Spiced, Brown Butter Pumpkin Pretzels with Coffee Cream Cheese Icing (+ How to shape pretzels)

It’s no secret that it’s Autumn now – it’s already getting dark and cold at 4 pm, I’m constantly wearing jumpers, Starbucks has brought the Pumpkin Spice Latte to the UK, and Whole Foods has a huge stack of Libby’s Pumpkin tins piled up.

I’ve never usually been one for following themes – I’m 16 and I already barely even celebrate Halloween – so I’m not quite into baking ‘themed’ food – unless you count DELICIOUS as a theme that is 😉 But, after being bombarded by images of delicious pumpkin type things on the internet, the idea of pumpkin was really starting to appeal to me. Then I saw the new pumpkin spice latte in Starbucks,  and decided to take the flavour combo (pumpkin, coffee, pumpkin pie spice), and make it better by (of course) adding carbs into the mix.


Specifically, the bread kind. Soft, pretzel-y bread. Oh yeah, and then I coated them in browned butter. Sassy.

There’s spice mix in them, spice mix on them. Then comes the coffee cream cheese icing.

A rogue sprinkling of pecans.

I’m so sorry…

I’m not sorry.


– If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice mix, you can make your own by combining 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground allspice and 1/4 tsp ground cloves.

-Not a fan of coffee? Just sub it for 1 tbsp of warm water!

Spiced, Brown Butter Pumpkin Pretzels with Coffee Cream Cheese Icing

bread dough adapted from King Arthur Flour

makes 10-11 pretzels

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (150ml) warm water
1 tbsp active dried yeast
1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
3 1/4 cups (425g) all purpose flour (plus 1/3 cup (45g) more for kneading)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix (see notes)
2 tbsp neutral oil (e.g. vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, melted coconut oil)
3/4 cup (185 ml) pumpkin puree
1 egg

For dipping:
1 cup (250ml) hot water
2 tsp baking soda

For rolling:
1/4 cup (55g) butter
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice mix (see notes)
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar

Coffee Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup (50g) powdered sugar
2 tbsp cream cheese
strong coffee
optional: 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) chopped pecans


In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tbsp of the brown sugar. Stir, and set aside.In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, spice mix and the rest of the brown sugar. Add the yeast mixture, oil, pumpkin and egg to the bowl. Stir together until you get a rough ball of mixture.

Tip the entire contents of the large bowl out onto a work surface. Knead together for about 10 minutes, gradually adding the 1/3 cup of flour, using it to stop the dough sticking to your hands and the work surface, until you get a smooth-ish, slightly sticky dough. Pop the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl, turning it to coat, cover with a clean tea towel . Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour-ish until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 10-11 equal pieces (roughly weighing 3 oz each) and roll into balls. Dip the bottom of the dough balls lightly into some flour to stop them sticking to the work surface.

Roll each dough ball into a rope about 20″ long.

Shape into a U, cross the ends of the U over each other and fold down to make the pretzel shape.

Combine the hot water and baking soda in a jug, then pour into a shallow bowl. Dip the pretzels into this mixture and place onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Leave to rest while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (210 degrees C). Once preheated, bake the pretzels for 7-10 minutes, rotating the tray 180 degrees, halfway through baking, until golden brown.

While the pretzels bake, brown the butter: melt the butter, and continue to cook over a medium heat until it foams up and brown solids appear at the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat. Combine the granulated sugar and spice mix in a large shallow bowl.

Brush the pretzels all over with browned butter, then coat with the spiced sugar mixture.

Combine the powdered sugar and cream cheese in a small bowl. Add some coffee, little by little until you get a drizzle-able icing, and drizzle over the spice-sugar coated pretzels. Top with chopped pecans, if you want them. Store in an airtight container – they’re best eaten warm 😉


  1. says

    sweet jesus! there are so many delicious things going on here, my brain doesn’t even know how to handle all the information. just awesome. (:

  2. says

    Ohmygosh. I’m so wishing that I could do gluten and dairy right now. They look amazing. Had to come over as soon as I saw the photo on FoodGawker. My gosh. And I love the animated gifs showing how to make them. Fav. Love. Swoon.

    • says

      I think I ate about 3 when I was coating them in the butter + spiced-sugar mixture – you know, the ‘taste-testing’ part is essential 😉 thanks!

  3. Rita says

    They look amazing and look forward to making them. Spent the last 3 years in Europe during Halloween. The American holiday seems to becoming more popular each year. I would love these pretzels for Thanksgiving, too. Thanks for sharing and @ 16 you have a bright epicurean future.

  4. says

    WOW. I can’t believe I just discovered your site… these look AMAZING! And your photography is beautiful. Totally believe your motto- “top it with cinnamon.” Hope you check out my site as well!

  5. says

    Pumpkin spiced lattes! So I get serious headaches when I drink straight-up-anything-coffee, but I believe you’ve just hurdled that tiny barrier with this recipe. Headaches, meet exponential waistline expansion. I can’t wait to try this!

  6. Frances says

    Those pretzels look delicious! I’m glad that “pumpkin” has finally become “interesting” across the pond. My brother used to live in Spalding Lincolnshire, where their primary crop was PUMPKINS! Though sadly no one really cooked, much less baked with them! My brother, being a homesick American, craved the pumpkin pie he was missing for Thanksgiving here in the states. Keep exploring pumpkin and I love the great work you are doing with your blog.

    • says

      thanks! Yeah, it’s really strange, pumpkins in the UK are mainly used for carving faces into at Halloween, nobody seems to use them for anything else!!

  7. Rachel M. says

    I’m a bit jaded by all the pumpkin in everything here in the states, but I couldn’t resist trying this recipe. So, so amazing. The brown butter is a perfect touch, and the pumpkin really does a lot for the texture of the dough. Thank you!

  8. Brant says

    I’m curious. Is it possible that i freeze the dough after i a roll and shape them into their pretzel form, and just take them out of the freezer, thaw them, dip in baking soda water, then bake when i wanted one? i just can’t see myself eating 10 or 11 pretzels before they got stale.

    Thanks for the help!

    • says

      I think that would be fine! Just one thing – once thawed, leave the pretzel in a warm place for about 15-25 minutes to let it rise a bit, before dipping + baking. No prob :)

  9. Jen says

    You are awesome. At 16, my “cooking” was running to the 7-11 for a Dark Chocolate Hershey bar. Now I’m old(er). Anyway, I am having a toddler party this weekend, and wanted to try your pretzels, but without all the sugar (toddlers+lots of sugar=disaster). Have you tried these without tossing them in sugar? Maybe just with the cream cheese drizzle?

    • says

      hahaha, thanks! Yes, I can see that getting a bit hectic! – I definitely ate one warm from the oven and they’re pretty dang delicious even without being rolled in sugar; I’d say just add 1/2 tsp extra pumpkin pie spice (or you could just add more cinnamon or another spice) to the dough to amp up the flavour a bit, then drizzle with the icing and you should be good to go!

  10. Jessica B. says

    So, I’m a graphic designer and I love food too — great post. I may be trying to make a gluten-free version of these. But in the meantime, I just had to drop a note and let you know that the gif tutorials you made are hot. I can see this trending all over. Well done!

    • says

      Ooh, sounds good, let me know how they turn out! Yay, thank you :’) I make .gif video tutorials for whole recipes too on my vimeo account – I’m addicted to .gifs

  11. bec says

    hi these pretzels look amazing! i want to make them for a friends birthday but was hoping that once the dough is made into little balls it could be put in fridge for a few hours and then baked, or will this ruin the dough?? thanks :)

  12. Sonya says

    Oh My Gosh! I love everything pumpkin! Today is cooler than it was yesterday here in IL. Close enough to that fall feeling for me. Making these today!


  1. […] While I am not the biggest fan of pumpkin pie, I do love other pumpkin flavoured things. Pumpkin soup, stuffed pumpkin, pumpkin cake, pumpkin loaf… anything other than pie! I think I’ll try to overcome this dislike by making homemade pumpkin pie later in the future because at least I will be able to adjust the taste to my liking. When using pumpkin for baking or cooking, many people tend to only stay within what they know. In that case, it would be pumpkin pie. I’m even looking to branch out by trying these pumpkin pancakes for one, pumpkin cinnamon rolls or even pumpkin pretzels with coffee cream cheese icing. […]

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