Authentic German Pretzels
Member recipe

Authentic German Pretzels

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(16 ratings)

Member recipe by


Serves 1 - 14 Breads

No recipe out there was authentic, so I developed my own and it is 100% authentic in colour, taste and texture.

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  • For The Dough
  • 1 kg Plain White Flour (around 9 - 12 % protein)
  • 260 ml milk (lukewarm)
  • 260 ml water (lukewarm)
  • 80 g Butter (unsalted)
  • 1 tbsp malt extract (liquid or dried, or brown sugar)
  • 2 tsp fast action dried yeast (or 42g fresh if using)
  • 2 tbsp Salt (unrefined)

  • For The Finishing Solution
  • 1 L Water
  • 3 tbsp Baking Soda (or lye if your using it)

  • For Topping
  • Unrefined salt (Rock/ sea salt) or cheese & ham cubes


    1. Add 100g of flour flour, all the yeast and the water into a bowl. Mix, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm place for 5 hours + to create the yeast flavour. After that, add the rest of the flour, salt, milk, malt extract and melted butter. Mix and kneed the mixture to make a firm dough (around 10 minutes) and leave for approx 1 and a half hours or until a point pushed in gentle springs back.
    2. When ready, knock the dough back and start forming shapes. The easiest is to make batons around 2cm thick. If feeling adventurous, try the traditional shape. Roll the dough out to be a long (40 cm) rope with the middle 5cm bulged to a diameter of around 3 cm, tapering to the ends being around 0.75 cm thick. Bring the two ends together about 5 cm in, overlap them, twist, and bring back to go over the main body. Almost like tying a knot. Leave for 30 minutes uncovered in a warm room to rise and develop.
    3. In the meantime bring the 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a large pot (around 20cm diameter) and add the baking soda. If you can find food grade sodium hydroxide (lye) use that at 3-4 tbs per litre, but be VERY careful and DO NOT let children near it. ALWAYS wear gloves and eye protection, or do as I do and go nowhere near it!
    4. Once the dough has risen, place the trays next to a cold window with some wind blowing. A fan can be used if there is no breeze. This develops a skin on the pretzels which gives that special chewy texture. Once done drop the shaped dough into the boiling solution (one at a time) until they float (about 5 second), fish out with a fish slice (or similar) and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with sea salt (lightly at first, you find your own taste preference later) and slash the dough to a depth of around 1cm in the thick part at the top-back. If you want to top with cheese, leave off the salt, and add the cheese once the pretzel is baked, so 5 to 10 minutes extra in the oven later.
    5. Add the baking sheets to the 200C oven for around 16 minutes, until a nice deep bready brown is seen on the pretzels. Don't go for gold or chestnut, go for brown, the flavour goes with it!
    6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. They taste good warm, but better when cooled and crisped. Great for eating with beer, on the go, with friends, or cut open and used as the base for cheese on toast.

Comments, questions and tips

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8th Apr, 2020
I've been making these pretzels for years, and this is the best recipe out there. Just like the ones I ate in Bonn! They turn out perfectly every time.
Tom Andjeri's picture
Tom Andjeri
24th Feb, 2020
Nope, lye is not optional... baking soda is not NEARLY enough base.
John Mitchell
13th May, 2019
Great recipe. But please-- there's a difference between your and you're! (BBC!!)
chris210's picture
25th Dec, 2019
Sorry, good food won’t let me edit the recipe and fix my bad grammer.
Heejeong Lee's picture
Heejeong Lee
2nd Sep, 2018
It was totally delicious❣️ Thanks for sharing the recipe!
chris210's picture
25th Dec, 2019
Glad you enjoyed
Grace Iris's picture
Grace Iris
12th Jun, 2018
This is not an “authentic” german “Pretzel”. First of all since it is written with a B and not a P and secondly there isn’t enough salt on the Bretzel. Thank you for your consideration Grace A concerned german
chris210's picture
25th Dec, 2019
Point taken. I made this recipe visiting Germany many times during its creation. The salt in the picture is very strong so I use less, although it was bought from Germany. Spelling is for British colloquial understanding. I didn’t use the caustic lye dip because it’s poisonous and off putting to many people; myself included.
11th Sep, 2016
Thanks for sharing this pretzel dough recipe. I followed yours exactly, and used a warm lye solution. They really turned out exactly as I was hoping, and, I thought the recipe was really easy. I'm making about 60 of these for an Oktoberfest party :) Prost!
chris210's picture
25th Dec, 2019
Glad they worked well. I’m too scared to use lye


Nelizza Zainal Abidin's picture
Nelizza Zainal ...
21st Aug, 2019
Is it 100 gram of flour or 1kg? Ingredients shows 1kg but in method only 100grams
chris210's picture
25th Dec, 2019
You need to make a yeast starter. Use 100g of the 1kg to make this. Then use the remaining flour when required.
10th Oct, 2016
Can you please tell me if any of this recipe can be done using a bread machine?
chris210's picture
25th Dec, 2019
You can do the kneeding in a machine, but the rest should be done by hand
19th Jul, 2015
Has anyone tried to freeze these at any point in the recipe?
24th Oct, 2013
I was just wondering how many pretzels does this make?
17th Feb, 2015
for me it made about 30-40 pretzel sticks witch are about a third the size so about 10 -15 pretzels if you make knots. also didn't see how old this post was but just in case you guys are still wondering.
16th Nov, 2016
If you do not want to use lye (and I've worked with Sodium Hydroxide for long enough to not want it in my kitchen) then there is an even better alternative than plain baking soda. Baking soda is Sodium Bicarbonate which breaks down with heat into Sodium Carbonate (soda ash) and carbon dioxide. Simply baking your Bicarbonate in a moderate oven for half an hour or so will convert it all to soda ash. Use a couple of heaped tablespoons of this in your boiling liquor and the results are pretty much indistinguishable from those of lye (which is only used commercially because it is a far cheaper way of achieving the alkalinity). I bake a whole tub of Sodium Bicarbonate at a time and store it back in its original container. Make sure you label this clearly - you DO NOT want to use it in your Victoria Sponge!
17th Feb, 2015
I Recomend just takeing 3 - 4 hours to rise and if you have a cold house or makeing it in winter, take your stove turn it on for 10 seconds or less everyonce in awhile so you dont kill the yeast and it stays warm. also the recipe went out of order a bit and told you to cool after kneeding. this was meant for after you dip the dough into the solution, and this makes that nice shell and brown. other then these few small things this recipe was great, i think i would have won a competition at my school if they had one!