New Year’s Pretzel

I hope your holidays have been merry and bright!  It’s hard to believe it’s almost the New Year…it seems like Thanksgiving was just yesterday.  I have always loved New Year’s, maybe because it was an excuse to stay up late when I was little or because it was just another excuse for my family to get together.

For many years, my grandparents would come over with Alfred Hitchcock movies and we would sit around eating Chinese take-out.  Now we usually all gather at my aunt and uncle’s house on New Year’s Day to eat and celebrate.  There’s always some sort of game involved, Taboo or Apples to Apples or both.

New Year's Pretzel

My aunt and uncle are also great cooks.  We have some form of pork and sauerkraut, and everyone has to eat a piece of New Year’s pretzel for good luck.  If you’ve never had a New Year’s pretzel…well, you’re missing out.  Sometimes they are made of a sweet dough or sometimes they are are actually a giant soft pretzel, but they are always served with a delicious icing.  I personally prefer the sweet dough pretzels and always pick the piece with the most icing and sprinkles (duh).

As soon as I decided to make a New Year’s pretzel, the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon roll dough popped into my head for the pretzel dough.  It’s one of the easiest yeast doughs I have ever made.  My recipe is based on a halved version of the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, which I then cut in half again.

New Year's Pretzel

I know a lot of people are intimidated by yeast, but I promise this is one of the easiest yeast doughs ever invented.  There are no thermometers involved, so you don’t need to be super precise with the temperature of the liquids.  The Pioneer Woman’s post has step-by-step directions, with photos, so she can hold your hand the whole way if that’s where you’re comfortable starting (that’s where I started my first time).  Just make sure you adjust the amounts, unless you want four of these New Year’s pretzels.  Which you’ll agree might not be a bad thing once you taste it.

Once the dough has risen, turn it onto a floured surface.  The dough will be pretty soft, so you’ll have to pull it rather than roll it to form the pretzel.  Be patient and gentle with it so it doesn’t break.  Form the pretzel on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.  Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours.

New Year's Pretzel

Bake the pretzel until it’s golden, mine took 24 minutes.  I let mine rise for about 2 hours, so you can see how much it rose during that time.

Prep the glaze as soon as you take the pretzel out because you want to ice it while it’s warm.  I like mine thick but very pourable.  I spread the glaze on the pretzel using the same spoon I mix it with (hello, lazy).  The heat of the pretzel will melt the glaze a little, which makes it easier to spread.

New Year's Pretzel

You’ll have to work somewhat quickly to glaze the pretzel and add the sprinkles, because the surface of the glaze will harden up a little.  I took a little too long (I probably should have waited to take pictures until the sprinkles were on it), so I had to press the sprinkles onto the glaze to get them to stick.  Oops.  Still delicious.

I ice my pretzel on the cookie sheet then move it to a serving platter, but you can also just ice it on whatever you plan to serve it on.  I have to warn you, this pretzel is addicting, so you might want to consider making two!  The pretzel tastes best the day you bake it, so you could always make the dough the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  You can also use this dough to make cinnamon rolls…it will make enough for one 9×13 pan if you cut them about an inch thick.

New Year's Pretzel

New Year's Pretzel
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-12 servings
For the dough:
  • 1 cup milk, any fat content
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2½ cup all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coffee
  • 2-4 teaspoons milk (enough to thin, if needed)
  • sprinkles (optional)
  1. Heat the milk, oil, and brown sugar in a large pot just until the brown sugar has dissolved. You should be able to comfortably touch the side of the pot. If you accidentally heat the milk too much, just let it cool until you can touch the side of the pot.
  2. While the wet ingredients heat up, measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Once the brown sugar has dissolved, sprinkle the yeast on and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix in the dry ingredients until combined. If the dough is too wet, you can stir in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour, a tablespoon at a time. Cover and allow to rise for approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Coat it in enough flour so you can work with it, and pull (rather than roll) into a long log. Transfer the log to the cookie sheet and form into a pretzel shape. Allow to rest for 15 minutes to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the pretzel until golden brown, around 20-25 minutes.
  6. While the pretzel cools slightly, mix the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and coffee in a small bowl. Add the milk a teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Spread the glaze on the pretzel and immediately add sprinkles. Let sit for a few minutes before serving. Store leftovers loosely covered for up to 2 days at room temperature.


New Year's Pretzel
Do you have any favorite New Year’s traditions?

Don’t forget!  If you try this New Year’s Pretzel, let me know by tagging it with #TGBGblog on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out for you!

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