These vegan whole wheat pretzels are super easy to make. Have fresh homemade pretzels ready in about an hour. Perfect for movie night! Don't forget the salted tops!
If you love easy vegan bread baking, try our favourite vegan flatbread recipe.
This post was originally published in 2017. I have updated it to include step-by-step instructions and answer common questions about pretzel-making and working with yeast.
This is not my usual post first thing in the New Year. Typically I go for something cleaner... like a lentil soup or something on the lighter side. Okay - usually a soup. And no, I am not making a grand statement. And certainly not a comment about New Year's resolutions. This has nothing to do with making a stand for eating carbs again - 😉 I never really stopped. Nor do I have any notion about 2017 and comfort and then so comfort foods. Nope, it is simply that over the last few months I've experimented with yeasted bread and I just loved the way these soft pretzels turned out.
Yeasted bread-making can be a bit intimidating. There is a definite time commitment. And as much as I marvel at the chemistry involved in bread baking I've avoided it for years. I tried a bread machine several years ago and found it took some of the joy of baking bread away. Something about those square brick-shaped loaves kinda ruined homemade bread for me. And really since I have a stand mixer, the bread machine didn't help me out much anyway. So I gave the bread machine away and the yeast packets in my pantry expired.
This fall I attempted a basic pizza dough. Something I hadn't bothered with for a very long time. Then moved on to a few simple bread recipes I found online. And I'm hooked again.
Baking bread is not as hard as it looks.
Pretzels are a basic yeasted bread that is boiled first before baking. Boiling the pretzels gives them that characteristic, chewy crust.
How to make soft whole wheat pretzels
This pretzel recipe takes about an hour - start to finish - and does not need any special steps or equipment.
Active dry yeast
You need to use Active Dry Yeast in this recipe. It is easy to find in the baking section of your grocery store and usually comes in little individual packages. You will need one half of a package for this recipe, or about 1-½ teaspoons, or a ½ tablespoon.
Proof the yeast
For proofing, yeast needs a slightly warm environment and a little bit of sugar for food. In most recipes this means you are mixing a little bit of warm water with some sugar or sweetener, adding the yeast and letting sit for a few minutes. In this recipe, I used ¼ cup for the warm water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit or just slightly warm to touch) and maple syrup. Maple syrup is vegan, but you can feel free to substitute it with other liquid sweeteners such as honey or brown rice syrup. Do not use stevia or other low-calorie sweeteners.
Let it sit for about 5 minutes, the yeast will start to swell. This is a perfect time to get the rest of your ingredients together.
Make the dough
I used both bread flour and whole wheat flour, equal measures of each, in this recipe. Bread flour gives the pretzels a chewier and dense texture. Bread flour has more protein (gluten) than all-purpose flour. You can substitute all-purpose flour if that is all you have on hand, pretzels will still be good, just a bit softer.
For your stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment.
Mix flours, salt in a stand mixer, add yeast mixture and oil. As the mixer is running, stream in another ½ cup of water. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes.
The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, coming together to form a ball.
IF you don't have a standmixer, you can mix ingredients by hand. Once a shaggy and sticky dough starts to form, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. Again dough should form a smooth and tight ball when you are done.
Let the dough rise
Place dough in a lightly oil bowl, turning the dough so that it is covered on all sides with oil. Over the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and set it aside in draft free spot for about 40 minutes. The dough should double in size.
How to shape pretzels into twists
Once the dough has double-sized turn it out onto an oiled work surface.
This is a good time to pre-heat the oven to 450.
And bring a large pot of water to boil. Measure 6 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
While those two things are happening, take the dough and punch it down. Cut it into 4-8 different pieces. I find 6 is best. But really this depends on big you want your pretzels.
For this batch, we made traditional pretzel twists.
Take each piece of dough and roll into a long rope, about 18 inches long.
Pick up the rope of dough, holding an end in each hand, and make an upside-down U-shape in front of you on the work surface. Bring the ends of the rope down towards you and cross them over each other, and then up to form a twist. The twist will look upside down. See below for steps
Boil the pretzels
Once you have pretty shaped pretzels, they need a quick bath in boiling baking soda and water solution.
The baking soda helps give the crust a head start so the pretzels will evenly brown in the oven. It also helps set that chewy, dense crust texture you get with a traditional soft pretzel.
I like to do this one at a time. Gently place one pretzel into the boiling water and baking soda solution. The pretzel will sink and then float up to the top. Boil for about 30 seconds. Carefully remove from the boiling water and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Generously sprinkle the tops of each pretzel with coarse kosher or sea salt while it is still wet from the water bath. So the salt sticks.
Score the fattest part of the pretzel with a sharp knife. This will create a slit to allow steam to escape.
Bake the pretzels
Bake the pretzels in a 450-degree oven for 12-15 minutes. They will burn quickly so watch them carefully.
This recipe makes 4-8 pretzels - depending on how big you like your pretzels. Consider this for movie night or a lazy Sunday afternoon. The kids can help you make this treat.
Serve these whole wheat pretzels with your favourite sweet and spicy mustard or a beer and cheese sauce (not vegan). For a vegan cheese sauce, try this vegan queso dip, just think with a little extra unsweetened non-dairy milk or water to get a sauce-like consistency.
Vegan whole wheat pretzel recipe notes
- Serve these immediately. Let them cool just enough so you don't burn the roof of your mouth! 🙂 They are best hot from the oven. This recipe makes a small batch because keeping these for a day or two just does not work.
- Boiling the dough in baking soda solution is essential if you want that chewy pretzel crust. They are not the same without this step.
- If you don't have bread flour (it's okay if you don't - they may be a bit softer without) you can use white all-purpose flour instead. You can use all-purpose white flour to replace both the bread flour and / or the whole wheat flour.
- For salting the tops, I like a good coarse salt so the salt sticks and does not completely melt before baking.
Not all pretzel recipes are vegan. Often a soft pretzel will include some dairy ingredients. This recipe is vegan. I've replaced butter with oil for a completely vegan and dairy-free recipe.
Yes! you can!
Bread flour has more protein, or gluten, which makes for a denser bread. The gluten in bread flour helps the dough rise and when using whole wheat, which can be a bit heavier, I find it is beneficial. However, you can use all-purpose flour for either (or both!) the bread flour or the whole wheat flour in this recipe and get great results.
Yes! You do.
Boiling the pretzels before baking helps form a chewy crust and gives the crust a head start. Without boil, your pretzels will be kinda dull and will not brown properly at all.
These whole wheat pretzels are best served immediately after making. Eating them the same day they are made is best. They will get hard and stale relatively quickly. Save this project for when you know you will be eating right away. I love this recipe for moving night! This makes a small batch of 4-8 pretzels, depending on the size you want, so you won't have too many leftovers if you share them.
Soft Whole Wheat Pretzels (vegan)
to proof the yeast:
- ½ tablespoon active dry yeast about half a package
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
for the pretzels
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup water
- about six cups water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- coarse kosher or sea salt
Proof the yeast:
- Combine ¼ cup warm water and maple syrup, then gently sprinkle yeast on top. Yeast should foam slightly. Let sit atleast 5 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
For the pretzels:
- Using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine flour, salt, oil and yeast mixture. Add ½ cup of water and run mixer on low speed for about 5 minutes. Dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. If mixing by hand, kneed dough for about 10 minutes by pulling and folding it onto itself.
- Remove the dough ball from the mixer bowl and knead a few times by hand. Wipe out the inside of bowl clean, if needed, and add a bit of olive oil to very lightly coat the inside of the bowl. Place the dough back into the bowl and turn it over a few time to get the dough coated with oil. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel.Let the dough sit undistrubed for about 40 minutes. Dough will double in size.
- Meanwhile preheat oven to 450 and line a large rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- After 40 minutes or so, punch down the dough. Be firm! Then cut dough into 4-8 equal pieces. I usually divide into 6.
ready water for boiling:
- Place 6 cups on to boil. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to water.
- While you wait for the water to come to a boil: roll each piece of dough into a long rope - about 18 inches long - and form into a pretzel shape (see above) and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Carefully drop pretzels, one at a time, into the boiling water. They will sink and then quickly start to float. Boil for 30 seconds. Carefully remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and set back onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle with coarse salt while still wet. Repeat with each pretzel.
- At the fattest part of the pretzel, take a sharp knife and cut a slit. The slit will open further while the preztel bakes. The slit makes them look pretty and also helps release some steam.
- Place pretzels in the hot oven for 12-15 minutes. They are ready when they are golden brown. The oven is very hot and they will go from ready to burnt quickly, so watch them carefully! Serve hot with your favourite dipping sauce.