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Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels

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These Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels are so soft and fluffy and delicious drenched in melted butter and sprinkled with pretzel salt. The best part is? You don’t need to boil them in baking soda, just dip them in a baking soda hot water bath (much easier and less painful on your hands). Keep reading to see the method.

I’ve been researching and testing soft pretzel recipes (you know how much I love any kid of bread) and here’s what I’ve found: dropping dough in boiling hot water is tricky to get right without ruining the dough, and it can be painful! So I started researching alternative methods – and here’s what I found:

  • Many authentic German-style soft pretzels (and many mall-style soft pretzels) use Lye rather than Baking Soda to achieve that golden smooth brown edge of the pretzels.
  • Lye can be dangerous to work with in a home kitchen, so I wanted to find an alternative.
  • I found several recipes and another instruction post from Epicurious about taking Baking Soda and baking it in the oven for 1 hour to change the molecules, to help it react more like Lye on the pretzels
  • Baking the baking soda also allows you to simply dip the pretzels in very hot tap water with the baking soda, rather than boiling it

Why Bake Baking Soda?

If you’ve tried making homemade pretzels using baking soda straight from the box, replicating the deep brown smooth edges of traditional German soft pretzels can be tough. Authentic German pretzels use food-grade Lye, a potent and highly corrosive alkali. Although some of you might be comfortable working with Lye, it can be a big task (requiring gloves and goggles).

The best solution? Use baked baking soda. Once it’s heated in the oven, the web tells me: “baking soda undergoes a molecular reaction, releasing water and carbon dioxide. This process eliminates approximately one-third of the water and carbon dioxide content, resulting in a more robust sodium carbonate.”

Essentially, baking your baking soda transforms it into a stronger alkali, closely resembling the potency of food-grade Lye.


Are you still with me? Basically, you will sprinkle some Baking Soda on a baking sheet (covered in foil), bake it for 1 hour while you make your dough and let it rise, and then you’ll whisk it into super hot tap water to dip the pretzel dough before making. Sprinkle with Pretzel Salt and the bake. Easy enough right? Here is the recipe!

Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels

These Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels are so soft and fluffy and delicious drenched in melted butter and sprinkled with pretzel salt.
Makes 16-20 pretzels.
Plum Street Collective
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 8 minutes
Serving Size 18


  • aluminum foil
  • parchment paper
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • baking sheets


  • 3/4 cup baking soda


  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter (2 sticks, divided) (1/4 cup for dough, 3/4 cup for brushing onto warm pretzels)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons pretzel salt
  • cooking spray


Baked Baking Soda

  • Preheat oven to 250°F.
    Line a baking sheet with foil and sprinkled the baking soda over it evenly. Bake for 1 hour.


  • Meanwhile, get started on the dough. If you start it while the baking soda is in the oven, it will be just enough time to make it and let it rise.
  • In a large bowl, add warm water and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast is foamy.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of the melted butter and the sugar (1 tbsp.).
  • Once mixed well, add the flour and salt.
    Mix until it begins to turn into a dough. Knead slightly until it comes together, but not for more than 1-2 minutes. You don't want to overwork the gluten.
    Dough should be slightly sticky.
  • Spray the bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl to rise (also spray the top of the dough).
    Cover dough and let rise until doubled in size (about 40 minutes).

Preparing the Pretzels

  • Once the baked baking soda is ready to come out of the oven, remove it carefully (being sure not to breathe it in or touch it with bare hands).
    Set pan to cool on the stovetop until ready to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
    Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray. You will be able to get about 6 large pretzels per baking sheet.
    Set aside.
  • Once dough has risen, turn dough out onto countertop. Cut the dough into 16-20 equal sections and roll each section into 24"-30" strips.
  • Shape each dough "rope' into a traditional pretzel shape by making a U shape and pulling the ends together at the top of the "U". Then twist the ends (you can do this 1 or 2 times), then bring the twisted section back down to the bottom of the "U" shape and pinch to seal the dough.
  • Meanwhile, get your baking soda solution ready. In a large glass or metal bowl, add 4 cups of very hot tap water (as hot as it will go).
    Whisk in the baked baking soda, until dissolved (there may be a couple small clumps a the bottom but that won't be a problem). Whisk it as well as you can until the baking soda is dissolved. Set aside.
  • Then take your first formed pretzel and carefully lift it and place in the water solution for about 1 minute. It should float to the top.
  • Remove from solution and place onto prepared baking sheet (about 6 will fit on each baking sheet).
    Sprinkle with pretzel salt. We love this kind!
  • Repeat this proess with remaining dough, rolling then dipping in the solution, then sprinkling with the pretzel salt.
  • Bake each pan for 7-9 minutes until very golden brown (the more brown they are, the more any baking soda flavor will bake off – don't cook them too light!).
  • Once browned well, remove from oven and immediately brush with a generous amount of butter. Enjoy!
  • These taste best warm! If you want to reheat, use the Air Fryer! 400°F for 5-7 minutes each. Or you could use a convection setting on the oven as well.
  • Store in airtight containers in the fridge.


*This recipe can easily be adapted for sweet cinnamon soft pretzels rather than savory.
Just omit the pretzel salt. After baking, brush with melted butter, then sprinkle generously with a cinnamon and sugar mixture.

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