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Homemade Soft Sourdough Pretzel Recipe

Our soft Sourdough Pretzel Recipe comes with a video demonstration and several suggestions for how to finish them.

Sourdough pretzels are a popular option to make with unfed sourdough discard. These soft pretzels are simple to make, and a great option for breakfast or lunch. Sourdough pretzels use up discard and present a great opportunity for healthy snacks.

Make these easy sourdough pretzels in just one day with little effort. These are a great way to use up extra discard from baking bread.

Baking Soda Brush On Method-Nice Browned Sourdoughpretzels

Sourdough discard recipes are turning out to be a great addition to our family’s weekly menu.

When I make bread and keep my sourdough starter maintained there is always the discard. I won’t throw it out.

I’m too cheap to pay money for flour and watch it go in the garbage. So I have LOTS of recipes to use it up.

Homemade Sourdough Pretzels-Pin Image
These homemade sourdough pretzels are easy to make and so incredibly scrumptious. With a satisfyingly firm crust and a soft, chewy center that is packed with rich flavor they are perfect with creamy butter and salt.

Are Sourdough Pretzels Healthy?

Homemade sourdough pretzels are healthier than store bought or white enriched bread pretzels. These pretzels can be made with 6 ingredients and no added preservatives or fillers. Sourdough pretzels are better for gut health and digest easier than the white enriched bread counterparts. Sourdough bread has gained popularity over the years because it tastes better than store bought bread. The secret behind its superior flavor lies in using natural yeasts instead of chemical additives. In addition, sourdough bread is easier to digest than other types of bread.

Are Pretzels made from Sourdough Bread?

Not all pretzels are made from sourdough bread. Most store bought pretzels are made from white enriched flour and instant yeast. Pretzels can also be made at home using instant yeast and flour rather than sourdough starter. Pretzels that are not marked as sourdough pretzels are more than likely yeast and flour based.

What is the difference between Pretzel dough and Regular dough?

Pretzel dough and regular dough are very similar. The biggest difference is how they are prepared and baked. Regular dough is usually baked straight in the oven. Pretzel dough is often boiled in a baking soda and water bath before being placed on a baking sheet and baked in the oven.

What is Unfed Sourdough Discard?

Unfed sourdough discard is discard that is not active. Active sourdough starter will float in a float test when it is ready for baking. After preparing sourdough starter for baking, you will be left with discard (this is sourdough starter that is leftover). An unfed sourdough discard is usually pulled from the starter while the starter is still not active. This often means that you pull the starter from the refrigerator, give it one feeding, and then use it while it is still not yet active.

Topping Ideas for Sourdough Pretzels:

  1. Granulated Sugar
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Brown Sugar
  4. Course Salt
  5. Sesame Seeds
  6. Everything Bagel Seasoning
  7. Garlic
  8. Parmesan Cheese
  9. Melted Butter
  10. Poppy Seeds
  11. Honey

More Sourdough Discard Recipes:

When you feed your sourdough starter KEEP the discard for more amazing recipes like these.

Visit our Sourdough Section to see ALL of our sourdough breads, bagels and many other recipes.

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe:

This recipe is very simple. Only about 15 minutes of prep. Then rest the dough and make your pretzels. This visual guide will help you see all the steps.

Please also watch our video demonstration of this sourdough discard recipe.

TIPS:

  • Use instant yeast if you have it. Active dry yeast is not the same. They will both work. Instant yeast will just be easier to work with.
  • I have used both butter and oil to make this recipe. MIND the oil. A strong flavored oil will add flavor to the pretzels. Try avocado oil for a healthy flavorless oil.
  • I used sesame oil for my last batch. Yep the pretzels had the flavor. but it was a nice twist.
  • If the dough is too dry when you mix it to hold together add a few tablespoons of water until you can work with it before kneading.
  • You can knead with wet hands to further hydrate the dough if hand kneading.

let’s get started making sourdough pretzels.

Making Sourdough Pretzel Dough:

Baking Prep:

  • Preheat your oven now.
  • Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly spray cooking oil on the parchment to prevent sticking. Or use a silicone mat like I do.
  • After Resting the dough turn the dough out onto a work surface.
  • Follow the guide below for instructions on forming the pretzels.

Forming the Pretzels:

We used the baking soda wash in our video demonstration. I’ve added more ideas for washes and baths below for this pretzel dough recipe if you’re interested.

This homemade pretzel recipe can be finished in several ways. Below we offer more ideas for finishing the pretzels.

Each idea will change the flavor and crust a bit. There is also a sweet variation for you.

Pretzel Wash Suggestions:

The final step before baking this soft pretzel recipe is to brush on a wash over your raw ready to bake bagels.

Brushing On Baking Soda Wash-Sourdough Pretzels
Brushing on a baking soda wash helps with browning and adds some tang.

Brush On Methods:

  • Baking Soda Wash:The method demonstrated in our video is a very simple wash of 1/2 tablespoon baking soda dissolved in two tablespoons of water. Brush is over the raw pretzels
  • Non Diastatic Malt Powder is not currently available but King Arthur Flour usually stocks it. Use 1 Tablespoon malt powder dissolved in two tablespoons water. Brush it on.

Whole Egg Wash:

Instead of baking soda brush a beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon of water over the raw pretzels. We did this method and the pretzels did brown nicely.

Egg White Wash:

If you want your pretzels shiny and not browned this one will do the trick. Beat an egg white with a Tablespoon of water. Brush on the raw bagels.

Non Diastatic Malt Wash:

Non diastatic malt is currently out of stock so I can’t say how this works but it’s often used for pretzel wash with good results I understand. If you have some…

Mix 1 Tablespoon non diastatic malt with 2 Tablespoons water. Dissolve and brush on raw bagels. Bake.

Sugar Wash for Sweet Bagels:

I did use a sugar wash on a batch of pretzels. If you want a sweet pretzel and plan to sprinkle your pretzels with a cinnamon sugar topping rather than salt use this wash.

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar to 2 Tablespoons water.
  • Dissolve the sugar in the water and brush it on your raw bagels.
  • sprinkle with your sweet toppings and bake.
Baking Soda Brush On Method-Nice Browned Sourdoughpretzels
I brushed the baking soda THOROUGHLY over these pretzels. They are beautifully browned.

The pretzels pictured above were washed with baking soda UNBAKED. The soda tang is more pronounced with this wash. But it is very quick to do.

Immersion Methods:

We found some pretzel wash ideas in this LA Times article by Noelle Carter. She describes several ways you can finish a pretzel. We tried Two.

Baked Baking Soda Bath:

  • I’m impressed with this one. The baking of the soda tempers the flavor and gave the pretzels more of the authentic Pretzel crust and flavor.
    1. On a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper
    2. Spread 1 1/3 Cups Baking soda in an even layer
    3. Bake at 250 degrees F. for 60 minutes
    4. Pour into 4 cups of warm water in a low wide pot, bowl or saucepan to 3 inches depth.
    5. Using a large slotted spoon lay the raw bagels in the bath for 2 minutes.
    6. Turn pretzel over in bath for another minute or two.
    7. Remove to bath of plain water to rinse.
    8. Lay back on baking sheet and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
    9. Bake as directed.

Lye Bath:

We did NOT try this. But traditionally lye is the tried and true pretzel wash.

Go to The Times Article linked above for more instructions on how to do this potentially dangerous bath. I’m not getting into personal protective gear in my kitchen. 🙂

The different washes produce different crusts and subtle changes in the flavor as well.

In the printable recipe card I’ve put all the variation ideas in the NOTES section for you.

Baking and Finishing:

Soft Sourdough Pretzels
Golden Brown Soft Sourdough pretzels brushed with melted butter. Ready to eat.

Your Printable Recipe:

Baking Soda Brush On Method-Nice Browned Sourdoughpretzels
Yield: 12 pretzels

Soft Sourdough Pretzels Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Soft and chewy sourdough pretzels are simple to make. This delicious homemade pretzel recipe uses sourdough discard. The sourdough adds flavor and softness. They are ready to eat in under two hours!

Ingredients

Pretzel Dough:

  • 198 grams milk-3/4 Cup
  • 227 grams sourdough starter- unfed (1 Cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon softened butter or oil
  • 361 grams bread flour- 3 cups
  • 14 grams sugar- 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons INSTANT yeast (active dry yeast will work in a pinch but not as well)

Baking Soda Brush On Wash: -More wash choices in NOTES

  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons water

Finishing touches:

  • Pretzel Salt-to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons butter-melted

Instructions

Make the Pretzel Dough:

  1. In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer) Add all of the pretzel dough ingredients.Stir Into A Cohesive Dough
  2. Mix them all together to make the dough. The dough should stick together.
  3. Knead until smooth (about 10 minutes by hand). You may need to add a few extra Tablespoons of water to make a cohesive dough.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest about 45 minutes.

Baking Prep:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with a silicone mat or parchment paper. spray oil lightly over parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Making the Pretzels:

  1. Roll the dough out about 1/2 inch. Cutting Sourdough Pretzel Dough(OR form the dough into a log and cut from the end.)
  2. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
  3. Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 18 inches long (Think making playdough snakes).Pretzel Dough Ropes
  4. Form each dough rope into a pretzelMaking Dough Into Sourdough Pretzels
  5. Lay each raw pretzel on your baking sheet. (If using an immersion bath method do it now).
  6. Brush the baking soda wash over each pretzel evenly. (if using)
  7. Sprinkle salt on the wet pretzels.

Baking Instructions:

  1. Bake at 350 degrees F. For 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Remove to cooling rack.
  3. Brush the warm pretzels with melted butter to add shine and flavor.Brushing Butter On Pretzels

Notes

The Final Wash- Several choices:

You will taste the baking soda somewhat on the pretzels if you use our simple brush on wash. So I'm including other ideas on washing the pretzels if you prefer.

Baked Baking Soda Bath:

I'm impressed with this method. The baking of the soda tempers the soda flavor and gives the pretzels more of the authentic Pretzel crust and flavor. Downside is it uses a lot of baking soda and it takes time.

  1. On a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper
  2. Spread 1 1/3 Cups Baking soda in an even layer
  3. Bake at 250 degrees F. for 60 minutes
  4. Pour into 4 cups of warm water in a low wide pot, bowl or saucepan to 3 inches depth.
  5. Using a large slotted spoon lay the raw bagels in the bath for 2 minutes.
  6. Turn pretzel over in bath for another minute or two.
  7. Remove to bath of plain water to rinse.
  8. Lay back on baking sheet and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
  9. Bake as directed.

Whole Egg Wash:

Instead of baking soda brush a beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon of water over the raw pretzels. We did this method and the pretzels did brown nicely.

Egg White Wash:


If you want your pretzels shiny and not browned this one will do the trick. Beat an egg white with a Tablespoon of water. Brush on the raw bagels.

Non Diastatic Malt Wash:

Non diastatic malt is currently out of stock so I can't say how this works but it's often used for pretzel wash with good results I understand. If you have some...

Mix 1 Tablespoon non diastatic malt with 2 Tablespoons water. Dissolve and brush on raw bagels. Bake.

Sugar Wash for Sweet Bagels:

I did use a sugar wash on a batch of pretzels. If you want a sweet pretzel and plan to sprinkle your pretzels with a cinnamon sugar topping rather than salt use this wash.

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar to 2 Tablespoons water.
  • Dissolve the sugar in the water and brush it on your raw bagels.
  • sprinkle with your sweet toppings and bake.

Lye Bath:

We did NOT try this. But traditionally lye is the tried and true pretzel wash. Go to This Article for more instructions on how to do this bath. I'm not getting into personal protective gear.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 193Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 4mgSodium 702mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 6g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Simple Homemade Sourdough Pretzels-Pin Image
These homemade sourdough pretzels are easy to make and so incredibly scrumptious. With a satisfyingly firm crust and a soft, chewy center that is packed with rich flavor they are perfect with creamy butter and salt. #sourdoughpretzel #soft #easy #recipe #bites #best #pretzels #homemade
Homemade Soft Sourdough Pretzels-Pin Image
Our soft Sourdough Pretzel Recipe comes with a video demonstration and several suggestions for how to finish them. So many yummy ideas…

Mackenzie

Friday 10th of June 2022

Have you tried making these bite sized? I'm tempted to make them but I am assuming the baking time would be completely different and I am not good at guessing bake times.

Diane

Friday 10th of June 2022

Hi Mackenzie, Since I am guessing what you mean by bite size, I'm going to recommend dropping the baking time to 10 minutes. They should not need more than that. If your first batch seems overdone try going down further to 6 to 8 minutes. I hope this helps. Your oven may be cooler than mine (mine runs pretty hot) so you will more than likely need all of the 10 minutes to completely bake them. I hope this helps!

Kristy

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

When doubling the recipe should I double the amount of yeast as well?

Diane

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

Hi Kristy, No.Just use the amount for a single batch. It should work fine for you. Happy Baking!

Stephanie

Thursday 19th of May 2022

Can I use a dough hook on a mixer or does it need to be kneaded by hand?

Diane

Thursday 19th of May 2022

Hi Stephanie, You can use a dough hook and mixer. Just be carful not to over mix. Happy Baking!

Diane

Thursday 19th of May 2022

Hi Stephanie, You can use a dough hook and mixer. Just be carful not to over mix. Happy Baking!

Rachel

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

Should the discard be room temperature? I just made some with cold discard from the fridge and it was very hard to mix and the dough very tough. Hoping resting and warming up for 30 minutes will allow it to warm up so I can knead a little more.

Diane

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

Hi Rachel, Yes keep all the ingredients at room temperature for best results. I'm sorry I never thought to mention this in the post. It should be fine once it is warmed. But note this is a drier dough than you might be used to. If you watch the video with the sound on Kayti does mention this. This is not your normal sourdough dough. But it works great.:)

Janet V Ross

Sunday 17th of October 2021

My sourdough starter doesn't have "discards" Can I use the starter I use to make my breads ? PS..Lovin' your site

Diane

Sunday 17th of October 2021

Hi Janet, Welcome to Homemade Food Junkie! We are delighted you are enjoying out site. :)

To answer your question: You can use your starter. Your pretzels may be pretty puffy if you just fed it but that's not a problem.

We created this recipe to help save the discard so you don't have to throw it away. If you never discard just scoop some starter out before your next feed and use that. Happy Baking!

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