Sourdough Pretzels Recipe

Sourdough Pretzels Recipe

These aren’t your typical mall pretzels. They may appear complicated, but they are worth every bit of time and effort. The overnight cold rest in the refrigerator helps build flavor that you can absolutely taste in the final product. If you’re intimidated by the twisting, you can split the dough into 16 equal portions instead of eight and roll the dough into balls, creating pretzel bites instead.

Serving these savory pretzels with honey mustard, ranch or with honey mustard, or creamy beer cheese makes them perfect for tailgating, lunch boxes, and afternoon snacks.

Sourdough Pretzel Recipe/Tester Image

“These chewy, puffy, soft pretzels are a crowd-pleaser. They’re not hard to make but save the dough prep for a day when you’ll be close to the kitchen since it has to be turned several times over the course of a few hours. But day-of baking is a cinch and they’re well worth the effort.” —Danielle Centoni

A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 225 grams active sourdough starter

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, divided

  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour, more as needed

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) bread flour

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • Cooking spray, as needed

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • 1 large egg white, whisked

  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    sourdough pretzels ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  2. Add the starter and 1 1/4 cups of the warm water to a large mixing bowl or to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

    starter and water in a mixing bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add 3 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour, the bread flour, and sugar and mix until well incorporated. Cover and let the mixture rest for 1 hour in a warm place, like the oven with the light on.

    pretzel dough in a mixing bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  4. Switch to the dough hook and add the salt and remaining 1/4 cup water. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky.

    dough with dough hook

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  5. Transfer the dough to a large bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and and let rest in a warm place, about 30 minutes.

    Dough in a bowl covered with a towel

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  6. Uncover the bowl and lift one side of the dough and fold it into the center of itself. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough and cover again. Repeat this step three more times, allowing the dough to rest 40 minutes after each folding.

    pretzel dough being folded in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  7. Cover the bowl again and allow to rest a final time at room temperature for 1 hour. The dough should be springy, smooth, and airy. If it appears sluggish and feels cold to the touch, allow the dough to continue resting in a warm place for 1 hour more. Cover tightly and refrigerate the dough overnight.

    Dough risen in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  8. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper liberally with cooking spray.

    Dough covered in plastic wrap next to baking sheets

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  9. Turn the cold dough out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly dust with flour.

    Dough dusted with flour on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  10. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.

    Dough cut into eight pieces

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  11. Shape each piece into a rope and roll the dough back and forth moving your hands in opposite directions from the middle of the rope towards either end, creating smaller, more pointed ends until the rope is about 20 inches long.

    Dough rolled into a rope on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  12. To form a pretzel, lift the dough rope on either end forming a "U" shape. Twist the ends of the rope together twice and fold the twist over and rest on the center of the "U". Lift the pretzel by the two top loops and place on the prepared sheet tray. Repeat with remaining dough.

    Dough shaped into a U

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  13. Transfer the pretzels to the prepared parchment. Spray a piece of plastic with cooking spray and cover the pretzels, spray side down on the dough. Let rest, allowing the dough to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

    Pretzels on a baking sheet covered in plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  14. Bring 2 quarts of water and the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Position two racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and heat to 450 F.

    Water boiling with baking soda

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  15. Using a large slotted spatula, gently drop the pretzels, one at a time, into the boiling water for about 20 seconds, then flip and boil another 20 seconds. Remove the pretzels, placing them back on the baking sheet.

    Pretzel boiling in baking soda and water

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  16. Brush each pretzel with egg white and sprinkle with coarse salt.

    Boiled pretzels on a baking sheet painted with egg white and sprinkled with salt

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

  17. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning the baking sheets halfway through to brown the pretzels evenly.

    sourdough pretzels on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

Go sweet…

Forget finishing with salt and go the sweet route by sprinkling with cinnamon sugar instead and serving with vanilla glaze, cream cheese frosting, jam or chocolate sauce.

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