Add the water, sugar, yeast, and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and 4 1/2 cups of flour to the mixture and mix on low until combined. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough appears too wet.
Place dough on a flat surface and knead into a ball.
Coat a large bowl with canola oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until dough doubles in size.
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
Remove dough from the bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces. On a flat surface or between your hands, roll each piece into a long rope. Form the rope into a pretzel shape by twisting the ends together.*
Slowly add the baking soda to the boiling water. Boil the pretzels 2 at a time for 30 seconds, using a slotted spoon to take them in and out of the water.
Place the pretzels on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Bake at 425° Fahrenheit for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire baking rack.
Serve pretzels with the dip or sauce of your choice, or roll in melted butter and then cinnamon sugar. Feel free to skip the twisting step and cut them into pretzel bites instead!
*or cut them up into bite-sized pieces at this step to make pretzel bites!
Keywords: homemade pretzels, making pretzels at home, baking soft pretzels