Quick Sourdough Pretzel Recipe

There's nothing quite like a big, soft, delicious pretzel, similar to the kind you get at a German beer garden or at the state fair. But for a really flavorful pretzel, you've got to start with sourdough, and as we all learned after long months of lockdown during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, sourdough doughs take a super long time to be ready. Right?

Well, it does not have to take that long, according to recipe developer Autumn LeAnn. She's figured out the perfect way to make a quick sourdough pretzel recipe with all the flavor and texture of the real thing — and it all starts with a packet of instant sourdough. 

"Instant sourdough is extremely easy to use," LeAnn explains. "It's similar to a packet of instant yeast, but it also contains sourdough cultures (which help give your baked goods that coveted sourdough flavor without needing a live sourdough starter)." The result is a soft, tender pretzel with a lightly chewy consistency that you're sure to love that's ready in record time.

Gather the ingredients to prepare this quick sourdough pretzel recipe

In addition to being quick, this sourdough pretzel recipe also boasts a short ingredients list! To start, you will, of course, need instant sourdough. This is sold in packets similar to regular yeast, so it should not be difficult to find.

You'll also need a good amount of water — some for the dough and some for the baking soda soak just before baking. Combined with an egg wash, the soak will help give the pretzels that glossy finish you know and love.

You'll also need flour, table salt, and a touch of sugar for the dough, as well as coarse salt for sprinkling over the top of each pretzel. That's it! The ingredients list is really simple, and once you have it all together you can move onto the next step.

Make the dough

To make this quick sourdough pretzel recipe, begin by preheating the oven to 425 F. Next, prepare the baking dish by lining it with parchment paper.

With the pan prepped and the oven heating, you can now turn your attention to the dough. You're now going to pour the packet of instant sourdough into the 1 ½ cups of warm water, and stir until totally dissolved. Next, stir in the salt and sugar. Finally, add the flour bit by bit, stirring until it is fully incorporated. Pretty simple stuff, right?

Knead and rest the dough

Once the dough for this quick sourdough pretzel recipe has come together, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead it for about five minutes, or until thoroughly mixed. This will help encourage the formation of gluten, which contributes to that coveted chewy texture you want in your finished pretzel.

When the dough is nice and smooth, cover it with plastic wrap or a towel, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. You can use this time to bring the water for the baking soda soak to a boil for your next step.

Divide and roll out the dough

Once the dough has rested, it's time to divide it into pretzel portions — eight of them, to be precise. Each needs to be rolled into a long rope in order to form a pretzel. 

"I found that lightly forming the dough balls into log-like shapes first, then holding the ends and sort of swinging it back and forth gently was the best method for me to get them long enough," suggests LeAnn. With her baking experience, it's no wonder that LeAnn is a practiced dough whisperer. She also notes, "When forming your pretzels, pay attention to the dough." It will tell you if you're rushing it! 

"If it keeps springing back to its original shape," LeAnn cautions, "it probably needs to rest longer." If you encounter this issue, just give it a few more minutes, and try again. Unlike with a cake batter, you don't really run the risk of overworking your pretzel dough.

Form the dough into pretzel shapes

Pretzels aren't quite pretzels without their distinctive shape! The time has come to give these bad boys their final form. Twist them into a pretzel shape (this video from Canadian Living is a great how-to), taking care to press the ends in so that they don't unravel while baking.

That being said, if you're having a hard time making them into exactly the shape you want, LeAnn says that it's not a problem. "There are so many cool ways to twist the pretzel dough," she says, "so don't worry too much about getting it 'perfect.'"

Soak the pretzels

Next up, it's time to soak the pretzels in their baking soda soak — a slightly safer but no less effective stand-in for the more traditional lye soak used in Bavaria. To make it, simply stir the baking soda into the boiling water, and then, using a slotted spoon, carefully dip each pretzel into the mix. Lift it back out and drain well before placing on the prepared baking sheet. 

"Be careful not to soak each pretzel for too long," cautions LeAnn. "It can leave an icky metallic taste!" Continue dipping until all of the pretzels have had their bath.

Bake the sourdough pretzels

The time has come to bake the quick sourdough pretzel recipe ... or nearly. First, you'll need to brush each pretzel in egg wash to help it turn out super brown and lovely. Beat the egg in a bowl, and then use a pastry brush to coat each pretzel lightly and evenly. Sprinkle with coarse salt, and then bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

These pretzels can be enjoyed either warm or cool, but LeAnn recommends eating them the same day they're baked. That being said, she notes, any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. "After that, they just get too tough and are no longer 'soft' pretzels," she notes.

Pair them with yellow mustard, cheese sauce, or whipped cream cheese ... or just enjoy them all on their own — with or without a mug of beer! This recipe is sure to be an all-time family favorite.

Quick Sourdough Pretzel Recipe
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Pair these sourdough pretzels with yellow mustard, cheese sauce, or whipped cream cheese ... or enjoy them all on their own — with or without a mug of beer!
Prep Time
Cook Time
quick sourdough pretzel recipe
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water for dough + 5 cups water for baking soda soak
  • 1 packet (0.63 ounces) instant sourdough
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • coarse salt, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F, and prepare your baking pan by lining it with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Pour the packet of instant sourdough into the 1 ½ cups of lukewarm water, stirring until completely dissolved. Add the salt and sugar, and stir to combine. Mix in the 3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour bit by bit until fully incorporated.
  3. Turn the pretzel dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for about 5 minutes, until thoroughly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. While the dough is resting, bring the 5 cups of water to a boil.
  5. Cut the dough into 8 even pieces, and begin rolling out into long rope-like pieces. If the dough springs back too much to roll into ropes, let it rest for a few more minutes.
  6. Twist the dough ropes into pretzel shapes, pressing the ends in to ensure the pretzel doesn't break apart while baking.
  7. Stir the baking soda into the boiling water, then dip each pretzel into the mix with a slotted spoon for about 20 seconds each. Let the water drain off of each pretzel, then place on your prepared baking sheet.
  8. Beat the egg in a bowl, then use a pastry brush to lightly and evenly coat each pretzel.
  9. Sprinkle each pretzel with the coarse salt, and then bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Remove the sourdough pretzels from the oven, and enjoy them warm or cool.
Calories per Serving 220
Total Fat 1.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 23.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 44.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Total Sugars 1.8 g
Sodium 1,913.0 mg
Protein 6.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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