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Bavarian Pretzels from Scratch

If you love those delicious soft pretzels, hot from the oven, you’re going to adore this simple recipe! These pretzels are perfect–sweet or savory!

Can I Make Soft German Pretzels at Home?

The answer, my friends, is a hearty yes!

I made a batch of these soft pretzels and took them to my grandchildren, who loved them!

I’ve always been a fan of soft pretzels and now that I know I can make them from scratch, all the better!

The History of the Bavarian Pretzel

According to pretzels.com (yes, there really is a site with that name), pretzels got their start in the Middle Ages (in 610 A.D.)

An Italian monk teaching children in Northern Italy is said to have invented soft little pretzels and called them pretiola or little rewards, to reward children for learning their prayers. He is said to have made the treats with little arms forming the ‘knot’, to resemble little arms crossed of children in prayer. 

That’s a lovely image, isn’t it! (And that’s a story I’d never heard before.) Some say that the pretzel shape represents the holy Trinity–the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

What wonderful imagery!

Soft Pretzel Ingredients

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick look at what you’ll need. These are common, simple ingredients you likely have on hand in your kitchen right now.

  • milk (slightly warmed or room temperature)
  • instant rise yeast
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • water
  • baking soda
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • cinnamon sugar, to taste

How to Make Bavarian-Style Pretzels

This is such a simple and tasty recipe. I can’t believe I’ve never made these Bavarian pretzels before!

Start by preheating your oven to 375° Fahrenheit.  

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. 

Place milk in microwave safe bowl and heat until slightly warm to the touch. Add yeast and stir well. Allow to sit for five minutes. 

Place milk and yeast mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and use dough hook to knead for three minutes. (You might need to get it started with a wooden spoon.) 

If you don’t have a stand mixer you can knead by hand for three – four minutes.

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Remove dough and divide into 12 (even) pieces. 

Roll into balls. 

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Form each piece of dough into a rope. (Roll dough to accomplish this.)

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Shape dough rope into a U. Make sure you’re working with equal pieces.

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Criss-cross the ends into a traditional shape, pressing down to seal the edges.

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Place shaped pretzels on prepared baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise in warm place for 15 minutes. 

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

While pretzels are rising, put 4 – 5 cups of water into a skillet and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to medium. 

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Add 6 tablespoons of baking soda to the water. Water will foam up. Wait until the bubbling/foaming subsides. 

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Place 2 – 3 pretzels at a time into the soda solution water for about one minute per side. Don’t allow them to stick together. (This process is called a baking soda bath.)

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

They should rise to the surface. (Be sure to flip so both sides get wet.) 

Lift wet pretzels with a slotted spoon or spatula.

Place on parchment lined large baking sheets.

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Now it’s time to sprinkle with coarse salt (pretzel salt). I left half of mine unsalted because I wanted to add cinnamon-sugar to those. 

Place in preheated 375 degree oven and bake until they’re golden brown. 

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

You can brush with melted butter and add sugar and cinnamon sugar to the bare ones at this point.

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

Serve while warm and your guests will swoon!

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

For the leftover pretzels (if there are any) store in an airtight container or in a ziplock bag. Be sure to separate the salty ones from the sweet.

They will stay fresh 2 – 3 days.

What to Expect from this Authentic Bavarian Soft Pretzels Recipe

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

These pretzels are every bit as good as those big pretzels you buy in the mall or at ball games or the mall. Better, even! Talk about the perfect texture and flavor! (You’ll feel like you’ve been to a German bakery.)

The texture on the outside of these pretzels is crisp and firm with a great chewy texture.

They’re a lovely golden color! 

The interior is soft and fluffy. . .absolute perfection. 

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

And those sweet and salty toppings? Perfection! Nothing tops fresh pretzels. And best of all, they’re really filling!

Variations on this Bavarian Style Pretzel Recipe

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

There are so many different ways to serve this versatile pretzel!

As I mentioned above, I coated several of my pretzels with a cinnamon sugar mixture. (I brushed the pretzels with spray butter first, then dipped them in a bowl with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 – 2 tablespoons cinnamon.) 

Melted chocolate: Next time I might melt some white chocolate (or almond bark) and dip the top side of the pretzels in it, then add some sprinkles. Talk about colorful and fun! 

Nacho cheese. Serve the salted pretzels with queso or nacho cheese. (Let guest dip pretzels into cheese mixture on their own.)

Garlic Ranch: Before baking, sprinkled with garlic salt and dry ranch dip (powder). 

Garlic Parmesan: Sprinkle with garlic salt before baking and add Parmesan cheese during the final couple minutes of baking. 

Apple Streusel: Scoop apple pie filling onto the nearly-baked pretzels (about 3 minutes before they’re fully baked) and continue baking. 

Sea salt caramel: Dip the salty pretzels into melted caramel. Yum! 

Dough conditioner: If you like, you can add powdered milk to serve as a dough conditioner. A couple tablespoons should suffice.

Questions People are Asking about Bavarian Pretzels

Bavarian Pretzels from Out of the Box Baking.com

What is the purpose of the baking soda? 

Dipping in alkaline solution before baking (the baking soda solution) gives the pretzel its distinctive flavor but it also does two other things: causes the unbaked pretzel to rise and ultimately gives the pretzel that golden brown exterior we all love. 

Is baking soda safe to use? 

It can be hard on aluminum pans. Also, you have to take extra caution when it bubbles up, so you don’t get burned. 

Can I substitute beer for some of the milk? 

You can. Some recipes call for lager beer or pilsner beer. I’ve never been a beer bread person myself, but some people love it. 

Can I bake these on a baking stone? 

Absolutely! Baking stones are perfect for this recipe. 

Why do some recipes call for Barley Malt? 

Barley Malt gives a Bavarian pretzel a distinctive flavor that some enjoy. If you don’t have barley malt (or barley syrup) you can substitute molasses. Add 1.5 tablespoons to the dough. 

Can I make jumbo pretzels? 

Absolutely! You’ll get six from the batch instead of twelve but you can definitely make them larger. Just make sure you boil one at a time with the larger ones and use caution in flipping them in the boiling water to make sure they don’t break or separate. 

Can I re-warm these traditional bavarian pretzels in the toaster oven?

That’s an excellent a choice! The microwave will cause them to harden from the inside out, so a toaster oven would work beautifully.

Other Breads from Out of the Box Baking

Here at Out of the Box Baking we’ve got you covered on the bread front. Here are some fan favorites:

Challah Bread: This was my first-ever bread project and it turned out great! It’s got a delicious exterior and a perfect crumb! 

Easy Multigrain Seed and Nut Bread: If you love nutty seed breads, have I got a treat for you! This simple bread recipe is loaded with the seeds and nuts of your choice. It’s packed full of nutrients and super easy to make! 

Tangzhong Milk Bread: My all time favorite. I also use this recipe for yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls! 

Bavarian Pretzels from Scratch

Bavarian Pretzels from Scratch

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

If you love those delicious soft pretzels, hot from the oven, you're going to love this simple recipe! These pretzels are perfect--sweet or savory!

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 pack instant yeast
  • 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 6 tbsp baking soda
  • coarse salt for coating
  • sugar-cinnamon for coating

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.
  3. Warm milk in microwave and add yeast.
  4. Allow to sit for five minutes.
  5. Place in bowl of stand mixer.
  6. Add flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and use dough hook to knead for three minutes. (You might need to get it started with a wooden spoon.)
  7. Remove dough and divide into 12 (even) pieces.
  8. Rolled into balls.
  9. Form each into a rope.
  10. Shape into a U and then criss-cross the ends into a pretzel shape, pressing down into the bottom.
  11. Cover and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
  12. While pretzels are rising, put 4 - 5 cups of water into a skillet and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to medium.
  13. Add 6 tablespoons of baking soda to the water. Water will foam up. Wait until the bubbling/foaming subsides.
  14. Place 2 - 3 pretzels at a time into the water for about one minute per side. Don’t allow them to stick together.
  15. They should rise to the surface. (Be sure to flip so both sides get wet.)
    Lift wet pretzels with a slotted spoon or spatula.
  16. Place on parchment lines cookie sheet.
  17. Now it’s time to sprinkle with coarse salt. I left half of mine unsalted because I wanted to add cinnamon-sugar to those.
  18. Place in preheated 375 degree oven for 15 - 18 minutes and bake until they’re golden brown.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 201Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 2322mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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