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Soft Bavarian Pretzels
Homemade and delicious

Soft Bavarian Pretzels

Soft Bavarian Pretzels are a tasty savory German snack recipe. Homemade Octoberfest pretzels with a soft interior and crusty exterior.

Soft Bavarian Pretzels
As the name already suggests, Bavarian Pretzels are a delicious German bread, that’s traditionally served on Octoberfest and throughout the year as well. It’s known for its shiny, crunchy, dark brown exterior, created with lye solution (they are called Laugenbrezel in Germany). The best way to serve them is with a mug of beer and Bavarian white sausages called Weisswurst. These baked goodies are perfect for Octoberfest party or a quick on-the-go snack. Let’s check the recipe and let’s start baking already.

Soft Bavarian Pretzels

Mmm, the odor spreading from the kitchen when baking these is the next level. It's like having your own little bakery. So comforting and warming, I love it. We especially adore this recipe because the pretzels are:

  • very very fluffy and soft inside
  • have a shiny, crusty exterior
  • a fantastic snack for any day of the year
  • kids and adults love them
  • you can easily make more and serve them at your next party or gathering
  • they freeze well
  • perfect for all of you who love a good recipe challenge as well


Making pretzels at home isn't the quickest thing in the world, but making your own homemade, soft pretzels is the best possible feeling. With a little time and effort, you will have freshly baked pretzels in a good 2 hours. It goes like this:

  1. Bake the baking soda
  2. Make the pretzel dough
  3. Shape the dough into ropes and then into pretzels, leave to proof
  4. Make a soda bath, dip the pretzels into the bath
  5. Sprinkle sesame seeds or pretzel salt over the pretzels
  6. Bake and quickly eat a warm pretzel

Shaping Bavarian Pretzels into a rope


Shaping Bavarian Pretzels


Shaping Bavarian Pretzels


What makes a pretzel Bavarian?

There are so many tasty pretzels. We love those little crunchy ones that are store-bought, and sweet ones can be super tasty too. But there's no Pretzel that's better than a soft, Bavarian Pretzel. They are known for their dark brown, lye exterior. They are so good, that please don't resist the temptation of buying one if you see it in a good bakery. Bavarian Pretzels have a very crusty, dark brown, salty exterior and incredibly fluffy, super soft, melt-in-your-mouth delicious interior. Serve them as a snack or for breakfast. In Germany, they are oftentimes served with white sausages called Weisswurst or pan-fried sausages called Bratwurst and served with their well known sweet mustard. We love it, it's so good and we simply can't resist it, it's a must for us anytime we visit Germany (or Austria as well). 

Making soda bath for pretzels


Dipping pretzels in soda bath


Dipping pretzels in soda bath


Homemeade Bavarian Bretzels with sesame seeds


Homemeade Bavarian Bretzels before baking


Homemeade Bavarian Bretzels, soft and delicious


Baked Baking Soda - Technique 1

First, let's talk about the technique used in this recipe. This technique isn't traditional, but it's simpler and easily accessible. We recommend it to all of you who are making Pretzels for the first time and don't want a complicated recipe.

In the photo below you can see two pretzels. On the left side, there's a pretzel where we used this technique (the baked baking soda bath) and on the right side, there's a pretzel where we used the traditional Lye Solution technique (sodium hydroxide).

First, bake the baking soda in the oven. The baking soda will change its structure (the PH will be higher and more caustic (corrosive)). Put on your rubber or latex gloves to prevent an allergic reaction and light burns of the skin. Dip each proofed and shaped pretzel into the soda bath. Leave it there for 1 minute, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

More information about baked baking soda in this wonderful article

Lye Solution - Technique 2

Traditionally, the lye solution is used for pretzels in Germany, hence the name Laugenbrezel. You will need to be a little bit more careful and focused if you decide to use this technique.

Put on your protective rubber or latex gloves and goggles (or just be careful not to get the solution in touch with your eyes). The sodium hydroxide can be dangerous if not used right. Make a 4% lye solution. Pour 500 ml (2 cups + 2 tbsp) cold water into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Gradually stir in 20g (0.7 oz) of the food-grade lye (sodium hydroxide) - Don't do it the other way around. Dip each shaped and proofed pretzel into the lye solution for about 30 seconds instead of 1 minute. Carefully transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

More information about lye solution can be found in these two amazing articles as well. On the blog and on the blog

If some of the lye solution comes in touch with your skin, simply wash it off as soon as possible under cold running water.

What's the difference between baked baking soda and lye

Pretzels using the lye solution (technique 2) have a slightly thinner and shinier exterior. They have a more specific flavor and they immediately remind us of an authentic bavarian pretzel. They also stay soft and crusty longer.

Pretzels using baked baking soda (technique 1) have a thicker exterior, they aren't as shiny and they don't have that slightly bitter flavor. 

The difference between the two is small, so we always use the baked baking soda technique. It's simpler and more accessible.

What's the difference between baked baking soda and lye

How to store and freeze Soft Bavarian Pretzels

Store your soft pretzels in a bag or airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. You can freeze them too. Simply place them in freezer bags and place in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost by placing them on the kitchen counter for 1 hour (room temperature) Or place them on a baking sheet and place in the oven to reheat for about 5 minutes at 200 °C / 400°F.

Soft Bavarian Pretzels


Soft Bavarian Pretzels


bavarian pretzel recipe lye


bavarian pretzel recipe


How to make bavarian pretzels



Lets get cooking!

  • makes
  • preparation:
  • proofing:
  • bake:
  • total time:


  • Baked baking soda

    Preheat your oven to 250°C / 480 °F. Add baking soda to an oven-safe skillet or small baking dish. Evenly spread the baking soda over the dish. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour at 250°C / 480 °F. Remove from the oven, leave the soda to cool, then transfer to an airtight container.

  • pretzel dough

    Stir to combine all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, and water in a large bowl. Generously flour the working surface and knead the dough with your hands for about 5 minutes, or use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead for about 2 - 3 minutes. Add salt and softened cubes of butter. Continue to knead by hand for about 5 minutes, or use a stand mixer and knead for 3 - 4 minutes. Cover with cling film or kitchen towel and leave to proof at room temperature for about 50 - 60 minutes or doubled in size.

    If you are using fresh yeast, the process is slightly different. Combine lukewarm water, sugar, and fresh yeast in a bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to start rising. Then add the yeast mixture to the flour and continue with the recipe. Water temperature should be 35°C / 95°F, not more.
  • Shape the dough

    Line two large baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Lightly grease with vegetable oil. Divide the dough into 8 parts (each weighing approx. 100g / 3.5 oz). Using your hand, press down each piece of the dough to degas, then roll into a cylinder (or mini baguette) approx. 12 cm / 5-inches long. Place each cylinder onto your prepared baking sheet. Roll each cylinder of dough into a 35 cm / 14-inches long rope. Create a thicker section in the center of the rope by rolling the rope on each side of that thicker section. Roll into a 60 - 70 cm / 24-inches - 25-inches long rope.

  • Shape into the pretzels

    Shape each piece of dough into a traditional Bavarian pretzel. Grab the two ends of the rope and shape it into a letter U - check the photo. Cross both ends of the rope - check the photo, then fold the same side over the other to create two twists. Now grab both ends (tips) and fold them over the twist (knot) to create a pretzel shape - check the photo. Gently press down to seal. Repeat the process with the remaining pretzels. Cover with cling film or kitchen towel and leave to proof at room temperature for 25 - 30 minutes. Then uncover the pretzels and place them in the fridge for another hour or in a freezer for about 20 - 25 minutes for the pretzels to help pretzels keep their beautiful shape while dipping in the soda bath. Preheat your oven to 240°C / 465 °F.

  • soda bath

    Make the soda bath. Put on the rubber or latex gloves. Pour 500 ml (2 cups + 2 tbsp) of cold water into a glass or stainless steel bowl. While lightly whisking with a stainless steel whisk or spoon, gradually stir in 75g or 1/3 cup baked baking soda. Stir until the baked baking soda is dissolved. Remove the pretzels from your fridge or freezer. Dip each pretzel into the soda bath for one minute with the upper side down. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat with presentation side up. Optionally sprinkle with sesame seeds or pretzel salt. Score each pretzel with a sharp knife (as seen in the photo).

    Use rubber or latex gloves to prevent an allergic reaction. The baked baking soda is caustic (corrosive) with the ph of around 12.
    If you use lye (sodium hydroxide), it's essential to use rubber or latex gloves and protective goggles (optional). Make a 4% lye solution by pouring cold water into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Gradually stir in 20g (0.7 oz) of the food-grade lye (sodium hydroxide). Dip each shaped and proofed pretzel into the lye solution for about 30 seconds instead of 1 minute.
  • bake and serve

    Bake each baking sheet with pretzels separately. Place the first baking sheet of pretzels into the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 230 °C / 445 °F, then open the oven to release the steam. Reduce the heat to 210 °C / 410 °F and continue to bake for another 10 - 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly on a wire rack. It's best to eat these bavarian pretzels still a bit warm. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.


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