Ballpark Pretzels Recipe

With their mahogany-brown crusts, tender insides, and salty bite, soft pretzels are the ultimate snack and hard to come by, unless you are at a ballpark or live in an urban area. We wanted to bring these treats to the home kitchen.

The challenge? Cracking that dark, distinctly flavored exterior. We knew that professional bakers treat the dough with an alkaline solution called lye, which helps a small piece of dough achieve a rich brown exterior before its center overcooks.

Of course, most home cooks don’t have lye it’s abrasive and caustic. But every home cook has worked with a more subdued alkali: baking soda. We gave the pretzels a quick dip in a boiling water and baking soda mixture. After letting the pretzels dry, we baked them and watched them turn a beautiful mahogany.

We use kosher salt for our pretzels, but coarse pretzel salt may be substituted (do not use pretzel salt in the dough). Pretzels can be stored in a zipper-lock bag at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Wrapped in aluminum foil before being placed in the bag, the pretzels can be frozen for up to 1 month. To reheat, place the pretzels (thawed if frozen) on a baking sheet, mist lightly with water, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a 300-degree oven for 5 minutes.


  • 3 3/4 cups (20 2/3 ounces) bread flour
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup baking soda


1- Whisk flour, 4 teaspoons salt, and yeast together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, 2 tablespoons oil, and sugar in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved.

2- Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.

3- Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 11⁄2 hours.

4- Lightly flour 2 rimmed baking sheets. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to clean counter. Press and stretch dough into 12 by 6-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge. Using pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut dough vertically into 12 (6 by 1-inch) strips; cover loosely with greased plastic.

5- Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), stretch and roll into 22-inch rope.

6- Shape rope into U with 2-inch-wide bottom curve and ends facing away from you.

7- Crisscross ropes in middle. Fold ends toward bottom of U, spaced 1 inch apart; firmly press into bottom curve.

8- Arrange pretzels knot side up on prepared sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until puffy, about 15 minutes.

9- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 425 degrees. Dissolve baking soda in 4 cups water in Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat.

10- Using slotted spatula, transfer 4 pretzels knot side down to boiling water and cook for 30 seconds, flipping pretzels halfway through cooking. Transfer pretzels knot side up to wire rack and repeat with remaining 8 pretzels in 2 batches. Let pretzels rest for 5 minutes.

11- Wipe flour from now-empty sheets and grease with remaining oil. Sprinkle each sheet with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Transfer 6 pretzels knot side up to each prepared sheet and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.

12- Bake pretzels until mahogany brown and any yellowish color around seams has faded, 15 to 20 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Transfer pretzels to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

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