Recreate those soft, butter mall pretzels at home in under 30 minutes (from start to finish!). No mixer needed - just a spatula and a few simple ingredients. Homemade soft pretzels are perfect for after-school snacks (or late night craving), a fun summer activity, or party snack.
In a medium sized bowl or measuring cup, stir together 1.5 cups warm water, 2 packages of yeast, brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. You can get the warm water directly from the faucet - no need to heat it up more. Let sit for 5 minutes.
While the yeast is proofing, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Use your hand to create a crater in the middle of the bowl. This is where you'll pour the water mixture.
After the 5 minutes have passed, give the yeast mixture a stir and pour into the crater you created in the flour bowl.
Use a spatula to mix the dough until it's combined. Once all the flour is incorporated, use your hands to knead the dough into a solid ball. This should only take 1-2 minutes tops (any longer and you'll overwork the dough).
Place the dough ball back into the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a clean dish towel) and let sit for 10 minutes. This will allow the dough to rest & rise a tiny bit (it won't rise much, which is fine).
Using a knife, cut the dough into 12 even sections (you can make larger pretzels by cutting it into 6-8 for sections). Once cut, use your hands to roll each ball into a long strip about 1/2 inch thick and 20 inches long (if making 8 larger pretzels, roll 1 inch thick and 24 inches long).
Tip: If rolling 1/2 inch thick, the baking time will be around 7-8 minutes. For the larger 1 inch thick pretzels, bake for 8-9 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
First, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups warm water and 2 tablespoons (not teaspoons) of baking soda.
Dip each dough strip in the baking soda mixture for 1-2 seconds then quickly form into a pretzel and place on baking sheet. * See video above for how to twist a pretzel.
Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired (we use a coarse sea salt but you could also just use regular salt). If you're dipping these in salted butter, you could omit the salt.
Tip: For an even easier recipe, skip forming them into pretzels and just leave them as pretzel sticks. Basically like breadsticks.
Bake at 425 degrees for 7-8 minutes until pretzels are a light golden brown (my oven typically takes 8 minutes). Use a pastry brush or spoon to brush warm pretzels with melted butter.
Enjoy warm, straight from the oven! Use a spoon or pastry brush to cover the tops in salted butter. This is what truly gives it that mall pretzel taste - don't skip the butter! You can also dip them in cheese sauce for the ultimate homemade mall pretzel.
Where I normally use unsalted butter in baking, these need salted butter for dipping. Unsalted just doesn't taste good here!
Tip: For Cinnamon Sugar pretzels, mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon and then roll each pretzel (after you brush on the butter) in the mixture!
Storing/Freezing: These are best fresh, but can also be stored in an airtight container or bag for 1-2 days. I will say that after 1-2 days, they lose their fresh taste & soft texture, but they're still edible.
If you do not plan to eat them right away, let them cool them freeze them in an airtight bag (for 1-2 months). To get them to taste the most fresh again, pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until they're heated through.