Solomon and Celia first fell in love with soft pretzels on the streets of Manhattan, when we bought one for each of them from one of the metal rolling carts that line the avenues. They were still hot and speckled with big grains of salt, and the kids were instantly hooked. 

As their love affair with soft pretzels persisted, we introduced Solomon and Celia to the healthier and more innovative flavors of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels (their favorites are Pizza Pretzels), which, although made in Chicago, we can buy frozen at our local supermarket. [See below for details on how to win a sample pack of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels.] (Disclaimer: the founders of Kim & Scott’s are family friends and we go way back, but we would love their pretzels even if we didn’t know them.)

We’re currently enjoying a lull in our schedules between basketball and soccer seasons, which, to my delight, means we have a little more time for some hands-on projects at home. One activity that the kids can’t resist is making our own soft pretzels. The entire project takes about 45 minutes, start to finish, and is a great way to knead our troubles away and develop our hand muscles while we make ourselves a delectable snack.

Beyond the traditional twists, our kids like to spell the first letters of their names and experiment with other shapes like spirals and hearts with the stretchy dough. Creativity is a plus with this project! 

In addition to our stand-by soft pretzel recipe below, you may enjoy exploring these alternatives:

Soft Pretzel Bites from Rachel Currier

soft pretzel bites from Rachel Currier

Mini Soft Pretzels from Smitten Kitchen.

mini soft pretzels from Smitten Kitchen

These pictures from How to Cook Like Your Grandmother are helpful if you’re learning to twist pretzels for the first time.

We originally got this recipe from a bakery called Just Cakes in Bethesda, Maryland, where ironically Celia learned to make pretzels, cookies and breads, in addition to cakes, during a summer cooking camp.

Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels has created a soft pretzel assortment, especially for fans of PBS Parents.  The assortment includes their Pizza, Bavaraian, Spinach, and Feta and Grilled Cheese stuffed pretzels. All of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels are all-natural, nut-free and twisted by hand.  To be eligible to win a sample pack of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels, just leave a comment below sharing your favorite pretzel memory by Friday, March 18th at 11:59 pm PST: was it on the street, at the ballpark with your kids, etc.?  Only one entry per person. U.S. mailing addresses only. A winner will be chosen using Random.org on March 19th. Good luck! THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER, LES123, AS SELECTED BY RANDOM.ORG.

Recipe: Soft Pretzels

  • Prep Time: 30 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 12 – 15 min(s)
  • Total Time: < 45 min(s)
  • Servings: 6 – 8 pretzels

A step-by-step guide for making soft pretzels from scratch.

Ingredients

    • 2 packages active dry yeast
    • 1 ½ cups warm water
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for the counter)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 egg
    • Mustard, honey mustard, or melted butter or Cheddar cheese for dipping (Optional)

Instructions

    • In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the sugar. Let it stand for about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the flour followed by the salt and the remaining 2 cups of flour.
    • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread a thin layer of flour on the counter or a pastry board (or on individual cutting boards or baking sheets if you have many little bakers). Transfer the dough to the counter and knead it for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes elastic and shinier. (This can also be done in a mixer for 4 – 5 minutes but that takes away some of the fun.)
    • Divide the dough into 6 – 8 equal parts.  Stretch each part into a long thin rope, about 2 feet long and about ½-inch thick, and then twist them into a pretzel shape (or whatever shape you like).
    • Place the pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make an egg wash by beating the egg with 2 tsp. of water. With a pastry brush, brush the surfaces of the pretzels with the egg wash, then sprinkle them with a little kosher or sea salt or cinnamon and sugar, if desired.
    • Bake them for 12 – 15 minutes until they are golden brown.

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  • Erin Zackey

    as the wife of a native Philly boy I would have to say that sharing my first “real” soft pretzel on my first trip back east with him is likely my favorite pretzel memory. :) looking forward to making these with my little kiddos tomorrow for the first time, thanks!

  • LeeAnn P.

    My first encounter with a nice warm soft pretzel was as a kid at the local amusement park and I’ve been hooked on them ever since!

  • http://thishumanscondition.wordpress.com Mary B

    My favorite pretzel memory is of eating pretzels at the beach with my husband and son and then having to flee suddenly because the seagulls decided that they’d like some, too.

  • Pingback: Making Soft Pretzels and Gourmet Pretzel Giveaway | Healthy Family Cooking()

  • Dawn

    Our family enjoyed eating pretzels sold from street vendors in Philly while waiting for the 4th of July parade to begin.

  • http://savorysweetlife.com alice

    Loving all the pretzels today!

  • Linda F

    I remember my son enjoying a soft pretzel at his first major league baseball game.

  • Jen

    My daughters aged 3 and 4 eating their first soft pretzels at a baseball game with their Grandpa. They liked the pretzels better than the ice cream!

  • Marci

    I still remember eating my first soft pretzel at a NY Yankees game — what a treat!

  • Amanda S.

    My first soft pretzel was at Disneyland when I was 9!

  • Heather K

    I really enjoyed sharing my son’s first pretzel at the mall with him. Now I know if I want some guaranteed peace while I shop, I just have to stop for a pretzel first.

  • Aimee

    I think my favorite pretzel memory is eating them at Cincinnati Reds games. Why does everything taste best at a ballpark?

  • Jessica K

    I love the soft pretzels at our local brewery, where I had a job in college. It was amazing with their beer cheese dip.

  • Teresa

    I had the privilege of working at an authentic German bakery for about a year. I loved soft pretzel day! They were one of my favorite treats and special because they were the real thing – where the specially-trained would dip them in lye just before baking. They were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle – yum!

  • Kathleen Bateman

    We visited Amish country in PA for our honeymoon. Maybe it was just wedded bliss that got the best of me, but the bakeries there had the best buttery soft pretzels I’ve ever tasted.

  • http://twitter.com/1Phenomenal1 Roberta

    I have enjoyed making and failing with my kids. We learn alot about each other as we spend time together in the kitchen. So now, thanks to this recipe, we have a definite win. My kids are making we sure we print this one out. Thanks so much

  • http://www.beyouspa.com Hyun M

    I love soft pretzels and I think NYC in 1986 was my first official NY pretzel. I still have fond memories. I will try this out during our weekend project with my boys.

  • Emily N.

    My favorite pretzel memory was getting a soft pretzel with my mom at the mall after a fun day of shopping.

  • sara

    my mom made soft pretzels with us when we were kids. I remember clearly shaping them with her and I was probably about 3 years old. Now I enjoy making them with my kids!

  • Kirstin

    My favorite pretzel memories were the pretzels eaten at the mall in middle school. I can still remember how much I enjoyed hanging out with friends, shopping for clothes, and giggling about boys.

  • Teresa

    I remember the first time getting my daughter to try a soft pretzel at the mall. She wasn’t too sure about them. But now she loves them. I have to get her own though, I hate to share! lol

  • Kirsten

    I regularly ate them with yellow mustard from our DECA room all through high school.

  • Anne

    We made sweet pretzels when my son was young and sprinkled on colored sugar before baking.

  • Janet

    I have always loved soft pretzels! We make homemade ones every year as part of our Thanksgiving tradition. I am thrilled Kim & Scott are dedicated to being nut-free. As a mom to a nut allergic child I am so happy they’ve taken this step. In fact, we had Kim & Scott pretzels for dinner tonight instead of the english muffins suggested as a side to Potato and Prosciutto Scramble!

  • Sheryl V

    Soft pretzels are our treat when we go to the mall. My kids also love to eat Kim & Scott pretzels when they visit the Kohl’s Children Museum in Glenview, IL. They have an activity in the store where the kids can decorate the own pretzels and have them baked. We’ve never made our own, but we’ll have to try these yummy recipes.

  • Cindy

    My late husband and I shared an enormous soft pretzel on our first date. Every time I have one now, I think of him. I share the love of pretzels and him with our children. I look forward to trying this recipe and dunking them in cheese, just like Daddy used to.

  • http://www.girlnamednick.wordpress.com Nicole Shein

    I think I know what my kids and I will be doing this afternoon! Thanks (as always) for the inspiration, as well as the recipe.

  • JessicaKW

    I love the soft pretzels at the local Renaissance Fair every summer. The vendors are so funny that it makes the experience that much more memorable.

  • Karie

    Pretzels make me think of my parents. My dad is a baseball man, so I associate soft pretzels with concession stands at the field. Lately, I’ve been heating up frozen soft pretzels — because now my kids love them, too — so I can’t wait to make them from scratch. We’ll save some for Dad, too :)

  • Elizabeth Jorgensen

    My mom would always make soft bretzles from scratch. We’d help roll the dough. Then, we’d don them with different toppings: spicy cheese, salt, cinnamon and sugar, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc. My mom made them so frequently, in high school my house was known as Pretzel Nancy’s (a nod to my mother). The only bad thing is she’s ruined the pretzles at the mall–they just aren’t like mama makes them!

  • Jaime smith

    My first pretzel was with cheese at the skating rink! I love the salt and cheese flavor! I recently gave my kids a taste of this awesome treat and we all were fighting over the last bite! Can’t wait to make them homemade with them!!

  • David Sukhram

    Getting off the subway and walking toward the \stadium\. You know, the one that \Ruth built\. The smell of fresh pretzels being warmed on an open-fire and the buzz in the atmosphere draws you in. The excitement is so intense you can hardly contain yourself.

  • Maureen

    My favorite pretzel memory was actually a time we DIDN’T have pretzels. My (now) husband and I spent every Thanksgiving with his extended family in NYC, and would always share a pretzel from a street cart after getting off the subway. We got off the subway, and he walked right past one on our way into Central Park. Later, I found he was too nervous to eat a pretzel — when he proposed! I didn’t suspect a thing, but he was afraid that refusing a pretzel gave him away!

  • Elizabeth

    I love pretzels on the streets of NYC! I miss that about living there.

  • Shannon Thompson

    My favorite pretzel story. When i was little we would go to the mall with my grandparents and all ways get a pretzel it was our routine. but i loved it and was all ways so excited… everytime i pass a pretzel place in makes me think of them =)

    darkgothdoll@hotmail.com

  • http://www.liasophia.com/bookwithdara Dara

    at Disneyworld with my sister and her husband. We both have to get the salted pretzels and then immediately take the salt off. My brother-in-law was amazed that not 1 but both of us do the same weird thing (though I don’t find it that weird!)

  • Carolyn

    I took my three year old triplets to the park and bought myself a soft pretzel with cheese dip for a snack and the three of them (who had never had one before) devoured the entire thing and I did not even get a bite!

  • les123

    I have fond memories of high school home ec. class (late 70s). We made really good soft pretzels! I think the teacher enticed the class by providing recipes that kids would like! I remember bringing recipes home for my family. I even made homemade pizza for my brother’s 13th birthday. Over time the writing on those long-forgotten recipes faded. I’m excited to try your recipe with my girls! Baking and creating something that you can share with others and see how much they enjoy is so rewarding!

  • Heather Weber

    I remember making pretzels with my mom when I was little. Thanks for reminding me of those times. I will definitely do this with my two year old son! He loves helping in the kitchen. He would rather do that than play in his toy kitchen. :)

  • DEIDRA

    The baguette of North America – who doesn’t love warm, portable, savory goodness? I had my first pretzel experience in college. The “City of Brotherly Love” loves pretzels! I’m no chef, but I can follow directions. The kids and I making pretzels this weekend.

  • beth galvin

    when my boys were young we enjoyed baking soft pretzels together. YUM!

  • chris leach

    My kids love going to ballgames and eating the warm soft pretzels.. White Sox & Chicago Bears Games…

  • Amie

    My twins absolutely love warm, soft pretzels that they can dip in gooey cheese. What’s better in life?

  • Lori Wrankle

    Our entire family loves homemade pretzels! Thanks for the recipes, Aviva!

  • http://lifewith4growinglittlemonsters.blogspot.com/ Brandi M.

    My fav memory is from making them with the kids, they love to do it! Thanks!

  • Diane

    I used to love eating the snyders hard pretzels with my dad. I always felt so special to get those grownup pretzels!

  • Hetty

    Soft pretzels with yellow mustard…the best at the ballpark!

  • Sandi

    Anyone know if I can make the dough ahead of time?