Bavarian Pretzels

The deep dark brown burnished crispy crunchy exterior contrasted with the soft and chewy interior that is full of salty pretzel goodness. Nothing can beat a still warm Bavarian Pretzel slathered with butter served with an ice cold beer to celebrate the start of the 184th Munich Oktoberfest (09/16/17 – 10/03/17)

Traditional German Soft Pretzels are known as Brezel in Germany. The twisted and crossed  shape are called Laugenbrezel while the mini baguette shape are known as Laugenstangen. The warm bezel is intended to be slathered with rich creamy butter and enjoyed with a tall glass of cold liquid gold beer!

The key ingredients to making Traditional Bavarian Pretzels:

  • Eden Organic Barley Malt SyrupBarley Malt Syrup – used to make beer. Barley Malt syrup provides a subtle flavor in the pretzel that cannot be replicated with another sweetener. Lucky you can find barley malt syrup at your local beer brewing store, organic market or online at Amazon.
  • Lard – This traditional fat is used to tenderize the crumb structure and adds its porky flavor to the mix. Use leaf lard if possible. Butter can be substituted for the lard if so desired.
  • Sodium Hydroxide (Pure Food Grade Lye) – Traditional Bavarian Pretzels known as Laugerbrezel in Germany are required to be dipped in a 4% lye solution in order to be sold as Laugerbrezels. The pretzels are dipped in the lye solution prior to baking. The Sodium Hydroxide provides the chemical reaction producing the deep dark brown color and the traditional flavor we think of as “pretzel flavor.” The lye neutralizes through the heat of baking. Know that lye reacts with carbon dioxide from the heat in the oven and forms a carbonate making it safe to eat. Follow the amount for the lye solution weight exactly as written on the recipe to make a 4% lye solution. Sodium Hydroxide can be ordered and shipped through Amazon. Here is the link to order:

It’s a Chemical Reaction! Safety First! The lye is caustic so make sure you are wearing rubber gloves and working in a well ventilated room when handling and mixing the solution. You might want to wear safety glasses and a nose/mouth mask as well as the lye gives off heat and gases when combined with water. Use only glass or stainless steel pieces of equipment when mixing the lye. Dispose of the lye down your sink drain followed by cold water. This will clean your drain also. (Read and follow all the instructions for handling and storing of the lye from the manufacturer.)

Put some muscle into it! The dough for Bavarian Pretzel is a 52% hydration making for a very stiff dough when kneading. It is important to knead the dough well to fully combine the dry ingredients into the dough. Take breaks if necessary but be sure to wrap the dough in plastic wrap or a plastic bag to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

As with all baking recipe I recommend you weigh the ingredients for the Bavarian Pretzels. Weighing ensures you have a consistent dough each and every time. As a baker we are always striving to remove any variables from the process of baking.

The full instructional video for Bavarian Pretzels is at the bottom of this blog post. Follow this link to “LIKE” and “SUBSCRIBE” to my YouTube Channel “Just One Bite, Please?”

YouTube Subscribe

Equipment: (Shop my Amazon Page for Ingredients & Equipment)

Bavarian Pretzel 

  • Measured          Grams             Ingredients
  • 2 cups                      454 g.            Water (room temperature)
  • 4 tsp.                          12 g.            Instant Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp.                      18 g.             Barley Malt
  • 2 Tbsp.                      27 g.             Lard (or butter)
  • 5-¾ cups                 862 g.             Bread Flour (unbleached, unbromated)
  • 1 Tbsp.                      20 g.             Sea Salt (fine)

Mixing & Pre-Shaping the Dough:

  1. In a large mixing bowl add the water, instant yeast, barley malt, lard, and half of the bread flour and stir and beat together to make a thick batter.  
  2. Add the salt to the batter and beat to incorporate and then add the remaining flour and mix until the mixture becomes a shaggy mass.
  3. Scrape the dough and any dry bits out onto the counter and knead the dry ingredients into the dough. (Note: The dough will be very firm. Use your body weight to knead the dough.)
  4. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes or until smooth.
  5. Form the dough into a tight round.
  6. Roll and shape the dough into a 12-inch log (30 cm) and cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces weighing approximately 115 grams.
  7. Form each piece of dough into a tight round and cover with plastic wrap. Rest the rounded pieces of dough for 5 minutes.
  8. Place the cooling rack onto the parchment lined sheet trays and spray the cooling rack with non-stick oil spray.

Shaping the Pretzels:

  1. 6 Pretzel Baguette: Work with one piece of dough at a time. With the seam side up, degas the rested dough pieces and tightly roll into a cylinder.
  2. Firmly roll the cylinder into a 7-inch (18 cm) baguette with tapered ends.
  3. Place the shaped Pretzel Baguette seam side down onto the oiled cooling rack lined sheet tray and continue to shape the remaining pieces of dough.
  4. 6 Traditional Bavarian Pretzel: Work with one piece of dough at a time. With the seam side up, degas the rested dough pieces and tightly roll into a cylinder.
  5. Cover the pre-shaped pieces of dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Working with one piece of dough at a time. Firmly roll the dough from the center outward into a 16-inch (40 cm) rope with the same thickness throughout.
  7. Create a 4-inch (10 cm) thicker section (the belly) in the center of the rope by firmly rolling and shaping the rope on each side of the belly.
  8. Firmly roll the dough to 30-inch (76 cm) length.
  9. Shape the rope of dough into the classic pretzel shape. (See video time stamp 4:23) Take care to firmly press the two arms into the dough. This will insure the pretzel doesn’t come undone when dipping.
  10. Continue to shape the remaining pieces of dough.
  11. Place the shaped pretzels onto the oil cooling rack lined sheet tray.
  12. Ferment the shaped pretzels for 45 minutes uncovered at room temperature.
  13. After 45 minutes, place the pretzels in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This allows a skin to form and the pretzels to firm up so they keep their shape when you dip them.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) 30 minutes prior to baking the pretzels.

Dipping and Baking the Pretzels:


  • Large Glass Bowl
  • Rubber Gloves or Latex Gloves
  • Stainless Steel Whisk
  • Pretzel Salt or Coarse Sea Salt

4% Lye Solution:

  • 2268 grams   Water
  • 94 grams   Sodium Hydroxide (Food Grade Lye)
  1. Put on the Rubber or Latex Gloves.
  2. In the large glass bowl add the water. Slowly add the Sodium Hydroxide (lye) to the water while gently whisking. The lye will react with the water and release gases and heat as it dissolves. Gently whisk until the lye is completely dissolved.
  3. Work with one tray of pretzels at a time. Remove a tray from the refrigerator and dip the pretzels into the lye solution making sure to get wet both sides of the pretzel.
  4. Place the dipped pretzel back onto the cooling rack presentation side up.
  5. Sprinkle the pretzels with Pretzel Salt or Coarse Sea Salt and score the belly of the  traditional pretzel and score the baguette pretzel down the center 3 times.
  6. Bake the pretzels at 425°F (218°C) for 22 to 24 minutes or until deep brown.
  7. Remove the pretzels from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before eating.
  8. Slather the warm pretzels with butter and pour yourself a tall cold beer.
  9. Enjoy!

Note: The pretzels are best enjoyed the same day they are made. If you have pretzels left over store in a paper bag. Day old pretzels can be refreshed in a oven preheated to 375°F, bake for 6 to 8 minutes.

YouTube Subscribe

Subscribe to Just One Bite, Please? for more Cooking and Baking Videos!

55 thoughts on “Bavarian Pretzels

  1. Timothy Dowd

    Well, thanks for the recipe which I cannibalized 🙂 I’ve lived in Bavaria for 25 years but now we live in Tenerife… I used 200g flour 100g strong flour salt then I mixed the yeast with the water and added Lyles Golden Syrup for the sweetness (because I had it) I mixed the whole thing together and kneaded the dough until it came together smooth. Then I left it in a ball for an hour… after knocking it back I splitter dough into 4 and shaped them into Brezen let them rest on the counter for 5 minutes… I boiled some water and added a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and dipped them until they puffed up… I put them on a preheated baking tray 220°C and straight in the oven for 15 minutes, took them out early because they looked done… were delicious… picture on my blog

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Tim, Congratulations on your baking success! Wow, it is so wonderful to see your baked pretzels and the happy family member who got to enjoy them. I appreciate you taking the time to share your baking experience with the Just One Bite, Please? community. This is what our community is about. Sharing is caring! You’ll inspire others to venture into the world of baking too! Thank you so much.
      Best, Alejandro Ramon, Just One Bite, Please?

  2. Greg

    During the bake, my pretzels keep expanding downward into the rack, making them difficult to remove. I reduced my lye bath time, which seemed to help, but it’s still a headache when doing multiple batches. My dough seems the right texture, so I’m not sure what I’m missing.

    Any tips? Great recipe, btw. The best I’ve used.

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Greg, I appreciate you waiting for my response. There are three things I would recommend to help reduce this issue. First, let the final shaped pretzels sit uncovered at room temperature for at least one hour or until the tops and bottoms are completely dry to the touch. This will ensure skin has formed on both sides. Second, Refrigerate the pretzels until they are very firm to the touch. This might take longer than an hour depending on how cold your refrigerator is. Third, Respray the cooling rack with non-stick spray before placing the dipped pretzels back on. I use a cooling rack that has 1/4-inch squares. This also supports the weight of the pretzels more evenly.
      Please let me know if you should have any other questions I may help you with. If you like to send me pictures directly you can email me at:
      Thank you for taking the time to write and have a great day!

      1. Crabtree

        Hello. Made these today. A little time consuming, but the results are fantastic. Love pretzels but begrudge paying £5.00 for one at the seasonal German Market.

        1. Alejandro Ramon

          Hello Crabtree, It is wonderful to hear about your results! Thank you for sharing and have a great day!

    2. Selloncl Abq

      I use something like the following placed in the sheet pan. I’ve never used a rack and they come out perfect. Like the author wrote, dip while cold (I refrigerate overnight, dip and bake in the morning) and place on lined pan. Good to go.

      Chef’s Planet Universal Non Stick 40 Inch by 12 Inch Bake Liner

  3. Nikita

    Hello Alejandro! Thank you again for the great recipe! I just wonder if there’s a way to store shaped pretzels in a freezer to bake them later? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Nikita, I haven’t tried to freeze the unbaked shaped dough to bake later. I have baked the pretzels without any salt and then froze the cooled pretzels. I then thawed the pretzels completely brushed them with water and sprinkled the tops with salt and reheated them in a preheated 400F-degree oven for 3 minutes to refresh the crust and adhere the salt. I’d love to hear about the results if you do try to freeze the unbaked pretzels to finish later. Please let me know if you should have any other questions. Happy Baking!

      1. Selloncl Abq

        Divide dough into portions and wrap in plastic wrap, place in freezer bag to freeze. This way, you can pull out however many portions you want, defrost in fridge (doesn’t take very long), form, dip and bake. I pull the portions the day before to shape and proof in the fridge overnight and then proceed as recipe says.

  4. Ted

    Just made it. Amazing. simple recipe but time consuming. i spent 3 years in Germany and this is as good as any I had. Thank you!

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Ted, It is great to meet you. Congratulations on your baking success! It is always wonderful to hear back from folks like yourself who have made the recipes and thier results. I’m so glad the taste of the pretzels were comprable to what you enjoyed in Germany. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your experince with us. Have a great day!

  5. Sarah

    Hi Alejandro, if I replace the Lard by butter, will it change the taste or the texture of the Bretzel? Thank you!

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Sarah, Replacing the lard with butter will have very little effect on the final flavor or texture of the baked Bretzel. Please let me know if you should have any other questions. Thank you and have a great day!

Share Your Comment with Us!