Soft Sesame Seed Pretzels (Cooking With Kids)


I always have these romantic notions of cooking and baking with my children. Of all of us really getting into it, and laughing together as we make a fine old mess. Of me not worrying about the final results and just going with the flow. Of my kids really learning something from me about how to prepare food. But here’s what really happens. My kids get over-excited and start fighting over who gets to do what. I try to show how to do it and they don’t really listen because they are goofing around. I start to get a little annoyed when they don’t do it the way I told them, and I try to take over. They get annoyed that I am taking over and push their way in and I take a deep breath and tell myself to relax and let them do it. Then they lose interest and I find myself alone in the kitchen, finishing up whatever we started and finally enjoying myself. Of course, that means I have to do all the clean-up too.

If you enjoy cooking with your kids, I say you’re lucky. I suppose it’s because mine are 6 and 4 and in huge competition with each other these days, but it rarely goes well. One kid at a time and it’s much more manageable and fun, but they usually both want to take part and that’s when the wheels fall off. And just wait until the baby is old enough and wants to partake of the festivities. Then I might really lose my mind! Still, I do it every so often and I hold onto the hope that someday we will all be old enough and mature enough to cook together and enjoy it. Until then, there’s always a big glass of wine to see me through the chaos.

Making these pretzels was no exception. My kids had been asking me to make these for months, and I thought it might be fun. I found what looked to be a good recipe HERE and I liked that the pretzels were smaller in size, for snacking. So I made up the dough in the morning, and after I put the little one down to nap, we all put on our aprons and got started. I had high hopes for this go round, I even put on some music with the idea that we would be having such a great time, dancing around the kitchen and shaping pretzels. I should have known better. Things started deteriorating almost from the get-go, with the kids fighting over who got to stand on the step-stool. Nevertheless, I persevered and got them working well together, and although the whole process was extremely wearing on my nerves, my children seemed to enjoy themselves.

The Results: And I am glad to tell you that even though I can’t eat the final results, they were well worth the insanity. I had a little taste of my daughter’s pretzel warm from the oven and it was fantastic. Chewy, soft, and with that mall-pretzel taste. Which I now realize comes in part from boiling the shaped pretzels in water and baking soda before baking. Oddly, it’s the baking soda that gives it much of that tangy flavour. The dough was fun to work with and my kids had a blast making shapes other than the typical pretzels. And the whole process, albeit messy, was actually quite easy.

My only changes to the recipe were to sub in whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose (my small nod to health) and to sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top. Sesame bagels and pretzels have always been my favourite and I thought the seeds might add a little something to these treats. And I think I was spot on, in this case. The sesame seeds add both looks and flavour to the final product.

Soft Sesame Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water (110F to 115F)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 envelope)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine warm water, sugar and salt. Sprinkle yeast over and let sit for five minutes. Add the flour and butter and mix on low until well-combined. Increase speed to medium and knead the bread 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away from the sides.

With greased hands, form dough into a large ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Divide dough into 16 even pieces. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into long ropes and form into pretzels.

In a large saucepan, bring water and baking soda to a rolling boil. Place 3 to 4 pretzels in water for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

Brush pretzels with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

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  1. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says

    I LOVE pretzels. Unfortunately even my oldest I don't think is ready for that kitchen challenge yet so I'll stick to it by myself for now. She can help eat them though :)

  2. Magic of Spice says

    These look so fun… my kids are big and cook on their own now, but I do remember the messy fun and struggles over who does what :)

  3. Erin says

    I only have one kid, and my cooking experience sounds about like yours. I always picture it going different in my head before we start. It has been a really long time since we have made pretzels – I should do them again!

  4. Cat J B says

    I had to laugh, my kids are 3 and 6, two boys, and our baking together goes very much like yours. Right down to the fighting over the stepstools. I've got to be in the right headspace to even attempt baking them these days!

  5. Deeba PAB says

    I had similar dreams of fun baking with the kids…and I was always left trying to break up a fight! Love the pretzels…gorgeous!

  6. Beloved Green says

    We used to make these cookies with my religious ed kids when I still taught Sunday school. They were a bit older (middle school) but I kind of approached it the same way as you.

  7. Foodness Gracious says

    Your kitchen and kid experience sound exactly like mine. I love to have Miranda help me but when I turn my back to grab something and she has her hand in a bowl of perfectly weighed flour enjoying the pretty dust clouds or every 5 seconds is "Can i taste that?" I become a little annoyed too. I make her see it through to the end though and usually she departs the kitchen happy.
    Thanks for sharing…

  8. Curt says

    Those look delicious.

    I raised twins. Try doing anything, including cooking together with twins. It's very true what they say about the competitiveness of twins.

    But we love them anyway!

  9. Parsley Sage says

    Okay, I'm exhausted just reading this. I don't know how you do it. I have trouble when my husband comes in the kitchen to get a beer when I'm cooking…your patience is inspiring :) Glad your kiddies liked the pretzel making, they look lovely! Buzzed

  10. Shulie says

    I too had romantic notions when my son was growing up. The only time my son was super attentive when it came to cooking was with my mom but again she was much more engaging than I and didn;t project super nervous energy.:) These prtzels look wonderful. Am sure the entire family emjoyed it/

  11. Peggy says

    I'm glad that you all were finally able to have a good time in the kitchen! I'm sure once they get older, they'll appreciate the quality time even more, and realize that it's not a competition, because everybody wins in the end – because they all get to eat the final results!

  12. Foodiva says

    These pretzels probably taste better because of the passion put in the struggle ;-). I usually just assign each child their own dough and workspace so they don't kill each other while I retreat to my cosy corner with a lovely up of tea! Yummy looking pretzels, much better than mine.

  13. Becky says

    These look delicious, I love how you substituted in the whole wheat flour too. It certainly is always a challenge cooking with kids, and I only have a niece and nephew to deal with!!

  14. Emily @ A Cambridge Story says

    I've really enjoyed making pretzels in the past and love the idea of adding sesame seeds. Your kids are lucky!

  15. says

    Aww so sweet. If I ever have kids I know they'll be in the kitchen with me too. These pretzels look delicious, love the sesame topping :)

  16. Kate@Diethood says

    When my sister and I were little my mom would invite us into the kitchen and we couldn't be more excited!! She'd give us some dough, a pinch of flour, and we'd have a go…it was so much fun! :)

  17. tartedujour says

    These look warm and delicious! I love your dose of reality when cooking with your kids… I can totally relate to how your expectations and visions of the ideal cooking day can fall short! So glad you put it into words! I can tell you as they get older, however, it will get easier!

  18. Sandra says

    I know what you mean when they all cook at the same time:)) However your pretzels came out with perfection, so tasty and beautiful!!!

  19. Roxana GreenGirl says

    I love having Tiffany around me when I cook/bake but I'm a little scared when she will want to actually cook/bake with me.
    Your pretzels look great!

  20. Tiffany says

    These pretzels look fantastic… and I can totally relate with the whole competition thing. My nephews are 8 and 10, and whenever I cook with them it's like a battle–a fun battle though 😀

  21. Jeanette says

    I know what you mean – I remember making fresh pasta with my kids when they were young, there was flour everywhere, and they lost interest quickly, leaving me with a kitchen floor full of flour. Just remember you're creating memories (amidst the mess!) that will be fondly looked back on and we can chuckle at.

    By the way, I love the rise in your pretzels and the sesame seeds!

  22. Steph says

    I love that you cook with your kids…even if it is difficult sometimes. I ave yet to make pretzels at home but am bookmarking this…I see these making an appearance at a football party :)

  23. Pretend Chef says

    I can't stand anyone being in my kitchen bubble while I'm in there. I don't care what I'm doing. It's my space and it's my "me" time. You are so brave. I don't think I could handle my little man in the kitchen with me. I have asked him to join before and he refuses. Those pretzels look amazing. I think the sesame seeds add a nice touch. I need to give these a try sometime. I would like to invite you to participate in a giveaway on my blog. You can check it out if you are interested.

  24. The Mom Chef says

    You're a hero for cooking with two little ones. For me it's the absolute test of patience and I just have the one. But, it's also such a rewarding experience, isn't it?

    And I'm not just talking about those amazing-looking pretzels!

  25. kitchenarian says

    I love your pretzels and your story of cooking with your children. I remember those days! The "wheels fell off" many times in the kitchen when my children were younger, but that's not the part they remember thank goodness! Such good times. Now I have Sous Chef who bakes and writes with me. She is 20 and still makes a big mess in the kitchen and expects me to clean it up. :)

  26. Cassie @ Bake Your Day says

    I have really been wanting to try pretzels homemade…these look awesome and I love the addition of sesame seeds, love those!

  27. Rebecca from Chow and Chatter says

    Awesome pretzels and your kids will thank you long term for letting them cook together your a good mum

  28. Aggie says

    Thank you for your honesty! I too have visions of baking or cooking with my kids…but its never fun for me…it's stressful! Maybe I should do it with one at a time but when does that happen, lol. These pretzels look delicious. I would gobble them up…and so would my kids. One day…maybe one day…I'll attmept

  29. Emily @ Life on Food says

    Happy chaos! Sadly it sounds similar to me and my husband in the kitchen; we both have very distinct notions about what to do and they are not typically the same. The pretzels look amazing!

  30. scratch-made wife says

    The husband and I would totally eat these all in an afternoon. They look great! And thanks for the flashback to when I was a nanny – for kids ages 6, 3 and 6 mos. You described kitchen adventures with kids perfectly!

  31. janet@cupcakestocaviar says

    With six kids, I can completely identify with the cooking experience. ACK!
    The pretzels however look well worth the stress. I LOVE the idea of the sesame seeds on them!

  32. Lizzy says

    Carolyn, you are one of my blogging friends that I can see with a cookbook deal! You have a fabulous niche and do it so well…so I'll just wait patiently till you hit the jackpot :)

  33. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says

    I hope I have the patience to try to cook and bake with my kids when I have them! I loved baking with my mom when I was little.

  34. Claudie says

    It seems that cooking with your kids can be quite the adventure, but, if you get results like this every time, I'd say it's a complete success :) Those pretzels look beautiful and tempting! I am definitely making these after my trip this weekend.

  35. Edible Potential says

    You ought to try & sell your recipe to baseball parks. Theirs don't have a hint of healthy fiber like yours..great job!

  36. Celia says

    So lovely! I especially love the letter-pretzel…I don't have kids, but I have got much-younger sisters, whom I think would totally get into this…Great post!

  37. Lisa says

    Great read! I usually push people out of the kitchen, especially since my current kitchen is so small. When and if I have kids, it could be hairy lol Love soft pretzels, and your sesame version looks fantastic!

  38. kita says

    I used to cook with my father all the time (and still do) and he still pushes me out of the way and takes over insisting that his way is the best. It can be frustrating but as an adult, I know this is just his way of trying to teach me.
    These pretzels look great, and are something I have been wanting to make. I just need to break down and do it.

  39. briarrose says

    I would totally have been all over these….such a weakness for soft pretzels. Definitely worth the madness ehehehe.

  40. The Harried Cook says

    When I was a kid, I wouldn't get out of the kitchen! My little girl is almost 2 and I cannot wait till she's old enough to cook with me… I hope she wants to! These soft pretzels look incredible! I am bookmarking this recipe… Gotta try it… I am sure I could eat a lot of these! Great post, Carolyn! :)

  41. Nami | Just One Cookbook says

    I just smiled at your story because your story is "exactly" same as mine. From where they get excited about cooking till they leave the kitchen. LOL! My kids want to do what they like to do. And if I ask one thing they are not interested, they just get distracted…ugh… My kids are 5 and 3. I guess with their personality and age I should wait a couple of years to really enjoy cooking together. Your pretzels look fantastic!!! I'd love to have homemade one… just not enough courage to make from scratch. =P


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