These Pumpkin Spice Soft Pretzels have a classic exterior bite and chew you're searching for in a pretzel with a soft and fluffy pumpkin center. And, let's not forget that they're brushed in butter and rolled in a pumpkin spiced cinnamon sugar blend for a perfect fall treat.
Posted: 11/6/20; Updated: 9/12/21
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Truly what is better than a soft pretzel? In my mind, it's a cinnamon sugar soft pretzel because they are just the best! It's my go-to at every Auntie Anne's stop 😉 This is essentially a cinnamon sugar soft pretzel, but with the added excitement of pumpkin in the filling and a pumpkin pie spiced sugar instead of a typical cinnamon sugar. The pumpkin only adds a slight flavor profile, but it does add an incredible color and will have you diving right into the fall spirit!
These soft pretzels have that chewy toothsome bite to the outside, but are totally soft and fluffy on the inside. They also have that classic soft pretzel tang that is created by the baking soda water bath and is one of my favorite parts about a soft pretzel.
In terms of a yeast dough, this is an easy homemade soft pretzel recipe that doesn't even require a stand mixer. Everything is done by hand, so roll up those sleeves and let's get to it!
Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice Soft Pretzels
- Water. For the dough and the pretzel water bath.
- Active-dry yeast. Be sure it is active dry and not instant/rapid rise. This recipe specifically uses active dry and they are not equal substitutions for each other.
- Light brown sugar. For the pretzel dough and to help activate the yeast.
- Pumpkin puree. Pure pumpkin puree! Not pumpkin pie filling (which already includes sugar and spices).
- All-purpose flour. You'll need 4 cups (480g) for the recipe, plus extra for the kneading process.
- Unsalted butter. Softened for the pretzel dough and melted for the pumpkin spice sugar coating step.
- Baking soda. You need a ¼ cup - this is for the water bath and is crucial!!
- Granulated sugar. To coat the pretzels (gets mixed with the pumpkin pie spice).
- Pumpkin pie spice. Crucial to this Pumpkin Spice Soft Pretzel recipe, obviously...
You'll also need a digital thermometer, large stock pot, two large baking pans, and parchment paper.
Pumpkin soft pretzel recipe
Start the recipe by adding one tablespoon of brown sugar and the yeast to water that is 110℉ and give it a light mix. Too low of a temperature may not activate the yeast and too high can kill the yeast; be sure to use your digital thermometer to check. Allow the yeast to activate for about five minutes until it becomes foamy. If no activation has occurred, your yeast may be dead.
Next, add in the other tablespoon of brown sugar, salt, pumpkin puree and give it a mix. Add in half of the flour and mix everything together with a wooden spoon. Then, add small pieces of the softened butter to the flour and mix again. They don't need to be full incorporated (everything will get mixed in while kneading).
Add the remaining flour and use the spoon to mix together until the dough becomes shaggy and difficult to mix. Then, roll up those sleeves and use your hand to bring the rest of the dry pieces together. Flour a clean work surface and transfer the dough to the counter.
Kneading the pretzel dough
Knead the dough, adding more flour as sticking occurs (but no more than 1 cup) until it becomes a relatively smooth ball. To knead, fold the dough in half and then press down, then use the heel of your hand to push down and slightly upward. Turn the dough a quarter turn, and repeat for about 5-7 minutes.
I like to have a bench scraper on hand for counter stickage. Your hands will get very sticky with dough, but it will get incorporated as you continue kneading. You can also completely wipe off your hands at the half way mark and then continue kneading if it's really bothersome. After kneading, the dough will become a smooth ball and shouldn't be sticky. When you press a finger in the dough, it will indent and very very slowly reform.
Place the dough in a greased bowl (a relatively large one so the dough has room to grow) and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size. I like to snap a quick picture so I can accurately gauge this. The time this takes can be different depending on day, climate, etc. It is typical for it to take between 30-90 minutes. It will feel airy and fluffy after the rise.
Preparing the pretzel baking soda bath
While the dough is rising, fill a large stock pot with 8 cups of water and have ¼ cup of baking soda ready to go (but don't add to the water yet). You'll also want to lay parchment paper on two large baking sheets.
When you are ready to assemble the pretzels, turn the water on to boil and preheat the oven to 450℉. Add the baking soda once the water is boiling and all pretzels are ready to go for a dip.
Assembling the soft pretzels
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down then transfer to your counter and form it into a rectangle. Section it out into 8 equal pieces using a bench scraper or a knife. Then, roll each section (one at a time) into 20-30 inch logs moving from the center to the edges. I also like to grab the edges and gently lift and pull the dough outwards, letting gravity do the work. Keep the log as even as possible.
To make the pretzel shape, make a "U" shape (with the bottom facing your body, grab the top of each piece with the opposite hand (your arms will now be crossed), uncross your arms to cross the dough, then bring it down and lay each piece on the bottom and lightly press to seal.
Transfer the pretzels to the parchment lined baking sheet holding it with two hands from the bottom of the pretzel (I hook my two middle fingers in the the bottom center section and middle fingers on the other side of the bottom pieces). Continue assembling the rest of the soft pretzels. I add 4 pretzels to each baking sheet.
Boiling & baking the soft pretzels
Add the pretzels one at a time (picking them up the same way) to the baking soda water bath and let them boil for 30 seconds. Be sure to dunk them under one or two times to get the top covered. Carefully transfer each pretzel back to your baking sheet using a slotted spoon or spider (sometimes I use two to evenly hold the pretzel) and repeat with the remaining pretzels.
Bake the pretzels on the two middle racks at 450℉ for 12-14 minutes, switching baking trays at half. The pretzels should be golden brown with no moist spots. Portions of the pretzels may split, this is completely fine!
Pumpkin spice sugar topping
Once the pretzels are out of the oven and are cool enough to handle, mix together the sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a shallow bowl (wide enough to add a pretzel). If you'd prefer to make your own spice blend, simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cloves and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, melt the butter and grab a pastry brush. Brush the pretzels (one at a time) completely with butter (be sure to get inside the holes), then place the pretzel in the pumpkin spice cinnamon sugar and cover completely.
These are definitely best enjoyed fresh and slightly warm!
How to store soft soft pretzels
Store the un-sugared in a covered container or ziptop bag for up to three days. Always wait until the day you plan to eat them to butter and sugar them.
Keeping the un-sugared pretzels tightly covered keeps the pretzels moist and prevents them from drying out.
Reheating Pumpkin Spice Soft Pretzels
Reheat the un-sugared pretzels at 350℉ for 5 minutes. Then, follow the same instructions for coating the pretzels in butter and rolling in the pumpkin spice sugar. See the FAQ on reheating the pretzels from frozen.
Frequently asked questions
YES. You know that sort of bitter tang that you get from the outside of a soft pretzel? That's because they're boiled in a baking soda water bath before they're baked. It also helps make them instantly puffy and gives them that crispy yet chewy exterior soft pretzels are known for, and a darker color during baking.
Definitely. Instead of making the standard pretzel formation after you roll your log, cut the dough into 1-2 inch pieces. Follow the same instructions for the water bath, but you may need to reduce baking time by a couple of minutes. Keep an eye on them, and make sure they get that nice brown color.
You can! Do so after baking but prior to adding the butter and sugar coating. Simply add the baked soft pretzels to a tiptop bag and freeze for one month. Reheat at 350℉ for 10 minutes, then coat in butter and sugar.
More pumpkin recipes
- Pumpkin Pie Crumble Bars
- Pumpkin Coffee Cake
- Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust
- Pumpkin Chai Tiramisu
Pumpkin Spice Soft Pretzels
- Digital thermometer
- Large mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Bench scraper (optional, but helpful)
- Large baking sheets (2)
- Pastry brush
- 1 cup water 110℉ (8oz)
- 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast 1 packet or 7g
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 25g
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup pure pumpkin puree 130g
- 4 cups all-purpose flour 480g (plus extra for kneading)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened (28g)
- ¼ cup baking soda 58g
- 8 cups water 64oz
- ½ cup butter (salted or unsalted) melted (113g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
- 1½ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- Add the yeast and 1T of the brown sugar to the 110℉ water and gently mix. Allow to stand for 5 minutes so the yeast can begin to feed. It will look frothy by this point. If it is not frothy after 5 minutes, your yeast is likely too old and you’ll need to start again with new yeast.
- After 5 minutes, add in the remaining brown sugar, salt, and pumpkin puree and mix. Add in about half of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Using your fingers, pinch off small bits of the softened butter and scatter on top of the dough. Lightly mix to incorporate (any extra chunks will blend in while kneading).
- Add in the remaining flour and mix with your spoon. Once it becomes difficult to stir and incorporate the flour, switch to your hands and incorporate the flour in the bottom of the bowl.
- Using extra flour, dust your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Begin kneading, adding more flour as anything begins to stick, and continue kneading for about 5-7 minutes. The dough will become soft and pliable and will hold an indent when a finger is poked into it.
- Grease a large mixing bowl with canola or olive oil and transfer the dough into the bowl. Lightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm area to rise and double in size. This can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes.
- Once doubled in size, punch down the dough a few times, then turn out onto your surface and form it into a rectangle. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and separate them from each other.
- At this point, heat up your water so it’s boiling and ready when you have your pretzels shaped. You also need to preheat your oven to 450℉.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it on your work surface with the palms of both hands into a 20-30 inch log. I typically aim for 25 inches. Roll from the middle and move outwards. Lightly flour your hands if it feels difficult to roll and get traction.
- Form the dough into a “U” shape, crisscross the top, then wrap them again the same way you originally crossed them. Lay the ends down just over the bottom, then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet (you’ll need 2 sheets). To move the pretzels into the water bath, pick them up from the bottom. You'll have the left and right bottom cross sections in between your pointer and middle fingers of each hand.
- Add the baking soda to the boiling water and stir. Add the pretzels one at a time to the water bath and allow to boil for 30 seconds (be sure to submerge it about halfway through).
- Remove from the water using a slotted spoon or spider and transfer back to the parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the pretzels.
- Bake the pans in the middle racks of the oven for 12-14 minutes, switching racks halfway through. The pretzels should be rather browned on top when done. While the pretzels are cooling, prepare the butter and sugar.
Coating the Pretzels
- Melt the butter in one bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and pumpkin spice.
- When the pretzels are cool enough to handle, brush them in butter, then coat them in the pumpkin spice sugar mixture.