinly, at least 30-inch long (about the thickness of your finger), to make nice big pretzels like the mall pretzels.
- Use a large 20×15-inch cookie sheet to fit 6 extra-large pretzels.
More Bread Recipes:
- Sourdough Bagels
- Naan Bread (Stonefire Copycat)
- Sourdough French Bread
- Banana Bread Recipe
- Subway Bread Recipe (Italian Herb and Cheese Copycat)
How To Make Pretzels:
Soft Pretzel Recipe (Annies Pretzels Copycat)
- 2 mixing bowls (one for dipping into the baking soda solution)
- 1 thermometer (to check milk temperature for the yeast.)
- 1 measuring cup
- 1 large 20x15 cookie sheet
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 tsp dry active yeast
- 410 grams of bread flour (2 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp of flour)
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
Baking Soda Solution:
- 2 cups of warm water
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter (for dipping after baking)
- coarse pretzel salt (for topping before baking)
- Heat the milk and water to 105°F (I microwave it for 45 seconds.) Stir in the yeast and allow it to proof for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and melted butter. Pour in the proofed yeast mixture and knead for a few minutes until the dough comes together into a ball. (Dough should be slightly tacky.)
- Lightly grease the top of the dough with 1 tsp of oil and allow it to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, dissolve the baking soda in water. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 410°F. Turn the dough over to a greased area.
- Cut the dough into 6 equal strips.
- Roll and stretch each piece into a 35 to 40-inch rope or to the thickness of your finger. Then holding the ends, make a U-shape and twist twice. Pinch ends to the pretzel. Dip pretzels into the baking soda solution and quickly pat against a kitchen towel to remove any excess water.
- Transfer the pretzels onto a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 7-8 minutes.
- Dip warm into the melted butter. Serve.
- Dip Pretzels into warm cheddar cheese dip sauce or make a sweet Mustard dip: by mixing 2 Tbsp mayo, 1 tsp yellow mustard, and 1 Tbsp brown sugar.
Nutrition per serving