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Homemade Soft Pretzels and Cheese

Homemade soft pretzels have always been a favorite of mine! Pair them with some cheese dip, and I’m in heaven. These pretzels have the SOFTEST pillowy texture, and the buttery, salty flavor is spot-on! The cheese dip is perfectly creamy, with lots of flavor–and even some kick!

It can be a little bit intimidating making pretzels for the first time, between learning how to shape them and the baking soda bath. However, it’s incredibly easy, and with the instructions below, you’ll be a pro in no time!

Tips for the Perfect Homemade Soft Pretzels

The Perfect Rise

First, you need to make sure to use the right temperature of warm water so that the yeast activates properly. This should be between 105° and 115° Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, use water that’s as warm as you’d use for a baby’s bath–a little warmer than lukewarm. Test the water on the inside of your wrist to get a good idea of how warm it is. If the water is either too hot or too cold, it will kill the yeast and you’ll need to start over. When the yeast starts to foam, you’ll know you did it right!

Second, storing the dough to rise in a warm place helps the dough to rise properly. If you keep your home cold (like I do ?), or it’s the winter, it can be hard to do this. What I like to do is turn my oven on to its lowest setting (usually around 170° F), and let it heat up for 1 minute. Turn the oven OFF (don’t bake the rising dough!), and put the covered dough in the oven. You don’t want the oven to reach 170° F, but leaving it on for a minute should bring up the temperature about 15-20 degrees warmer than your house. Be patient with the rising dough, and make sure it doubles in size! This usually takes about 55 minutes to an hour, but check on it periodically.

How to Shape the Soft Pretzels

Shaping pretzels is actually a lot easier than it looks! First, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each dough piece into a 20 inch long rope. It doesn’t need to be exact! Form the rope into a U-shape and take hold of the two ends. Cross the ends over each other twice. Then take both ends and press them into the bottom of the U-shape.

If you are more of a visual person like I am, check out this tutorial that walks you through these steps with pictures: How to Shape Pretzels

Baking Soda Bath

Soaking the soft pretzels in the baking soda bath is actually fairly simple. First, make sure that the baking soda and water mixture has reached a rolling boil. Second, make sure to only leave the pretzels in for 20 seconds (or no more than 30), or the pretzels will have a metallic taste. Only putting one pretzel in at a time helps to make sure that they aren’t accidentally in there too long.

These tips will set you up for success when making homemade soft pretzels! Pair them with the homemade cheese sauce below, and this will be your new favorite snack. Try out this recipe and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Homemade Soft Pretzels and Cheese

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Maddie Saxey
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

12

minutes
Calories

285

kcal

*doesn’t include rise time (55-60 minutes)

Ingredients

  • Pretzels
  • 1 1/2 cup 1 1/2 warm water** (between 105°-115° F)

  • 2 1/4 tsp 2 1/4 active dry yeast

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp 1 1/2 brown sugar

  • 2 tsp 2 fine sea salt

  • 3 2/3 cup 3 2/3 all purpose flour

  • 3 Tbsp 3 unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  • 1 1 large egg

  • 1 Tbsp 1 water

  • coarse sea salt

  • unsalted butter (to spread on pretzels after baking)

  • Baking Soda Bath
  • 9 cup 9 water

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 baking soda

  • Cheese Dip
  • 2 Tbsp 2 unsalted butter

  • 1 Tbsp 1 all purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 whole milk

  • 8 oz 8 sliced white American cheese***

  • 3 oz 3 cream cheese

  • 1 tsp 1 minced garlic

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 fine sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 crushed red pepper

  • 1/8 tsp 1/8 onion powder

Directions

  • Pretzels
  • In a standing mixer bowl, add the warm water, yeast, and brown sugar, and let sit for about 5 minutes (it should be foamy**). Then add in the melted butter and salt. Mix with a rubber spatula by hand. Gradually add in the flour, mixing with a rubber spatula until it becomes dough and is no longer sticky.
  • Add the dough hook to the standing mixer, and mix the dough on medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulling away from the bowl.
  • Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, add the dough, and cover with a towel. Place the bowl in a warm place, and let it rise until it’s double in size (about 55 minutes to an hour).
  • Preheat the oven to 400° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Once the dough is done rising, cut it into 12 even sections. Roll each section of dough into a 20 inch long rope. Form a U-shape with the rope, then grab hold of the top ends. Cross them over each other twice. Bring the two ends down over the bottom of the U- shape, pressing the ends down to form the pretzel. (Linked above is a tutorial that shows how to do this).
  • Add the water and baking soda to a large pot and bring to a rolling boil. Using a large spatula (or slotted spoon), carefully place the pretzels (one at a time) into the boiling water for 20 seconds, then remove. Don’t leave them in for too long! Drip off as much excess water as possible, and then place the pretzels on the parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  • Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water, forming an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the top of each pretzel using a pastry brush. Then generously sprinkle coarse sea salt over each pretzel.
  • Bake one baking sheet of pretzels at a time, for about 12-15 minutes until golden. Immediately after baking, butter the top of each pretzel with unsalted butter.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then serve while they are still warm with some cheese dip (below). Enjoy!
  • Cheese Dip
  • In a small sauce pan, melt the butter on medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until a paste forms. Add the milk, and whisk until it begins to thicken. Add the garlic, and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  • Break up the sliced white American cheese and the cream cheese into small pieces and add them to the sauce pan. Stir until they are completely melted. Add the salt, crushed pepper, and onion powder, then stir.
  • Let sit on lowest heat setting and stir frequently until serving.

Notes

  • **If you don’t have a thermometer, use water that’s as warm as you’d use for a baby’s bath–a little warmer than lukewarm. Test the water on the inside of your wrist to get a good idea of how warm it is. If the water is either too hot or too cold, it will kill the yeast and you’ll need to start over. When the yeast starts to foam, you’ll know you did it right!
  • ***Get the American cheese sliced from your grocery store’s deli. Packaged cheese from the refrigerated section of the store is usually coated in preservatives and will sometimes not melt properly (the dip can end up clumpy, rather than smooth).

Did you make this recipe?

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