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Soft German Pretzel Recipe (without Lye)

Soft German Pretzel Recipe (without Lye)

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While I’ve always known that German Pretzels exist, I had them at Fairs or Karneval and such,  it wasn’t until I went to Munich that I discovered just how central Soft German Pretzels are to daily life in Bavaria. This isn’t just Oktoberfest Food… Soft Pretzels are found in the Bread Basket … right along side the Brötchen and Roggenbrot! BAM! An eye opener! You can serve PRETZELS with butter! and maybe some Aufschnitt or Obatzda Beer cheese, and you have a meal instead of mere tasty snack. Still, knowing this, and recreating a German Pretzel Recipe at home sounded difficult, especially since there are some techniques and ingredients that aren’t generally in my wheelhouse.

National Pretzel Day is April 26th


recipe soft german pretzels

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After a lot of recipe testing, I think I’ve got it worked out this soft German Pretzel recipe ticks all the boxes. Soft with a bit of crunch to the crust, chewy, flavorful and great tasting plain or covered in butter! The ONLY thing missing is that mysterious tang that you get from the Lye bath, but even the substitute I used comes close. Honestly,  I am too much of a klutz in the kitchen to attempt working with caustic substances (case in point, I made these pretzels with a glove on because I cut myself washing dishes last week and I’m still recovering) (ok, and can I just say, kneading dough with an injury covered by a glove is less than ideal). Also, I really wanted to use a recipe that had ingredients you find in the average kitchen. I did do some research, and found an alternative that comes close. Baked Baking Soda. It sounds nutty, but one German Baker says she BAKES her baking soda for a while and it changes the chemical composition. Hmm. Why not try it? It seems to work ok.

recipe soft german pretzels

So… whether you are hosting an Oktoberfest gathering, or you just feel like having some delicious fresh German Pretzels at Brotzeit, or you REALLY just want a pretzel… why not give this recipe a try?

Recipe Soft German Pretzels

recipe soft german pretzels

This recipe makes up 8 decent sized pretzels (about 6 inches across). Double it if you want more. They are best the day you make them, but you can freeze them airtight for up to 2 months. (If you freeze them, let them thaw on the counter IN the container or bag you froze them in… then maybe pop the THAWED pretzels into a 350 oven for 3 or 4 minutes)

recipe soft german pretzels

I made these pretzels so often, we ran out of Pretzel Salt. Luckily, you can do as I did… sprinkle on cheese before baking, or better yet, sprinkle with cheese and cubes of smoked ham. Swoon. We also tried Pumpkin Seeds (hey, it’s great for Brötchen). Some people swear by cinnamon sugar…. clearly, there are a lot of ways to go with Pretzels.

Looking for more German Recipes? Here’s my Easy German Cookbook!

80 Classic German Recipes made simple for the American Kitchen!

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recipe soft german pretzels

Baked Baking Soda

If you prefer making your pretzels with Lye, please, go right ahead. I just didn’t feel comfortable, and really didn’t want to buy another ingredient that wouldn’t get used up for my kitchen. After researching a bit, I read about a Baker who uses BAKED Baking Soda. Sounds odd, but it’s actually a thing. Turns out, when you bake baking soda, you change its chemical composition to Sodium Carbonate, which is used as a cleaning ingredient… and can be toxic if you just decide to spoon it straight to your mouth (please don’t). Basically… you end up with a chemically basic white powder that is water soluable… so it dissolves in boiling water. The basic quality is what transforms the crust of the pretzel!

Spread 1/4 cup of Baking Soda in a baking dish (non-metallic). Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Set aside until cool.
Now it’s ready to use.
(You can make more and store the extra in an airtight jar.)

For the recipe, I found 10 cups of water to 1/4 cup of Baked Baking Soda or Sodium Carbonate, is perfect.

You can make more than just 1/4 cup at a time. It stores well in an airtight jar. Please LABEL it, so no one accidentally sprinkles it on cookies.

Need Pretzel Salt?

Hoosier Hill Farm Coarse Pretzel Salt (5 pounds)Hoosier Hill Farm Coarse Pretzel Salt (5 pounds)Hoosier Hill Farm Coarse Pretzel Salt (5 pounds)King Arthur Pretzel Salt - 8 oz.King Arthur Pretzel Salt – 8 oz.King Arthur Pretzel Salt - 8 oz.

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How to make German Pretzels

Start the Yeast with Warm Water, dry Yeast, Brown Sugar and Bread Flour

recipe soft german pretzels
Get the yeast going!

Knead the Dough 10 Minutes, then Set aside in a Bowl to Rise 1 Hour

recipe soft German Pretzels

Divide Dough into 8 Pieces

recipe soft german pretzels

Pull/Roll the Pieces into Strands… you may have to do this a few times, slowly, to get the right length.

recipe soft german pretzels

Twist to Pretzel Shape then let rise 30 minutes

recipe soft german pretzels

Bring Water and Baked Baking Soda to a Boil… Carefully lower your twisted pretzels into the bath. Boil on each side for 30 seconds

recipe soft german pretzels

Let sit 5 minutes after boiling, then sprinkle with topping of your choice

recipe soft german pretzels

recipe soft German pretzel

Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Then Rotate and bake 10 minutes more.

recipe soft german pretzels

Finish Cooling on a Rack

recipe soft german pretzels


EAT!  (Best on day they are made…. and SUPER when still Warm)

recipe soft german pretzel


How to Twist a Pretzel

Now, his pretzels are a lot bigger than mine (and clearly more professional… ) but you can see how it works.



recipe for soft german pretzels



  1. Thank you for testing and then sharing this. It is probably a revelation to many Americans that proper prezel making does NOT invole a deep-fryer and grease.
    I will try this out myself after the Fall holidays!

  2. I’ve been making pretzel rolls for our traditional Christmas Eve Dinner for the last 35 years using just baking soda and have never heard of baking it. I will certainly try that and see if it makes a difference.


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