These Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels are soft, chewy, buttery, and perfectly spiced. They're a delicious sweet treat, and perfect for sharing; especially with the vanilla bean dipping sauce!
Table of contents
- Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels
- Ingredients for Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels:
- How to Shape Soft Pretzels
- Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels: Troubleshooting & FAQ
Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels
While the thought of soft pretzels might leave you reminiscing over your teen years at the mall or amusement parks, once you make them at home you will never go back to the food court again! These pretzels have a soft interior, and chewy exterior, and they're topped with the perfect amount of cinnamon sugar. You'll find yourself coming back for seconds and thirds every time you make them!
Ingredients for Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels:
To make this homemade mini cinnamon sugar soft pretzel recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Milk (or water): I prefer to use whole milk as the base of this pretzel dough, which makes it extra tender, but if you don't eat dairy, you are welcome to use almond milk or water instead.
- Granulated sugar: This is used to help activate the yeast and sweeten the pretzel dough slightly. It's also used in the cinnamon sugar topping, giving these mini pretzels a sweet and complex flavor.
- Coarse sea salt: We will use it in the dough (Or you are welcome to sprinkle it on top of the baked pretzels if you prefer.)
- Instant dry yeast: Use quick rise or instant yeast in this recipe to help the pretzel dough rise faster. You can also use active dry yeast, but the dough will take slightly longer to rise.
- Flour: I went traditional with this recipe and used regular all-purpose flour. But you could sub in white whole wheat flour if you would like to make these a touch more healthy.
- Butter: Which we will use in the dough and also brush (extra) on top of the baked pretzels.
- *Baking soda: Which we will add to a pot of boiling water to give the pretzels a quick dunk before baking.
- Cinnamon: These are cinnamon sugar soft pretzels after all...
The vanilla bean dip is truly unforgettable too! Just cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean paste. YES PLEASE.
*Most pretzels in the world are made with lye, which gives pretzels their chewy, brown crust. However, lye can be a bit dangerous for people who aren’t careful in handling it. When you dissolve the baking soda in boiling water, the alkalinity of the baking soda solution allows the exterior of the pretzel to brown at a significantly faster rate, giving it that signature crust and flavor. It’s integral to a good pretzel!
How to Shape Soft Pretzels
Start off by making a U-shape, then crossing the ends, and finally twisting them as you bring them back down to the bottom of the “U”. I know, that’s a little hard to follow. But not to worry, these pictures should help make things clear!
And if you want to skip the whole pretzel-shaping business, feel free to simply make pretzel sticks or pretzel bites. They’ll taste just as delicious. Just use a knife to cut the rope into your desired size of pretzel sticks/bites and keep your eye on the bake time as it'll likely be less time!
Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels: Troubleshooting & FAQ
How do I make the pretzels evenly sized?
Easy! Weigh the entire dough ball and divide the weight by 12. This will tell you how much each dough ball should weigh. As you are pinching dough off, weigh each one and add or remove dough as needed to keep them a similar size.
Can I skip the baking soda bath?
Yes and no. The brief dip in the alkaline water bath before baking essentially gelatinizes the outside of the pretzel, preventing it from fully “springing” during baking (as bread does) and giving the pretzel its signature chewy crust. While you can technically skip out on this step, this step is what gives them their unique and indelible “pretzel” flavor so I wouldn't recommend it!
Can I make different soft pretzel variations?
Absolutely! While cinnamon sugar is the best (aka my favorite), you could use the base dough recipe and add your own seasonings and flavors! You could go the classic route and brush the pretzels with butter and sprinkle them with pretzel salt or make something a little fancier like a cheese pretzel by sprinkling some shredded parmesan and asiago on top before baking.
Can I freeze these soft pretzels?
Yes, you can, hallelujah! Just bake the pretzels as instructed, (except DO NOT brush with the butter or toss in cinnamon sugar afterward) and wrap the cooled pretzels in foil then place in a ziplock bag and freeze.
To reheat, let thaw for about 10 minutes then place the foil-wrapped pretzel on a baking sheet, and reheat at 400°F (205°C) for about 5 – 8 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then enjoy!
This is not an ultra-quick soft pretzel recipe. Making the dough from scratch, letting it rise, creating the baking soda solution, cutting into equal pieces, shaping and dipping the pretzels, baking… it all takes time, I won’t sugarcoat it.
That being said, despite the time commitment, each step is actually surprisingly simple. In the end, these Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels are so tasty and such a crowd-pleaser that you’ll find they’re well worth it!
Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzels
For the Pretzels:
- 360 g milk lukewarm
- 7 g instant dry yeast
- 50 g granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 30 g unsalted butter melted
- 530 g all-purpose flour
For the Baking Soda Bath:
- 60 g baking soda
- 1400 ml water
For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
- 90 g unsalted butter melted
- 300 g granulated sugar
- 15 g ground cinnamon
For the Vanilla Bean Icing Dip:
- 115 g cream cheese softened
- 180 g powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 15-30 g milk
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
To Make the Pretzels:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, whisk together the milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until foamy/bubbly.
- Whisk in the remaining granulated sugar, salt, and melted butter. Add the flour and mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough begins to come together. Increase the speed to medium, and knead for a further 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
- Shape the dough into a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in size. This initial rise can also be done in the fridge overnight (see notes).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Silicone baking mats are highly recommended over parchment paper. If using parchment paper, lightly spray with nonstick spray or grease with butter. Set aside.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and weigh the dough, then divide it into 12 equal-sized balls. Keep the dough covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a 20 to 22-inch rope. Take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape. Transfer to a lined baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls, until you have 12 pretzels spaced evenly amongst the baking sheets.
- Allow the pretzels to rise, uncovered, at room temperature for 20 minutes, then transfer to the fridge for an additional 10-15 minutes. While the pretzels rise, preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and prepare the baking soda bath.
To Prepare the Baking Soda Bath/Bake the Pretzels:
- Bring baking soda and water to a boil in a large pot. Once the pretzels have risen, remove one tray of pretzels from the fridge, and working with one pretzel at a time, drop the pretzel into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. (Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste.) Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place the pretzel back onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pretzels on the first tray.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Repeat the dipping and baking process with the remaining tray. Allow pretzels to cool slightly on the trays, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
- While the pretzels are still warm, brush with the melted butter. Combine the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon in a wide, shallow bowl. Dip the buttery pretzel into the cinnamon sugar to coat then place back onto the cooling rack. Repeat with all of the pretzels.
To Make the Vanilla Bean Icing Dip:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk, and beat until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
- Add in the vanilla bean paste and salt and mix until well combined. Gradually add in the remaining tablespoon of milk until optimal dipping texture is achieved.
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