Homemade Soft Pretzels recipe made with pantry ingredients & SO delicious! Step-by-step instructions for how to make soft pretzels and an easy cheese sauce to dip!
Making soft pretzels at home is easier than you may think! While the cheese sauce for pretzels is delicious, it’s an optional addition that you could easily omit if you wanted to enjoy the pretzels plain. No matter how you choose to serve them up, these homemade pretzels are sure to be a hit with everyone.
What are soft pretzels and cheese sauce?
Soft pretzels are large (about thumb width) sized yeast bread that has been treated with a baking soda wash, and baked until golden brown. Adding salt, sugar, or leaving them plain after are all great options but so is making a delicious batch of easy cheese sauce.
You know that soft & chewy texture to the outside of soft pretzels? That’s caused by a quick submerge in alkaline water, hence the need for baking soda. It alters the chemical properties of the crust just enough to make the wonderful classic soft pretzel texture we all love. Be sure to actually measure the amounts of water and baking soda as too much baking soda will cause a strange bitter flavor on all your pretzels. (Yes, I speak from experience!)
Ingredients for Soft Pretzels with Cheese
-Flour: We need 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour to be the base of our pretzel recipe.
-Water: We need 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water (not hotter than 110 degrees F) to help activate the yeast.
-Brown sugar: By using one tablespoon of brown sugar we can make the dough chewy and delicious and help to feed the yeast.
-Salt: 2 teaspoons of salt will help to enhance the flavor of the pretzels and make them extra tasty.
-Yeast: With 1 packet of yeast (.25 ounces) we can make sure our bread rises nicely.
-Butter: We need 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter to help make our pretzels taste richer in every bite.
-Coarse salt: Sprinkling some coarse salt over the top of these pretzels is optional but delicious.
Baking Soda Water Bath
-Water: For the baking soda bath we will need about 10 cups of water in a large pot.
-Baking soda: Adding 2/3 cups of baking soda to a pot of water will give our pretzels taste and texture needed to be “real” soft pretzels.
-Egg yolk: We need 1 egg yolk, beaten, to brush over the washed pretzels so that they can become golden brown while baking.
-Water: One teaspoon of water will help to water down the egg yolk so it’s easier to brush over our pretzels.
Cheese Dipping Sauce for Pretzels
-Cheese: With 8 ounces of grated cheddar cheese we can make sure that our cheese sauce is extra cheesy.
-Butter: One tablespoon of butter will help us to make our roux for the cheese sauce.
-Flour: One tablespoon of all-purpose flour will be the thickener for the dipping sauce.
-Milk: We need 1 cup of milk to help us thin down the cheese sauce so that it’s perfect for dipping in.
-Salt and Pepper: You can add salt and pepper to taste to make the cheese sauce taste even more incredible to your liking.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Make the Pretzel Dough
In a large bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast, whisking to dissolve the yeast. Let rest for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate and bloom.
Add in the flour, salt, and butter, mixing thoroughly until a dough forms.
Knead on low speed with an electric mixer until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl (about 4-5 minutes) or knead by hand for about 5-10 minutes to get the same results.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Allow rising in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes to one hour).
While the dough is proofing, prepare the cheese sauce.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, sprinkle the flour over the butter, and stir constantly to combine.
Cook for one additional minute and then whisk in the milk until slightly thickened.
Remove the skillet from the heat and then slowly stir in the cheese until smooth. Add salt and pepper as desired.
Shape the Pretzels
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Turn your proofed dough out onto a clean work surface and then divide into 8 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece out into a 24 inch long rope.
Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope. Cross them over each other twice and then press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the prepared baking sheets.
Combine water and baking soda in a large pot and bring the mixture to a boil.
Gently lower the pretzels into the boiling water, 2 at a time, for 10-15 seconds on each side.
Place the boiled pretzels back onto the baking sheet and then brush the tops with an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake the Pretzels
Bake until they’re a dark golden brown (about 12-14 minutes).
Transfer the pretzels to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with the cheese sauce. Enjoy!
Soft Pretzels with Cheese Sauce
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups water lukewarm
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- .25 oz fast-acting dry yeast 2.25 tsp
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- coarse salt for sprinkling
Baking Soda Water Bath
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
- 8 oz cheddar cheese grated
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- salt and black pepper to taste
How to Make the Pretzel Dough
- Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Whisk to dissolve the yeast. Leave for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
- Add the flour, salt, and butter. Mix thoroughly until a dough forms. Knead on low using the dough hook attachment on your mixer, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes. You can knead the dough by hand with a wooden spoon for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
How to Make the Cheese Sauce
- While the dough is proofing, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, stirring constantly, and cook for 1 minute. Wisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened.
- Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cheese. Stir until smooth, add salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Shape the Soft Pretzels
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other twice and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the prepared baking sheets.
Baking Soda Bath
- Combine the water and baking soda in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Gently lower the pretzels into the boiling water, 2 at a time, for 10 seconds on each side.
Bake the Pretzels
- Place the boiled pretzels back on the baking sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Bake until dark golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the cheese sauce.
You can keep these pretzels stored in an airtight tight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and have them still taste incredible.
Can soft pretzels be frozen?
Yes, if planning to make these pretzels in advance or in a large batch, you can freeze them. Simply let them cool completely before wrapping individually in plastic wrap and storing them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month. Then thaw before eating.
You can reheat these pretzels in the microwave in just a few seconds but you can also reheat them in the oven. Drizzle a little water over the pretzels so that they don’t dry out and then stick on a baking sheet in the oven at 325 degrees F for about 5 minutes until heated through.
More homemade bread recipes you’ll want to sink your teeth into
- No Yeast Dinner Rolls
- Raspberry Twist Bread
- Cream Cheese Stuffed Monkey Bread
- Challah Bread
- Carrot Cake Bread
- No Yeast Wheat Bread
- Glazed Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- White Bread Recipe
- Sweet Orange Dinner Rolls
- Cinnamon Rolls Without Yeast
- Peanut Butter Banana Bread
- Braided Sweet Bread
- Apple Banana Bread
- Soft and Buttery Potato Bread
- Rose Shaped Dinner Rolls
Soft Pretzels with Cheese Sauce is a tasty appetizer or snack that is perfect for perfect for tailgating, movie nights, or just because. Enjoy your soft pretzels with a cheese dipping sauce made from scratch and enjoy a tasty salty and savory cheesy treat.