homemade hard pretzel rods
Snacktime called, and it’s begging for you to make these Homemade Hard Pretzel Rods! Crunchy with a slight chew, perfectly salty and delightfully dippable, you’ll want to make these again and again.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but: I’m becoming a snack eater.
To the general population this is nothing revelatory, I know. But to me, it changes everything. You see, I used to be big (no, HUGE) on eating only meal foods for meals — no snack food for meal time, thankyouverymuch. Give me a real-deal meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but leave the cheese chunks and crackers and nuts and fruit and other snacky foods for snack time.
And then, within the past year or two, something changed. It was slow, sneaky. I would add crackers as a side to soup for lunch. Then, eventually, I would add cheese to those crackers, too. Soon after, I’d drop the soup altogether and eat a big plate of cheese, crackers, fruit and nuts. Or granola bars, or olives, or veggies and hummus, or pretzels. And it hit me: I’m eating snack food for meal time. Then I questioned everything and had a good, long existential conversation with myself.
Just kidding. But I did come to terms with my all-day snackage. And when I did, I decided to make the most of it. That’s where these homemade hard pretzel rods come in (you’re like FINALLY, sheesh).
How to Make Homemade Hard Pretzel Rods
I think I’ve been eating hard pretzels since the dawn of time (my favorite way? Dipping them in a peanut butter jar, yesssss) but until recently, I’d only made soft pretzels from scratch. So when I happened upon a recipe for homemade hard pretzels, which are my true true love, I was ecstatic. I NEED THESE NOW, I said to myself (there has been a lot of self-talk recently, apparently). I am a new woman and I want to eat all the snacks! I said. And so I got to work.
And by work, I mean I made a dough, let it rise, shaped it, poached it and baked it. All easy-peasy stuff, I promise you. And then it was pretzel magic bliss/put-a-big-pile-of-pretzels-on-a-plate-with-mustard-and-cheese-dip-and-eat-them time. A.K.A., snack time — NO, lunch time. And maybe also dinner time, but I’ll never tell.
Tips for the Best Homemade Pretzels
A short but important note about these pretzels: They are poached for 15 seconds in a baking soda bath, much like a soft pretzel. BUTBUTBUT the important thing to note is that the baking soda is actually baked soda. And by baked soda, I mean it’s baking soda that has been baked in the oven at 250 degrees F for about an hour (there’s a note about this in the recipe below, FYI). It’s an easy prep task, but it’s important to make the bath more alkaline without having to use lye. That, combined with the brown sugar in the bath, is what will give these pretzels their true hard pretzel-y flavor, so don’t skip it.
Have some flour, some yeast, some sugar, some salt and a serious hankering for a snack (oh um hai, that’s me always now, as evidenced above)? You’re on your way to homemade hard pretzel rod heaven. Don’t forget to bring
a bucket I mean a bowl of cheese dip (or peanut butter!) with you.
Homemade Hard Pretzel Rods
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 2 hours 35 mins
- Yield: 24 pretzel rods 1x
- Category: Snack
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
Hard pretzel rods made from scratch! Perfectly salty, crunchy, dippable. Snack time will never be the same.
For the dough:
- 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F), divided
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the baking soda bath:
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup baked soda*
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)
- 2 tablespoons pretzel salt or coarse sea salt
- *NOTE: Baked soda is not another term for baking soda. It’s actually baking soda that has been baked. To make baked soda, spread baking soda on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour. That’s it!
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until slightly foamy.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, stir remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, flours and salt until combined. Add yeast mixture and remaining 3/4 cup warm water; stir until a dough forms.
- Knead dough by hand on a lightly floured surface 5 to 10 minutes until smooth, satiny and elastic; OR, knead dough with dough hook attachment in stand mixer on medium speed 5 minutes until smooth, satiny and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large bowl lightly greased with oil or cooking spray. Cover bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place 1 hour until doubled.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down risen dough and divide into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a roughly 9-inch-long rod (1/2-inch wide) and place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Cover loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the baking soda bath: In a large, deep and wide saucepan or Dutch oven, bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add baked soda and brown sugar; stir to dissolve.
- Carefully drop a few dough rods into simmering bath. Poach 15 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and return to lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough rods.
- Brush tops of rods with egg wash, then sprinkle with salt. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, until rods are a deep golden brown and hardened. Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
- Fully cooled pretzel rods can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Keywords: baking soda bath, pretzel salt
Snack food = some of the best food in the world. These are stunners!
I’m totally not a snacks-for-meals person (unless it’s cheese. I’m a cheese-for-anytime-all-the-time person) but I thinkkkkkk you may have just converted me. These look so good!
Snacks for meals are my faaaaavorite! p.s. can we have a party where we make these pretzels and then dip them in chocolate and sprinkles? kthanks 🙂
I’m so happy to have discovered this. I’ll be attempting to convert it to gf after looking up a decent way to convert the flours… however I will be doing this
Jennifer, Yay! Let me know how it turns out!
I have always wanted to make hard pretzels. These look so amazing and delicious and snacky! I love snacks!
I actually find it really difficult to eat main meal through out the day. So snack meals are the only way I get something into my day without a food coma. Also they remind me those lunchables containing cheese, ham, crackers.
I have got to try your pretzel rods next time with side of cheese dip and veg sticks too.
wow! these look amazing!! my husband would go nuts for these! I just might have to make these!
I definitely go through phases of snack attacks and meals only please. But with these pretzels in front of me, a snack attack would be inevitable.
Taylor — YES x a million.
I am basically the queen of snack food. My love for all things snacky runs deep, which is why these pretzels are calling my name!
You must be in my mind because I was literally wondering (out loud) the other day how you even make hard pretzels. Question answered. And now, I must make them.
This is a total game changer. Like, this is my perfect snack, I have such a weakness for pretzels. Love this!
Oh please pass some down here! They look amazing!
I’ve made soft pretzels but it never crossed my mine to make homemade hard pretzels! What fun!
Snack time for meals is seriously da best. Hummus, veggies, a bit of avocado and a dessert to round out the meal is serious perfection. And these pretzels need to be added to my next snack plate.
Super excited to try these. Pretzel rods are Elsa’s teething snack of choice; this year, I’m on a mission to see how many of their preferred snacks I can make from scratch (and potentially make large batches of to freeze). I’ve tried graham crackers and goldfish. Next up – these pretzels!
P.S. Any thoughts on freezing these either baked or unbaked? I can google this 🙂 but thought I’d see if you’d tried it with this or any other pretzel. Thanks!
OMG pretzel rods are one of my favorite things ever!! I love these and love you for making them!
Just made these, are eating them as I write this. AWESOME!!!!
very easy to make and fun. they do have that pretzely flavor!!
HARD PRETZELS?! This recipe is a game changer!! Dying to try!
I am soooooo #TeamSnackFood. I LOVE IT ALL. I snack constantly. It’s probably why I haven’t seen my bikini body in forever. Oh well, it’s worth itttttt. I’m LOVING these pretzel rods, girlfriend!
Liz — Homemade graham crackers and goldfish?? Ummm, can we trade? 😉
Also, I haven’t experimented with freezing these pretzels yet, but I have had good luck with freezing soft pretzels (baked), so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work well for these, too!
These look so fun to make! I love pretzels!
I’m pretty sure I could live on snacks so you are speaking my language with these pretzels. And dipping into the peanut butter jar is the absolute best! 😉
Girl this is seriously one hell of a snack. Amazing!!
I can’t see Pretzel Rods without thinking of the line from The Prince and Me (the one with Julia Stiles) where she makes fun of Eddie and says “I can get your beer and pretzel rods my fine fellow at the olde pub yonder!”. And there is never a time that a pretzel rod doesn’t sound like the perfect snack!!
That baked soda trick is neato burrito!
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Megan — Haha! Bringing me back to my pre-teen days with that one. 😉
These look awesome!! I love crunch pretzels, and I love that you made them at home. I have to try this!
I’ve always wanted to make my own hard pretzels! These look like the perfect recipe to start with!
I thought I was the only person alive that couldn’t eat an entire plate of cheese and crackers and call it lunch yet (11 a.m. still being fair game of course). These pretzels, however, I suspect are going to make a convert out of me too!
These are so pretty! I love pretzel sticks- perfect for dipping in hummus or coating in caramel and then chocolate 🙂
Nice work with the kitchen science! Heating up baking soda over about 125 degrees F breaks it down from sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate, which is a stronger base. Super cool! (Harold McGee wrote more about this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dining/15curious.html)
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Wow!!! these r by far the best looking hard pretzels I’ve seen! by any chance do u know if i can freeze ’em? 🙂 gonna make ’em tomorrow if i can!!! 😉 #vegan4life
What can i use instead of parchment paper? i don’t think u can find it down here where i live… 🙁 I’ve had problems when making pretzels that have to be poached cuz they stick to the pan. even when i put flour. 🙁 any solution? 🙂
My grandmother always used brown paper grocery bags.
Steph — I haven’t frozen them before but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! As for the parchment paper substitute, the only other thing I use are Silpat baking sheet liners, which you can find at some stores or online. Otherwise, you can try to just grease the baking sheet really well with butter or oil. Happy baking!
Thanx! I’ve been looking into silpat, but i doubt i can find it down here in CR where i live, so i’ll have to order ’em or something… I’ve been makin’ pretzels, but my mom doesn’t let me put grease on ’em cuz it ruins the pans and we can’t wash them, but thank you very much for the suggestions!
Have a great day! 🙂
Made these twice exactly as directed. Something’s wrong with this recipe. Even at 325° they over browned without getting a crispy exterior. Lots of time and work for nothing. Will look for a better one.
Hi there! I made these yesterday. The flavor is awesome, but I’m concerned about the texture. After 35 minutes, they were still soft, so I kept baking them. Eventually most of them hardened, though I feel like I could almost break a tooth on them! And the soft ones are SUPER chewy (like uncomfortable so). Any ideas on what I did incorrectly? Thanks!
Kate — Hmm, I’m not sure what happened. 🙁 I know when I’ve made them, they are never completely crunchy like the ones at the store. They are much chewier than soft pretzels but not as crunchy as we are typically used to for hard pretzels. They do come out of the oven a little soft and then harden as they cool, so maybe next time take them out of your oven after 30-35 minutes and once they’re cooled, check on their texture. I hope that helps!
Can we use food-grade lye in place of the baking soda and not bake it?
Greg — I’ve only made the recipe as described above, so I’m not sure. Sorry!
I made these and they are tasty! I did have some sticks break at the center in the baking soda water bath, though. Also, They were still soft inside after 40 minutes of baking time, so I took them out of the oven. These pretzels were soft and yummy on the inside and a little chewy on the outside (perfectly!), like at the shopping mall only better. My family and I are planning on wrapping them around hot dogs before baking them next time, sealing both ends. Thanks, great recipe! 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. I was really exited to make them, but unfortunately I did not succeed in making them, so I was wondering have anyone by chance tried to make this recipe?
I tried to make them, but unfortunately they didn’t look as nice as the above pictures. 🙁
I’m not really sure of what went wrong and I would highly appreciate if could someone help me in finding the error.
The first issue that I got was, when I divided my dough into pieces, the surface got dry, so when I shaped them, they didn’t look smooth and moist like the above picture! I had to cut all the dry parts to get them nice!
The second issue was, when I dropped them in the baking soda bath, a lot of them got cracked and I’m not sure why. Finally, after I baked them, a lot of them were solid from the outside, but little mushy inside. They were like little chewy! Very few of them were good from the inside, but over all they weren’t crunchy! 🙁
I don’t know why they didn’t all have the same texture, so I would really appreciate it if you could help me to find out what went wrong.
I made these the first day I had my new bread machine to do the kneading for me. They are amazing. I’m adapting the recipe this time to use sourdough starter in place of the water and some of the flour, and I’m using honey instead of brown sugar. I’ll be freezing the pretzels as I must not eat very many at once, but I’m expecting them to turn out amazing indeed. I had been disappointed in the flavor of previous homemade pretzel recipes, and it turns out that the baked soda is exactly what they needed to come out the way I wanted them to.
Turned out great! Not sure how to post a pic!
These are wonderful! I’ve been looking for a good recipe AND the notes explaining the “how to” make them. Thank you!
Is it possible to make them with less sugar and obtain a similar result?
tried these they stay moist inside don’t become hard like you buy in stores.
Hi! These look great and I had success following your recipe for the most part. The baked soda makes such a difference in flavor!
My only concern is the baking time/temp. Do yours turn out hard like the hard pretzels you get at the store? I followed the cook time and temp you recommend and I got soft pretzels with a crunchy exterior. Good, but not what I was expecting of a “hard pretzel.”
Hi Lynn, I know what you mean. I haven’t been able to achieve that fully hard “hard pretzel” form that you get in the store in my own kitchen. This is the closest I’ve been able to get to it. Hoping to fix that soon, but for now, I enjoy these as the closest homemade version as possible!
I made them just now! They’re lovely and delicious!
The only issue is getting them nice good looking. I had issues filling the dough;( any tips?
I imagine it would be more time consuming, but theoretically you could roll out tiny rods and form them into pretzel twists too, right? Think of the amount of delicious snacky snacks!
Can I just use All purpose flour instead of bread flour?
Cathy, Bread flour has more gluten than all-purpose flour, which yields a chewier, sturdier result (which is ideal for pretzels). I’d recommend using bread flour for this recipe.
I made these and they were delicious!!!!
Great recipe easier then looks great original flavor
It’s impossible to get bread flour right now. Can I just use all purpose for the whole thing?
Janine, You can use AP flour but the results might be even softer/chewier than usual. Because bread flour has more protein, it makes the dough stronger/more able to hold its shape.
Hi. I’ve tried this recipe twice, I only make one alteration, I cut the rods into small pieces. However, both times, they have come out doughy (heavy) and chewy, and pretty bad. They taste great, but I am not getting to the hard crunchy state, and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.
It says on the recipe that you used starter instead of yeast. Where can I find that recipe?
Hi Andrea, I’m not sure what you’re referring to? This recipe uses active dry yeast, not starter!
Made as directed, turned out amazing! Are they like store bought hard pretzels? Nope! They have much more flavor! Wouldn’t change a thing!
Five stars for pretty easy to put together – they’re in the oven now. Curious tho – the baked powder got REALLY hard and lumpy when I put it in the simmering water. Should I have mixed it in cold, then heated? Eventually got it all dissolved but it took a potato masher.
Mary — Hmm, I’m not exactly sure what happened there! You can put the baked soda into the hot water once it’s heated, so you did it the right way. Maybe the baking soda was a little old? Sorry, I wish I knew what caused the lumpiness!
Can these be frozen?
H, Yes, you can! Make sure they’re fully cooled, then store them in an airtight container or bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let them thaw at room temperature before eating.
This is the second time that I’ve made this recipe. First time was a month ago. They were awesome. I had to make them again. And that batch of pretzels are in the oven right now and they look exactly like yours. These are flavorful, crunchy and irresistible. I recommend these over store bought hands down!
Excellent recipe! My husband took the first pan out of oven early—after about 20 minutes. He declared them the best SOFT pretzels he’d had in a long time. They were soooo good that he asked me to make them all soft pretzels. Maybe next time I will make some hard ones, too! We are from Pennsylvania and we know pretzels. These are definitely worth the effort.
Love the success everyone has had and am just about to try them myself, so I need to ask a question on the recipe itself – just about to make them but unless I’m really overtired, the math isn’t working. Brown sugar lists as 6 teaspoons in the ingredients list “for the dough”. Step 1 says to use 1/2 teaspoon. Step 2 says to use the “remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon”. Is this correct? Where did the other 4 teaspoons go?
Nvm – apparently the print out version has an error – the site itself is correct.
I made these today, they are lovely but they’re not hard and crunchy, they ate more like the normal chewy pretzels! And they are, shall we say not straight, mostly wonky! Please help, what did I do wrong??? Xxx
Caroline, I’m not sure what happened regarding the shape, sorry! But these will not be as hard as storebought hard pretzel rods. They will be chewier than a soft pretzel, but softer than the ones that come from a bag.
Can I use parchment paper for baking the baking soda? Or do I have to use foil? Just checking in case the surface has to be reflective or something. I just don’t like using foil if I don’t have to. Ok thanks : )
Dawn, That should be fine!
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Can this recipe be used with sourdough starter instead of yeast?
Rebecca, I have not tried that but I think it could!
Do you have to add the brown sugar to the soda water for poaching? Wanting to keep it keto
Havilah, The sugar helps with the flavor of the recipe. You can leave it out, but know that the flavor will not be the same.
Can you store these in the refrigerator or freezer? If so, how long are they good in those conditions?
Thanks in Advance!
Smart Whoopies LLC.
Is the sugar necessary? What if I just don’t use it? Will the result change?
Gisela, The sugar helps give the pretzels their classic flavor, so I would recommend keeping it for best flavor!
Just made these exactly as written in the recipe and my husband and I are crazy about them! Excellent recipe. My only question is, do you have any suggestions for how to store them? Bread box? Freezer? Counter top? Maybe we just eat them all now?
Susan, These pretzels are best served the day they are made, but you can store them in a Ziploc bag at room temperature for a couple of days — they will just soften a bit over time. Enjoy!
DO NOT USE THIS LIARS’ RECIPES!!! SOFT CHEWY – NOT-NOT-NOT HARD PRETELS AS ADVERTISED!!!! BAD WEBSITE – MAKES MONEY FROM ADS – AND NO ONE MAKES RECIPES WHO COMMENTS! ONES WHO DO COMMENT HAVE VERY BAD FEEDBACK!!!! NOT GOOD AT ALL!!!!
Wow. I don’t think this is everyone’s experience with this recipe, including those who have commented, but I’m sorry to have wasted your time! I hope you find what you’re looking for elsewhere.
Thank you for your recipe. Ths was just the perfect recipe for me. Thanks for the work that you do for all of us that are not much into baking. In regards to ” badbadbad” I was always told ” if you don’t have anything nice to say-then don’t say anything at all.” I hear you can buy cheap crunchy pretzels at your local convenience store. Nobody likes a threatening name calling Nancy! I look forward to trying some of your other recipes.
I haven’t tried the recipe (yet) but I was wondering if you have a variation or another recipe that might include sourdough pretzel rods? I honestly don’t know if there is a difference, but I just wanted to pick your brain. I am looking forward to trying this recipe though. I love pretzels and yours look so good. Thank you for sharing.
Katie, I do not but that’s a great idea! I’m sure there would be a slight difference in flavor, but unfortunately I do not have a pretzel recipe in my sourdough repertoire (yet).
Delicious. Hoping you can help me though. This come out great and crunchy. I cool them for a couple hours and put in zip lock bags, but the next day that beautiful crunch js gone and they are very stiff with a lil chew and tug to them
Len, That is normal. Homemade pretzels don’t have the same preservatives that store-bought ones do, so they lose their crunch more quickly (and soft pretzels get chewier the next day). Glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Excellent pretzel recipe best I’ve ever had
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Hi – great recipe!
Do you Have any suggestions on how you would alter this recipe for it to be a pumpernickel pretzel rod?
Amber, Thank you! Unfortunately I do not have a suggestion for that, as I would guess it would be a totally different recipe that requires testing and development. I recommend finding a recipe specific to pumpernickel!
King Arthur makes Pumpernickel flour
Can you twist these into a pretzel shape and bake them?
Jenn, I have not tried that but it could work! I can’t guarantee they’ll keep their shape, though, since I haven’t tested it.
My dough didn’t rise, my yeast must have gone bad so, the pretzels are somewhat thicker than I had expected. Other than that, which is big, they turned out pretty good;…….my wife devoured her third one. they taste like good pretzels. I think the recipe is perfect; I’ll try again next week.
Why do you bake the soda ?? I have looked on line and can not find any information
The baked soda acts as an alternative to lye, which is traditionally what gives pretzels that dark color and crisp “crust.” I believe Serious Eats has an article that explains it well? Hope that helps!
What is the temperature for cooking the pretzels?
No idea what we did wrong, but they aren’t crunchy! Followed instructions to the letter. EXCEPT, we live in rural Spain, and can’t get everything as listed in the recipe. We did our best. Any ideas about why the consistency wasn’t right? Here are the things that were out of spec:
The yeast was expired, by six months. But we tested it. After 10 minutes there was a great head of foam, so we went with it.
They don’t really have typical American style brown sugar here. So we used Spanish unrefined sugar, which they call brown sugar. It’s grainier than American brown sugar, but it was being dissolved anyway. Shouldn’t have made a difference.
Couldn’t find “bread flour”, but I did find “dessert flour”. So we used that. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose, and 1 1/2 cups dessert.
I think everything else was the same. Any ideas? We’re desperate for pretzels — somebody help!
I’m addicted to eating pretzel twists….the small super crunchy pretzel sticks…the super mini versions of your pretzel rods.
Do you know how I would go about making the smaller version?
I work a graveyard shift alone & don’t have official breaks. Since I don’t have an official break to eat I snack when I can on pretzel sticks & colby jack sticks. I don’t care for the larger ones, I love a good crunch so it’s the small pretzel sticks for me.
Hi CJ, My best recommendation, without having tested it, is to just cut the rods into smaller pieces than the recipe indicates! You might also have to shorten the bake time, so keep an eye on them. But that should get you what you’re looking for!
Can I make smaller rods? Will the poaching process be the same?
Hi Sierra, Yes, it should all be the same!