You can never have enough cute treats for Halloween or Thanksgiving and these pumpkin pretzels are almost too darling to eat. They are the perfect bite of sweet, salty, creamy, and crunchy all in one. And the bonus is these candy-coated pretzels are all dressed up to look like pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns. The ultimate munchie snack or dessert for the holidays and all of fall.
The orange candy melts cover up tiny twist pretzels and are finished off with a cute M&M stem. The pumpkin-shaped hard pretzels are then fun to decorate with cookie icing to make cute, spooky, or silly Jack-o-Lantern faces. Throw a costume party and let the kids decorate them for the best tasty activity.
When you have something that looks like a pumpkin, it obviously is perfect to serve for Halloween or Thanksgiving. But this recipe is great for other occasions too. For any seasonal event, party, or potluck, make enough of these to share. Pumpkin pretzels are ideal for the Fall harvest, school or church treats, birthdays between September and November, Autumn baby & wedding showers, and orange-themed parties.
Putting these out for a Halloween or Thanksgiving charcuterie board would be so fun. They can be on a sweet or savory display paired with cheeses or chocolates. They are a festive confection that is so versatile. My favorite is to enjoy with a Candy Corn Martini for an amazing All Hallow's Eve sip & sweet pairing.
This is a fun 5-ingredient recipe that is perfect for all the fall holidays. Use all of the ingredients for a sweet & salty treat for Halloween. The Wilton eyeball candies and decorating frosting are so fun to transform the pumpkin-designed pretzels into Jack-o-Lanterns.
Or simplify it with just 3 ingredients for Thanksgiving. They are just as cute and tasty when the pretzels are all dressed up in orange candy melts to look like little pumpkins. If you have never had candy melts before, they are easy to work with for a creamy and smooth texture. Plus they have a lovely rich vanilla flavor.
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Candy-Coated Pretzels
This easy recipe can be done in less than 15 minutes. There is no baking, oven, or stove needed for making candy-coated pumpkin pretzels. Just a few ingredients, a microwave, and a parchment-lined baking sheet. I like to use binder clips on the edge of my backing sheet to hold the parchment paper.
Microwaving Candy Melts
Begin by melting the candy wafers. They are easy to melt in the microwave which is why I prefer using them versus white chocolate for this recipe. Pour the candy melts into a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Continue cooking for 30-second intervals and stirring. It took 1 minute & 30 seconds for me to do it. Note: if you are doubling this recipe it will take longer to melt.
The candy melts should be melted with just a few small pieces still intact. Simply stir those in and they will melt into the rest of the creamy mixture. Once it is smooth, it is ready to get dipping those tiny twist pretzels.
Drop a pretzel in one at a time to coat completely. Both sides should be covered. Using a dinner fork, carefully lift each pretzel out of the mixture and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Place the coated pretzel on the parchment.
While the orange candy is still warm and soft, add a green M&M as the stem to the top. Press in to make sure it is sticking and has enough to hold it in place once it cools. Use a toothpick to add more candy coating if needed so the candy stays in place.
HINT: If using the candy eyes, add a bit more coating. Next, add the Wilton Candy Eyeballs immediately after dipping them in the candy melt. This will ensure they hold and set.
Repeat until all the pretzels are coated. Work fast so you get them all dipped before the mixture cools too much and begins to harden in the bowl. This recipe should yield about 24 candy pretzels. Let them set up and dry on the parchment paper for about 5 minutes before adding any additional decorations.
Decorate Jack-o-Lantern Pretzels
Once they are hard and set, it is time for the fun part. If you love carving pumpkins, decorating these treats into little Jack-Lanterns will be your favorite part of this recipe. Use either black or white cooking icing.
You can make homemade Easy Cookie Icing that will be shiny and hardened. It is my favorite recipe for a royal icing-type confection. Or buy the store-bought kind that comes out in a thin line so you can add noses, eyes, and mouths to the small pretzels.
Draw on whatever silly, cute, or scary faces you like. We enjoyed doing a few different kinds. You can also add colored sugar, sprinkles, edible glitter, or nonpareils too for decorating. Go as crazy or as simple as you want.
Get family and friends involved in this recipe. The candy melts melt easily but they also cool and harden fast and easy too. So you want to work fast and the more helping hands the better.
I like to do an assembly line with 1-2 people dipping pretzels and placing them on the parchment. Then one person can add the M&M stems. 2-3 people make this one of the fastest recipes!
If you have a dietary concern or allergies, here are a few substitutions you can make to fit your needs. Since it is a recipe with only a few ingredients, there are only a few changes you can make. Here is what I suggest for those on a gluten-free or dairy-free diet.
- Gluten-Free- use gluten-free pretzels instead of regular twists
- Dairy-Free - use a dairy-free white chocolate chip, like Lily's, and color with orange food coloring
This pretzel dessert recipe is already nut-free & vegetarian.
This recipe works best with candy melts but if you cannot find them locally or cannot wait for mail-order, you can use chocolate instead.
- Candy Melts - if you want chocolate-covered pretzels, use white chocolate and some orange gel food coloring.
- M&Ms - for a chocolate-free recipe use green skittles or get green candy melts too and dip small pretzel bits into that for stems.
For this recipe, you only need a few basic kitchen tools to make it. The main equipment you will need is a microwave, microwave-safe bowl, and parchment paper. If you do not have a microwave, you can melt the candy in a double-boiler on your stove instead. See the FAQ section for more on that.
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Storing Candy or Chocolate-Covered Pretzels
Another great thing about these pumpkin pretzels is it is a wonderful make-ahead recipe. It's ideal for preparing these a week or two in advance so they are done before Halloween or Thanksgiving. There is something about getting a recipe out of the way ahead of time to make a holiday less stressful.
Store the candy-coated pretzels in an air-tight container. I suggest using parchment paper between layers if you need to stack them. They will be good for 10-14 days if kept in a cool dry location.
These ingredients are not meant to be frozen but can be. Freeze the candy melt-dipped pumpkin pretzels in a single layer on the parchment paper. Then add to an air-tight container and freeze for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. The color and texture may change a bit as with anything frozen versus fresh.
If you are wondering if you can melt the Wilton candy wafers on the stove, you are not alone. If you do not have a microwave you can still make this recipe. To melt them on a stove I suggest a double-boiler.
If you do not have one of those either, simply place a metal or glass bowl that is heat resistant over a small saucepan that has about 2 inches of water in it. Bring the water to a boil then turn it down to simmer on low. Place the candy melts in the bowl over the pot - make sure the water is NOT touching the bowl. There should be at least 4 inches between the two. Stir and melt slowly. I do this method for chocolate all the time and it works for candy melts too - should look like this.
No, these are pumpkin-shaped pretzels that are decorated to look like the famous gourd or Jack o'Lanterns. They do not taste like pumpkin nor do they taste like pumpkin spice.
This recipe uses small-sized tiny twists. It makes them almost bite-sized. You can absolutely use the bigger hard pretzel twists. You will likely only get about 12 pumpkins with the same amount of candy melt. Or you can use twice the candy coating and get 20+ treats. M&Ms that have not been cut will work well on the big ones but the eyeball candies may not fit in the twisted opening as well.
- Parchment Paper
- Microwave-safe bowl
- 6 ounces Wilton's Orange Candy Melts
- 1.5 cups tiny twist pretzels about 25
- ¼ cup green M&M candies cut each in half using a sharp knife
- Wilton candy eyes optional
- white or black cookie icing optional
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. TIP: I like to use binder clips on the edge of the baking sheet. It helps to hold the paper down.
- Pour the candy melts into a small microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Continue cooking for 30-second intervals and stirring. The candy should be melted with just a few small pieces that will melt as you do a final stir. It took my batch 1 ½ minutes to get to the right smoothness.NOTE: if you double this recipe or more, it will take longer to get smooth.
- Once smooth, drop a pretzel in one at a time to coat completely. Both sides should be covered. Using a dinner fork, carefully lift each pretzel out of the mixture. Let the excess drip back into the bowl. Place the coated pretzel on the parchment.
- While the orange candy is still warm and soft, add half of a green M&M as the stem to the top. Press in to make sure it is sticking and has enough to hold it in place once it cools. Use a toothpick to add more melted candy if needed. optional - if using candy eyes, add them at this time as well. See the note above for tips on using eyes.
- Repeat until all the pretzels are coated. This should yield about 25 pretzels.
- Let them cool and set for about 5 minutes. Decorate using cooking icing to make faces and other Jack-o'-lantern type decor.
- Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. Use parchment paper between layers if stacking them. Place in a cool & dry location. See the above notes for more info on storing, including freezing options.
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 2g||3%|
|Saturated Fat 1.8g||9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 9g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 0.2g||1%|
|Total Sugars 4.4g|
|Vitamin D 0mcg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.|