I love making pretzels, and everyone loves eating them! While making fresh pretzels might seem intimidating at first, once you get the twisting, shaping, and boiling parts down, it's pretty foolproof. Even if your pretzel twisting skills aren't quite perfect yet, no one will complain about a "rustic" pretzel. This soft pretzel recipe is naturally vegan, and the pretzels get their shiny coating from a baking soda bath and aquafaba "egg" wash. They're perfect dipped in spicy mustard.
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How to twist a pretzel
Or is it fold, roll, or shape? There are a few ways to make your dough into a pretzel shape, and this one is more of a fold than a twist. It's the easiest way to do it, but there are a few steps you'll want to follow.
- Take a portion of dough—this recipe divides into eighths.
- Roll your dough into a super long rope. Make it two feet if you can so that there's plenty of pretzel length to fold.
- Take one side of the pretzel, loop it around, and place the end on top of the center of your rope.
- Pull the loop up a bit.
- Take the other end and cross it over the other loop, making a pretzel shape.
- Pinch together the areas around the folds so that the pretzel doesn't come undone when you boil it.
- The dough has a tendency to shrink, so spread out the loops bigger than you need them. They'll also puff up in the baking soda bath.
Baking soda bath
Fun fact, pretzels are sometimes dipped in a lye solution (you know, the caustic stuff used in drain cleaners and soap) before they're baked to get that golden brown sheen and pretzel flavor. Luckily, you can get similar results by using good old baking soda, and remove the risk of giving yourself a chemical burn.
Before baking the pretzels, you'll boil them in a pot full of baking soda and water for a minute. This can get messy because any splashes will dry as baking soda splatters on your stove, but you can easily wipe them away (and clean the stove in the process—win win).
Aquafaba as egg wash
Another way to give the pretzels a shiny finish is by brushing them with aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) after the baking soda bath. Aquafaba works well as an egg wash since it mimics egg whites in this application. Try it on bread and rolls too!
Some pretzel making tips and troubleshooting
Pretzels can be a bit finicky, so follow these tips to make sure everything runs swimmingly.
Don't transfer the pretzels from the baking soda bath directly to the baking sheet
Let your pretzels dry off on a cooling rack or different baking sheet. Or at least change the parchment paper. You don't want the parchment paper or baking sheet that you bake the pretzels on to get wet with the baking soda water. Much like it does for the pretzels, it will make your parchment paper and pan all golden brown and toasty, and not in a good way, and burn your pretzels along with it.
Let the dough rise in a warm place
This is a rule for every yeast bread or pastry, but especially important for enriched doughs like pretzel dough. Enriched dough is any dough that includes ingredients like milk or butter in addition to the basic flour, water, yeast, and salt. These doughs don't rise as much as regular dough in most cases.
Keep an eye on your pretzels in the oven
Similar to the last point—the baking soda makes things brown and toasty, and quickly. It's very easy for your pretzels to go from perfectly golden to burnt to a crisp in a couple of minutes. Check in on them in the last few minutes of baking.
Make sure to pinch the dough together tightly at the folds
This one bears repeating because the baking soda bath will make the pretzels slick, and if they're not pinched into shape, they'll come undone when they're boiling.
- 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 ¼ teaspoons 1 packet active dry yeast
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
- 10 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- 3-4 tablespoons aquafaba, liquid from a can of chickpeas
- Coarse sea salt or pretzel salt for topping
- Combine water, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl. Let sit until the yeast starts to bubble.
- Add half of the flour, and the melted margarine, and stir with the dough hook attachment or with a large spoon if mixing by hand.
- Gradually add the rest of the flour, mixing between each addition.
- Knead the dough with the dough hook for 4-5 minutes, or 8-9 minutes by hand, until the dough is smooth and easily forms into a ball.
- Oil your mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 50 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Grease or line with parchment paper two baking sheets, then set aside.
- Combine the 10 cups of water and baking soda in a large stockpot and bring to a boil.
- On a floured surface, divide dough into 8-10 pieces (depending on what size pretzels you want).
- Roll each piece into a log, then fold and twist into pretzel shapes. Set on the prepared parchment.
- Place 1-2 pretzels at a time in the boiling water and let boil for 30 seconds on each side.
- Remove from pot and transfer to baking sheets or wire racks. Do not place them on the baking sheet you'll be using to bake them on (see note).
- Repeat until all pretzels are done.
- Transfer the pretzels to the greased or lined pans.
- Brush the top of each pretzel with aquafaba, then sprinkle coarse salt on top.
- Bake until golden brown, 13-15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving with mustard.
- Don't transfer the pretzels from the water directly to the baking sheet. Excess baking soda water will burn your pretzels and the parchment paper.
- Want to make pretzel dogs? Instead of twisting your dough into a pretzel, wrap it around a veggie dog. It might take a few more minutes to bake them, but the recipe is the same otherwise.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 347Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 500mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 8g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on seitanbeatsyourmeat.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.
While making regular pretzels is fine and dandy, I've made quite a few pretzel variations in my time.
There's a recipe in Cheers to Vegan Sweets for Pumpkin Beer Pretzels that's fun to break out in the fall.
You can make pretzel crust pizza. You just have to try it!
You can make pretzel dogs/pigs in a blanket with this dough! Instead of twisting your dough into a pretzel, wrap it around a veggie dog (make sure it covers the dog completely so it's not exposed in the baking soda bath), and continue with the recipe. I like Field Roast Frankfurters for this. If you're feeling extra adventurous, sprinkle some vegan cheese in there.
This recipe was originally posted in 2015 and has been updated with new photos and information. The recipe has not changed.