September 6, 2013

Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels (Copycat)

I have a love-hate relationship with clothes shopping. It is so much fun to find new clothes that fit and make you feel good, but dressing rooms. Just... dressing rooms. Ugh. The mirrors are rarely flattering, and I don't know about you, but I always seem to be all hot and sweaty and frazzled and edgy by the time I'm done trying everything on. And lets not even get started on crowds! Like I said, love-hate. Anyone with me? The only thing (besides the clothes) that makes braving the mall worth it, for me, is the soft pretzels. Love those things. So does Joe. Going to get one at the mall is our favorite mommy-son date. But then there are the times when the pretzels are cold, or half-cooked (yep, I got one like that last time) and you wonder: IS this really all it's cracked up to be??

Well, guess what. I finally tried making homemade ones. And they are AMAZING. And easy!! And you can now have hot, buttery, homemade soft pretzels whenever on earth you please! You're welcome.

Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels (Copycat) (adjusted slightly from Cooking Classy)
Printable Recipe

2 cups milk
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast (2 packets)
1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus an up to an additional cup as needed
2 tsp salt

1/3 cup baking soda
2 cups warm water
coarse salt, to taste
1/2 cup butter, melted

Warm milk in a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup in microwave (or over stove top in a small saucepan) until temperature of milk reaches 110 degrees, (about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes in the microwave). Combine milk and yeast in a large bowl (or stand mixer) and whisk until yeast has dissolved, let rest 5 minutes. Add brown sugar, 4 tbsp softened butter, 1 cup flour and 2 tsp fine sea salt to milk mixture and stir until blended. Switch to a dough hook, add remaining 3 1/2 cups flour and knead mixture on medium low speed until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. (Or knead by hand on floured surface.) Mix in up to an additional cup flour, 1/4 cup at a time as needed, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Punch dough down several times to release any air pockets. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. (divide in half, each in half again, then each piece into 3 pieces) Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap  and roll each piece out into a long, thin rope about 32 - 36 inches long on a non-floured work surface. (The ropes just about double when baking, so the longer and thinner you can make them, the more classic looking pretzel you will get. Ours weren't quite long/thin enough, but they're cute!)

In a shallow bowl, whisk together baking soda and warm water until dissolved, then fully immerse your dough rope (carefully!) into water mixture and allow excess water to drip off.  Place on prepared baking sheet, shape into pretzel shape (or any shape, really!) and sprinkle to taste with coarse salt. Repeat this process with remaining dough. 
Bake pretzels in preheated oven 7 - 11 minutes until golden brown.
(The boys got a bit creative with their pretzel shapes... You don't even want to know what they called them...)
Remove from oven and very generously brush  pretzels with melted butter. Drench them. Trust me, the more butter the better. Serve warm with optional dipping sauce. They reheat awfully well, just a few minutes in a 350 degree oven!
Okay, I tried to make spicy cheese dipping sauce too. First time was a complete and utter fail. I got very very close the second time, but with the amount of ingredients, eh. I'll just buy cheese sauce next time. If you're interested in my homemade version, let me know!
 Auntie Anne's are my favorite soft pretzels, and honestly? These taste JUST like them!! In fact, they might even be just a teensy tiny bit better!! I know, it's hard to believe, but honestly, WOW. They're SO good! Make sure you let your baking soda dissolve, it's the key to the classic pretzel-y flavor. We didn't, and ours could have used a hair more pretzel-ness. But still, amazingly delicious.
Buttery (obviously!) chewy and fluffy, with that distinctive pretzel tang... Best soft pretzel I've ever had. You've got to try these!! Who needs the mall?!


  1. Oh.... my gosh. I HAVE to make this work gluten free!!!

    1. Oh I hope you can!! I should learn more about it... if you can make gluten free bread, I don't see why you couldn't make these too! Let me know if you make it work, I could post the variation!

    2. I will! It's a lot hot in California to do any baking at the moment, but I'll let you know once it gets a little cooler!!

    3. Awesome! We should send you some of our rain... I'm sure Boulder wouldn't mind...

  2. Have you ever had warm soft pretzels dipped in melted beer cheese?? AMAZING.

  3. OMG! I hate shopping for that very reason! I feel like they put funhouse mirrors in the dressing rooms and they aren't fun. By the time I leave I am depressed and angry. I find clothes I think will fit, buy them and try them at home. Oh and we were just watching an old episode of Undercover Boss yesterday that showed the owner of the Philly Pretzel C, or something like that and I thought... "I really want some pretzels". Thanks for the recipe. I think I have all the ingredients here, which is awesome because we are broke until Tuesday.

    1. Thank goodness I'm not alone!! I hope you really do have all the ingredients, I remember the days of "broke till next paycheck" like they were yesterday... Because they were!! Hope you can make a treat to last you till then :)

    2. Wouldn't you know it, I got busy and didn't even look. Ugh! Now it is 10:44 at night and I won't have time tomorrow night after work either. Maybe Thursday night. *crosses fingers*

    3. Here's hoping you get your pretzel fix!! :)

  4. Wow April! HOmemade soft pretzels! You amaze me girl! These look wonderful!

    I don't do malls, or dressing rooms. I buy all my clothes online. I know . . . sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    Love ya!

  5. Dressing Rooms... twice a year is about my average... then I have to run home and hide for a while. Sometimes I just grab what I want in three different sizes so I can try them on in the safety of my home..
    Did I take you to Tyson's Corner for Wetzel's Pretzel's last time? They're better than Annie's by quite a bit.

    1. I'd rather brave the dressing room than have to come BACK to return things!! Nope, I've never had Wetzels. Add it to the list!


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