Soft Pretzels - German Bretzen

"Bretzen" are a traditional soft pretzel that is often sliced in half and buttered, as a breakfast treat. These bring back my memories of my childhood, living in Bavaria. If you have a stand mixer, with a dough hook, you can mix the batter in 10 minutes! One hour later, you roll the dough into a rope, shape them, dip them in boiling water (with baking soda) and then bake them to a golden brown. I skip adding the butter, and opt for a cold beer. Prost! This recipe comes from Alton Brown (Food Network).

Traditional, classic soft pretzels.

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Traditional, classic soft pretzels.

  • Prep Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings



  • cups warm (110°F to 115°F) water

  • 1

    tablespoon sugar

  • 2

    teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1

    package active dry yeast

  • 22

    ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4½ cups

  • 2

    ounces unsalted butter, melted

  • Vegetable oil, for pan

  • 10

    cups water

  • cup baking soda

  • 1

    large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)

  • Pretzel or kosher salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper DO NOT USE WAX PAPER- it will smoke! and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Don't worry, they will sink to the bottom then float back to the top. If they fall apart in the water, just quickly reshape them when you place them back on the parchment. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


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