Deliciously soft sourdough pretzels are the ultimate breakfast or lunchtime treat. Made with an unfed sourdough starter, these perfectly twisted pretzels can be served as an appetizer, or alongside a variety of dips. Find out how to make these gorgeous pretzels below.
Table of Contents
- Why Use Sourdough Discard?
- How to Make Sourdough Pretzels
- How to Shape Soft Sourdough Pretzels
- Why Should You Boil Sourdough Pretzels Before Baking?
- What to Serve With Sourdough Pretzels?
- Vegan-Friendly Sourdough Pretzels Recipe
- More Sourdough Pretzel Recipes
- Why Are My Pretzels So Dense?
- Soft Sourdough Pretzels
Why Use Sourdough Discard?
If you’re an avid sourdough baker, then you probably have a large jar of sourdough discard taking up most of the space in your refrigerator.
Sourdough discard recipes like this one will help lighten the load and make use of your wonderful sourdough starter discard, without having to dispose of it completely. This ensures minimal waste, through the production of delicious treats.
What You’ll Need For This Recipe
- Sourdough starter discard: For a quick and easy sourdough recipe, you can use a discard instead of a sourdough starter. The sourdough discard will ensure your pretzels impart a wonderful sourdough flavor, although the discard will not contribute to the rise in the dough.
- Commercial yeast: This will help your dough rise especially if you’re using a sourdough discard in this soft pretzel recipe.
- Flour: Both bread flour and all-purpose flour are good candidates for this sourdough pretzel recipe. Aim for flour that has 13% protein and below.
- Baking soda: This is an essential ingredient for homemade sourdough pretzels. Dunking your pretzels in a baking soda bath enables them to develop a unique color, and crispy exterior, with a soft and chewy interior.
- Butter: You can use melted butter with oil, or a combination of both. This helps create both flavor and sheen to your sourdough pretzels.
- Pretzel salt: You can top your homemade pretzels with anything you fancy, but I like to add a little pretzel salt, for extra flavor.
How to Make Sourdough Pretzels
These sourdough discard pretzels bring forth a beautiful brown color, with an incredibly soft and chewy interior, followed by a subtle hint of sourdough tang. Twist them into traditional pretzel shapes, for the ultimate snack-time treat!
Take a look at the recipe below:
For the pretzels
- 113g sourdough discard
- 280g bread flour
- 1 ⅛ tsp. instant yeast
- ½ tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. melted butter
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ to ½ warm water
- 5 cups water
- ⅓ cup baking soda
- 1 beaten egg mixed with water
- Pretzel salt (kosher salt, or everything bagel seasoning)
- Add 113g of discard into a stand mixer bowl. Add 280g of bread flour, followed by instant yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir thoroughly, then add the butter and olive oil to the mix. Add ¼ cup of water and stir, in an attempt to soften the dough. Continue to gradually add some water, one tablespoon at a time, until most of the flour has been absorbed and the dough isn’t extremely dry or sticky.
- Place the bowl of dough on a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and knead until the dough is nice and smooth, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This should take around 4 to 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let this sit in a warm spot in the kitchen until it has doubled in volume (45 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, Meanwhile, line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and spray this with cooking spray, or grease with vegetable oil. This will help prevent the pretzel dough from sticking.
- Add 5 cups of water and baking soda to a saucepan, and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Turn the dough, and shape it into a long rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 5 equal strips. Use your fingers to roll each strip to make a cylinder-like shape, then shape this into a pretzel. Set the shaped pretzels on the prepped parchment paper whilst waiting for the water to boil.
- Once the water begins to boil, gently lift the pretzel and drop them into the boiling water. boil the pretzel for 45 seconds, then lift the pretzel out of the bubbling eater, and set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat this process until the pretzels have been boiled.
- Use a pastry brush to spread the beaten egg and sprinkle some salt on the boiled pretzels.
- Bake your pretzels in the preheated oven, until they’re golden brown (12-14 minutes). Transfer the baked pretzels to a cooling rack for 5 minutes before serving.
If you prefer sweeter-tasting pretzels, then sprinkle your pretzels with a cinnamon sugar topping, instead of salt and bake.
How to Shape Soft Sourdough Pretzels
These sourdough soft pretzels can be quite tricky to shape at first, however with further practice, you’ll soon be able to create perfectly shaped pretzels, that you and your family will adore!
Start by dividing your pretzel dough into 80g pieces, then roll each piece into a 45cm long rope.
- Pull the ends of the dough rope upwards, with the left end resting beneath the right. It should look like a loose triangle.
- Now twist the end of the right rope, under the left once more.
- Pull the twist down, so that it sits at the base of the triangle, and the ends hang down slightly. You can either leave the tails hanging, or have them tucked for a more rounded pretzel shape.
Why Should You Boil Sourdough Pretzels Before Baking?
If you’re familiar with store-bought pretzels and their incredibly soft texture, you’ll understand why they’re so addicting! Boiling your homemade sourdough pretzels is an essential step in this sourdough pretzel recipe in order to achieve a brilliantly chewy crust, with a delightfully soft interior.
Traditional German pretzels are boiled in lye, but to make this recipe more home-kitchen friendly, I’ve decided to stick with the safest option which is baking soda. Baking soda helps your sourdough pretzel dough achieve a beautiful puffiness, with a unique crust color and chewy texture.
This means that the pretzel’s crust has already been set before it is placed into the oven, becoming chewier while baking.
What to Serve With Sourdough Pretzels?
Sourdough pretzels can be eaten like any other pretzel. Since these soft and chewy pretzels are laced with a subtle, yet flattering sourdough tang, they’re incredibly delicious when devoured on their own.
However, if you wish to conduct a flavor-filled experiment, then why not pair your delicious sourdough pretzels with some of the scrumptious options below:
Beer Cheese Dip
Looking for the perfect evening treat? Serve this beer cheese dip with a super-soft, homemade sourdough discard pretzel. Simply rip and dip your pretzel into ooey-gooey heaven!
If you ever run out of pretzels, don’t fret, because this cheesy dip tastes just as good with broccoli florets, toasted baguette slices, crackers, and so much more!
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ¾ to 1 cup milk
- ½ cup beer
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 oz. cream cheese
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Place butter and flour in a large saucepan. Heat the pan until the flour has dissolved into the butter and a thick paste has formed. Cook for another 20 to 30 seconds.
- Lower the heat to low, then add a dribble of milk, whilst continuously whisking the paste to loosen it. Repeat, until ¾ cup of milk has been poured in.
- Gradually add the beer, stir gently drop some cream cheese into the saucepan, until it has completely melted.
- Whisk in the mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt in the pan.
- Add shredded cheese, and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
- If the dip appears a little thick, then add another ¼ cup of milk to the saucepan.
- Pour the cheese dip into a serving dish and serve with freshly baked sourdough pretzels.
Hummus is another great dip for you to indulge in. It’s creamy, tangy, and incredibly delicious when paired with soft sourdough pretzels.
I like to dip sourdough breadsticks into a plate of fresh hummus, the flavors are particularly heavenly!
- 250g dried chickpeas
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 6 ½ cups tap water
- 310g whole brown sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 6 peeled cloves of garlic
- ½ – ¾ cup cold water
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2-4 tsp of your choice of spices (I like to use cumin, cayenne, coriander, cardamom, ginger powder, and turmeric)
- Place dried chickpeas in a large bowl and submerge in water for 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain the chickpeas and place them in a large pot. Add a sprinkling of baking soda and cook on medium heat for three minutes, whilst stirring continuously. Add tap water, and bring this to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Cook the chickpeas until their soft enough to squish between your fingers. Then drain.
- Once they’ve cooked, place the sesame seeds in a food processor. Turn the food processor on, and slowly add a drizzle of sesame oil, olive oil, and lemon juice. Turn off the processor and scrape any excess off the sides of the machine. Add the garlic cloves into the processor and blend. Add ½ cup of water, and process till the mixture has turned into a paste.
- Add the drained chickpeas, salt, and seasonings, continuing to process until thick paste forms. Remember to scrape down the sides of the processor if needed. If your hummus is too thick, simply add some more water to thin out the paste.
- Scoop out the hummus, and drop it into a large container. Place the hummus in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Top with chickpeas, fresh coriander, and chili powder. Serve with carrots, sourdough pretzels, sourdough naan, and more!
Vegan-Friendly Sourdough Pretzels Recipe
For all my vegan readers, this sourdough pretzel recipe is calling your name! These delicious pretzels produce light and fluffy treats, that are so good you won’t be able to stop eating them! Of course, you can simply follow the recipe outlined above, and swap out the ingredients for plant-based or vegan-friendly ones.
This recipe does not require a baking soda bath, simply because I wanted to try out a simpler version of the sourdough discard recipe. Before you ask, yes, these pretzels are equally as soft, however, you can certainly include a baking soda bath if you wish.
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard
- 2 ½ cups warm water
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ cup almond milk
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- sea salt or pink salt
- Combine yeast and almond milk in a small bowl, then set this aside.
- Add the remaining pretzel ingredients to the bowl, and use your hands to combine. Knead the dough until it has a smooth consistency, and forms a round ball.
- Place the dough ball into a lightly greased bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Set this aside for 45 minutes, and let the dough rise.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the dough onto a work surface and fold the dough a few times to deflate the air. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
- Roll the dough into a ball and then into a rope. The rope should be around 18-inches in length.
- Take the ends of the rope and crisis-cross them to make a loop. Twist the rope once more, then bring the ends back over the top of the pretzel and tuck them in.
- Place the pretzels, 2 inches apart, on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in water, and brush the tops of the pretzels with this mixture. Add a sprinkle of salt, then bake for 27 minutes.
More Sourdough Pretzel Recipes
The great thing about pretzels in general is that they’re extremely versatile. You can switch up your sourdough pretzel recipe in any way you like, and they’ll always impart impeccable flavors.
Sourdough pretzels can be used for breakfast sandwiches, as a dipping instrument, or as a sweet treat.
Take a look at some of the pretzel ideas below:
Sourdough Pretzel Bites
Sourdough pretzel bites are the perfect little bites to snack on, and they’re extremely versatile! Top these pretzel bites with sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning, coarse salt, or your favorite herbs and spices.
The best thing about these pretzels is that you don’t have to spend ages perfecting the pretzel twist because these are completely twistless!
Simply grab, dip and enjoy! Take a look at the quick recipe below!
- 1 cup sourdough discard (you can also use an active sourdough starter if you wish, but it will take longer!)
- 2 tsp commercial yeast
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. salt
- ⅓ cup baking soda
- Combine water and unfed sourdough starter and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Mix with a fork until well combined. Add flour, honey, and salt to the bowl. Turn the mixer on medium speed, and mix for 5 minutes until the dough forms a ball and doesn’t cling to the side of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and cut the dough into eight equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a log about 12-inches long. Cut the dough into 1 ½-inch thick pieces and place each piece onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water sprinkled with baking soda to a boil, and drop these pretzel pieces into the boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove the pretzel pieces from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Sprinkle some salt on the wet pretzel dough pieces,
- Bake the boiled pretzels for 15 minutes. Rotate the pieces halfway through the baking process.
- Serve and enjoy!
Dairy Free Sourdough Pretzel Buns
These sourdough pretzel buns are a super-soft and incredibly easy recipe, and the best part is, they’re dairy free! Pair these buns with your favorite grilled or fried meats, for a delightful evening treat.
- 1 cup sourdough discard
- 3 cups of flour
- ¾ cups water
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. agave nectar
- 1 pack of instant yeast
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. baking soda
- pretzel salt
- In a large mixing bowl, add sourdough discard, flour, water, olive oil, agave nectar, yeast, and salt. Stir the ingredients with a spoon, and knead for 5 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, and place this in a warm spot to rise overnight.
- After the first rise, knead the dough once again and divide them into 6 balls. Roll the dough balls in your palm to make a bun, and place the balls of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow the pretzel dough balls to rise for another half an hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
- Boil the dough for 45 seconds on each side, then place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Carve an X into the top of each bun, then sprinkle them with salt.
- Bake for 20-35 minutes.
Why Are My Pretzels So Dense?
Soft sourdough pretzels are chewy, albeit they must be light and airy on the inside, as opposed to dense.
The type of bread flour you use in your sourdough baking will heavily influence the outcome of your pretzels. Generally, both all-purpose flour, and bread flour are good choices of flour to use in this soft sourdough pretzel recipe. Any type of flour that is higher than 13% protein may result in a dense crumb.
Moreover, your sourdough pretzel dough must be puffy before they’re added to boiling water. They should look like twisted puffs of dough. If they’re not puffy, they will certainly emerge dense after baking.
Soft Sourdough Pretzels
Sourdough recipes like these are so delicious, they’ll make your moth water! And since sourdough discard pretzels are incredibly delicious, they’ll quickly become a staple in your household. If you’re craving a sourdough pretzel for breakfast, then gather your ingredients and start baking!
Can I Use Sourdough Discard Instead of a Starter?
You can certainly use your sourdough discard instead of a sourdough starter, though bear in mind that the discard is not active enough to make the bread dough rise.
Are Sourdough Pretzels Healthy?
Sourdough pretzels are definitely the perfect healthy snack. The vitamins and minerals present in the fermented dough are absorbed by your body, therefore making the pretzels easier to digest.
What Happens If You Bake Sourdough Discard?
The discard contains fermented flour which provides a unique sourdough flavor to your baked goods. Sourdough discard can often be used in recipes with no additional flour.
Are Pretzels Made of Sourdough Bread?
Pretzels aren’t made of sourdough bread, rather they are typically made from wheat or rye flour. Although they can also acquire a sourdough starter or discard in the recipe.