Shortcut Soft Pretzels


  • Frozen dinner rolls (the dough, not the pre-cooked rolls*)
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt (coarse sea salt works well, too)
  • Mustard for serving, if desired


  1. Thaw the amount of dough you wish to use according to package directions.
  2. When the dough has thawed, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet (or two if you are making a bigger batch) with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable or olive oil. (The dough will stick to the paper if not oiled.) Set aside.
  3. Gently roll and stretch a piece of dough (one roll equals one pretzel) into a long, thick rope. The dough should be about 15 inches long. This is a good estimate, but after you make one, you’ll get the feel for the size and shape of pretzel you like.
  4. To make a traditional pretzel, form a U-shape with the rope. Holding the ends of the rope, twist them around each other twice, and then press them onto the bottom of the U. If you’re having trouble getting the ends to stick, use a little water to act as glue. Place the shaped pretzels on the parchment-lined baking sheet. You can also make letters, rods, or any other shape you like.
  5. In the meantime, bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saucepan or medium stockpot. Stir once or twice to dissolve and incorporate the baking soda. Using a large spatula, place the pretzels into the boiling water, two at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a spatula or slotted spoon that will allow the water to drain through. Return the pretzels to the baking sheet, and then brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture. Sprinkle with the salt.
  6. Bake until the pretzels are evenly dark golden brown in color, approximately 11 to 14 minutes. Check a few minutes early, rotating the baking sheet if the pretzels on one side of the sheet are browning faster than the other. Transfer to a rack for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with mustard, if desired.
  7. Wrap and store any leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer. For best taste, reheat gently in a toaster oven or regular oven.

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