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Sourdough Soft Pretzels

Sourdough Soft Pretzels have a wonderful flavor and chewy bite. Just when you thought homemade soft pretzels couldn’t get any better, they do! 

sourdough soft pretzelsI’ve made soft pretzels several times over the last year or so and didn’t really plan on posting another pretzel recipe just yet. But I recently made some terrific Sourdough Soft Pretzels which I baked in a 185 year old wood-fired oven and wanted to share it with you.

Don’t worry, you don’t need a wood-fired oven to make these pretzels!

sourdough soft pretzelsMy sourdough starter has been wonderfully active lately and I’ve been making all sorts of new recipes that go well beyond a loaf of bread, including Sourdough Donuts & Sourdough Bagels. So I thought, why not use the starter to make the pretzel dough?

If you don’t have one, check out my post to learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter. Then check out my system to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter or you can learn How to Keep a Small Sourdough Starter

This is a 2 day recipe because I don’t use any commercial yeast in the dough, just the starter. But the vast majority of the time is hands-off.

I like to start the dough in the afternoon/evening of day 1 and then roll the pretzels the next morning. Because it is a soft dough, it’s easiest to roll while it’s still cold.

Watch the video in my Sourdough Focaccia post to see how to turn the dough on the first day. It’s exactly the same process with the pretzel dough.

If you work on this schedule you’ll have fresh hot pretzels by early afternoon. The baked pretzels freeze really well. Just pop them in the oven to re-warm before eating.

We ate these Sourdough Soft Pretzels with my Jalapeño Cheddar Dip, only this time instead of a fresh jalapeño I made the sauce with chopped up Pickled Jalapeños. YUMMMMMY!

So here you go, my favorite new pretzel recipe!

sourdough soft pretzels

Sourdough Pretzel dipped in picked jalapeno cheese sauce.

Watch the recipe video to see how to make Sourdough Soft Pretzels.

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

sourdough soft pretzels

Sourdough Soft Pretzels

Yield: 12 Pretzels
Prep Time: 1 hour
Rising Time: 12 hours
Bake Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 14 minutes

These big, soft-pretzels have an extra special flavor and texture because they're made with sourdough starter.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz, 300 ml) warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups (17.5 oz, 490g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 quarts (2 liters) water
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 oz, 70 g) baking soda (for boiling)
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked
  • salt and seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine the starter and water in the bowl of a stand a mixer with the paddle attached (or mix by hand).
  2. With the mixer running on low add 2 cups of the flour and mix to form a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and add the sugar, salt and remaining flour. Knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. The dough will clear the bowl and cling to the hook after kneading. If mixing by hand knead the dough hand for 5 minutes, sprinkle with extra flour as you knead if required.
  4. Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl and set aside at room temperature.
  5. After 30 minutes uncover the bowl, lift one side of the dough and fold it into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. You're basically turning the dough inside-out to redistribute the yeast. Cover the bowl and after 30 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure again.
  6. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes turn the dough one more time. By now the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Make the Pretzels (Day 2)

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and coat the parchment paper with vegetable oil.
  2. Turn the cold dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rope. Using flat hands, roll the dough back and forth moving your hands in opposite directions from the middle of the rope towards either end. If the dough gets sticky dip your hands in flour and continue. The dough should stick to the surface just a little so that the friction will allow you to pull the dough into a long rope. The longer and thinner the rope the more open the pretzel shape will be. Try to get the rope to about 20"-24"
  3. To form a pretzel lift the dough rope on either end and allow the middle to sit on the surface, forming a "U" shape. Twist the ends of the rope together 2x and fold the twist over and rest on the center of the "U". Lift the pretzel by the two top loops and place on the oiled parchment paper.
  4. Cover the tray with oiled plastic wrap and set aside to for 1 hour to bring the dough to room temperature.
  5. Combine the 2 quarts of water and baking soda in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Preheat the oven to 450°F convection or 475°F regular.
  6. Drop the pretzels into the boiling water for 10 seconds, flip and boil another 10 seconds. (I can fit about 3 at a time in my pot, don't overcrowd the pan). Set the boiled pretzels back onto the baking sheets (lined with oiled parchment).
  7. Brush each pretzel with egg white and sprinkle with coarse salt and/or seeds of your choice. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Turn the sheets halfway through baking so they brown evenly.
  8. They're best eaten warm from the oven. They also freeze really well.

Notes

This is a 2 day recipe because there is no commercial yeast in the dough, but most of the time is hands-off.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Wendy

Friday 3rd of September 2021

I’ve been making Alton Brown’s soft pretzel recipe for a few years now and we love them. I’d like to try your sourdough ones but I live at 7200 ft and know that the altitude can mess up sourdough baking. Do you have any suggestions about doing this recipe at high altitude?

Kieren Bremner

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

@Eileen Gray, the main thing for me at altitude I've found is the effect on the hydration of the dough. I find the hydration needs to be a little higher for the same result, but its best to experiment with smaller percentage increases and work your way up. But I am trying your recipe now and kept the hydration as is. The dough is a little firmer than I am used to, but it came off the sides of the bowl and onto the dough hook as described so I'm holding thumbs for a good result!:)

Eileen Gray

Saturday 4th of September 2021

Sorry, I don't have any experience with high altitude baking. Can anyone else help?

Nina

Thursday 26th of August 2021

I have been using 120 grams as the metric weight for flour for all of my recipes since I started baking bread a little over a year ago. I think it is so much easier to weigh ingredients instead of measuring and I don’t have to wash the measuring cups! I see that you use 140 grams as the metric weight for flour, so I am not sure which weight to use when making your sourdough pretzels. I use King Arthur flour and they use the 120 grams. I am wondering if I should start with the 120g and then if the dough looks too wet, just add more flour. Any suggestions?

Nina

Friday 27th of August 2021

@Eileen Gray, Thanks. I appreciate your quick reply. I was actually in the process of making a batch when I posted the question so I went ahead and started with the smaller amount but ended up with about what your recipe called for (140g). I didn't actually measure what I added. The dough was so lovely and when I took it out of the refrigerator in the morning it was full of bubbles. The pretzels got rave reviews from my husband and I agree. I will definitely make this recipe again and just start with the 140g.

I just recently found your website and I have really enjoyed your recipes. I also love the details of your instructions and all of your information about sourdough. There is a lot of information out there about sourdough and over the year and a half that I have been working with it I have read a lot of confusing and conflicting information. Yours has been very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us!

Eileen Gray

Thursday 26th of August 2021

Hi Nina. You are right that weighing ingredients is easier and more accurate than using cups. That being said, the weight of a cup of flour is not an absolute. It depends on how the person doing the measuring fills the cup. I use the "dip and sweep" method to fill the cup. That is, I dip the cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess flour. Using this method I consistently get 5 oz per cup (140g) for ap and bread flour. If you spoon the flour into the cup you're likely incorporating more air and the cup of flour will weigh less. Different bakers use different methods. Always follow the recipe weights as written since the recipe writer will have tested the recipe using their own method for measuring the flour.

Diane

Monday 21st of June 2021

Am I wrong in thinking that this recipe uses sourdough discard?

Todd

Saturday 14th of August 2021

@Diane, where did she mention using discard? The recipe clearly says the starter is used.

Diane

Thursday 1st of July 2021

@Eileen Gray, unfortunately, this and many other recipes on the internet claim in the description to use to sourdough discard, only to find the actual recipe uses the starter.

Eileen Gray

Monday 21st of June 2021

"Active" sourdough starter means a starter that has been fed and is ready to use. Discard is what you have before you feed the starter.

Caroline

Wednesday 26th of May 2021

What kind of seeds do you recommend using?

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 26th of May 2021

Anything that you like. I often use just coarse salt, but I've also used an "everything bagel" mix.

Jess

Friday 23rd of April 2021

Any idea how long I could leave the dough in the fridge? Yesterday should have been the shaping and baking day. Thanks.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 24th of April 2021

You can keep the dough refrigerated for 2-3 days.

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