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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Homemade Amish Pretzels

I grew up in New Jersey, just a couple hours from Amish country in Pennsylvania. Amish country was one of the spots we would frequently take visitors, as well as New York City. About the only thing those two places had in common was that they both served giant pretzels! And, you know what, the pretzels in Amish country were 10,000 times better than the ones in New York (sorry, street vendors).

homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

Those Amish pretzels really were to die for. Warm, soft, buttery, with a nice slightly crisp exterior. HeavenNeedless to say I am perfectly fine with the explosion of Auntie Anne’s and Wetzels Pretzels in every mall in America – saves me a trip to Pennsylvania when I get a craving.

homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

My kids also love Amish-style pretzels, so I decided we should try making them at home. We made the recipe below for my column 3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen on Babble and it was a great success! Not only were the pretzels soooooo good, but this is a really fun and painless cooking project to do with kids. Check out my post on Babble for details on how to get children of all ages involved with this recipe.

cooking with kids: homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

making homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

cooking with kids: homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

A few notes on the recipe. First, I basically cobbled together a bunch of different recipes to make this one, with most of the best tips coming from this video series by Jay Stewart of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Second, I used a mix of bread flour and self-rising flour and really like how the texture came out. I give instructions in the recipe below for how to make self-rising flour (which is a combination of cake or pastry flour with baking powder and salt). I’m sure some of you will ask if you can use all-purpose flour – you probably can, but then you’d need to figure out how much baking powder and salt to add to the recipe and also the protein levels will be different. So, basically, you’re on your own if you go that route! 😉

homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

Homemade Amish Pretzels
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I cobbled this recipe together from many different recipes, with especially helpful tips coming from this video series by Auntie Anne's.
Serves: 12
  • 1¼ cup warm water (warmer than lukewarm but not too warm!)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cup bread flour
  • 2 cup self-rising flour (make self-rising flour by whisking together 2 cups of pastry or cake flour with 3 teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt - be sure to re-measure the 2 cups for this recipe after you've made the self-rising flour)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 3 cups hot water (not too hot, you'll be sticking your hands in it!)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • rock salt
  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix yeast and 1¼ cup warm water. Let sit for 2 minutes.
  2. Add brown sugar, bread flour, self-rising flour and vegetable oil to the yeast and mix to combine completely.
  3. Knead on a lightly-floured surface until you have a nice ball of dough. If you're using your stand mixer, knead with the dough hook for a few minutes until a ball forms. You do not want to over-knead the dough.
  4. If you're using your stand mixer, remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with a clean towel or cloth. If you knead the dough by hand, place in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let rise for 45 minutes, until just about double in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 450º F.
  6. Clean your countertop well. Spray some non-stick oil spray onto a small part of your counter off to the side and dump your dough ball out onto that greased part of the counter. Form a uniform rectangle and then cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
  7. To form the pretzels, pick up a piece of dough and roll/stretch it out into a long thin rope on the un-greased portion of your countertop. You want the rope to be quite long, about an arm's length, and quite skinny. Make a U shape with the dough, then lift the two ends and twist them around each other twice, then attach the two ends at the bottom of the U to form the pretzel shape. Click here to see a video demonstration.
  8. Whisk together baking soda and hot water in a large bowl. Get a clean dish towel, folded, and place it next to the bowl. Dip the formed pretzel into the solution then blot the bottom side of the pretzel on the towel before placing on a greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with a Silpat. (You should whisk up the water before each dip as the baking soda settles quickly.)
  9. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until pretzels are a dark golden brown. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with rock salt. If you want to make cinnamon-sugar pretzels, dip the cooked pretzels completely in butter then coat in cinnamon sugar.
  10. Best served fresh out of the oven. Leftovers can be reheated in a 325º oven for about 4 minutes.

homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard


  1. You have the magic touch for working with dough, Jane. These are incredible! I love that you got the kids in the kitchen, too.

  2. 2
    Nikki CB

    How fun! And they look delicious. I showed my son these pics already and we are excited to try making them!

  3. 3
    debbie rough

    can i come over now and get one?

  4. 4

    These are perfection. I have to go watch those videos and then make these with the kids!

  5. 5

    I want one now! 🙂

  6. I have a huge weakness for pretzels! Them Amish really know how to make everything taste that much better. There’s an Amish community about an hour from where I live, and visiting them always results in a delicious trip. These look amazing!

  7. 7
    Rachel U

    Ok seriously?? These look amazing!!!

  8. 8

    BLASPHEMY! There are NO BETTER pretzels than the NYC vendor pretzels!!
    I love soft pretzels and can’t wait to try these 🙂

    • love it, tina! I grew up in new jersey and used to think the same thing. the amish totally converted me. who would’ve thought? 😉

      hope you like the pretzels! thanks for your great comment! 🙂

  9. 9

    I have been making pretzels for my entire, plus extended, family for many years. My recipe is almost exactly the same. But instead of basting them in hot wanter and baking soda, which I tried originally, I boil them for a few minutes in a mixture of baking soda and water, then i baked themto a golden brown… They turned out far better, simply amazing flavor, You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the difference.

    • I am SO going to try that! I can only imagine how wonderful the boiling step must make them (thinking about those east coast bagels right now!)….thank you for your comment!!

    • Allithia

      Branden, curious about how to boil them without them losing their shape. Do you boil them in a shallow pan? or pot? how long? and how do you get them out?

    • Neil

      In a Dutch oven, bring water and baking soda to a boil. Drop pretzels, two at a time, into boiling water. Cook 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain well on paper towels.

  10. 10

    These were absolutely amazing. My twisting skills aren’t the best but who cares when they taste this good!!

  11. 11

    I am making these as we speak! I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  12. 12

    Can these be made ahead of time, stuck in the fridge and cooked to serve?

    • Hi Chris! Great question! I personally have not frozen these, but I think this dough would be a great candidate for freezing! I would freeze them BEFORE the baking soda wash step and save that for when you actually bake the pretzels. I would also probably let the pretzels defrost at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before baking, but I’m just guessing on that number since I haven’t done it myself If you do try freezing, let us know how it goes!

  13. 13

    I made this recipe topping them with cinnamon sugar instead of salt, and sent them to work with my spouse who shared them with the other wind techs… they were a huge hit and everyone has been begging for more ever since!

  14. 14
    Nan W

    Delicious! I made these tonight, wanting to find a pretzel recipe similar to what we get at our local hockey games! These turned out great!
    One note: when pinned, an ingredient list shows under the picture, but the self-rising flour is left off.

    • I am so happy the recipe was a success for you! Thank you for coming back to let us know!! 🙂

      And, yes, I would never trust the recipe ingredient lists on pinterest – it’s their automated system that is pulling that information from the html, so it’s not always accurate (I have no control over what goes onto the pin’s recipe info, unfortunately!). thank you for letting us know so other people are aware! 🙂

  15. 15
    Kim Reem

    I made these. They were easy and tasted great. Do you have any flour recommendations for making them gluten-free?

    • hi kim, so glad you liked the recipe!

      I have only ever made on gluten-free recipe ever, so I haven’t the foggiest idea what would work! sorry about that!

      I would just google “gluten free amish pretzels” and poke around to see what recipe looks best for you – but honestly, none of them quite look like the ones from my recipe. 😉

  16. im worried that because I’m not a great twister that they won’t turn out right. does it matter the shape? I’m really looking forward to making them though! i read amish novels on a daily basis and i love all their recipes so I’m excited about trying this one!!!!

    • first off, don’t stress! they do not have to be twisted perfectly and I really think you’ll be able to do it! and, honestly, I am not sure if you HAVE to do it in this shape…I’ve never seen them any other way, so maybe there is a reason for it. I think one thing about it is that they’ll stay together better…but you could maybe try doing short pretzel rods or something.

      good luck! it’s worth it! 🙂

  17. 17

    Hi Jane, We just got back from a visit to Pennsylvania and can’t wait to try these! The reason they’re in this shape is they’re supposed to look like a child crossing his arms in prayer. Crunchy pretzels were made in this shape by monks centuries ago – maybe given as treats when children learned their prayers?

  18. 18

    Hey Jane!!! I made these not to long ago! And Omggg they are amazing !!!! I am going to upload them to my Instagram and i will be sure to tag you in the pic !! Thank you for this fabulous recipe !

  19. 19

    These were amazing. I boiled them in the baking soda water solution for about 45 seconds. I also basted with an egg wash mixture to give it that yummy brown exterior.

  20. 20

    Beautiful dough…easy to work with and very tasty end result! A big hit and a keeper! Going to try freezing the dough as suggested above in reply to Chris’s inquiry.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe Jane.

  21. 21

    I am looking for recipes with only sour dough Starters. Do you you have a recipe with the Amish share a starter. I don’t have yeast in my house and refuse to buy yeast as I only use sour dough Starters and have both the Amish starter and European starter.

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