Homemade Soft Pretzels

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as Homemade Soft Pretzels dipped in cheese sauce! Make this ballpark favorite from the comfort of your own kitchen and enjoy every last bite of the salty and soft goodness. The best part? The cheese doesn’t cost extra when you make it at home!

overhead view of homemade pretzels next to a cup of cheese sauce.

What’s in Homemade Pretzels with Cheese Sauce

This is a simple list of ingredients that utilizes a lot of basic kitchen staples.

  • Active Dry Yeast: Needs to be bloomed in warm water. If you have instant yeast on hand, feel free to skip step 1 and mix all of the ingredients (water, yeast, sugar, flour, salt) together in step 2.
  • Water: The main wet ingredient in our pretzels – make sure it is between 105°F and 110°F (similar to hot bath water) so the yeast activates. You could swap the water for a light wheat beer if you like.
  • Kosher Salt: Enhances the flavor of the pretzels. I highly recommend kosher salt over table salt in baking.
  • Brown Sugar: Gives the yeast an extra boost. Granulated sugar or honey will also work.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Great in this recipe, but if you have bread flour on hand, that’s even better. When kneading the dough, try not to add too much additional flour as it can make the pretzels dry.
  • Baking Soda: Gives the pretzels their characteristic deep golden brown and cracked appearance.
  • Pretzel Salt: For topping, I highly recommend using pretzel salt over kosher salt.

For the cheese sauce:

  • Unsalted Butter
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Whole Milk: For the creamiest consistency, I don’t recommend any other dairy product.
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Make sure you shred the cheese yourself for the best consistency and flavor.
  • Ground Paprika

You can add more spices to the cheese sauce if you’d like! I did not add salt into the sauce because cheddar cheese tends to be pretty salty, but there is some variation, so feel free to add salt to taste. Some other spices that might taste good in there are garlic powder and chili powder.

Variations to Try

These soft pretzels are amazing as is, but they also make a great base for many different flavors. Try:

  • Sesame: Top the pretzels with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds before baking.
  • Cinnamon-Sugar: Omit the pretzel salt. Top the pretzels with 3 tablespoons melted butter, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and ½ cup granulated sugar after baking. Serve with vanilla icing.
  • Almond Crunch: Omit the pretzel salt and brush the pretzels with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and top with almond sugar before baking. To make almond sugar, pulse ½ cup slivered almonds with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a food processor. Serve with vanilla icing.
  • Ranch: Top the pretzels with 3 tablespoons melted butter and 1 envelope of ranch seasoning mix after baking. Serve with marinara sauce or ranch dressing.
  • Pepperoni Pizza: Top with 5 or 6 pepperoni slices each and sprinkle with 1½ cups mozzarella cheese before baking. Serve with marinara sauce.
  • Cheddar Jalapeño: Add ¼ cup drained and chopped pickled jalapeños to the dough in step 2. Top with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese before baking.
  • Vanilla Bean: Omit the pretzel salt. Stir together 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, and ¼ cup whole milk. Dip the baked pretzels in the glaze before serving.
  • Double Chocolate: Add ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the dough in step 2 and knead in ¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips towards the end of step 2. Omit the pretzel salt and top with chocolate sprinkles after baking, if desired, and serve with vanilla or chocolate icing.
  • Garlic Parmesan: Follow this recipe!
close up of proofed homemade pretzels with salt.
How can I tell if my soft pretzel dough has been kneaded enough?

The dough will be smooth and not shaggy on the outside. It will also start to feel firmer the longer it is kneaded. To test if it has developed enough gluten, stretch a small amount of the dough thin enough that you can see light through it. If it rips, it needs to be kneaded for longer. If it stays intact, you are done kneading.

How do I shape soft pretzels?

Start by rolling a piece of dough out into a 6-inch long skinny rope. Next, take both ends of the rope in your fingertips and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends of the rope together once or twice, depending on your preference. Then bring the twisted end toward yourself and fold it down onto the bottom curve. Use a bit of water to stick the ends together if needed.

Why didn’t my cheese sauce thicken?

You likely did not fully incorporate the butter and flour or didn’t let the milk mixture thicken enough before adding the cheese. To fix it, you can simmer the sauce, stirring it occasionally, until it reaches the desired consistency.

a hand dipping a homemade pretzel into cheese sauce.

How to Store/Reheat Soft Pretzels with Cheese Dip

Fully assembled, these soft pretzels are best enjoyed on the day they are made. If you plan to save some for later, I recommend leaving the salt off until you’re ready to serve them so that they don’t become soggy. Store leftover pretzels in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. To reheat, place in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes, brush with melted butter, and top with pretzel salt.

Store leftover cheese sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second increments until hot.

How to Freeze Homemade Pretzels

I recommend freezing these soft pretzels plain to avoid soggy pretzels. Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid, then transfer to an airtight container or Ziplock bag for up to 1 month. Reheat from frozen at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

I do not recommend freezing the cheese sauce.

What to Serve with Homemade Soft Pretzels

Besides homemade cheese dip, there are so many ways to serve this popular appetizer! One of my favorites is with cream cheese frosting when I’m in the mood for a little something sweet. There’s really no bad way to enjoy this kid-friendly snack!

stacked homemade pretzels.
overhead view of homemade pretzels next to a cup of cheese sauce.

Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe

Homemade Soft Pretzels are so soft on the inside while being perfectly glossy and salty on the outside! Enjoy with a side of cheese sauce for the ultimate party food.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 8 pretzels
Calories 410kcal
Author Becky Hardin



For the Pretzels

  • teaspoons active dry yeast 7 grams (1 envelope)
  • cups water 341 grams, lukewarm (105-110°F)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3 grams
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 13 grams
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour 480 grams
  • ½ cup baking soda 144 grams
  • Pretzel salt (or coarse kosher salt), for sprinkling

For the Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 28 grams (¼ stick)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 15 grams
  • 1 cup whole milk 227 grams, room temperature
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese 226 grams
  • ½ teaspoon ground paprika


For the Pretzels

  • Mix the yeast and lukewarm water in a small bowl until the yeast is dissolved. Set aside for 5 minutes to bloom.
    1½ cups water, 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
    wet ingredients for homemade pretzels in a glass bowl.
  • Mix the kosher salt, brown sugar, and flour together in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Add the water and yeast mixture. If you are using a stand mixer, fit it with the dough hook and mix on low speed until the dough has formed a smooth ball. If you are not using a stand mixer, use a rubber spatula to combine the ingredients into a shaggy ball. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it forms a smooth ball, about 8 minutes.
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 4 cups all-purpose flour
    homemade pretzel dough ball on a counter.
  • Place the smooth ball of dough in an oiled large bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled, about 1 hour.
    proofed homemade pretzel dough in a glass bowl.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. Punch down the ball of dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 even balls. Form each portion into a ball and begin rolling it out into a long rope, about 1½ feet long and 2 inches in diameter. To do this, start in the middle of the ball and roll it away from you, slowly moving your hands to the edges of the rope. When you reach the end of the rope, move back to the middle and repeat the process again so the rope has an even thickness.
    a piece of homemade pretzel dough rolled out into a long log.
  • After you form a rope, bend it into a “U” shape.
    a log of homemade pretzel dough log in a semicircle shape.
  • Cross the right side over the left side to create a small circle at the top and two tails coming out the bottom.
    homemade pretzel dough log in a loop shape.
  • Turn over the dough at the crossover point to create a twist. You will still have a small circle and two tails.
    homemade pretzel dough log in a twisted loop shape.
  • Fold the two tails over the circle with the twist lying in the middle of the circle to create the classic pretzel shape. Press down lightly where the tails meet the circle to keep them adhered. Place the pretzels on the prepared baking sheet and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
    an uncooked homemade pretzel on a table.
  • While the pretzels are resting, preheat the oven to 450°F. Bring 10 cups water and the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Make sure all of the baking soda is dissolved.
    ½ cup baking soda
  • Dip 1-2 pretzels at a time in the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. If they are left for longer, they will develop a metallic baking soda taste. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water and hold them above the pot for a couple of seconds to allow excess water to drip off. Place them back on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the desired amount of salt. Make sure to sprinkle the salt on while the pretzels are still wet so the salt will stick.
    Pretzel salt
    close up of proofed homemade pretzels with salt.
  • Bake the pretzels for 15-18 minutes, or until they are a little darker than golden brown. You can serve them warm or let them cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Cheese Sauce

  • Melt the butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk the mixture until it is slightly browned.
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    flour and butter in a pan.
  • While whisking continuously, slowly pour in the milk. Continue whisking until the mixture starts to thicken. Your whisk will begin leaving a trail in the mixture and you might be able to see the bottom of the pan.
    1 cup whole milk
    cheese sauce base in a pan.
  • Add in the cheese and whisk the mixture continuously until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add in the paprika when the cheese has melted and whisk to combine.
    2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, ½ teaspoon ground paprika
    cheese added to cheese sauce base in a pan with a whisk.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and serve it immediately. The mixture is best enjoyed warm, so I recommend serving in a microwave-safe dish that can easily be used to reheat the dip as needed.


  • If using instant yeast instead of active dry, you can skip to step 2.
  • You can use a light wheat beer in place of the water in the pretzel dough.
  • You can use bread flour in place of all-purpose.
  • Feel free to add additional spices to the cheese sauce, such as garlic powder or chili powder.
  • The dip must be served warm. Keep it in a microwave-safe dish and rewarm as needed.
  • Reheat pretzels in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes.
Storage: Store homemade soft pretzels in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Store the cheese sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Serving: 1pretzel | Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 2545mg | Potassium: 174mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 482IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 252mg | Iron: 3mg

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