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A Soft Pretzel Primer

Making pretzels from scratch isn’t difficult, follow our step-by-step guide and see all the fun shapes you can make.

Make the best pretzels using our soft pretzel recipe. Then see how to form hearts, knots, snails, and classic pretzel shapes (both are below). Find out why Martha likes tender, delicious homemade pretzels best.

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Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

 

1. Prepare dough

The dough comes together in minutes in a stand mixer. Let it rise overnight in the mixing bowl. The next morning, it should be smooth and beautiful and ready to shape.

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Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

2. Divide and shape

Using a ruler to cut the dough into strips allows for uniform pieces that will bake evenly. For step-by-step instructions on making favorite shapes, scroll down.

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Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

3. Simmer pretzels

Cooking for 30 seconds in a mix of water, brown sugar, baking soda, and pale ale helps develop the signature crust. Use a large, flat slotted spoon or spatula so the dough keeps its shape.

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Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

4. Add toppings 

Sprinkle on one topping or a combination – how about an “everything” pretzel? Bake same-size pretzels together so they cook evenly.

 

Do the Twist, Tie a Knot, Form a Heart: Choose Your Shape 

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Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

Classic

Roll a 14-inch strip of dough into a 30-inch rope (for smaller pretzels, cut original strip in half; roll into 24-inch ropes). Form into a U shape. Cross the two ends. Cross again to form a twist. Fold twisted portion down, pressing ends of rope gently to seal. Flip pretzel.

 

 

 

Heart

Cut a 14-inch strip of dough in half. Roll into 24-inch ropes (for smaller pretzels, cut original strip into quarters; roll into 14-inch ropes). Form each into a U shape. Curve ends in toward center of U to create a heart. Press gently to seal. Pinch bottom of pretzel into a slight point.

 

 

 

Twisted Heart

Roll a 14-inch strip of dough into a 30-inch rope (for smaller pretzels, cut original strip in half; roll into 24-inch ropes). Form into a U shape. Cross the two ends. Cross again to form a twist. Fold twisted portion down, pressing ends of rope at bottom to seal. Flip pretzel and pinch bottom into a slight point.

 

 

 

Knot

Cut a 14-inch strip of dough into quarters. Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope. Cross ends, forming a loop. Send end that’s pointing left under and up through loop; send other end over and down through loop. Pinch the two ends together to seal; tuck under knot. Round slightly to make uniform.

 

 

 

Snail

Cut a 14-inch strip of dough into quarters. Roll each new piece into a 14-inch rope. Coil rope to create a snail shape. Position end of dough beneath snail; pinch to seal.

Learn why Martha likes tender, delicious homemade pretzels.

Get the Soft Pretzel Recipe
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