Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels Recipe

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Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels are easy to make and so delicious. You may just want to bake a double batch and hide some away in the freezer for later.

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels | Good Cheap Eats

It used to be that my kids associated soft pretzels with a trip to the mall. We had some “buy one get one” coupons one summer and so we indulged extravagantly. Alas! Trips to the mall aren’t a regular occurrence for our family. Too expensive. As are the much-loved mall pretzels.

Since no one ever really got to eat his fill of mall soft pretzels, learning to make our own was a good move. A game changer, if you will. I did a little study into the history of pretzels, because I’m a food geek like that, and it’s caused me to make these homemade Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels more than once each spring.

Believe it or not, pretzels have a much more spiritual history than mere mega malls. In fact, it is said that medieval monks developed pretzels as a way to help children learn their prayers. The pretzel shape is supposed to be reminiscent of praying hands.

And, believe it or not, pretzels have their roots in the history of Easter. Since eggs and butter were forbidden foods during Lent — and since many pretzel recipes can be made without eggs and butter, pretzels were a permissible food during that time.

Eggs, a food that one would abstain from during Lent, would be hardboiled for longer storage. And eventually it came about that children were served two hard boiled eggs nestled in the hollows of a pretzel on Easter morning. That pretzel eventually evolved into “the Easter Basket.” Pretty cool, eh?

Who knew? Personally, I’d rather have a Whole Wheat Soft Pretzel than the basket!

Whether you abstain from butter and eggs — now or anytime — soft pretzels are a delicious treat. And making them at home elevates them to a super-duper-outstanding level of deliciousness. They are easy to prepare, but there are a few steps involved. Consider making several batches in a row so that you can eat your fill. Or freeze them for later.

If you like, try my Garlic Herb Pretzel recipe, too. Or check out how to Enjoy Homemade Pretzels in Lots of Fun Ways.

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

How I make this recipe easy:

This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

  • a bread machine or a stand mixer – I love these machines for easier dough making.
  • a bench knife – Great for cutting dough in pieces easily
  • sheet pans – I LOVE my set of steel sheet pans. They make such a difference in baking.
  • parchment paper – I don’t love washing dishes, so parchment paper is that small indulgence that makes it easy for me to cook more often.
  • 5-quart pot with lid – I have this one. It’s perfect for cooking chili or a big pot of rice or boiling pretzels.
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whole wheat pretzels in a lined basket
Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels
Prep Time
1 hr 20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels are easy to make and so delicious. This recipe takes a little time, but it's worth it.
Course: Bread, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade pretzel, whole wheat pretzel
Servings: 12
Calories: 164 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • coarse salt
To make the dough in a bread machine:
  1. Place the 1/2 cup water, milk, sugar, flours, salt, and yeast in the bread pan. Set the machine on dough. When the cycle ends, remove the dough to a lightly oiled surface.
To make the dough by hand:
  1. Warm the water and milk slightly and combine it with the sugar and yeast. Let that rest for 5 minutes. Then add the flours and salt. Stir until you have a sticky dough but all the flour is incorporated. Turn it onto a floured surface and knead until the dough becomes elastic. Set into a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Once the dough is ready:
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a long snake, about 18 inches long. Shape the snake into a horseshoe. Twist the sides of the horseshoe, about halfway up, around each other twice. Flip the ends over onto the U of the horseshoe. Press to seal. Continue until all the pretzels are shaped.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the 8 cups water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add the baking soda and continue to boil. Drop the formed pretzels, one at a time into the soda bath. Boil for about 30 seconds and remove to the prepared parchment. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired.
  4. Once all the pretzels have been “bathed,” bake them for 9 to 10 minutes or until golden. Remove them to a rack to cool.
  5. Store cooled pretzels in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Recipe Notes

To freeze: Place the cooled pretzels (unbuttered) in a ziptop freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw, wrapped, on the countertop at room temperature. You can reheat them in a warm oven for five minutes to freshen them.

Nutritional values are approximate and based on 1 pretzel.

Nutrition Facts
Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels
Amount Per Serving
Calories 164 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 945mg41%
Potassium 98mg3%
Carbohydrates 32g11%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 33IU1%
Calcium 36mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels | Good Cheap Eats


About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Lee says

    I love all things pretzels! I love both the sweet and savory, but I think I really like butter and salt together 🙂

  2. Thank you for posting this recipe!!!! I’ve tried a few (flops!) pretzel recipes. My kids LOVE them and I can’t wait to try this one.

  3. Jenni says

    Thank you for sharing this story. At Easter here (Portugal) and in Germany, we see breads (and maybe pretzels–can’t remember) with hard boiled eggs sticking out. Helps us understand why now. Looks like a great recipe too!

  4. Shannon L says

    Wow! You never cease to amaze me with your ability to find ways to prepare food that is not only delicious, but also healthy(ier). Best of all, it looks soo yummy!

    I’ve got to get a breadmaker so I can make these. Then again, I might be stuck in the kitchen day in and day out!

    • Jessica says

      @Shannon L, you’re sweet. You can make them without a bread machine, just follow standard procedure for traditional bread. Warm the milk and water, add the other ingredients, knead, and rise. I’m just too lazy to learn how to do that well.

      • Ela says

        @Jessica, Jessica, Thanks for posting the pretzel recipe. If cooking without a bread machine, do let the dough rise before you water bath them or after? Thanks! Ela

        • Jessica says

          Yes, let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

  5. These look fabulous! and I didn’t know that little tidbit of the Easter basket. I had boiled eggs for breakfast since I’m cutting carbs this week, and then you go post these yummy pretzels that my kids would love!! Torture 😉 But I’m definitely bookmarking it for the very near future!

  6. Dawn says

    Thanks for this recipe! My daughter was just saying the other day that she wanted to make pretzels 🙂

  7. Brandette says

    We use bread and all-purpose flours. Could I change up the recipe to only use the bread flour??

    • Jessica says

      Yes. They’d be over the top good that way. The wheat makes them taste healthy. 😉

  8. I never knew the pretzel background story 🙂 How cool!
    We make soft pretzels here too… usually smothered in cinnamon sugar, because you’re right, Jessica, the whole wheat makes them taste healthy, and we usually end up using all whole wheat (the freshly ground stuff we use doesn’t make them as dense as store bought whole wheat would, so we can get by with it). Thanks for the new recipe.

    • Emily says

      Where do you get freshly ground whole wheat, and how expensive is it?

      • Jessica says

        I don’t get freshly ground, just bought a huge bag from the co-op. Many folks have their own mills, though, and grind wheat at home.

      • @Emily, Exactly. I think some stores like Hyvee offer to grind wheat fresh for you in their natural foods department. I have a wheat grinder and I buy 50 pounds of wheat “kernels” at a time for $24. I think it takes our baked goods over the top compared to how they used to taste when I tried using all whole wheat store-bought flour.

        • @Steph (The Cheapskate Cook),
          What kind of wheat grinder do you have?
          I have been dreaming of grinding my own wheat! Thanks!

        • @Kimberly, I have a Wonder Mill, which I *love*. It can grind multiple types of grain, including corn for fresh corn meal. It’s a big investment, but my husband actually had our family all pitch in for my birthday one year, so that made it extremely affordable ;-).

  9. Kelley says

    You have an incredible way about you that makes almost anything seem easy to make at home. I have seen pretzel recipes before and I was very intimidated to attempt it. This seems doable and very fun! My children will LOVE the roll into snakes part. Thanks! And thanks for history behind them..will share while making!!

  10. Amy says

    These look great! Cant wait to try them on saturday

  11. I printed them out right away, they look awesome. We actually just bought some frozen ones at Costco but as soon as those are gone, I’m making these, thanks!

  12. I love your blog and appreciate how well-rounded your Life As Mom blog is, as well. However, I wanted to point out that you can’t really call something whole wheat if the whole wheat flour only makes up 1/4th of the flour in the recipe. I think, but am not sure, that it is okay as long as it makes up more than 50% of the flour in the recipe. Nevertheless, these sound yummy and I may have to make them soon!

    • Jessica says

      Well, I am guessing you’re probably right, especially if I was selling the product. But, since they taste so wheaty already, I don’t think I would add more. But, I will remember that o the next one.

  13. Oooooo, these look so good! Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait to try them.

  14. Amy says

    I made these last night. I used a mixer instead of a bread maker. I also used all Hard Whie Wheat freshly ground.

    These are SO GOOD! They taste better then what you get at the mall!!

    The only thing I changed was the temp! I moved it down to 390 for the second batch because the first batch got a little brown on the bottom. I didn’t have the paper to put down so that might have not helped. I’ll try it that way this weekend!

    • JL Gosey says

      @Amy, Are you saying you used 100% hard white wheat and no bread flour? I was wondering about doing that myself as I read through the recipe. Did you change any other ingredients?

      • Amy says

        @JL Gosey,
        JL – Yes! I used 100 % Freshly ground Hard White Wheat. I did not use any bread flour or make any other changes to her Recipe.

        I also used the parchment paper when I made them this past weekend and had no issue with them getting too brown.

        They are so very good and with the Hard White Wheat they taste even better than the ones at the mall!!

  15. Anna says

    Do you think you can you sub AP for most of the bread flour and sub in a little more whole wheat flour to up the protien content (thus replacing the need for bread flour)? Or do you think that would make them too tough?

    • Jessica says

      @Anna, hmmm… good question. I’m not really sure. Wanna try and let us know? 😉

      • Anna says

        @Jessica, Gave it a try- they came out delicious! I remember hearing a TV chef remark that you can sub AP for bread flour if you mix in a little whole wheat flour to up the protien content… Guess it’s true!

    • Sabrina says

      I would add a little bit of baking powder and salt (sort of like adding self rising flour). 1 cup AP, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt =1 cup self rising flour. I’m going to try and make these like this soon, as I like to use more whole wheat flour.

  16. Caitlin says

    We made these yesterday and my 6 year-old rolled and shaped them all himself. They were fantastic! Thanks so much for this great recipe and the history!!!

  17. Laura says

    I buy fast rising yeast and soy lecithin from Fast Easy Bread. I can make dough in 15 mins and then skip to the shaping and boiling. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you for the idea and history.

  18. I’m salivating! Recipe is printing and I can’t wait! Thanks!

  19. Heide says

    ok, you just don’t know….I’ve been searching for a pretzel recipe since December. My mother used to make them, but since she is no longer with us, I don’t have her recipe. I wanted a recipe where I could use my bread machine to make the dough process easier. I never found that recipe. Till now.

    Thank you! I can’t wait to try these!

  20. Cindy says

    These look SO good! My dad grew up in PA, so when we go back for a visit, the first thing he and I do is look for a pretzel stand. We’ll happily have pretzels with mustard for breakfast. The rest of the family thinks we’re a little nuts, but so be it! I can’t do sweet pretzels…that’s just WRONG! ;-). Like taco pizza, some things just shouldn’t be…


  21. Deanna Call says

    I went to buy the ingredients over the weekend for these. I don’t have any “specialty” stores in my area, just a Wal-Mart and Meijer….I couldn’t find anything labeled bread flour. What am I missing?

    • Jessica says

      I buy huge bags of bread flour at Walmart, so I’m confused that you couldn’t find it. It’s right next to the regular flour, usu a yellow bag.

  22. Amy says

    Ok, I have a stupid question (and I bake quite a bit, just never made pretzels before…). When you say roll it out to about 18″, do you roll out with a rolling pin or like you’re working with Play-Doh? They didn’t seem to stretch easily using the Play-Doh method but the rolling pin seemed to flatten them too much. Was I just not being agressive enough on the Play-Doh method???

    Thanks – they’re in the oven now, can’t wait!

    • Jessica says

      @Amy, I rolled them between my palms, pressing fairly firmly. Hope that helps!

  23. Erin says

    These are terrific! Thanks for the recipe!

  24. Lauri says

    I’ve been wanting to make pretzels with my fresh-ground flour and finally decided to give it a try. My google search brought up your recipe and I just finished making a batch. After reading the instructions and before actually making them I wondering about the bath part, how could they possibly keep their shape? Wouldn’t the work surface get horribly messy? I read many of the comments before diving in but couldn’t find one from anybody who actually made them, as opposed to “I’m going to try these” or “Great post, can’t wait to do it myself”. So without much guidance, I dove in. The bath part was very strange and it was difficult to get the buggers out of the water without mutilating them. I started out putting them directly on the parchment paper but after a big mess, I added a step of putting them on paper towel first. I still don’t know the purpose for the bath step but I trust there must be a good reason. In the end I somehow still ended up with 11 pretzels, most of which actually really do resemble a pretzel!!! Now for the real test…I made each family member try a bite and give me their honest review. They all grabbed a plate and their own pretzel and are sitting at the table gobbling them up. I guess that speaks for itself! Thanks for the recipe. I wonder what would happen if skipped that water step. Hmmm…

    • Jessica says

      The water bath is a traditional part of making pretzels. They just won’t have the right texture if you baked them without the bath. Glad it worked out for you in the end!

  25. Nikki says

    This recipe will be perfect to use up 2 flours that I have but never use … Plus I know my crew loves some soft pretzels. 🙂

  26. Donna says

    What is the best way to store these if not using them right away. And how to reheat.
    Thank you

    • Once baked and cooled, I’d put them in a ziptop freezer bag in the freezer. When ready to eat, thaw in the package at room temperature. You could reheat in a 350 oven until warm.

  27. jim says

    I would like to try this using some King Arthur white whole wheat flour. I would also like to sub no more than1/4 of the flour requirements with some spent grain flour. Any thoughts? I have access to spent grain from the local brewery in town. I dehydrated the mash, then put it into a blender and got it to a fairly fine texture. It still has an occasional barley hull, but hoping to put it through a fine sieve before using it. Some people say to proof the dough overnight in the fridge. They say the slow fermentation of the dough helps to enhance the flavor.

    • I’m sorry I don’t think I can help you. I haven’t ever used the products you’re talking about.


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