14 Popular Pretzel Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

Pretzels sport a certain appeal that other snacks can only aspire to. In our opinion, a pretzel is somehow simultaneously elegant and cheeky. A pretty bowl full of mahogany twists flecked with crystals of translucent sea salt? That's classy enough for an adults-only dinner party. A plastic football full of little brown pretzel sticks for dunking in a buffalo chicken dip? That's playful enough for a kid-friendly party.

Pretzels come in all shapes and sizes. This means you can easily tailor your pretzel to your snacking preferences. Bigger crunch, smaller crunch, more or less salt, flavoring or plain, sweet or savory, and more are all in your control. Rods, nuggets, sticks, squares, crisps, pieces, or that quintessential swirly design that's now simply known as "pretzel-shaped," you are your own ultimate pretzel designer when strolling through the grocery store aisles. We're just here to be your guide on this snacking journey.

14. Hershey's Dipped Pretzels

Pretzels don't have to be plain. People generally see them, in our party-going experience, as the more boring of the snacks available at any given time. You know, sort of a last resort when the chips are gone. We don't think that's fair. Once we started eating and rating all these pretzels, we started talking about why we don't have pretzels more often. We figured out that it's because they don't often come in as many widely advertised new-to-the-market flavors like Cuban Sandwich Lays Potato Chips and Bold Cheddar Cheez-Its.

One easy solution is to flavor the pretzels with milk and dark chocolate. Suddenly, now you have what's basically a snackified and lightened-up chocolate bar. Or at least, that's what we hoped, but these Hershey's Dipped Pretzels didn't quite get there. These had the potential to be great, but they tasted too candy-coated for our tastes. We would have preferred more dark chocolate rather than the super-sweet light chocolate one. Maybe try them as a fun topping for some ice cream, or if it's late and you can't decide between chocolate or pretzels, these are the compromise. But this list is all about the pretzels themselves, and considering we could barely taste them under all the sugary chocolate, these take last place.

13. Creative Snacks Co.

You might be looking at this competitor and thinking, "What, yogurt-covered pretzels? That's kid's stuff." We think so, too. But what's wrong with that? We love kid's snacks! Ants on a log? Brilliant, innovative, creative, and so cute. There's something so ingenious about a yogurt-covered pretzel. You get the basic salty, crunchy, snacky pretzel we all know and love, then a creamy coating that's just tangy enough not to taste like white chocolate. It's actually so much better. We loved that it could be a very thick, luscious coating, much more generous than if it had been a candy.

Creative Snacks Co. does it right, piling on a sweet yogurt that we couldn't get enough of. And if you want to veer off a little from the usual child's play, buy the ones with blueberry. They taste a little like blueberry cheesecake. Obviously, they're delicious, but we can't rank them very high because, once again, the pretzels themselves aren't the focus. Creative Snacks Co. is throwing all its creative energy at the coating, and we're fine with that.

12. Harris Teeter

We agreed that, of all the brands we tried and all the shapes and sizes, this might be the definitive, essential pretzel. We took off to Harris Teeter and tried the Pretzel Mini Twists, which have all the basic ingredients, and the ratio of those ingredients down pat. We love the shape, with the tongue-twisting design that allows for three gaps and many, many smooth brown edges surrounding them. 

The first notes are little salt pebbles, quickly giving way to that molasses-y surface and finally to the airy, lightweight interior. That nuanced experience in a split-second bite of an everyday snack makes for something special. There are a lot of flavors drawn out by the salt, but don't worry, it's not too salty (which is a common failing of snacks trying to overcompensate from an inherent lack of flavor with excess sodium.) For basic, everyday pretzel needs, the quality is there. You won't find yourself getting bored too quickly or wishing for potato chips instead. Most importantly, you won't need a dip to make them fun to eat. We wish Harris Teeter made more varieties to further compete with all the other brands!

11. Rold Gold

The main problem with these Rold Gold Classic Pretzel Tiny Twists is that they are just a tad too salty. We would find it pretty near impossible to eat a bowl of them as a snack without a full water bottle within easy reach. Otherwise, the fundamental taste and texture were pretty good. However, they didn't strike us as particularly splendid, and we would probably choose a different brand next time. There was a little of that blandness that can happen in a pretzel that leaves you bored and unsatisfied, craving a complimentary snack like a chocolate bar or fresh grapes to back it up. 

We would be interested in tasting more of the full Rold Gold lineup for some variety and seeing if a different shape or size brings the heat better. Until then, these solid, nice, normal pretzels will do the job and make for a fine snack. They're just not quite as good as gold (pun always intended. Always.)

10. Quinn

Everyone's heard of pretzels with peanut butter, right? We sure have. It's one of life's simple joys: a little salty, a little nostalgic, and very satisfying. You may, then, have heard of speeding up the process — and making things a little less messy — by stuffing the nut butter right inside a pretzel nugget. Ingeniously delicious! And last but not least, you may notice that we carefully say "nut butter" as opposed to "peanut butter" because who are we to discriminate when it comes to nuts? Quinn Foods, a spunky smaller brand, is making big waves with their Almond-Butter Filled Pretzels, keeping things allergen-friendly when so many suffer from peanut sensitivities. Also, the recipe developers didn't have to go that extra mile by choosing sweet, warming maple syrup to flavor the almond butter, but we're glad they did. 

A handful of these pretzels is the perfect excuse to have your cake and eat it, too. The nutty core does, however, get a little lost in some of the nuggets and is more pasty than creamy. We suspect it's due to the organic, minimal-ingredient almond butter used. But no hard feelings; we still like that we're eating a fun snack baked with wholesome ingredients. We know we would enjoy the plain Quinn pretzels just as much since we enjoyed the pretzel pillow, even without any stuffing. 

9. Zapp's Pretzel Stix

What's up with Zapp's Voodoo Pretzel Stix? What is the brand playing at with that name? Playing in the big leagues, that's for sure. Because even though we had to do some digging to figure out why they were called "Voodoo," we were definitely zapped by the magical flavor. The fine print explains that the seasoning blend is inspired by New Orleans. It's a zesty blend of onion, garlic, paprika, and that often-crucial touch of citric acid makes it taste distinctly Southern. Oh, and most importantly, smoke flavoring! It's very fun, and let's just say that as far as snack-food-dust is concerned? 

This is much better than the neon-orange Cheetos fuzz. The pretzel sticks themselves aren't anything to write home about (we liked other pretzel sticks better), but that spice was lighting up our taste buds in a very jazzy way. These would be a great choice for the taking at an outdoor barbecue.

8. Dot's

When we compared this bag of Dot's Homestyle Original Seasoned Pretzel Twists to the previously tasted Zapp's Voodoo Pretzel Stix, we felt a rivalry coming out way. How would these two "special" seasoned pretzel twists be different? But as you can see, Dot's won out just a little bit. They really do taste pretty similar, with many of the same spices used (onion, garlic, paprika). But these have an extra ingredient that came through on our taste buds and gave the Dot's a bit of an edge: Artificial Butter Flavor. 

Yes, we're sort of ashamed. We usually don't consider ourselves the people who love to roll around in artificial flavorings, butter included. But maybe because this is a snack, or maybe because we're losing our senses after so many pretzels, but those buttery undertones snuck their way through the seasonings and gave these twists and boost. We're definitely going to be trying all of the other Dot's flavors, such as Cinnamon Sugar and Honey Mustard. Just probably not at the same time.

7. Snyder's

We decided to throw a curveball at a classic brand and see how it does. The result? These Snyder's Braided Twists Honey Wheat Pretzels are the gentler, milder cousins to the better-known, ready-for-anything, Super Bowl Sunday-ready sticks and rods. Here's why we love them: The texture is stunning, with the braids providing more heft than in a regular rod or stick and no negative space to break up the pure, through-and-through crunch. Well, less of a crunch and more of a crust — think of a breadstick. But turn that breadstick slightly sweet with the warm, sunny notes of honey, and counter it with the nutty notes of wheat flour. It's a snack, it's a pretzel, but gosh, it's also a sort of treat. 

We wouldn't recommend pairing these pretzels with beef jerky or stinky cheese. They're too soft-hearted for that. No, try dipping these into peanut butter, maybe of the honey-roasted variety. Or some nice baked brie with fig jam. Let them be their sweet (but not so salty) selves and have fun with it.

6. Real Food From the Ground Up

Cauliflower is everywhere. Sometimes it works, sometimes, it doesn't, and it's time to see how they do in pretzel form. We love the brand Real Food From the Ground Up, so we knew that at least cauliflower had a good chance for success this time. Sure enough, these Cauliflower Pretzel Sticks are excellent. They don't taste anything like vegetables, just like slightly healthier regular pretzels (maybe organic or something.) But actually, they contain not only cauliflower but also a vegetable blend of spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets, and even shiitake mushrooms. And best of all, they're gluten-free! Another win for cauliflower. 

If you unabashedly love the cruciferous vegetable, make it the absolute star of the show by transforming them into robust, impressive "steaks," or watch to see if your kids can even detect them at all when turned into cauliflower rice and combined with any of your usual dinner recipes. This brand just never misses!

5. 365 by Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods is known for being a pricier place to buy your food. The grocery store is pristine, polished, and "crunchy" all at once, tempting you to buy just another snack because they've got to be more wholesome when they're sourced from Whole Foods! Right? Whether or not that's true, we loved their Crunchy Pretzel Twists for both their pure good taste and, actually, their price point. We got 16 ounces of one of our favorite snack foods for under $3.00, so we like that when we're used to avoiding the establishment when we're low on cash. 

The little pretzel twists are perfectly salted, have balanced flavor, and a nice crisp snap. We just kept eating them, even though we were getting pretty full from the other pretzels we got to try. Since they don't go too far with any element of flavor or texture, they would be great in any baking recipe that requires them. Get started by simply coating the pretzels in chocolate to make a customizable treat you can share with friends and family or keep all to yourself. We have to thank Whole Foods Market for doing a great job.

4. Snack Factory

Forget Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, the best foods come straight out of this Snack Factory instead. You have likely tried Pretzel Crisps before. We really, really hope so because if not, you have been wasting valuable time by spending it without these ridiculously excellent snacks in your life. We love pretzels. That's why we're tasting and ranking them. But we appreciate a good hot take on the classic, and this is a hot take that just about anyone can get behind. Just because they are flinty-thin does not mean that their flavor is thin. 

There's so much pretzel flavor in just one crisp because they are fundamentally only the browned outer parts. These taste just as good all by themselves because of their concentrated pretzel flavor and any dip you throw at them. We like all their flavors, but if you want something that's just a tiny bit more elevated than the Plain, try the Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper. We're huge fans of the Snack Factory.

3. Unique Snacks

If there's just one thing we learned from the taste test, it's that we really like extra dark pretzels. It's going to be difficult to choose regular pretzels after enjoying the intense, robust molasses taste of ones like this. But we need to talk about the singular design of the Unique Pretzel Splits. They are, seriously, split open. Usually, when baking, you wouldn't want to tear the dough, but in this case, perhaps a happy accident led to a delicious result. The seam leads to extra brittle, crunchy edges and little valleys running throughout each twist. The inside has larger air pockets, leading to an even more nuanced crunch. 

It's experimental in a good way. They taste slightly burnt, which might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly ours. These are not the pretzels we would reach for every time because they do taste distinct from a typical twist. Are they worth trying? Absolutely. They may end up being your favorite special-occasion snack. Unique Snacks really knows how to puts the twists in pretzels, ya know? Innovation at its finest.

2. Knotty Pretzels

If you love pretzels enough to go for the luxe, artisan versions of them, you should really try these Knotty Pretzels Smokey Cheddar Bacon. Not only are they expertly crispy, flakey, and crusty small-batch pretzels, but they come in the most incredibly Moorish flavor we could ask for. And bad bacon-flavored snacks are bad. These are good. They're extra salty and benefit from some scintillating bacon-fat flavor, not to mention the nutty, sharp cheddar notes. It's got everything going for it, and we loved them. It's hard to explain how delicious these are; you've just got to imagine all those bacon-cheddar flavors on top of a perfect pretzel. 

For a great combination, follow the bag's advice — enjoy a bag with a cold glass of frosty beer. You won't be disappointed. Frankly, we won't feel naughty at all about sampling every flavor Knotty Pretzels comes up with. They hit the nail on the head.

1. Utz

Utz creates some dang good potato chips, but how about pretzels? In fact, they do an even better job, and they go all out. Let's put it this way; this pretzel makes an impact on your taste buds. The Utz Sourdough Specials Extra Dark Pretzels taste worlds away from the spindly, buttery twists you get in a store-brand bag (not that there's anything wrong with them.) First of all, they are big. It took us a few bites to get through one, but all the better for tasting everything it's got going on. We loved the rich, yeasty notes throughout and the prevalent undertones of sourdough. "Special Dark" is not a misnomer because eating one tastes like you're eating something special, and each pretzel flaunts a robust, hearty flavor that's definitely shades darker than the past and future pretzels we tried. 

There is a myriad of diverse ways to enjoy consuming a pretzel, but these self-assured behemoths make the decision pretty simple: Plain and unadorned is the way to go. Maybe a dip that can stand up to the bold flavors of the pretzel, but otherwise, these pretzels pack enough taste, texture, and substance to go it alone. Congratulations, Utz, you have managed to bake up our new favorite pretzels!