Soft Pretzel Recipe

homemade soft pretzels Bavarian style
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If you’re a fan of soft pretzels, then you’re going to love this soft pretzel recipe. It’s easy to follow, and the end result is delicious. Plus, these are perfect for a party or get-together. So what are you waiting for? Try it out today!

Don’t forget the Beer Cheese, then you have a drool-worthy appetizer!

fresh baked soft pretzels

This easy soft pretzel recipe is a perfect mix of a crispy crust and a chewy interior. And they’re so good with cheese or mustard. But have you ever tried to make them at home?

Fear not, this recipe is easy and dare I say fun to make. I love making these homemade pretzels almost as much as I love eating them.

Soft Dough, Salt & Mustard. Yes, Please.

  • This recipe for homemade pretzels is super easy to follow.
  • These soft pretzels have authentic flavor, perfect chewy texture, and color.

Soft Pretzel Recipe Ingredients

Pretzel Dough

This pretzel dough recipe is a Bavarian-style pretzel dough. They’re big and soft and have a malty beer flavor. They’re perfect with spicy mustard or beer cheese.

Ingredients for soft bavarian style pretzels
  • Warm water. Ideally, the water should be warmed to 98℉ (37℃)
  • Instant yeast.
  • Malt powder. Malt powder adds a lot of flavor to this pretzel doough recipe. You can leave it out or replace it with 1 ½ tablespoons of barley malt syrup.
  • Lager beer or pilsner.
  • Unsalted butter.
  • Kosher salt
  • Bread flour.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Coarse salt. Also known as pretzel salt.

Alkaline Bath

The alkaline bath is what gives soft pretzels that deep golden brown color. You can skip this step if you don’t want to mess around with making the alkaline solution.

There are two different methods that can be used:

Sodium Hydroxide Bath

This method is by far the easiest method and it’s the one that I use. Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) can be easily found online. You will only need a small amount to make a water bath. If you are going to want to experiment with making homemade soft pretzels or even pretzel buns you might want to go ahead and order some to have in your kitchen.

Sodium hydroxide in powdered form can cause burns but in a dilute solution, it’s very safe. Any alkaline solution can burn the skin and can etch surfaces and baking sheets. So do use it with care. I do use gloves, although this isn’t necessary and I make sure that my counters are covered with parchment paper to catch any drips.

If you’re worried about using sodium hydroxide or don’t want to bother ordering ityou can use the baking soda method.

Baking Soda Bath Method:

It’s been found that if you bake baking soda for a long period of time it raises its alkalinity. You can then use this high pH baking soda to make an alkaline bath for your pretzels.

To bake the baking soda you will place it in a ceramic baking dish and bake it for one hour @ 300℉

INSTRUCTIONS 

Pretzel Dough

  • Warm the water to 98℉ (37℃). Add the yeast and the warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow the yeast to dissolve in the water.
  • Add the remaining ingredients directly to your mixing bowl.
  • Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and beat the pretzel dough until it is smooth. Approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

First Rise

Place the dough in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. I usually spray a little non-stick spray on the plastic wrap to prevent it from sticking to the dough. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size.

Overnight Fridge Method: Ideally these pretzels should be slow proofed in the fridge overnight. [note 1]

Quick Proof: Your first rise for this pretzel dough can also be done at room temperature. To keep the dough warmer and speed up the proof I usually place a damp towel over the bowl. I set the dough in a warm place, either on top of the stove or in the oven with the oven light on. [note 2]

Even Quicker Proofing: If you have a proofing drawer you can use this to speed up the process. At 100°F it should take the dough a little over an hour to double in size. [note 3]

How to Fold A Pretzel

You can fold the dough into the traditional pretzel shape or you can roll the dough and then cut it into pretzel bites.

  1. Divide the soft pretzel dough into equal pieces. This recipe will make 10 to 12 pretzels or a whole bunch of soft pretzel bites.
  2. Cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out while you are working the dough.
  3. Take each piece of dough and roll it into a long rope by rolling the pretzel dough between the palms of your hands and the work surface.
  4. Pull the ends of the rope into a u shape and cross them over each other.
  5. Use a small dab of water to moisten the ends of the rope and stick them to the pretzel.

Second Proof

  • Place the shaped pretzels onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel.
  • Allow the pretzels to rise for about 30 to 45 minutes.
after the pretzels are shaped, proof a second time

Alkaline Solution

The alkaline bath is what will give the pretzels that deep dark golden brown color. There are two methods that you can use to get this color. Chose one of the following methods for an alkaline bath.

* I highly recommend wearing gloves or using a large skimmer or a slotted spoon for this step. 

Sodium Hydroxide (lye) Bath:

  1. Mix the water with food-grade sodium hydroxide (also known as lye) in a non-reactive bowl (stainless steel or glass). Stir until the sodium hydroxide is completely dissolved. 
  2. Dip each pretzel in the solution and flip each one over. Remove the pretzels with a large skimmer and then place them onto a prepared baking sheet.

Baking Soda Water Bath: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 300℉ (℃)
  2. Spread the baking soda in a ceramic dish and bake for 1 hour. 
  3. After the second proof mix, the water with the baking soda in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and stir until the baking soda is dissolved. 
  4. Reduce the temperature to low and add each pretzel to the baking soda solution one or two at a time if the pan is wide enough. Cook for 20 seconds and then flip over. 
  5. Remove each pretzel with a large skimmer and then place it onto a prepared baking sheet.
soft pretzles dipped in an alkaline solution

Bake The Pretzels

  1. Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse sea salt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C)
  3. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes.
  4. Serve the baked pretzels immediately.
baked soft pretzels on a wire rack

What To Dip Soft Pretzels In

Hot pretzels are delicious with spicy grainy mustard or even just a tangy yellow mustard like French’s.

Creamy pub-style beer cheese is another good choice. This might be my personal favorite.

homemade soft pretzel recipe served with beer cheese

Soft Pretzel Recipe Tips

How to store soft pretzels?

You can store baked pretzels in an airtight container for a few days.

If you want to store them longer you can freeze them for a month or so and reheat them when are ready to eat them.

How to reheat soft pretzels?

Frozen soft pretzels can be reheated in the microwave or in an oven.

In the microwave: Place the pretzel on a microwave-safe plate. Place a lightly damp paper towel over the pretzel. Microwave on high for 15 seconds. If needed microwave for another 15 seconds.

In the oven: Preheat the oven to 325℉. Mist the pretzel with a small amount of water and then wrap it in aluminum foil. Bake for 5 minutes. If the pretzel isn’t warm enough then return it to the oven and bake for a few more minutes.

Looking for more bread baking?

Check out some or our favorite bread recipes.

Leave A Review

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homemade soft pretzels Bavarian style

Soft Pretzel Recipe

If you're a fan of soft pretzels, then you're going to love this recipe. It's easy to follow, and the end result is delicious. Plus, it's perfect for a party or get-together. So what are you waiting for? Try it out today!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Rising Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine German
Servings 8 pretzels
Calories 340 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

Pretzel Dough

  • ¾ cup water, 183 grams, warmed to 98℉ (37℃)
  • teaspoons yeast, 1 packet or 9.0 grams
  • teaspoons malt powder, 3 grams
  • ¾ cup lager beer, or pilsner
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 42 grams, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (affiliate link), 18.5 grams
  • 4 cups bread flour (affiliate link), 598.5 grams
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour, 107 grams

Alkaline Bath (Sodium Hydroxide)

Alkaline Bath (Baking Soda)

  • cup baking soda, baked for 1 hour and cooled
  • 6 cups tap water

Instructions
 

Pretzel Dough

  • Warm the water to 98℉ (37℃). Add the yeast and the water to you mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to dissolve in the water.
    ¾ cup water, 2¼ teaspoons yeast
  • Add the remaining ingredients directly to your mixing bowl.
    1¼ teaspoons malt powder, ¾ cup lager beer, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 4 cups bread flour, ¾ cup all purpose flour, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook and beat the pretzel dough until it is smooth. Approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

First Rise

  • Place the dough in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to double in size. Chose one of the methods below for your first proof.
  • Overnight Fridge Method: Ideally these pretzels should be slow proofed in the fridge overnight. [note 1]
  • Quick Proof: Your first rise for this pretzel dough can also be done at room temperature. To keep the dough warmer and speed up the proof I usually place a damp towel over the bowl. I set the dough either ontop of the stove or in the oven with the oven light on. [note 2]
  • Even Quicker Proofing: If you have a proofing drawer (or a large toaster oven) you can use this to speed up the process. At 100°F it should take the dough a little over an hour to double in size. [note 3]

Shape the Pretzels

  • Cut the dough into 8 even pieces. You can weigh them on a kitchen scale to make sure that they are even.
  • Roll each piece of dough out into a rope that is about 12 to 14 inches long.
  • Pull the dough into a U-shape and then cross the ends over each other.
  • Use a dab of water to secure the ends of the pretzel. Set them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Second Proof

  • Cover the shaped pretzels with plastic wrap or a damp flour sack towel.
  • Allow them to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Alkaline Solution

  • Dip the risen pretzels into the alkaline solution. Make sure to coat each side. Sprinkle each pretzel with about a teaspoon of coarse pretzel salt.
    See details in the notes section and choose one type of alkaline solution to use.
    You can also skip this step and just brush the pretzels with an egg wash.
    940 grams cold water, 38 grams food grade sodium hydroxide, coarse pretzel salt

Bake The Pretzles

  • Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Preheat the oven about 1 hour before baking. I also keep a bread stone in my oven whenever I bake pretzels.
  • Bake the pretzels for 9 to 12 minutes.

Laura’s Tips + Notes

  1. Slow proofing: Slow proofing bread in the fridge allows the dough to ferment and creates a lovely wheaty flavor. You can let the dough proof in the fridge for several days. 
  2. Warming oven for proofing: I often proof my bread on top of the stove while it’s warming. To do this I set my cast iron dutch oven on one of the burners and then place my baking sheet on top of it. The warmth of the oven warming helps to accelerate the proofing process.
  3. Proofing drawer: I have a Breville toaster oven (affiliate link) (ad)that has a proofing function. I use it all the time when making bread. This oven is one of my favorite kitchen tools. 
Sodium Hydroxide Bath:
Food grade lye is perfectly safe and is what gives pretzels and pretzel buns the dark brown color. The lye solution is very dilute. Be careful handling the powder because it can burn. Make sure to cover delicate surfaces before using this solution. I usually just cover the area with parchment paper or butcher paper. 
  1. Mix the water with food-grade sodium hydroxide in a non-reactive bowl (stainless steel or glass). Stir until the sodium hydroxide is completely dissolved. 
  2. Dip each pretzel in the solution and flip each one over. Remove the pretzels with a large skimmer and then place them onto a prepared baking sheet.
Baking Soda Bath: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 300℉ (℃)
  2. Spread the baking soda in a ceramic dish and bake for 1 hour. 
  3. After the second proof mix, the water with the baking soda in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and stir until the baking soda is dissolved. 
  4. Reduce the temperature to low and add each pretzel to the water bath one or two at a time if the pan is wide enough. Cook for 20 seconds and then flip over. 
  5. Remove each pretzel with a large skimmer and then place it onto a prepared baking sheet.

YOUR OWN NOTES

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 pretzelCalories: 340kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 11gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 891mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg
Keyword pretzels
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