April is National Soft Pretzel Month! Today you are going to learn how to use a baking soda bath for baking and will learn how to make and shape soft pretzels. The baking soda bath method is not the traditional way of making soft pretzels; traditional soft pretzels usually require a long rest and rise time.

The baking soda bath gelatinizes the outside of the pretzel, giving it a chewy crust and giving it that recognizable “pretzel” flavor. When you boil the dough in the baking soda water, it causes it to instantly puff up and it starts to form a crispy crust. It’s finished in the oven. This is a similar process to making bagels. You can even add other flavors to the water to give it a subtle extra flavor to the crust (like syrup or honey).

Soft Pretzels

yields 12 pretzels

prep + bake time = 40 minutes – 1.5 hours


Ingredients for the dough

1 1/2 cups warm water

4 cups flour

1 pack yeast

1/2 cup baking soda

1T brown sugar

1tsp salt


Ingredients for the topping

1 tsp course salt

3/4 cup sugar + 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter



1. Sprinkle 1 pack yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees). Let it sit for 1 minute.

In the video, we used 1 cup room temperature water, and 1/2 cup boiling water, and together the temperature came out to exactly 98 degrees, which is perfect.


2.  Whisk in: 

  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • Add 3 cups of flour – adding one cup at a time, and mix with wooden spoon.
  • Slowly add 3/4-1 cup more flour and mix until it is not sticky anymore.


3.  Poke the dough with your finger; if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.

Knead for 3 minutes then cover lightly with plastic wrap or tea towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, prep: 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Boil approx. 9 cups of water with 1/2 cup of baking soda.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat, or greased liners.
  • In a tray or bowl: add 3/4 cup sugar + 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside. This is a topping.
  • When the dough is done resting, cut the dough into 12 portions. 


4. Roll into pretzel shape. Roll them about 1/2-3/4 inch thick strips so they cook evenly.


5. When the water is boiling, drop the shaped pretzels into the water for 20-30 seconds.

If they fall apart after you pull them out of the water, reshape them on your pans before baking (careful not to burn yourself!).


6. Add the topping (if needed) and bake.

For salted pretzels: sprinkle with course salt. Then bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

For cinnamon sugar pretzels: do not add salt. Bake the plain pretzels for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 

After it’s baked, brush with melted butter, then coat with cinnamon sugar.

The cinnamon sugar pretzels get soggy after the first day, so do not put the butter or sugar on it until you’re ready to serve or consume. What you can do is toast it in a toaster or warm it up in a microwave, then brush the butter, and add the sugar.


Store leftover pretzels at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Please recycle or reuse!

Compost produce/food scraps.

Wash out and reuse plastic containers or baggies.


Recipe adapted from https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/easy-homemade-soft-pretzels/ 


This recipe was created for Pasadena Public Library by Jane Gov, Youth Services Librarian. Any reference or adaptations to this recipe can be credited to Pasadena Public Library.

This project was supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.