These homemade soft rye pretzels are super easy to make with common ingredients, and are better than any soft pretzel you’ll get at a mall!Jump to Recipe
My partner AJ and I have been obsessed with pretzels of all sorts, pretty much our entire lives. From the boxes of large hard pretzels, to regular pretzel twists, to pretzel crisps, to those soft pretzels you can get at the ball game and the mall, we eat them all! I’ve made soft pretzel buns constantly for burgers here on my blog, and I use pretzels in my salty snack brookie bars, as well as a coating for my easy caramel apples. I even make my beer cheese dip specifically for pretzel dipping! But I’ve been wanting to share my go-to Rye Soft Pretzel recipe with everyone for awhile, and here it is!
Why use rye flour?
You can definitely substitute all-purpose flour for the rye flour and get a great soft pretzel. But the rye flour adds an extra dimension to the pretzels with its signature bitter flavor and is worth tracking down. However, as I said, your pretzels will be great without it! Just substitute 1 1/2 cups (210 g) of regular all-purpose flour for the rye flour.
What rye flour should I use?
Rye flour comes in different forms, light, medium and dark. The darker the flour, the stronger the rye flavor, as the flour has more bran in it. I prefer a dark rye flour but any rye flour you have will work in this recipe. Keep in mind that the darker the flour, the more dense the final product will be as well.
What sort of yeast do I have to use?
There are a variety of yeast at the store. I use “active yeast” which is a pretty standard yeast. Avoid “instant yeast” which doesn’t require dissolving in the liquid, but also has less flavor.
What is malt syrup and what can I substitute?
Though I did substitute baking soda for lye, I opted for barley malt syrup because it’s lends an authentic slightly sweet malted flavor to the pretzel. You can find barley malt syrup at most upscale grocery stores, health food stores, and well stocked grocery stores, as well as online. But if you don’t want to track it down, you can substitute an equal amount of honey, or 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and the pretzel will still be great.
What’s in the dough?
The dough is fairly basic, with bread flour, rye flour, salt, yeast, malt syrup and warm water. I also add some butter in the dough to not only give it richness but also make sure the dough is soft when you bite into it after it bakes.
How do you make the pretzel shape?
Making the pretzel twist (my favorite part of the pretzel) looks complicated but it’s not. Just roll the dough out into a long strip (about 20 to 22 inches long). Then make a “U” shape with the rope of dough. Twist the dough twice at top. Then flip it down and press to seal the pretzel!
Why boil the pretzels?
Once you make the pretzels, you need to boil them to give them their signature shiny dark brown pretzel coating (and flavor). You do this by first boiling them in a solution that is basic (the opposite of acidic). Traditional pretzels are boiled in food safe lye. I prefer to use baking soda which I can get at the regular grocery store and doesn’t require wearing gloves to protective your hands.
If you like these Rye Soft Pretzels, check out these other yeasted bread recipes:
- Soft Pretzel Buns
- Easy Potato Rolls
- Homemade English Muffins
- The Bialy, bagel’s overlooked cousin
- Lemon scented Crumpets
Homemade Soft Rye Pretzels
- 1 1/2 cups warm water about 105° to 115°F/40-46°C
- 1 tablespoon malt syrup substitute same amount honey or brown sugar if you want
- 1 package active (not instanyeast 7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 1 1/2 cups rye flour 195 g, any type
- 2 3/4 cups bread flour 440 g, substitute all-purpose if you want
- 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter 57 g, 4 tablespoons or half a stick
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- Coarse kosher salt or sea salt
Place the warm water and barley malt syrup (honey or brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir the liquid together to dissolve the sweetener. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the liquid and stir with a fork to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof. The top of the liquid should be foamy. If it isn’t discard and start over with fresh yeast.
Once the yeast has proofed, add both flours, butter and salt to the liquid and stir it with the dough hook on slow speed until the liquid has absorbed all the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and pulls away cleanly from the side of the bowl.
Pull the dough off the hook and out of the bowl, and coat the bowl with cooking spray. Stretch the dough into a ball, gathering the rough edges of the dough into one side and then place in the bowl, with the rough edges down. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit to rise until the dough has doubled, about 50 to 60 minutes.
Once the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 450º. Line two baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper. Place the water and baking soda in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the baking soda has dissolved.
Once the water has been brought to a boil, divide the dough into 8 even pieces. Cover the pieces with plastic wrap or a damp towel to keep them from drying out.
Roll one piece into a long rope, about 20 inches/50 cm long. Form a “U” shape with the rope, then lay the top of the rope over each other in an “X” formation. Then twist one more time, so the top of the rope is twisted together.
Flip the "leg" ends down to form a pretzel shape. Dip your finger in some water and then dab it under the loose ends so the "legs" stick to the body of the pretzel. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Cover all the formed pretzels with plastic wrap or a damp towel to keep them from drying out.
Once all the pretzels have been formed, boil two or three of them in the baking soda water for 45 seconds. Flip the pretzels upside down and boil for an additional 45 seconds. Remove the pretzels from the water and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
Beat the egg yolk and water together and brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash. Sprinkle the coarse salt on top of the pretzels. The egg wash will help the salt to stick. Bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes or until the pretzels are a dark brown. Rotating the pans once during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire cooling rack.
If you don’t have or want to use rye or bread flour you can still make these pretzels! Just use a total of 4 1/4 cups (595 g) all-purpose flour in place of the other flours.