Chewy Pretzel Balls are perfect as a snack, game-day appetizer or a bite of bread to go with your favorite soup!
They're soft and chewy on the inside and crispy golden brown and salty on the outside! Once the dough is formed, they take about 20 minutes to boil and bake!
Why this recipe works
If you've never made homemade pretzels, you'll be amazed at how easy they are to make. The outside is a crisp golden brown and the inside is a soft doughy bread, perfect for just about any kind of dipping sauce.
- No kneading dough - combine the ingredients (flour, melted butter, sugar, salt, water and yeast); proof for 1 hour, punch the dough once, and you're ready to go!
- Versatile - you can shape the pretzel dough any way you like: traditional pretzel shape, mini-pretzel bits, or twisty pretzel sticks!
- Golden brown, crispy on the outside and chewy texture on the inside!
- Simple ingredients - no fancy bread flour or bread dough, just all purpose flour, baking soda and a few other ingredients
The first time I made these I formed the dough into a traditional pretzel shape. I've found this simple method of forming balls with the dough is much easier!
It doesn't require a large work surface and there's no frustration with twisting the dough into a thin rope shape.
Ingredients for chewy pretzel balls
If you're celebrating Oktoberfest, Germanfest or just wanting a salty snack, these easy pretzel balls are always a hit! The ingredients are very simple:
- Flour, all-purpose
- Yeast - use Original yeast- not "Fast Acting" or instant yeast
- Sugar- just plain white sugar
- Egg yolk - and 1 tablespoon of water; this is for making an egg wash for the pretzels so they will brown evenly
- Baking soda (make sure it's fresh!)
- Spray oil
- Coarse sea salt - or Kosher salt
Some pretzel makers use a food-grade lye to dip the dough into prior to baking. Lye is high in alkalinity and by dipping the pretzels in the lye, it increases the alkalinity so that the Maillard reaction takes place.
The Maillard effect is a process central to all bread baking...it is the reason breads brown.
By adding about ⅔ cup of baking soda to water, the alkalinity of the water is raised to about 9 versus the lye alkalinity of 14. As a result, baking soda accomplishes almost the same result as a food-grade lye.
Equipment and tools
To successfully make homemade pretzels, you'll need a few essential tools:
- a stand mixer
- an accurate thermometer
- spray oil
- parchment paper
- spatula or frying spider
- large stockpot
- baking sheet
- cooling racks
How to make soft chewy pretzel balls
These pretzel balls are actually super easy to make and taste delicious!
First, make the pretzel dough in a large bowl of a stand mixer (you'll want to use the dough hook attachment on low speed); combine the pretzel dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl; cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and place it in a lightly greased bowl (I use a nonstick spray oil) and place the bowl in a warm place to let the dough rise to about double in size.
Once the chewy pretzel dough has doubled in size, cut it into 16 equal pieces pieces, using a sharp knife, pizza cutter or pastry cutter; form the balls in the palms of your hands and bring a large pot of water and baking soda to a rolling boil
Place the round balls of pretzel dough in the boiling water boiling water (make sure it's a rolling boil); boil dough for about 30 seconds (when it floats, it's done)
Remove from water with a slotted spoon or spider, place on prepared baking sheet, and score the top forming an "X" with a sharp knife
Brush with egg wash over the scored pretzel dough bake on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 450°F for 15-18 minutes.
When the pretzels are nice and golden brown, remove them from the hot oven and place on a wire rack and sprinkle them with coarse sea salt or Kosher salt.
- The water must be hot enough to activate the yeast. Get a cup of hot water and make sure it's 110-115°degrees F; for best results, get the water to 120•°F, pour it into the stand mixer with salt, sugar and yeast; the warm water will reduce in temperature slightly as the yeast activates but it won't cool to the point where the yeast won't work
- When placing the dough into the water, I recommend you use a slotted spatula or spider, and gently lower the dough into the water, hold the spatula in place until the dough begins to float.
- Make sure your baking soda is fresh!
- When forming the pretzel balls, if you have sticky dough, lightly oil the palms of your hand with spray oil; this helps a ton!
- One the dough floats, it's probably ready to come out...this boiling process only takes 30 seconds per pretzel.
- Make sure you apply the egg wash all around the whole pretzel ball; otherwise, the sides won't brown
- Note also that there are two kinds of salt in this recipe; (table salt, kosher salt)- table salt is for for the pretzel dough and coarse salt for the garnishing of the pretzel.
- The best part of this recipe is that you can form the pretzel dough and season them any way you like!
- Make traditional pretzel shapes or shape into pretzel sticks or mini-bites
- Savory: Sprinkle with sesame seeds or "everything bagel seasoning"
- Want buttery soft pretzels? Just dip them into some melted butter!
- Cinnamon Sugar: Before baking and after the egg wash, sprinkle a mixture of brown sugar or regular sugar and cinnamon to a sweet flavored pretzel. This makes a nice "dessert" pretzel.
Dipping sauce for chewy pretzel balls
Traditional dipping sauces are usually mustard based; however, if you want a different flavor, try a honey mustard dipping sauce, cream cheese and chives, or a cheese sauce!
Storage and reheating
If you have any pretzel balls leftover, store them in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The best way to reheat these (and maintain the crispy exterior) is to wrap them in foil and bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or so.
I like to have these chewy pretzel balls by themselves, or with a bowl of Wisconsin Cheddar soup!
If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating! I love to hear from you! Thank you!
Chewy Pretzel Balls
- stand mixer with dough hook
- 4½ cups flour, all-purpose
- 1 pkg active dry yeast (Original; not Fast Acting)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1½ cups water warm 110º-115ºF
- 2 teaspoons salt kosher, not sea salt
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 12 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- spray oil
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- coarse sea salt
- In a stand mixer bowl, add warm water, sugar, salt; sprinkle one package active dry yeast and let sit for 5 minutes; don't stir it! After 5 minutes, the yeast will begin to form a foam. This is good. If it doesn't form a foam, start over because your yeast died due to the water not being the correct temperatureNOTE: use a thermometer to test the temperature of the water; it MUST be between 110ºF - 115ºF. SEE RECIPE NOTES BELOW1 tablespoon sugar, 1½ cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 pkg active dry yeast (Original; not Fast Acting)
- Pour the flour into the yeast mixture; then add the melted butter. Combine using the dough hook of the stand mixer; mix on low until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl; (5-10 minutes)4½ cups flour, all-purpose, 2 tablespoons butter
- Take the dough out of the stand mixer bowl; lightly oil a large, clean bowl, place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap; place in a warm area (heat rises, so I put it on top of the fridge); let the dough sit for 50 minutes (until it has doubled in size)
- Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat the paper with oilspray oil
- Once the dough has doubled, punch it once with your fist, then turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface; (NOT A FLOURED SURFACE)
- Form a big ball with the dough and cut it into quarters; then cut the quarters into half; repeat until you have 16 pieces of dough; form each piece into a ball and set aside
- Bring water and baking soda to rolling boil⅔ cup baking soda, 12 cups water
- Preheat oven to 450ºF
- Using a spatula or spider, gently lower a few ball of dough into the boiling water; let it boil for 30 seconds or until it floats; you might have to hold the spatula/spider in the water for a bit-or until the pretzel floats
- After each pretzel is removed from the boiling water, place on the oiled parchment sheet
- Once all pretzels are boiled, use a sharp knife and score an "X" on the top.
- Separate one large egg and place the yolk in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of water; beat lightly1 large egg yolk, 1 tablespoon water
- Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each pretzel with the egg wash; sprinkle pretzels with coarse sea saltcoarse sea salt
- Place in 450° F oven and bake 15 minutes, or until pretzels are golden brown
- Remove pretzels from baking pan and place on cooling rack; garnish warm pretzels with more coarse sea salt if you prefer