Friday, December 31st, 2010

New York-Style Soft Pretzels Recipe

soft pretzels

Before I open up a new planner book with “2011” marked across its pages, I’d like to squeeze one last post into 2010- A New York-Style Soft Pretzels Recipe. It’s the kind of recipe that many people crave after visiting the busy streets of New York. It’s the kind of recipe that a native New Yorker would crave after moving into middle-of-nowhere New Jersey (at least in my case). It’s the pretzel that I remember my parents buying my sister and I when we were younger.

soft pretzels

During the summer months, my sister and I would ask our parents for the full-of-sugar snow cones sold by elderly men scraping at huge blocks of ice at carts bombarded with lines of sweating people holding dollar bills in their hands. During the winter months, my sister and I would ask our parents for the warm, butter, soft pretzels sold on every corner between Penn Station and Times Square.

cut into 12

Have you ever bought something from a pretzel vendor? It’s as if a drug deal is going down, but with pretzels. “I’d like some of your finest crack a pretzel please.” And then, you take a couple bucks out of your pocket, hand it to the pretzel dealer vendor, and he hands you a nice warm pretzel. You pick up the yellow bottle placed in front of you, squeeze a generous amount of fluorescent yellow mustard around the entire pretzel, and make your merry way around New York City, while the pretzel kindly (because pretzels can be kind, just like humans and cats) warms your fingers, as your other hand hides in your coat pocket from the gelid winter breeze.

cross twist twicebring down press

After craving pretzels, I decided that it was time to re-create them at home, but with less salt. And I was quite pleased with the results. The color and the taste were spot-on.

soft pretzels

New York-Style Soft Pretzels Recipe
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 12

When it comes to making any bread dough, I do everything by hand. No machinery is needed for this recipe, but if you are short on time, or don’t have the energy to knead for a good 5-10 minutes, I’ve included instructions on how to make the dough in a stand mixer.

When measuring the flour for the dough, I used a scale (if you don’t have one, it’s time to make the best $25 investment you will ever make). If you do not own a scale, when measuring the flour, be sure not to compact the flour into the measuring cup; fluff the flour in its container and spoon it [lightly] into the measuring cup, and use the back of a knife (or a spatula) to level the flour. Do not tap the sides of the measuring cup, as this will also compact the flour.

For shaping the pretzels, refer to the four photos in the blog post.

2 ¼ teaspoons (¼ ounces; 1 envelope) active dry yeast
⅛ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons (8 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 fl. oz) warm water (100º to 110ºF)

1 cup (128 grams) Bread Flour
2 cups (256 grams) All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons salted butter, softened

Vegetable oil, for bowl and baking sheets

¼ cup (72 grams) baking soda
1 ½ tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pretzel salt / course grain sea salt

Egg, beaten
1 teaspoon water


Mix yeast, sea salt, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl, whisking until sugar dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes (Kamran Note: I let it sit for about 8 minutes).

Place flour into a large bowl. Using two butter knives, a pastry cutter, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Slowly pour yeast mixture over flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon or your hands to combine. Using your hands, gather dough together. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is no longer sticky, about 5 minutes.
Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size. About 1 hour. (Kamran note: If you want, you can place the bowl of dough in the refrigerator over night)

Cut dough into 12 equal pieces, and roll each into an 18-inch rope. Form a U shape with 1 rope, and twist ends together twice. Fold twisted portions backward along center of U shape to form a circle, then gently press ends of rope onto dough to seal. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet, and repeat. Let rise for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475ºF.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add baking soda and 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar. Boil pretzels in batches until puffed and slightly shiny, about 30 seconds a side. Transfer to wire racks to drain.Place pretzels on an oiled baking sheet. Mix the 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash. Sprinkle the with the pretzel salt or course grain sea salt (I used the latter).

Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Pretzels will keep, uncovered at room temperature for up to 12 hours.

Re-warm in a 250-degree oven if desired, toast the pretzels on a toaster, and served with mustards.

The Best Cocoa Brownies
Walnut Pecan Clusters

Font Size: a A | print recipe Print Recipe | 44 Comments


  • Megan Gordon
    December 31st, 2010

    Brilliant photos! Perfect end-of-the-year recipe. Happy New Year, Kam. I’ve so enjoyed reading all your posts this year and look forward to a full (and delicious) 2011!

  • Jennifer @ Licious Food
    December 31st, 2010

    Those pretzels look tasty!

    You could have a job at Auntie Anne’s in your future, LOL!

    I have made pretzels only once and after viewing your post it makes me want to revisit it.

  • Tweets that mention New York-Style Soft Pretzels Recipe | the sophisticated gourmet --
    December 31st, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kamran Siddiqi. Kamran Siddiqi said: New post! New York-Style Soft Pretzels Recipe – […]

  • Ria
    December 31st, 2010

    Love your pictures, K! Wishing you a Very Happy & Peaceful New Year!

  • skip to malou
    January 1st, 2011

    OH NY won’t be the same without the scent of pretzels emanating from the street vendors… and yeah you’re so right,as I feel that way whenever I buy those pretzels, I feel like I’m buying some illegal stuff hahah coz they are so good and you have a certain “high” eating and holding the warm pretzels…haha!

    I miss NYC (live there six years ago) but Im glad I coould re-create NY here in SD by trying your recipe. Im sure it’s going to wake my kids up! YUM!

  • Courtney
    January 1st, 2011

    Whenever I’m in NY I have to get a pretzel, but the only problem is I haven’t been to NY in a little while. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food
    January 1st, 2011

    I spent a great deal of my childhood making trips into The City… to see my father at work, to go to a show, to eat an amazing meal. But the memory that sticks with me the most is the time I was given my first soft pretzel.

    Now, I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of mustard, so I usually eat it naked (with salt of course).

  • Winnie
    January 1st, 2011

    Oh I think these look way better than the pretzels on the street! And I love mustard…
    Absolutely gorgeous post and photos…I am new to your blog but will be back for sure :)

  • Stefania
    January 2nd, 2011

    Happy New Year ♥
    Moltissimi Auguri
    per uno splendido 2011

  • kamran
    January 2nd, 2011

    New Year Wishes- Thank you!

    Jennifer- No thank you to the job at Aunt Annie’s, but I do encourage you to make these. The dough is very easy to handle and is very forgiving.

    Brian- plain pretzels are good, too :)

    Winnie- why thank you!

  • Lily
    January 4th, 2011

    Beautiful!! Happy New Year!

  • Nadia
    January 5th, 2011

    gorgeous! Who would have thought anyone would use the word gorgeous to describe pretzels, but they really are. :)

    Being a desi, I love spice- do you think adding some green chilies into the dough would work?

  • Your Dad
    January 5th, 2011

    My son, your site looks more wonderful each time I look at it.

    I remember when your mom and I would buy you and your sister those warm pretzels. And this recipe: I want you to make these pretzels when you come over. The last time I made one of your recipes, I made the bagel one for you and your sister. I forgot to boil the bagels, and you know what happened. They looked ok but, were hard as bricks.

    This time, I’ll let the master baker in the family handle all of the baking.

  • kamran
    January 5th, 2011

    Lilly- Same to you!

    Nadia- I don’t see why not. I love a little kick! But chili powder might work just as well… If you do add the chilies, I would suggest dicing them up finely.

    Dad- Oh, now you’ve finally figured out how to comment on here? Kidding. Thanks so much for being so nice! What do you want, now? I’m kidding again. Sort of. Well, I’ll bring some stuff over to make these for the family . . . I’ll make a huge batch!

  • Shaheen
    January 5th, 2011

    Love the father-son banter.:)

    I wish I could have one of those right now. I miss them so dearly. NYC is one of my fave food cities.

  • rebecca subbiah
    January 8th, 2011

    oh wow they look perfect happy new year Kamran

  • Jess
    January 9th, 2011

    I’m digging these pictures! Very cool! When I was in third grade my brother and I would always make cinnamon and sugar pretzels.
    Jess : )

    kamran replied:


  • Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)
    January 13th, 2011

    Ahh those pretzels look gorgeous :)
    I’ve never even eaten one! I feel like I’m missing out though, especially reading the sweet story you just wrote!

  • christinaalison
    February 1st, 2011

    i’ve tried a few different pretzel recipes. these are most definitely my favorite! delish! i tried your bagel recipe as well…. sadly, those were a swing and a miss. :~/ not sure what happened, but i am going to try again for sure. i’m new to your site, but i’m enjoying it.

    kamran replied:

    Hi there! I am so glad that these turned out well!

    As for the bagels, I am surprised that they didn’t turn out well- my father (a non-baker) even managed to make the bagel recipe without my help or advice and they turned out beautifully. Maybe I can help you figure out what went wrong?

  • Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels Recipe | the sophisticated gourmet
    February 11th, 2011

    […] the sugar high is gone. I am only kidding. Sorta. Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels Recipe Adapted from THIS post Makes […]

  • Billa
    February 12th, 2011

    I also started learning to write some recipes .. but when I saw your blog, I was very impressed … his writing is very detailed … I can learn from here, thank you.

  • We’re coming back for you, Amish country! (And I made pretzels.) « OK, Let's Do This!
    July 5th, 2011

    […] saw the recipe on The Sophisticated Gourmet, and followed it word for […]

  • Lynette
    October 31st, 2011

    They sure look pretty on your screen, but mine turned out a total disaster. As soon as they hit the water they just uncoiled and turned into a slimy mess. Is there a trick to preventing them from uncoiling?

    kamran replied:

    Hi Lynette- there really isn’t a secret or trick to prevent them from uncoiling other than pressing the ends of the dough together well (there’s no need to be overly-gentle with this step); the dough should stick together.

    If you’re using flour when you’re taking the dough out of the bowl after it’s rested, while cutting the dough, or while forming the pretzels- that’s the cause of your pretzels uncoiling (it’s preventing the dough from sticking to itself); you don’t need any more flour other than what’s called for in the recipe.

    I hope that helps!

  • Soft Pretzels and Beer-Cheddar Fondue | 10th Kitchen
    February 4th, 2012

    […] Pretzels and Beer-Cheddar Fondue (Pretzel recipe from Sophisticated Gourmet; fondue adapted from Rachael […]

  • Melanie
    April 25th, 2012

    These were (are) great! My hubby and I made them tonight. I brushed them with melted butter instead of the egg – otherwise following it exact, and they are ssooo yummy!

  • Happy National Pretzel Day | RecipeLionBlog
    April 26th, 2012

    […]  New York Style Soft Pretzels […]

  • Soft Pretzels « theGoodiePlate
    June 26th, 2012

    […] for a long while. I had no idea where to start so I went pretzel recipe researching. I found one on Sophisticated Gourmet. It looked tasty enough, so then and there I started my pretzel making journey. I changed a couple […]

  • Capricila
    October 12th, 2012

    Soooo… i tried this recipe…. total failure. ._. After i boiled them, total disaster, fell apart in pieces. Then I baked those pieces, trying to save something, still failure. They taste… well… I’ll keep doing cupcakes.

    Kamran replied:

    Capricila- I apologize that this recipe didn’t turn out well for you. I did receive a couple emails from folks saying that after boiling, their pretzels fell apart. I adjusted the recipe; it now calls for a much shorter boiling time (30seconds per side).

  • Party Foods | Cats Can't Cook
    January 21st, 2013

    […] turned out pretty well. I followed this recipe, but I did kind of burn the bottoms, so next time (oh yes, there will be a next time) I’ll be […]

  • theresa
    April 28th, 2013

    Did I miss the directions for doing the pretzels in a standing mixer? I don’t have the strength in my hands to kneed. Thank you so much I can’t wait to try this.

  • Sandy
    June 27th, 2013

    These look really good! I have to add them to my “To Make List”!!

  • Midnight Cowboy & New York specials | Film and food
    July 22nd, 2013

    […] Image: Sophisticated Gourmet […]

  • Soft Pretzels | Combine & Stir:
    August 23rd, 2013

    […] Pretzels adapted from Sophisticated Gourmet yield: 15 medium […]

  • Midnight Cowboy film matched with New York specials | Film and food
    August 26th, 2013

    […] Image: Sophisticated Gourmet […]

  • Vegan New York-Style soft pretzels recipe | Badgerbrook Breads
    February 1st, 2014

    […] loosely based on one from an interesting and beautifully-photographed blog by Kamran Siddiqi called The Sophicated Gourmet.  In my search for a good pretzel recipe, I tried 3, none of which produced pretzels you would […]

  • Joanne
    February 16th, 2014

    Just as I thought. I made your bagels yesterday, and they were delicious. And today. I made these. After they were done, I brushed a couple with butter and sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top. And the rest with salt. They tasted just like a pretzel. I love your site. I found you while searching for something else. And now I’m hooked. I was very surprised to see a young man behind the recipes. Bravo!

  • Millie
    May 12th, 2014

    Can’t believe I only just found your blog – everything looks so delicious!! I’m also in love with pretzels so will definitely try these out!!

  • Eileen
    July 6th, 2014

    Okay, so the bagels never sore but they did boil and float to the top. So I now have heavy chewy bagels. I think maybe I should add another 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to get the yeast excited since I had to add 1/3 more water? I just need to get them to rise and then I know they will be winners for sure, I am so close

  • Rebecca
    July 15th, 2014

    Has anyone tried this recipe but taking out the sugar?

  • Vegan New York-Style soft pretzels recipe |
    October 12th, 2014

    […] loosely based on one from an interesting and beautifully-photographed blog by Kamran Siddiqi called The Sophicated Gourmet.  In my search for a good pretzel recipe, I tried 3, none of which produced pretzels you would […]

leave a comment

Subscribe by: EMAIL or RSS Feed