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What are the Different Types of Pretzels?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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The two main kinds of pretzels are soft and hard. Soft ones are often served with mustard or dips, while hard pretzels are more likely to be eaten plain. Both types are popular, and usually quite inexpensive, snacks. They are baked rather than fried, but they are high in sodium, and soft pretzels are often brushed with butter before salt and flavorings are added.

The soft pretzel was the first type invented. An Italian monk in 610 AD formed shapes out of leftover bread dough during Lent and baked the shapes. He had twisted the dough to represent hands folded in prayer. These bread treats were called pretiola, Latin for "small reward."

Pretzels became popular throughout Europe and are especially associated with Austrian bakeries and Bavaria. In Bavaria, they are called bretzels, brezn, or brezl, and are traditionally served for breakfast with weisswurst, which is German white sausage. Hard sticks called satzstangen are also available in Germany.

Soft pretzels today are usually in the classic twisted shape, but are available in many different flavors. Both sweet varieties, such as cinnamon and sugar, and savory varieties, such as garlic and Italian seasonings, are popular. Savory or plain ones may be accompanied by mustard, or honey mustard dip or cheese or barbecue sauce dips. The dough is also often versatile enough to be used as pizza dough.

The hard pretzel was invented by accident in the 17th century. A baker's helper was asleep on the job while his batch of pretzels was over-baking in the fire. The baker was going to throw the batch that his apprentice had ruined out, but tasted one and was surprised by how good the crunchier pretzels were. This hard type became popular for its crunch and for the fact that it stayed fresher much longer than the soft pretzel.

Hard pretzels today are available in many variations of the classic twist as well as the stick shape. Twists are regular-sized or miniature, while sticks are thinner and more common than the thicker pretzel rods. Ring-shaped hard pretzels are also sometimes sold today. Some people like to eat hard ones with vanilla ice cream, while serving them with beer is a more well-known combination.

Specialty types of hard pretzels found today include yogurt-dipped and chocolate-dipped varieties. In addition to butter, salt and flavorings, soft pretzels may also feature seeds such as sesame or poppy sprinkled on top. Both types may also be available made with organic flour, or even organic whole wheat flour.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Oceana — On Oct 02, 2012
I used to hate hard pretzels. I found them flavorless, except for the salt.

Then, I discovered honey mustard flavored pretzels. The flavor was so strong it felt like a kick in the tongue!

By DylanB — On Oct 02, 2012

A pretzel's calories go way up when it is covered in butter. I know that the soft pretzels at the mall have more fat and calories than the kind I could make at home, but they just taste so good!

I ate a garlic flavored pretzel there the other day, and the flavor was so intense. I could tell it had been buttered, but that is what made it taste so good.

It was a huge soft pretzel, so I only ate half of it and took the rest home. I figured that eating that many calories at one sitting would make me feel terrible, anyway.

By feasting — On Oct 01, 2012
@healthy4life – To me, white chocolate is just too sweet. I prefer the regular chocolate pretzels.

If I can find them, I buy the kind coated in dark chocolate. They only have a hint of sweetness, and they are plenty salty. And besides that, I keep hearing all these good things about how dark chocolate has antioxidants, and eating it can be good for you, so that just gives me another reason to like them.

My sister loves the white chocolate ones, so we usually end up buying a carton of mixed pretzels. As long as there is a partition between the two kinds, I don't mind. I can't stand getting that overly sweet white chocolate on my pretzels, though! Bring on the dark chocolate for me every time.

By healthy4life — On Oct 01, 2012

White chocolate covered pretzels are my favorite kind. It's really easy to find them in tins around the holidays, but they are sold year-round.

The coating is very sweet, which is a perfect contrast to the highly salty interior. They are very addictive, but I feel better about binging on them than on chips or solid candy bars. They still have less fat than these other options.

Around Christmas time, you can find white chocolate covered pretzels with red and green sprinkles on them. The sprinkles don't have any flavor, but they make the pretzels seem more festive with their color and texture.

By anon91259 — On Jun 21, 2010

how interesting.

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