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Cooking with the Library–Alton Brown’s Soft Pretzels

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How To Make Alton Brown’s Soft Pretzels

I have always loved soft pretzels. I have also always thought they were too difficult to make and buying the jumbo box in the freezer section was the best way to go. Let me tell you, that’s not true. Alton Brown does a fantastic job of taking the fear out of most recipes and this one is no exception. These soft pretzels are worth every moment of your time and the taste alone is reason enough to try them instead of those frozen boxes.

Links for Alton Brown’s Soft Pretzels: Alton Brown’s Homemade Soft Pretzels



1 ½ cups warm (110 – 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 ½ cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (1/4 cup)
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cups baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water (I have used the whole egg and haven’t seen a noticeable difference)
Pretzel Salt


Equipment needed:

2 half-sheet pans
Parchment paper
Mixer with dough hook
Various bowls
Clean cutting board or counter for rolling
Pastry brush for egg wash
Flat spatula
8-quart sauce pan or roasting pan



  1. Combine the water and sugar in the bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Put into mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, and butter, then using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. (Originally, Alton says to proof the yeast with the salt, I only use the sugar because the salt kills my yeast every time.) Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
  3. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  4. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan. (You can split the dough in half again to get 16 smaller pretzels.)
  5. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. (The smaller pretzels were done in 12 minutes too!) Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Check out some of Alton Brown’s Cook Books!


Good Eats: The Early Years

I’m Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking


Alton Brown’s Gear For Your Kitchen


Visit the Library’s Catalog, OverDrive, and Hoopla for more Alton Brown.













Andrea has been an adult services librarian at the Austintown library for the last 5 years. She loves reading fantasy, science-fiction, YA, and the occasional horror story. It’s almost impossible for her to choose a favorite book, but the every-changing list includes The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), IT (Stephen King), and The Harry Potter Series (Rowling). If she’s not reading she’s either drawing, spending time outside, or playing video games.