Sourdough Pretzels

filed under: Bread · Food + Drink on April 3, 2020

Sourdough Pretzels are homemade pretzels made with your sourdough starter and sprinkled with your choice of sweet or savory toppings. For another delicious recipe using your starter, try my  Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls!

Sourdough Pretzels

Soft pretzels are one of my favorite snacks to order at a ballgame. Well, there are no ballgames going on right now, so of course, I am craving what I can’t have. Then, I noticed the sourdough starter I had finally mastered and had an idea to make a sourdough pretzel.

They took a little time because you have to let the dough rise for a couple of hours, but they were so worth it, especially with the many toppings you can add to the pretzels.


Sourdough Pretzels in a Basket Sprinkled with Salt

Sourdough Pretzels Recipe

Once you have your sourdough starter ready to use, you can make these Sourdough Pretzels. If you are using sourdough discard, make sure you have about 2 cups to use.

There are three parts to this recipe–the pretzel dough, boiling the pretzels, and the optional toppings and dipping sauce.

Pretzel Dough Ingredients (full recipe below)

Pretzel Boiling Ingredients

  • Water
  • Baking soda

Sea Salt Topping

  • Egg (for egg wash)
  • Sea salt

Garlic Parmesan Sourdough Pretzels

Garlic Parmesan Topping

  • Egg (for egg wash)
  • Garlic salt
  • Onion powder
  • Parmesan

Cinnamon Sugar Sourdough Pretzels Stacked on Counter

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • Egg (for egg wash)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

Cheddar Cheese Sauce Ingredients

  • Whole milk
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Ground black pepper

Sourdough Pretzel Dough

Begin by warming up the milk until it’s warm to the touch. Then, mix the milk in with the butter, sugar, and the sourdough starter. Add in the flour and mix it on low for about 5 minutes. Gently scrape the dough out of the bowl and place it into a separate bowl that has been coated with oil. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours.

After the 2 hours, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for a couple of minutes. Then, separate the dough into 12 sections. Roll each section out into a long rope (about 30 inches). You are shooting for about 1 inch in thickness. Shape each rope into a pretzel and put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before you boil them. Now would also be a good time to preheat the oven to 450°F.

Sourdough Pretzels Being Dipped in Water and Sprinkles with Sea Salt

Boiling and Baking the Pretzel Dough

After the pretzels have cooled in the freezer, you will drop the pieces into a boiling combination of water and baking soda.  Drop a few in at a time, and only for about 30 seconds, or until they float to the top.  Have a slotted spoon handy for easy removal.  Place the boiled dough back onto the baking sheets lined with parchment. Brush the tops with the egg wash and your choice of topping combinations. Bake them for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool before eating them. They will also soften a bit as they cool. Enjoy!

Basket of Sourdough Pretzels with Cheese Sauce in Background

How to Make a Sourdough Starter

For these pretzels, you just need to make it to the day when you begin removing half the starter (around day 3). Then, you can add it to your recipe. But, make sure you have enough discard (if using that) when you make these–it takes 1 1/2 cups of the starter.

To begin, add 1/2 cup flour and 1/3-1/4 cup water to a jar and stir well. Then, gently cover the jar (do not seal it closed) and let it sit in a warm place (70°F is best) for 24 hours. The best option for a cover is a paper towel and rubber band. Or, just remember to keep the jar lid loosely sealed. Try to keep it in an area of your house that is somewhat warm. Very cool rooms tend to slow the action of a starter. Wait 24 hours before checking the mixture.

Day 2: After 24 hours, check the mixture for bubbles. If you see bubbles, add the flour and the water, mixing it well, and let it sit for the next 24 hours. If you don’t see bubbles, do not get discouraged! It sometimes takes a couple of days for the science of it all to work. Just wait another day (or even two) until the first feeding (adding flour and water).

Day 3: After another 24 hours, check for bubbles. If you do see bubbles, remove half of the starter, add the 1⁄2 cup flour and 1⁄4-1/3 cup water and stir thoroughly. Let sit 24 hours. Oh, and don’t get rid of the starter you removed! You can use this for these pretzels (if you have enough)! And, now that you have been successful in feeding the starter, don’t stop now!

On days 4, 5, 6 you can feed it 2 times a day with the flour and water. Continue this routine (from Day 3; discard then feed) until the starter is consistently bubbling and doubling in size within 8 hours of each feeding.

Overhead Image of Sourdough Homemade Pretzels with Cheese Dipping Sauce

How to Make Cheddar Cheese Sauce

With a saucepan and ingredients that you probably have on hand, you can have some ooey-gooey cheese sauce ready to go and use as a dip for the pretzels. To make the sauce, combine 1/4 cup of the milk and flour in a saucepan. Stir it with a whisk, and then add the rest of the milk and salt. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring a few times. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple of minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from the heat to stir in the cheese and pepper until the cheese melts. Yes, you do need to remove the saucepan from the heat when stirring in the cheese. If you leave the sauce over the heat, the cheese will curdle and you will not get that creaminess that you would expect. This cheese dip is a perfect dipping sauce for the sourdough pretzels!

Dipping Homemade Sourdough Pretzel into Cheese Sauce

Looking for More Sourdough Recipes?

Now that you know how to make a sourdough starter, it would be a shame not to use it! I have quite a few recipes to try using the starter.

Easy Sourdough Brownies

Sourdough Popovers

Simple Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Banana Bread

4.85 from 13 votes
Sourdough Pretzels
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 55 mins

Use your sourdough starter to make these soft Sourdough Pretzels that go perfectly with sweet or savory toppings and dips.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Sourdough Pretzels
Servings: 12
Calories: 181 kcal
Author: Amanda
  • 1 cup (245g) milk, warmed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • cups (339g) sourdough starter, discard or fed
  • 4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour
  • 12 cups (839g) water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt (can start with 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (can start with 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon grated parmesan
  • 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cup sharp shredded cheese, shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In the microwave, warm up the milk.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the warm milk with the butter, sugar, and sourdough starter.

  3. Add the flour and turn the mixer on 1-2 (never higher than 2 or medium-low) and let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes.

  4. Turn off the mixer and scrape the dough into a medium bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic and set aside for about 2 hours while the dough rises.

  5. After 2 hours, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently knead the dough for a couple of minutes.

  6. Separate dough into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces into 30 inch ropes (about 1 inch thickness).

  7. Shape each rope into a pretzel and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets. Put them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before the water bath.

  8. Preheat the oven to 450°F while the pretzels are in the freezer.

  1. In a large stockpot, add water and baking soda. Cook over high heat. Once water is boiling, place 4 of the pretzels into the water. Remove with a slotted spoon after about 30 seconds (or after they have floated to the top) and place the pretzels back onto the lined baking sheets to add your choice of topping.

  1. Brush dough lightly with egg wash and sprinkle your choice of topping on top of each pretzel.

  2. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool before serving.

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup of milk and the flour.

  2. Pour in the remaining milk and salt, bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently.

  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will start to thicken.

  4. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese and pepper until the cheese melts.

Recipe Video

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  • Nancy La says:

    Hi! I’ve finally got a reliable starter and tried making these pretzels however the dough would not rise, not even a little bit. Would using lactose free milk have made a difference? Any additional tips or can I make pretzels with dried active yeast?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Hi Nancy – The best piece of advice I have gotten on bread is “watch the dough not the clock”. Meaning… the dough will tell you everything you need to know about how well the recipe will turn out. If it is not rising it may need a “re-knead” with a little flour as well as more warmth when rising. Try turning on your oven on the lowest setting and placing a oven-safe thermometer inside. Turn the oven off and when it hits 80 degrees, place the dough inside to proof. That should get it where you need it!

  • Amee says:

    Hi, could I use almond milk?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      I have not tested this recipe with almond milk so can’t speak to its effectiveness.

  • Kate Valdez says:

    Hello! For warm milk for the pretzel dough – can i use powder milk dissolved in warm water? I don’t have fresh milk with me right now.

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Kate! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not tested the recipe with powdered milk, but you could try it dissolved in water for sure! Generally, 1/3 cup powdered milk + 1 cup water = 1 cup fresh milk. Have a great day!

  • Leah B says:

    I’ve made many pretzel recipes and this one turned out by far THEEEE best. I can’t believe I’ve never tried the freezing trick, it was magic. I was so excited to use my sourdough starter in a new way and it did not disappoint. SOOO GOOD!

  • Greg says:

    Just want to say this was great! I made 6 with salt and 6 cinnamon/sugar and it was easy, fun and tasty!

  • Chef steph says:

    My son and I tried out this recipe today! Marvelous! We did cinnamon sugar (his favorite), salted, garlic Parmesan, and a couple with hidden valley ranch seasoning! Sooo good!

  • Marta says:

    Thank you so much! I was kind of worried as they looked a little dodgy when I was shaping them, however I needn’t have been! The end results were phenomenal and I’m so pleased. First time pretzel maker and convert!

  • Beatrice says:

    Hi! Can I use bleached all-purpose flour for this recipe?

    • Amanda Rettke says:


  • Amy says:

    I love how much of the discard starter this recipe uses and no addition of more yeast. I love plain pretzels and would add more baking soda into the boiling water solution next time.

  • cc says:

    I don’t have a stand mixer, only hand mixer. Can i use this to mix the ingredients?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      I would recommend kneading by hand if you do not have a stand mixer.

  • Barbara Fagundes says:

    Can I make them the in advance then boil and bake the following day?

  • Leslie says:

    The pretzel flavor is great and they aren’t dry like some recipes ive tried. However they stuck badly to the parchment paper when they were baked. I had to peel the back of off them to save anything edible. Im not sure what I did wrong.

  • Raissa says:

    Do you happen to know what the macros are for these?

  • Ridhi Jain says:

    Hello, can u please help me with the starter quantity in grams please? I make a 100% hydration levain with my starter and use that for my sourdough boules

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Ridhi! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. You would need about 339 grams of sourdough starter for this recipe. Have a great day!

  • Brittany says:

    Hello! We have made these pretzels twice and they turned out fantastic both times. Would it work to make them (not boil or bake them) ahead of time, and then boil and bake them the day of serving? Thank you!

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      You could do that! I would refrigerate the dough then let it come to room temperature before boiling. 🙂

  • Michelle Meeks says:

    I have NEVER been successful with getting a sourdough starter to start. I finally did and made these! Good lord!
    I did have to knead the dough longer because I didn’t knead it long enough. I froze the pretzels overnight night and boiled and baked the next day. I wish I could post a pic. They are amazing!

  • Bobbie says:

    I made the sour dough starter and made the sour dough bread, the sour dough banana bread and NOW the pretzels. Getting ready for 10 inches of snow here in Wisconsin. These recipes are terrific. No problems with any of them. Thank you!

  • Elaine says:

    These were a huge hit. They were all gone in a couple of hours.

  • Nadia says:

    Thank you for a wonderful recipe!! Will be my go to pretzel recipe! It was recommended on a FB Sourdough Group I follow and I am glad I tried it. I did use almond milk as that is what I had in the house and it worked out well. 🙂

  • Wendy Shade says:

    These were fantastic! We tried all three toppings. I made exactly as written and the dough is beautiful to work with. The second batch I brushed melted butter on the pretzels hot out of the oven. Sinfully delicious! Thank you!

  • Johanna Meier says:

    My dough is very stiff before the first rise, is this ok?

  • Bernadette says:

    Amanda thank you for all your wonderful recipes!! I’m a beginner Baker! Just started my starter sourdough on Sept 10th so far so good!! So exciting to see bubbles( who knew)!! Can’t wait to try your recipes with my finished product!! I live in Colorado in the mountains having propane and High altitude is a challenge but one excepted!!

  • EmilyC says:

    Wow these are amazing soft pretzels! At first I didn’t think I had the dough consistency right but I just kept chugging right along. Boy did they turn out great! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

  • Yehudit : ) says:

    I wanted to share my success story ! First of all I used coconut oil instead of butter and I used almond milk instead of regular milk, I allowed the dough to rise on the counter for 2+ hours ( it didn’t double in size as it was a cool eve)and then refrigerated it overnight. It had about doubled in size after that. I then formed pretzels and froze them for 5+ hours before boiling and baking-They came out super awesome!

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