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Easy Sourdough Pretzels

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Soft and chewy with a slight sourdough tang, these sourdough pretzels from starter have great texture and are fun to make. A no yeast, one day recipe.

sourdough pretzels on tray with mustard beside

There is nothing better than soft, tender and chewy pretzels!  Golden brown and loaded with salt, they are a great treat to enjoy!

They are one of my favorite snacks when we go out to games or events. Freshly made pretzels by themselves are pretty awesome, but when you add the slight sourdough tang and an extra chewy bite to them – they become heaven!  THese are fun to make because they are a lot less intensive to make than a loaf of bread, and so make great beginner recipes to try! 

I love using my sourdough starter in fun recipes like these pretzels, but also try my other favorite recipes that use sourdough starter, including Cheesy Sourdough Popovers and my super popular Sourdough Naan! Other great choices include Sourdough Focaccia and Sourdough Bagels ! All are great recipes you need to have tried!

dipping sourdough pretzel into mustard dip

Baker’s Schedule

Figuring out your schedule for how to make sourdough recipes can be tricky! Called a “Baker’s Schedule”, you can use this to figure out when to start this process based on when you want your pretzels to be done.

** If your starter has been hanging out in the fridge for a while, you will want to bring it to room temperature and give it at least 2 good feeds before you start making this recipe.

  • Mixing and Kneading – 10 minutes
  • Bulk Proofing – 2-4 hours depending on the temperature of your house (watch your dough here, not the clock! Colder houses will have the dough take longer, and warmer houses will help the dough proof faster)
  • Shaping – 15 minutes
  • Second Rise – 60 minutes
  • Boiling – 14 minutes
  • Baking – 14 minutes

Total time for this recipe takes about 6 hours, plus however long it takes for your starter to become active.

Optional timelines:

You can easily adapt this recipe if you want it to be a one day recipe or an overnight recipe that takes two days. Here are some suggested timelines for how to adjust your schedule. 

One Day Timeline: *Feed starter late evening the night before. Prepare the dough early in the morning (8am), shape the pretzels at lunchtime (12pm), and do the second rise. Then around 2 pm (figuring in extra time for shaping), you can start the boiling and baking. Be ready to eat freshly baked pretzels about 2:30 or 3:00 pm!

Two Day Timeline: Day One, Feed the starter in the am (7am), and wait for it to become active (7pm). In the early evening, mix up the dough. Allow it to bulk ferment for 2 hours (9pm) and then place it in the fridge overnight. In the morning of the second day, remove the dough from the fridge and shape (8am). Allow the dough to rise (9am). Prepare the bath and preheat the oven, and 

close up of sourdough pretzel next to cheese dip

How to make sourdough pretzels

For the full directions, make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below. Here is just a brief overview of how to make sourdough pretzels.

*Recipe Note: This recipe uses all natural levain and takes longer. If you are looking for a quicker version, try my pretzel bites recipe that uses instant yeast as well. 

New to sourdough? Read my ultimate guide to sourdough for beginners to get all the answers to your questions in easy to understand ways!

How to mix sourdough pretzel dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Use the dough hook to knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky, about 6-7 minutes. 
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl.
  4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest in a warm place for 2-4 hours, or until doubled.
  5. Optional: At this point you can cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight! 

*Recipe Note: Because sourdough starters have different thicknesses and levels of liquidity based on how and what they are fed, it is important to pay attention to the feel of the dough here. If your dough feels overly dry and crumbly, add 1Tablespoon of water at a time until it is workable. 

collage showing how to mix sourdough pretzel dough

How to shape pretzels

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface (or silicone rolling mat) and fold in half a few times to deflate.
  2. Shape the dough into a rectangle and cut into 12 pieces.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out while you work.
  4. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rope about 18″ long and 1” thick.
  5. Place the dough rope into the shape of a “U”.
  6. Lift the ends of the rope and twist two times.
  7. Fold the twist over and press the ends onto the dough. 
  8. Place the formed pretzels onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  9. Cover the baking sheet with a towel and allow it to rise for 30-60 minutes. They should look slightly puffy when done.
collage showing how to shape pretzels

Boiling and baking pretzels

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F with the oven rack in the center position. 
  2. Place a large pot of water on to boil. Add 2 TBSP of baking soda and 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar to the water.
  3. Boil each pretzel in the water for 1 minute, flipping halfway through (so 30 seconds on each side). Use a slotted spoon to remove the pretzels from the water. Do not overcrowd the pot – one or two pretzels at a time is good.
  4. Place the pretzels back onto the baking sheet.
  5. Brush each pretel with the egg wash (this will give it that golden brown color when baked) and sprinkle with course salt.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until they look golden brown.

*Recipe Note: The baking soda bath is what gives pretzels their chewy texture, so don’t skip it!

freshly shaped sourdough pretzels on tray

These pretzels are great to eat on their own, with some honey mustard, or with a beer cheese dip!

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of sourdough starter does this recipe need?

This recipe uses 100% hydration starter – or starter that is fed with equal amounts of flour and water. Read this article for more information on what this means and how to feed your sourdough starter. 

Do I need Barley Malt Syrup to make pretzels?

Yes! The barley malt syrup helps to add that traditional pretzel flavor to the pretzels, and helps the browning and chewiness of the pretzels. You can also add a tablespoon or so to the sourdough bagels recipe and sourdough pizza crust!

How to store these pretzels

These soft pretzels can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 7 days.

You can also freeze them. After they are completely cool, wrap the pretzels individually in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe container. They will be good for up to 3 months. You can reheat them by thawing completely at room temperature, and then bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for a few minutes (like 4-5 minutes). Don’t microwave as it will cause them to become overly chewy.

Can I use other toppings?

You bet! Instead of salt, you can also use:

  • cinnamon and sugar
  • A spice blend like Za’atar (affiliate link) or Italian seasoning
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • “Everything” bagel topping

You can also choose to make these into pretzel bites instead of folding them into a traditional shape. Follow the instructions for these sourdough pretzel bites instead.

close up of sourdough pretzels on baking tray

Other appetizer recipes:

freshly baked pretzels beside honey mustard and cheese dip

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graphic for sourdough course - reads "new to sourdough? learn the skills to impress your family and friends with your sourdough baking. Click here".
Yield: 12 Servings

Easy Baked Sourdough Pretzels

close up of sourdough pretzels on baking tray

These sourdough pretzels are soft and chewy!

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Sourdough Pretzel Dough:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter, 100% hydration, fed and active
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon barley malt syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Baking Soda Bath:

  • 10 cups water, boiling
  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Topping:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • course Kosher salt

Instructions

To Make the Dough:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Use the dough hook to knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky, about 6-7 minutes.Shape the dough into a bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl.
  4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 2-4 hours, or until doubled.

*Recipe Note: Because sourdough starters have different thicknesses and levels of liquidity based on how and what they are fed, it is important to pay attention to the feel of the dough here. If your dough feels overly dry and crumbly, add 1Tablespoon of water at a time until it is workable.

To Shape the Pretzels:

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface (or silicone rolling mat) and fold in half a few times to deflate.
  2. Shape the dough into a rectangle and cut into 12 pieces.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out while you work.
  4. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rope about 18" long and 1" thick.
  5. Place the dough rope into the shape of a “U”.
  6. Lift the ends of the rope and twist two times.
  7. Fold the twist over and press the ends onto the dough.
  8. Place the formed pretzels onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  9. Cover the baking sheet with a towel and allow it to rise for 30-60 minutes. They should look slightly puffy.

To Cook the Pretzels:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F with the oven rack in the center position.
  2. Place a large pot of water on to boil. Add 2 Tablespoons of baking soda and 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar to the water.
  3. Boil each pretzel in the water for 1 minute, flipping halfway through (so 30 seconds on each side). Use a slotted spoon to remove the pretzels from the water.
  4. Place the pretzels back onto the baking sheet.
  5. Brush each pretel with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until they look golden brown.

Notes

Optional timelines:

You can easily adapt this recipe if you want it to be a one day recipe or an overnight recipe that takes two days. Here are some suggested timelines for how to adjust your schedule.

One Day Timeline: *Feed starter late evening the night before. Prepare the dough early in the morning (8am), shape the pretzels at lunchtime (12pm), and do the second rise. Then around 2 pm (figuring in extra time for shaping), you can start the boiling and baking. Be ready to eat freshly baked pretzels about 2:30 or 3:00 pm!

Two Day Timeline: Day One, Feed the starter in the am (7am), and wait for it to become active (7pm). In the early evening, mix up the dough. Allow it to bulk ferment for 2 hours (9pm) and then place it in the fridge overnight. In the morning of the second day, remove the dough from the fridge and shape (8am). Allow the dough to rise (9am). Prepare the bath and preheat the oven, and then boil and bake the pretzels. Enjoy them around 9:30 am!

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 989mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g

Nutrition information is an estimate and is provided for informational purposes only. For the most accurate information, please calculate using your specific brands and exact measurements.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram, and don't forget to tag #gingeredwhisk.

*Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour 

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