This post may contain affiliate links.Please read our disclosure policy.

These Bavarian pretzels are a very popular snack in Germany and perfect for your next Oktoberfest party! They taste delicious dipped in cheese sauce and are easy to make at home with simple ingredients. This authentic German Pretzel Recipe makes enough for a crowd as an appetizer.

A pretzel leaning against a bread basket, containing more pretzels with a white and blue dish towel in the background.

Pretzels are probably one of the most famous German baked goods! Making them at home is much easier than it seems if you follow my tips and tricks. They make a great snack with a layer of butter but also taste great the American-way dipped in cheese sauce or mustard!

German soft pretzels, called Brezeln or Brezen in Germany, are soft inside with a bread-like chewy texture and have a deep brown outside that comes from bathing in a lye or baking soda solution before baking. Bakeries use lye but using it at home can be dangerous because it burns skin and eyes so baking soda is a much safer way to achieve nearly the same results without the risk.

How to make German Pretzels

Homemade pretzels are so easy to make from scratch and taste like from your favorite German bakery. The dough is a simple yeast dough, that is shaped into pretzels, dipped into lye or baking soda, sprinkled with salt and baked to a golden brown.

Three pretzels on parchment paper.

How do you twist a pretzel

German pretzels are shaped a little bit different than American soft pretzels. The middle part is thicker and the ends thin out so that you have a really defined pretzel shape with three holes that doesn’t bake up into a big shapeless bun.

Start with a piece of dough and use your hands to roll it into a 16-inch long rope. The middle part should bulge to a diameter of about 1.2 inches (3 cm) and the ends should be thinned out to about 0.3 inches (0.75 cm) to get the perfect pretzel shape.

Pretzel dough rolled into a long sausage shape with a thick middle part on a silicon baking mat.Pretzel dough, after being twisted, is folded over, to press both ends of the sausage into the thick part of the dough, making the pretzel shape.

Next step is to bring the ends together to form a circle and then twist them.

Pretzel dough, after being shaped into a sausage shape, laid out into a ribbon shape on a silicon baking mat.

Twist them again.

Pretzel dough laid out into a ribbon and twisted around the point of contact once on a silicon baking mat.

And then fold them over and secure the ends on the bottom curve. Just press them into the dough. Transfer the shaped pretzels to a sheet of parchment paper and readjust the shape so they look like in the photo below.

Let them rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place but don’t cover them! You want the surface of the dough to dry out to get the perfect texture and prevent it from soaking up the baking soda (or lye) wash. When the pretzels have risen place them next to an opened window or outside for a few minutes so the surface dries out even more because of the breeze. You can also use a fan to achieve the same result.

Four pretzels on parchment paper before baking.

Now comes the step which gives the pretzels their famous brown look. Bakeries use a lye solution for this but working with lye is a bit dangerous. You would need gloves, protective goggles, and try not to get the powder anywhere. Because of that I much prefer to use baking soda.

It doesn’t work as effectively as lye and the pretzels will be a bit paler and not as shiny but in my opinion, they taste close enough to the original without the added risk. Following all the steps in my recipe will get you the same special texture authentic Bavarian pretzels have. That is also why my recipe uses part milk, part water. The milk helps to develop a browner surface.

After dipping the pretzels into the water bath put them back on the parchment paper and sprinkle them with salt. I have to admit I hate salt on my pretzels so I only use it very sparingly or not at all.

Before they go into the oven slash each pretzel with a sharp knife in the chunky middle part. This gives them the real-deal bavarian pretzel look!

Three pretzels on a dark blue surface.

Best ways to eat pretzels

In Germany, pretzels are often eaten as a quick snack. You can get them at every bakery and even at many service stations. Germans also love to eat their pretzels cut in half with a thick layer of butter and chopped chives on top. You have to try this combination!

Pretzels are also served with a Weißwurstfrühstück. That’s a special breakfast that’s popular in Bavaria but especially in Munich. It consists of a kind of white sausage that is served with pretzels and sweet coarse mustard. Sounds a little bit gross but tastes so delicious!

Not so fresh pretzels are also used as an ingredient for soup and pretzel dumplings.

Looking for more German Recipes?

Close-up of a pretzel leaning against a folded white and blue towel, with more pretzels in the background.

Tools used for making this Pretzel recipe:

Malt Extract: Malt extract adds sweetness and flavor. If you don’t have any on hand you can also use brown sugar to achieve a similar taste.
Lye: This food-grade lye (Sodium Hydroxide) is traditionally used to make pretzels, but you have to be very careful when using it because it is dangerous (you can also use it as a drain cleaner). I prefer using baking soda even so the result is not as great (not as deeply colored) but the pretzels taste like the real deal without the danger.



Follow Plated Cravings on Pinterest for more delicious recipes!

[social_warfare buttons=”Pinterest, Facebook”]

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you'll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
4.74 from 23 votes

Bavarian Pretzels Recipe

These Bavarian pretzels are a very popular snack in Germany and perfect for your next Oktoberfest party! They taste delicious dipped in cheese sauce and are easy to make at home with simple ingredients. This authentic German Pretzel Recipe makes enough for a crowd as an appetizer.
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8


For the pretzels:

  • 3/4 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup water, lukewarm
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar, or malt extract
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast, or active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp table salt

For the bath:

  • 4 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda


  • 2 Tbsp coarse salt


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment combine lukewarm milk, water, and brown sugar. Stir together with a fork then sprinkle instant (or active dry) yeast on top. Give it a swirl with the fork and let sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
  • In the meantime melt the butter over low heat, then let cool for a few minutes.
  • Add flour, melted butter, and salt to the bowl with the yeast and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover bowl with plastic wrap put it in a warm place and let the dough rise until doubled (about 1 hour).
  • Punch down the dough and divide it into 8 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a 16-inch (40cm) long rope, the middle part (about 2 inches or 5 cm) should be bulged to a diameter of about 1.2 inches and the ends should be thinned out to about 0.3 inches (0.75 cm).
  • Bring the ends together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends together twice then fold them down onto the bottom curve. Press ends into the dough and shape into a perfect pretzel shape.
  • Let the pretzels rise uncovered for 30 minutes in a warm place.
  • In the meantime preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C) with a baking sheet inside in the lower third.
  • Once the pretzels have risen, put them next to an opened window so the surface dries out and the pretzels develop a skin. This step is important for the texture.
  • Bring 4 cups water in a medium pot to a boil then add the baking soda. With a slotted spoon dip the pretzels one at a time carefully into the simmering water.
  • Take them out after about 5 seconds and place on a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and cut the dough with a sharp knife about 0.2 inches deep in the thick middle part at the top-back.
  • Transfer the parchment paper with the pretzels onto the hot baking sheet in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until nicely browned. You want them to be really brown and not golden.
  • Remove pretzels from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. If you want them to be shiny brush them with a little bit of melted butter.


Recipe updated 05/19/2020 (Amount of milk increased after reader feedback)


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 2888mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 125IU | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 2.3mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!



 If you’ve tried this or any other of my recipes, don’t forget to rate the recipe and to leave me a comment. I love hearing from you!

About Julia Foerster

Hi, I'm Julia! Born in Germany, I call Canada now my home and love to share my favorite dishes with you! Here you'll find hundreds of recipes, all made from scratch, with lots of tips and detailed step-by-step instructions.

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 4 stars
    Made these today. I agree you need to use less flour.
    It was a great Octoberfest recipe! My mom was German.
    I did it in her honor! I would love to go to Germany some time.
    Do you ever give travel advice?
    Thank you for your recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Just baked these today and they turned out perfect! Used the metric measurements and no issues at all. Loved the idea of baking in the bottom third because the bases turned out so delightfully crispy!

  3. good to share your pretzel experience/tradition. Maybe one day we’ll try…my partner is German-Canadian who probably wants hard crust finish….but I need to prevent the lye use.

  4. 5 stars
    I have never and didn’t think I could actually make homemade pretzels, but I tried this recipe and was truly delighted! Thank you for all the recipe and all the practical tips. These came out great! And were easier than I thought.
    Great texture inside and out, and delicious flavor. Making them for an Oktoberfest.
    Question, how best to store them and for how long will they last? (I know they are best warm out of oven : )

    1. Thank you for your comment, Christine! You can store them in a paper bag for 1-2 days. They will get soft on the outside but you can crisp them up in a preheated oven or Air Fryer at 350 degrees F for about 3-5 minutes and they will taste similar to fresh from the oven. I just did that for lunch today!

  5. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe 100% Meaning everything. No twists, timings exactly like they are in the recipe.

    Pretzels turned out really good. I had no problems whatsoever due to dough sticking to baking paper. Or problems during shaping the pretzels.

    Actually this dough is wonderful and easy to work with. Taste…yup…all thumbs up for that. Only few things what I will change for next batch:

    I would make 12 not 8 Pretzels out of this recipe and I will make them much thinner – they are really growing up in oven. And I might put some egg wash on them prior oven.

    Having said that – really good recipe, works great, dough does not stick to baking paper / baking board, taste is wonderful and all given times are correct.

    9,9 out of ten.


    1. You should really try to use the lye bath instead of baking soda. I have been making Pretzel for years with food grade lye and they look and taste so much better. Yes, you need gloves and you need to cover your table and make sure to use parchment paper on the cookie sheets. I never use goggles or masks. With a little common sense there is no danger. So worth it.

  6. 5 stars
    I love them! So soft and tasty. I would’ve liked them a bit more crispy but they were still delicious and perfect!

  7. I just couldn’t resist. I used KA bread flour, soy milk, plant based butter and dry malt extract. The dough was a bit stiff but, small addition of H20 while kneading helped. I shaped them following instructions from ‘My German Recipes’ and flipped them end over end in the soda bath and baked them on ‘Sil Pat’. They turned out so beautiful!

  8. Thanks for sharing your Recipe. Mine turned out very hard, and I’m not sure where I went wrong. The only thing i can think of is when i let the dough rise the only warm place i had was the garage and it tripled in about 45 min. Other than that, maybe my electric oven cooks hotter? The ones in the back did turn brown, and the ones in the front were golden after 20 min. All were too hard though. Any suggestions?

    1. Sorry, this happened, Mike! Sounds to me like the pretzels were over-proofed. If the dough triples in size it has proofed too long. Instead of getting airy in the oven, they will deflate and get hard. You might also want to check your oven with a thermometer and rotate the pan if you know that your oven is hotter in the back.

  9. It says instant yeast in the ingredient list and in the instructions it says active dry yeast. Which one is correct??

    1. Because the yeast is dissolved in liquid in this recipe it works with both. But thank you for catching this I will edit the recipe card.