Bavarian Pretzels (Bretzels) Recipe

by | Jan 25, 2022 | a slice of life, Fall, Recipes, Winter | 22 comments

For Christmas, I got a cookbook called Upper Crust – Homemade Bread the French Way.  It’s an excellent book if you’re interested in learning about or improving your bread baking.  As I read through it, I was surprised to see a recipe for German/Bavarian soft pretzels (bretzels.)   These delicious soft pretzels spilled over the German border into France and were adopted by the region of Alsace.  For those who don’t know, I’m a military brat who spent most of my childhood in Germany and soft pretzels were my very favorite thing.  I was excited at the idea of being able to make an authentic-tasting recipe at home, so I made my first batch on New Year’s Day.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

Over my winter break, perfecting Bavarian pretzels became one of my missions.  I think I ended up making five batches over three weeks and I tested, tweaked, and tasted.  Lots of tasting!  I don’t want to say they are perfect because they are still made by a fallible human, but my last batch was pretty darn close to perfect.  It was the kind of recipe that I took a taste of and was immediately brought back to a time and place.  I didn’t just want to eat up the Bavarian pretzels but take in everything I miss about Germany and relish a few moments of vivid memories of my childhood.

If you want to skip through my chit-chat, the printable recipe is at the bottom of the post.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

kitchen aid mixer

One of the things I had to test was the mixer speed.  In the recipe in the book, it says to mix on speed one for 5-7 minutes.  I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and have always used speed two for kneading dough.  My mixer didn’t even have a speed one.  It goes from stir to two.  So, I went against what I knew and tried kneading on the stir setting.  Yeah, that was a mistake.  The pretzels still turned out okay, but the dough was tough and not as elastic as I knew it should be.  Some of the Bavarian pretzels pictured were from those batches, but this is the dough that turned out perfectly when I kneaded it on speed two for about five minutes…

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

The other part of the recipe I needed to figure out was the butter.  It didn’t specify if the butter should be cold, softened, or melted.  I tried it all three ways and I think melted worked the best.  Melted, but cooled a bit so it wasn’t piping hot going into the dough.  I melted the butter in the microwave and then let it sit while the yeast was dissolving.

The other key to making successful Bavarian pretzels was weighing the ingredients instead of measuring them in cups.  It’s much more precise and weighing yields the perfect balance of wet and dry ingredients.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

Making dough of any sort is something you have to do bad several times to learn what good bread dough looks and feels like.  When you get it right, it feels like you’ve unlocked a secret of the universe.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

Of course, as I’m making my Bavarian pretzels, I’m imagining Paul Hollywood of The Great British Baking Show poking and pulling at my finished pretzels.  I could almost hear him saying things like, “These are over-prooved” or “These are a bit stodgy.  See…you went wrong with the kneading speed and the butter temperature.”

But, I felt like I nailed the last batch.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

Poaching the pretzels is key to getting the right texture and crust for authentic-tasting Bavarian pretzels.  I’ve made pretzels before that are just baked and they are fine, but they don’t taste the same as the real deal.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

All-Clad Saucier

I poached two at a time in a saucier, which is a shallow and wide pan that is perfect for poaching.  (I made one adjustment to this recipe in February 2022.  The crust of the pretzel would sometimes be unpleasantly bitter from the baking soda, so I did some research and tried adding 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar to the poaching liquid.  That was just enough to cut the bitterness, but it doesn’t make the pretzels sweet.)

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

It gets a little foamy when the pretzels are in there, so you do have to keep an eye on it!

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

When the pretzels were poached, I sprinkled them in Fleur de Sel, salt that I brought home in my suitcase from France.  Of course, you can just buy it online.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

Fleur de Sel | Air Bake Baking Sheets | Parchment Paper Baking Sheets

The combination of the poaching and egg wash is what gives the Bavarian pretzels their richly-colored crust and chewy texture.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

Fleur de Sel

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

I baked all eight for 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets to make sure the pretzels cooked evenly.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

The Bavarian pretzels pictured above were one of the batches when the dough wasn’t quite right.  You can see that the texture of the crust is a little lumpy.  They still tasted great, but I needed to work on the texture.

The batch below was my last batch and they were spot on.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

Oh man, even just looking at these Bavarian pretzels makes me look forward to making them again.

german bavarian pretzels (bretzels) recipe | miss mustard seed

cooling racks

They are a perfect snack for snow days, for a Superbowl party, and, of course, for an at-home Octoberfest celebration.  I used to buy pretzels regularly from the “brötchen man” who sold baked goods and sweets out of a food truck on our military base.  Pretzels was also the highlight of the weekend volksmarches we often did as a family.  Warm chicken broth and a pretzel slathered with butter…  That was a little piece of heaven.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Bavarian pretzels as much as I do.

You can find more recipes HERE.

 

bavarian german pretzels/bretzels printable recipe

Bavarian Pretzels (Bretzels)

warm, soft pretzels just like ones you'd get in Bavaria
5 from 2 votes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine german
Servings 8

Equipment

  • sheet pan(s)
  • parchment paper
  • large pot for boiling
  • mixer with dough hook (can knead by hand as well)
  • Instant read thermometer

Ingredients
  

  • 2/3 cup water (150g)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk (150g)
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 500 grams all-purpose flour (4 cups + 2 tbs)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp salted butter (melted, but cooled)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp water
  • fleur de sel for topping (or coarse Kosher salt)

Poaching Liquid

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

Instructions
 

  • Mix ⅔ cup water and ⅔ cup whole milk in a small saucepan and warm to 80-90°. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure liquids do not get too hot. Liquid over 130° will kill the yeast.
  • Dissolve yeast in warm liquid, stir in. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
  • Mix flour, salt, yeast mixture, and melted butter in a stand mixer bowl. Equip stand mixer with dough hook. Knead for five minutes on speed 2 (or the proper kneading speed for your mixer.) Speed 2 is recommended for a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Dough should pull away from the side of the bowl cleanly and it will be slightly sticky, but should be soft and elastic.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a towel) and allow it to rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 400° and prepare poaching liquid. Mix water, salt, brown sugar, and baking soda in a large pot and bring to a boil. (The brown sugar doesn't make the pretzels sweet, but cuts the bitterness of the baking soda.)
  • When properly prooved, turn dough onto a clean work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces of dough. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape.
  • Poach pretzels two at a time for 2-3 minutes each, flipping halfway through. Gently remove pretzels with a slotted spoon and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  • Whisk egg yolk and 1 tsp water to make an egg wash. Brush over poached pretzels and sprinkle with fleur de sel (or coarse salt.)
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust develops a deep color. If baking all 8 pretzels in one batch, rotate baking sheets halfway through. Place pretzels on a rack to cool. Serve with salted butter, mustard, or beer cheese. They are excellent warm, but also good at room temp or reheated in a toaster.
Keyword german food, octoberfest, soft pretzels

22 Comments

  1. Terry

    5 stars
    Food memories are the best. When my new husband mastered my mother’s fried chicken recipe, I knew he was a keeper. We will soon celebrate our 50th.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, good for him! He does sound like a keeper. 🙂

    • Sara

      My hubby took me to Germany on vacation a few years ago. I think I ate my weight in Bavaria Pretzels…and rotisserie chicken! lol. I saw a bakery on every corner and said…these are my people! Thanks for this wonderful recipe and for bringing back such warm and wonderful memories.

  2. Terry A.

    I am going to try these right away! One question – is there no sugar? I wanted to double check on that before starting! Thanks.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yep! There isn’t any sugar in the recipe. You could sprinkly the tops with cinnamon sugar instead of salt, but there is no sugar in the dough.

      • Terry A.

        Good to know. Thank you!

        • Terry A.

          I assumed a yeast dough needed sugar to rise. I guess not! (No cinnamon/sugar topping for me.) I just made my first batch and they taste great. The same can’t be said about my pretzel-shaping abilities, however. LOL Thanks, Marian.

  3. Karen

    Did you ever master the beer cheese? I’m waiting to make another batch until I can get a good beer cheese!

    • Marian Parsons

      No. Someone shared a recipe, but I haven’t tried it yet. I talked to my brother about it and he said he’s mastered it and will share his technique. I like dipping them in cheese, but didn’t want to keep hitting up the liquor store! I should just pick up a few bottles of beer the next time I’m near there. 😂

  4. Irene Kelly

    Oh My Marian they look delish ! But a lot of work. I just love looking at all your projects. My friend gave us some ESProvisions soft pretzels for Christmas they are good but not nearly as good as yours are I am sure ! Love all your posts !

  5. Addie

    I bet you were at no loss for taste testers during the process. They would have to elbow me out. They look yummmmy!!!
    Welcome back…you were missed!

  6. Vicki

    Ah! Sound and look perfect for the Super Bowl. Better get busy and practice! You are always inspiring me to push myself!

  7. Vikki

    I keep looking for a date cookie recipe. My mom made them when I was a little girl and she couldn’t find the recipe when I asked for it. I keep looking but haven’t found it yet.

    Just wondering if you have the recipe with the weights in it. Since you said that made a better pretzel. Looking forward to trying these. Ii once made bagels and you have to poach them as well.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, the weights are listed in the printable recipe. I didn’t include it for the salt because that can be measured. The yeast is 7g.

  8. Janet Lev

    5 stars
    Skip thru the chit chat? Never 🥰

  9. Mary S

    Marian, you’ll think I’ve lost my bearings, but I swear I could smell those pretzels as I was reading your post. Ha!! Seriously!! I guess I’m hungry. They look fabulous. Never tried any bread baking. I find boxed brownies a challenge. Never know, tho. I may surprise myself and just see how badly I would do making pretzels. Thanks for a great post and your wonderful pictures.

  10. Babs

    They look wonderful! All through the pandemic I have been baking bread, cookies, cakes and even tried some hard rolls…but never pretzels. Will be trying out your recipe on the next snow day.

  11. Karen

    I made pretzel bites recently and my husband gave rave reviews. Looking over your recipe it looks similar to the one I used. They were delicious and made a HUGE amount. But, alas, too much work with the making of the dough, then boiling it, and then baking it. I also found with pretzel bites it’s better to have a 2nd set of hands helping move the product from point A to point B.

  12. Kjoy

    Marion, please tell us about that beautiful pastry tool. I’ve admired it in past posts too. I always enjoy your content.

  13. Kathy

    It’s 6 AM as I am reading this and I can seriously smell these from the pictures! I just printed the recipe- I don’t have a stand mixer so I will be attempting to knead these by hand. I can’t wait to try- maybe before breakfast? 🙂
    Kathy

  14. Wendy Hall

    I too would love to know where you got your pastry tool!! It is so beautiful and sturdy looking! Your pretzels look so yummy! I am going to try my hand at your recipe!

  15. Cynthia Johnsosn

    I will never underestimate a Bavarian Pretzel~ I too, can hear Paul’s comments 🙂

Hello!

Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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