Appetizers & Snacks/ Austrian and German Recipes/ Party

German Pretzels (Soft Pretzels)

18 September 2022 By Aleksandra

German Pretzels (Laugenbrezeln) are delicious soft pretzels that are chewy on the outside and soft in the middle. They are very easy to make at home. Nothing beats a warm and fragrant pretzel straight from the oven dipped in cheese sauce, so instead of buying store-bought, make a batch of these!

Soft pretzels on a wooden board. Beer and cheese dip on the side.

Ingredients

Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to prepare the recipe. For the measurements and detailed instructions scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Here’s what you need to make soft pretzel dough:

Labeled ingredients for soft pretzel dough.
  • all-purpose flour
  • instant dry yeast
  • brown sugar or white sugar
  • melted butter (or vegetable oil)
  • warm water (or milk, but I prefer water)
  • salt

Additionally, you are going to need:

Labeled ingredients for soda bath.
  • Baking soda and water – for the soda bath – the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of baking soda (yes, a cup and not a tablespoon/teaspoon) but don’t worry – it doesn’t go into the dough. The pretzels are briefly cooked in the soda bath which makes their outsides delightfully chewy and gives them their unique pretzel flavor and color.
  • Coarse salt / pretzel salt / flaky salt – coarse salt really makes them taste better, it contributes to the authentic “pretzel flavor”, don’t omit it!

You can, if you want, brush the pretzels with egg wash (an egg beaten with a small amount of water) before baking them. Their surface will be just slightly more soft but will be more shiny.

Authentic German Pretzels

The difference between the authentic recipe for Laugenbrezeln and this one is the soda bath. The authentic recipe uses a lye solution for cooking the pretzels. This substance is not easy to buy and you need to be quite careful when using it so I opted for baking soda which is a great substitute, it’s easy to buy and use.

Why do you put baking soda in water when making pretzels? Boiling them for a short period of time gives the pretzels their chewy texture. The baking soda bath helps turn the outside into a brown crispy crust.

Cooking vs soaking in soda bath: I’ve found recipes that call for soaking the unbaked pretzels in the soda bath instead of cooking them. I’ve tried this method and wasn’t happy with the results – I could taste the baking soda on the outside of the pretzels after they have been baked. Cooked pretzels were also more chewy on the outside.

How to make homemade soft pretzels step by step

Yeast in a bowl. Flour in a metal bowl.

STEP 1: Melt the butter in a small pot, add the water and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of seconds then take off the heat. Add the sugar. Check the temperature of the water with a thermometer, it should be 100-110°F (38-43°C). The water can’t be too hot or the yeast won’t work. When water has the right temperature, stir in the yeast. You can let stand the yeast mixture for 5 minutes to foam (a good way to check if your yeast is working, but it’s optional).

STEP 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.

Adding the flour: measuring the flour with measuring cups is inaccurate so if that’s the way you’re measuring your flour, add 3 cups of flour first and then add the remaining 1/4 cup while kneading the dough if it’s still sticky. If using a digital scale you can add all the flour as written in one go.

How to measure flour:

  1. Fluff the flour by stirring it in the bag/flour container with a spoon.
  2. Spoon the flour and sprinkle it into your measuring cup.
  3. Sweep off the excess flour with the back of a knife.

Don’t scoop the flour directly into the measuring cup, which can compact it! 

I’ve made this recipe several times and I have never needed to adjust the flour amount when using a scale – it yields great, consistent results every time!

Yeast mixture is being added to flour mixture. Soft pretzel dough in a bowl.

STEP 3: Add the yeast mixture. Stir with a spoon until roughly combined.

STEP 4: Knead the dough by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment – about 3-4 minutes until the dough is smooth and not sticky. If it’s too stickly just add a little bit more flour.

Risen pretzel dough in a bowl. Pretzel dough divided into 8 parts.

STEP 5: Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place until roughly doubled in volume. You can put it in a turned off oven with a light on. It should take about 45-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

STEP 6: Punch the dough to deflate it. Place the dough on a lightly floured counter or on a rolling mat, shape it into a thick disc and cut into 8 parts.

A collage of 4 photos showing how to shape pretzels.

STEP 7: Shape the pretzels: Take one piece of the dough and roll it into a 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick and 23 inches (60 cm) long rope.

Form a U-shape with each end of the rope then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over then twist the ends together and pinch them to the sides to form a pretzel shape (see photos above).

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with the remaining dough.

TIP: If you don’t want to bother with shaping pretzels you can make soft pretzel bites!

Pretzels are being cooked in soda bath. Pretzels are being sprinkled with coarse salt.

STEP 8: Cook pretzels in soda bath: Bring 5 cups of water in a medium/large pot to a boil. The pot can’t be too big or you’d have to use more water to cover the pretzels (double water and baking soda accordingly) but it also can’t be too small – the pretzels must be submerged in the water and have enough place to ‘swim’.

When the water is boiling, add baking soda – do this carefully! it will foam vigorously. Boil 1 pretzel at a time, for 20-30 seconds (don’t exceed this time), then remove with a slotted spoon back to the baking sheet.

STEP 9: Sprinkle immediately with coarse / flaky salt. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.

Bake until golden, about 11 minutes.

Enjoy!

Soft pretzels on a wooden board. Beer and cheese dip on the side. One pretzel is held in a hand.

Serving suggestion

  • pretzels are traditionally served with Weißwurst (German white sausage) and mustard
  • my absolute favorite dip to serve them with is this German beer cheese dip Obatzda
  • try them with classic American beer cheese dip made with 3 kinds of cheese
  • you may also want to try them with honey mustard sauce
  • cut them in half and spread with salted butter or herbed cream cheese

Storage

Soft pretzels are best eaten on the day of making them. The longer they sit out, the more they lose their soft pillowy texture. They become rather dense and not as fluffy as freshly baked.

How to store them: store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

How to freeze: place them apart on a tray (make sure they are not touching each other). When frozen transfer to zip lock bags on containers.

How to thaw: I bake them straight from the freezer: place them on a baking tray and put them in a cold oven (this gives them time to thaw). Set the oven to 325°F (160°C) and bake for about 15-20 minutes (time may vary depending on the oven) until thawed and warm.

How to make them ahead: if you want to make them ahead I would recommend freezing them! They are light, fluffy, and delicious just like freshly baked. They are much better than baked soft pretzels stored in an airtight container for just 1 day.

Soft pretzels on a piece of parchment paper.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

German Pretzels (Soft Pretzels)

German Pretzels (Laugenbrezeln) are delicious soft pretzels that are chewy on the outside and soft in the middle. They are very easy to make at home. Nothing beats a warm and fragrant pretzel straight from the oven dipped in cheese sauce, so instead of buying store-bought, make a batch of these!
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Soft pretzels on a piece of parchment paper.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
rising time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8 pretzels
Calories 226kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the dough:

  • 1 cup (240g) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7g/1 packet) instant yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups (410g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

additionally:

  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup (67g) baking soda
  • coarse sea salt

Instructions

  • Make the dough:
  • Melt the butter in a small pot, add the water and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of seconds then take off the heat. Add the sugar. Check the temperature of the water with a thermometer, it should be 100-110°F (38-43°C). The water can’t be too hot or the yeast won’t work. When water has the right temperature, stir in the yeast. You can let stand the yeast mixture for 5 minutes to foam (a good way to check if your yeast is working, but it’s optional).
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. (Adding the flour: measuring the flour with measuring cups is inaccurate so if that’s the way you’re measuring your flour, add 3 cups of flour first and then add the remaining 1/4 cup while kneading the dough if it’s still sticky. If using a digital scale you can add all the flour as written in one go).
  • Add the yeast mixture. Stir with a spoon until roughly combined.
  • Knead the dough by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment – about 3-4 minutes until the dough is smooth and not sticky. If it’s too stickly just add a little bit more flour.
  • Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place until roughly doubled in volume. You can put it in a turned off oven with a light on. It should take about 45-60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Punch the dough to deflate it. Place the dough on a lightly floured counter or on a rolling mat, shape it into a thick disc and cut into 8 parts.
  • Shape the pretzels: Take one piece of the dough and roll it into a 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick and 23 inches (60 cm) long rope.
  • Form a U-shape with each end of the rope then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over then twist the ends together and pinch them to the sides to form a pretzel shape (see photos in the body of the post for a reference).
  • Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Cook pretzels in soda bath: Bring 5 cups of water in a medium/large pot to a boil. The pot can't be too big or you'd have to use more water to cover the pretzels (double water and baking soda accordingly) but it also can't be too small – the pretzels must be submerged in the water and have enough place to 'swim'.
  • When the water is boiling, add baking soda – do this carefully! it will foam vigorously. Boil 1 pretzel at a time, for 20-30 seconds (don't exceed this time), then remove with a slotted spoon back to the baking sheet. Sprinkle immediately with coarse / flaky salt. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
  • Bake until golden, about 11 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • How to measure flour: Fluff the flour by stirring it in the bag/flour container with a spoon. Spoon the flour and sprinkle it into your measuring cup. Sweep off the excess flour with the back of a knife. Use a digital scale for best and consistent results.
  • If you want your pretzels to be more shiny, brush them with egg wash (an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water) after soda bath. Then sprinkle with salt and bake.
  • Calories = 1 pretzel (1/8 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American, German
Diet Vegetarian
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