Sourdough Soft Pretzel Bites: A Recipe from the Farm

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by TheFarmChicken

sourdough pretzels with a dipping sauce

Chewy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside, these soft sourdough pretzel bites are the perfect appetizer. Serve them to family and friends, have them on a movie night, game day, or while you are swinging on the front porch. These Sourdough Soft Pretzel Bites: A Recipe from the Farm are the perfect appetizer or snack.

I experimented a fair amount with this recipe. From using a lot of baking soda (like more than a half cup) in the water, to seeing if brown sugar in the water made any difference in browning, to dipping the pretzels in a cold baking soda water bath and trying an egg wash on them. The high concentration of baking soda to water gave beautiful browning but oh boy! The pretzels, though still edible, were very bitter. The cold water and baking soda bath didn’t really add any browning to the pretzel.

In the end I have found that doing 4 cups water to 2 tablespoons baking soda is the best…. without using lye of course. (We’ll talk more about lye and pretzels below.) This ratio gave a beautiful browning and flavor without leaving the pretzels bitter. The egg wash was a nice addition if you wanted a nice shine to your pretzels, but you can easily skip that step and still get a great result. Enjoy!

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inside texture for sourdough pretzel bites

The Ingredients for Sourdough Soft Pretzel Bites:

Active Sourdough Starter

This recipe uses an active sourdough starter. You want it to be nice and bubbly and doubled before you start using it. A lot of recipes for pretzels use commercial yeast but using active sourdough starter gives these pretzels a depth of flavor and digestibility that commercial yeast doesn’t.

Need a sourdough starter? Check out Learning Sourdough with Agnes to learn how to make your own sourdough starter from scratch.

Distilled or Filtered Water

Always remember to use distilled or filtered water when working with active sourdough starter recipes. Water with chlorine…like tap water can kill the active natural yeast in your starter. This can leave you with more dense bread.

Bread Flour or High-Quality All-Purpose Flour

I like using bread flour for the main part of this recipe, but you could also use a high-quality all-purpose flour if you would rather do that.

Whole Wheat Flour

I like adding a little bit of whole wheat flour to this recipe. It adds some color and a deeper flavor.

Unsalted Butter

You will want to use unsalted butter if you can in this recipe. If you don’t have any you could substitute salted butter but be sure to cut back some of the kosher salt in the pretzel dough.

Kosher Salt

There is just a little salt in these pretzels. Sprinkling them with salt you don’t need a lot in the actual dough recipe.

close up of salted pretzel bites on plate

Some Pretzel Facts:

  • In general, a pretzel dough is not sweetened but instead is enriched with butter.
  • Germany is the known country where pretzels originated.
  • One of the biggest differences between the German Pretzel and the more American version is the lye used.
  • Lye is a caustic substance that is mixed in water (not boiling) and used to dip the unbaked pretzel in.
  • Dipping the pretzel in lye helps it go under the Maillard reaction when being baked. The Maillard reaction creates flavor to foods and browning.
  • Pretzel dough is a very low hydration dough.

Why Boil the Pretzel Bites?

Two reasons:

  1. It helps you get a beautiful brown exterior.
  2. Texture. Boiling the pretzel bites for a brief time leaves them with an irresistible chewy texture.

Dipping Sauces to Try with your Pretzels:

  • Chick-fil-a Sauce
  • Nacho Cheese Sauce
  • Beer Cheese Dip
  • BBQ Sauce
  • A Dijon Mustard
  • Honey Mustard- Did you know you can make honey mustard dipping sauce at home?
  • Sweet Icing found in this recipe – especially good on the cinnamon sugar pretzel bites.
cinnamon sugar pretzel bites close up

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pin image for sourdough pretzel bites

Sourdough Soft Pretzel Bites: A Recipe from the Farm

Pretzel Dough Ingredients:

  • 180g active sourdough starter
  • 325g distilled or filtered water, room temperature
  • 650g bread flour or high-quality AP flour
  • 30g whole wheat flour
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 12g kosher salt
  • Optional Pretzel Salt or a Course Salt like Sea Salt for Sprinkling

Baking Soda Boiling Bath:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 T baking soda

Optional Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T water

Cinnamon Sugar Option:

  • 4 T unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions for Making the Dough:

To start in a large mixing bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer weigh out the starter and water using a kitchen scale. Mix this together to form a slurry. Then add in the flour and butter. Using the dough hook attachment, Danish hook, or your hand mix to form a shaggy dough, about a minute.

Let this autolyse (rest) in the bowl for 30 minutes. Then knead on low speed or by hand for 6 minutes.

After you are done kneading the dough let the dough rest again for another hour and then perform one set of stretch and folds before covering the dough with plastic wrap and placing it in the fridge.

How to Do a Stretch and Fold:

Take one side of the dough with both hands and pull upward and fold to the center. Then take and repeat that on all four sides of the dough.

The dough can do its bulk fermentation and proof in the fridge for 8-12 hours or overnight.

Shaping the Dough:

The next day take the dough out of the fridge and using a clean kitchen shears, flatten the dough ball and cut the dough into 8 pieces.

Take a piece of dough at a time and roll it on a clean work surface. Roll them into a short log. Once you have all eight pieces roll into a log let them rest for 10-15 minutes.

After the rest take a log at a time and roll them until they are about 30 inches long. You want them to be fairly thin and very long. Repeat with all 8. Place them all on a large, parchment lined, baking sheet to rest for 1 hour and rise.

Boiling and Baking the Dough:

When the hour is up, prepare, in a large pot, the boiling water and baking soda. Then preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While you are waiting for the water to boil simply take your kitchen shears and cut the logs into equal pieces about 1-2 inches in length.

When the water has boiled using a slotted spoon work in batches placing the pretzel bites in the boiling baking soda water and then removing them, after 30 seconds, onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Depending on the size of your baking sheet you may need to bake them on two sheets or two separate batches. Once they are done boiling, brush the pretzel bites with egg wash (optional) and sprinkle them with pretzel salt or sea salt. (I don’t salt the pretzel bites that will be used for cinnamon sugar pretzel bites.)

Egg Wash: If you are doing the optional egg wash, prepare it by whisking the egg yolk and water in a small bowl. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the pretzels with the egg wash before sprinkling with salt.

Bake at 425 degrees on convection if you have it for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and with a turner transfer the pretzel bites to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce or once cooled make them into cinnamon sugar pretzel bites.

To Make Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites:

Take and melt the butter and toss to coat the pretzel bites in melted butter first and then in a shallow bowl of cinnamon sugar. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy! You could even make an icing to dip the cinnamon sugar pretzel bites in. Yum! Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

Makes about 120 pretzel bites.

The Process of Making Pretzel Bites in Pictures:

Sourdough Soft Pretzel Bites: A Recipe from the Farm

Soft and pillowy on the inside and nicely browned and chewy on the outside. These sourdough pretzel bites are the perfect snack or appetizer.
Print Recipe
close up of salted pretzel bites on plate

Ingredients

Pretzel Dough Ingredients:

  • 180 g active sourdough starter
  • 325 g distilled or filtered water room temperature
  • 650 g bread flour or high-quality AP flour
  • 30 g whole wheat flour
  • 75 g unsalted butter softened
  • 12 g kosher salt
  • Optional Pretzel Salt or a Course Salt like Sea Salt for Sprinkling

Baking Soda Boiling Bath:

  • Baking Soda Boiling Bath:
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 T baking soda

Optional Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T water

Cinnamon Sugar Option:

  • 4 T unsalted butter melted
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

Instructions for Making the Dough:

  • To start in a large mixing bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer weigh out the starter and water using a kitchen scale. Mix this together to form a slurry. Then add in the flour and butter. Using the dough hook attachment, Danish hook, or your hand mix to form a shaggy dough, about a minute.
  • Let this autolyse (rest) in the bowl for 30 minutes. Then knead on low speed or by hand for 6 minutes.
  • After you are done kneading the dough let the dough rest again for another hour and then perform one set of stretch and folds before covering the dough with plastic wrap and placing it in the fridge.

How to do a Stretch and Fold:

  • Take one side of the dough with both hands and pull upward and fold to the center. Then take and repeat that on all four sides of the dough.
  • The dough can do its bulk fermentation and proof in the fridge for 8-12 hours or overnight.
  • The next day take the dough out of the fridge and using a clean kitchen shears, flatten the dough ball and cut the dough into 8 pieces.
  • Take a piece of dough at a time and roll it on a clean work surface. Roll them into a short log. Once you have all eight pieces roll into a log let them rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • After the rest take a log at a time and roll them until they are about 30 inches long. You want them to be fairly thin and very long. Repeat with all 8. Place them all on a large, parchment lined, baking sheet to rest for 1 hour and rise.
  • When the hour is up, prepare, in a large pot, the boiling water and baking soda. Then preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While you are waiting for the water to boil simply take your kitchen shears and cut the logs into equal pieces about 1-2 inches in length.
  • When the water has boiled using a slotted spoon work in batches placing the pretzel bites in the boiling baking soda water and then removing them, after 30 seconds, onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Depending on the size of your baking sheet you may need to bake them on two sheets or two separate batches. Once they are done boiling, brush the pretzel bites with egg wash (optional) and sprinkle them with pretzel salt or sea salt. (I don’t salt the pretzel bites that will be used for cinnamon sugar pretzel bites.)
  • Egg Wash: If you are doing the optional egg wash, prepare it by whisking the egg yolk and water in a small bowl. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the pretzels with the egg wash before sprinkling with salt.
  • Bake at 425 degrees on convection if you have it for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and with a turner transfer the pretzel bites to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce or once cooled make them into cinnamon sugar pretzel bites.

To Make Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites:

  • Take and melt the butter and toss to coat the pretzel bites in melted butter first and then in a shallow bowl of cinnamon sugar. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy! You could even make an icing to dip the cinnamon sugar pretzel bites in. Yum!
  • Makes about 120 pretzel bites.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
Servings: 120 pretzel bites

I hope you enjoy these Sourdough Soft Pretzel Bites: A Recipe from the Farm. They make the perfect snack and are yet another great grocery store swap. With a shorter ingredient list, cheaper to make at home and the sourdough flavor, these really are a great option. It’s hard to beat homemade pretzels! I’d love to hear how you liked them. Comment below with any questions or leave a review. Thank you for stopping by TheFarmChicken.

Sincerely,

Mariah Nienhuis | TheFarmChicken

Other Sourdough Snack Recipes to Try:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can you use this recipe for regular soft pretzels too?

Yes, you can follow the same recipe, but you will shape the pretzels differently and they may need to be baked slightly longer. I have a regular soft pretzel recipe coming soon.

Why use baking soda instead of lye?

Lye is hazardous and can cause mild chemical burns. While this is the way to make a traditional German pretzel it is much simpler to use baking soda and the results are still delicious.

How to reheat sourdough pretzel bites?

If you want to reheat your leftover pretzel bites, I recommend placing them in a 400-degree oven for 5 minutes until heated through. You can also microwave them, but they may not have as nice of a texture when microwaved.

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