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Air Fryer Soft Pretzels {Auntie Anne’s Copycat}

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These soft air-fried pretzels taste just like the ones you remember from Auntie Anne’s in the mall. They make the perfect party snack or appetizer.

Copycat recipes are some of my favorites to recreate. Because let’s face it, most of the time the homemade version is cheaper. And you don’t have to leave the house and sometimes they are even better than the original.

four air fried soft pretzels on a white plate

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This is definitely the case when I made Orange Chicken from Panda Express in the air fryer. And now it’s my go-to rather than getting takeout. 

If thinking of the food court takes you back, pair your soft pretzels with a copycat Orange Julius and you really will feel young again. 

ingredients labeled to make copycat Auntie Anne's soft pretzels in the air fryer

Ingredients Needed

  • warm water (110°F)
  • active dry yeast
  • salt
  • all-purpose flour
  • water
  • baking soda
  • butter
  • coarse kosher salt

How to Make Air Fryer Soft Pretzels

Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast has activated (this is called proofing). 

water and yeast mixed together waiting to activate

Transfer the activated mixture to a large bowl after proofing. Stir in the salt and flour.

Knead the dough using a stand mixer with the hook attachment for 7 to 8 minutes or by hand for 10 to 12 minutes on a floured surface. 

Cover the dough in the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rise until it doubles in size. This will take at least an hour. 

mixing the pretzel ingredients together making a dough so it will rise

Weigh out 7 ounces of dough and roll it out until it’s 8.5 inches long and resembles a rope.

Take one end in each hand. Keep the left hand still and “lasso” the dough in the right hand to create a twist. 

Rolling dough to make soft pretzels in the air fryer

Take the ends and pinch them as you bring them down to the bottom of the pretzel. 

twisting the dough into a pretzel shape on a cutting board

Add 2 cups of water to a medium bowl, and whisk in the baking soda. Lay out a kitchen towel (or paper towel) next to the bowl. 

Submerge each pretzel in the soda water then transfer it to the towel to remove the excess water. 

dipping the pretzel dough into water and draining it on a paper towel

Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees F. 

Line the basket with parchment paper or foil just before adding the pretzels. 

Place the pretzels in the basket leaving room in between each one so they aren’t touching. 

collage of uncooked and cooked pretzels in air fryer basket

Sprinkle with coarse pretzel salt and cook until they are golden brown. 

In the meantime, melt the butter in the microwave. Once the pretzels have finished cooking brush the butter on each one. 

Serve with stone-ground mustard, honey mustard sauce, or cheese sauce.

How Do You Know When Yeast is Activated? 

As the yeast sits in the water, it will begin to bubble and look frothy. You may even notice the yeast rising to the top. You may even smell a faint odor of beer or wheat. This process will take 5 to 10 minutes. 

If the yeast is old or expired it may never activate and the pretzels will not rise, along with any other dough you try to use it in. Always check the expiration date before starting.

closeup up holding an air fried soft pretzel

What Does Proofing Yeast Mean? 

Proofing refers to the process of it being activated. This also ensures the yeast is good enough to use and will make the dough rise. 

Storing and Freezing Instructions 

Soft pretzels made in the air fryer are best when they are eaten the day they are made, but you can store them on the counter in an airtight container, bag, or foil for a day

To freeze uncooked pretzels: flash freeze (place dough on a baking sheet) uncooked dough for 3 hours before transferring the frozen dough to a freezer-safe container for 2-3 months. They can be cooked from a frozen or thawed state.

To freeze cooked pretzels: can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat for 1-2 minutes at 350 degrees F in the air fryer.

Can You Make These in the Oven? 

Yes! Follow the preparation instructions, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 375 degrees F. 

**Save Air Fryer Soft Pretzel Recipe for Later**

close up of an air fryer soft pretzel with text overlay

Air Fryer Soft Pretzels

These soft air-fried pretzels taste just like the ones you remember from Auntie Anne's in the mall. They make the perfect party snack or appetizer.
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Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 387kcal
Author: Lori @ I Heart Air Frying


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, 110°F
  • 1 1/4 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • Coarse pretzel salt, (or kosher salt)


  • In a small bowl mix the water and yeast. Allow to sit for about five minutes until the yeast is activated (looks foamy & bubbly).
  • Transfer the yeast mixture to a large mixing bowl after proofing. Add salt and flour. If using a stand mixture, knead with dough hook attachment for 7 to 8 minutes. If using your hands, knead for 10 to 12 minutes on a lightly floured flat surface.
  • Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise until doubled in size (at least one hour).
  • Remove a portion of your dough, weighing out 7 ounces. Roll the dough and stretch it out until it’s 8 1/2 inches in diameter and resembles a rope.
  • Take one end of the “rope” in each hand. Keeping your left hand still “lasso” the dough in your right hand to create a twist. Take the ends of your “rope” and pinch them as you bring them down to the bottom of the pretzel.
  • Using a medium-size bowl that fits the size of your pretzels, add 2 cups of water and baking soda and whisk together. Place a clean kitchen towel, or paper towels next to your bowl of baking soda water.
  • Submerge the pretzel in the baking soda water and then immediately place your pretzel on the towel. This helps to remove excess water before cooking the pretzel.
  • Preheat the air fryer at 380°F for 5 minutes.
  • After preheating, line the basket with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place pretzels inside basket, making sure they aren’t touching.
  • Sprinkle coarse salt on the pretzel and cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.
  • While the pretzels are cooking, melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Brush melted butter on cooked pretzels.


  • Check the expiration date on your yeast to make sure it’s fresh.
  • Serve with stone ground mustard, honey mustard or cheese sauce for dipping sauce.
  • Best eaten immediately but can be stored on the counter for up to 1 day.
  • You may need to cook in batches depending no the size of your basket.
  • Oven directions: make as directed. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
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Nutritional Estimate

Serving: 1pretzel | Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 938mg | Potassium: 117mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 0.002mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.

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