Charlotte’s Soft Pretzels

This may sound harsh but if you want your kids to learn how to bake, don’t buy them snack foods. When we went plastic-free, I stopped buying crackers and cookies. If my kids want crackers or cookies, they make crackers or cookies. Not only have they learned baking skills, they also eat fewer snacks—sometimes the effort to make the snack outweighs the craving.

My teenage daughter Charlotte (who this time allowed me to use her name in my post) loves to make soft pretzels. She first made them in elementary school about five years ago and has since become a proficient pretzel-maker. I tried to take pics of her making the batch featured in this post, but she moves so quickly, most of the pics merely captured a flurry of hands getting their work done so they could feed their owner pretzels asap.

dough ball
Pretzel dough rising
more rising
Dough after rising an hour

The dough rose higher than you see above but my fast-working daughter divided it up into eight pie-shaped portions before I could snap a pic. She then rolled each portion out into a long rope and twisted the rope into a pretzel.

Twisting the rolled dough into a pretzel shape
Boil the shaped pretzels one at a time in water and baking soda

Charlotte says the addition of baking soda to the boiling water creates the appetizing brown crust and cracking on the pretzels as seen below. She forgot to sprinkle salt on the first four pretzels but they were delicious. In fact, we devoured those first. Charlotte has also sprinkled her pretzels with cinnamon and sugar in lieu of salt. That tastes delicious also.

silpat shot
Read-to-eat soft pretzel

We bake on our Silpats occasionally but I wonder if they are inert or safe (also I hate washing them!). I might retire them. If you don’t use them, simply grease the cookie sheets.

Charlotte's Soft Pretzels


  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (100° to 105° F)
  • 2 to 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt plus more for sprinkling
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside for a bout 10 minutes, until yeast becomes foamy.
  2. Combine 2 cups white flour, whole wheat flour and salt. When the yeast is ready, stir it into the flour mixture. Add more white flour as needed to make a stiff dough.
  3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead by hand for 7 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form a ball.
  4. Grease a bowl with olive oil. Place dough ball in the bowl and turn right side up to coat the entire ball in oil. Place a towel over the bowl and set bowl aside, preferably in a warm spot in the kitchen. Let the dough rise for about an hour and a half, or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 475°F and grease two cookie sheets.
  6. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a rope, about 20 inches long and then twist into a pretzel shape. Lightly press the ends of the rope into the pretzel.
  7. Bring water to a boil in a pot and dissolve the baking soda. Drop in pretzels one or two at a time and boil for about a minute. Drain and transfer to a baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle pretzels with salt. (You can also sprinkle them for cinnamon and sugar in lieu of salt.) Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.


I've successfully made these using whey leftover from yogurt or labneh making. Just substitute warm whey for the warm water when proofing the yeast.

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11 Replies to “Charlotte’s Soft Pretzels”

  1. These look so delicious! I used to buy pretzels from my local supermarket but have since found out what goes into them… 🙁

    Question: would these work out well using only wholewheat flour?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      The list of ingredients in most supermarket baked goods is a little frightening. I haven’t tried making these with all whole wheat. I would prefer to make everything with 100 percent whole wheat but I find my bread doesn’t rise as well without at least some white (say, about 20 to 25 percent).

  2. Pretzels are so fun and easy for kids to make. They are on the schedule for later in the semester for my kid’s cooking class – I think they’ll be a hit!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I think they will be a hit too. Charlotte has always loved to make these. What a great idea to include in your class. Lucky kids!

  3. These sound delicious, I will be trying them soon. I love snacks but hate packaging and preservatives! Yuk!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      They’re delicious and easy. Win win! I feel the same way about preservatives. Ditching them was a nice side-effect of going plastic-free.

  4. Ooh, these look perfect for my pretzel-loving 15 year old son to make.
    Thank you to you and your daughter.

  5. Finally tried these today. Mine did not turn that beautiful golden color, but they were delicious! Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  6. […] (made with rhubarb from the backyard), vegan pot pie, chocolate banana coconut smoothie, and baked these pretzels the other night. And my chocolate chip cookies have been a weekly necessity; will be baking another […]

  7. […] Recipe copied here for convenience, but full credit to Zero Waste Chef:Link to original recipe here. […]

  8. Taylor Metzler says: Reply

    Awesome, thank you! Had to make a few adjustments for dietary reasons — I used only all purpose flour, and I used the whey from making labneh, and I added cinnamon and sugar right into the dough. I also didn’t make them as pretzels cause I needed them to be smaller and couldn’t get them to roll out long enough so I twisted them like kwabaegi. They came out soft and delicious!

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