Bavarian Pretzels

These soft, chewy pretzels are made the traditional Bavarian way with a lye water bath to give the crust its distinctive brown color and flavor.

Bavarian Pretzels

  • Servings: 10-12 servings

The secret to an authentic Bavarian pretzel is lye. Yes, the same stuff that’s in your bar of soap. But don’t worry, the lye used to make pretzels is a safe, food-grade lye solution. It’s what gives the pretzel its distinct texture, color, and flavor. This recipe, courtesy of Executive Chef Colin MacLaggan of Ballast Point Brewery, will guide you through the process of making your own Bavarian pretzels at home.


  • 2 oz dry yeast
  • 1 qt warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1½ tbsp sugar
  • 4 lbs all-purpose flour
  • Pretzel salt


  • To make the lye solution, add a little bit of lye at a time to the hot water. Follow instructions on the box, and wear protective gloves and eyewear at all times.
  • Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add sugar. Add flour in thirds. Mix in a stand mixer with a hook attachment for 8 minutes.
  • Place dough in a buttered bowl, turn over, butter all sides, and cover loosely with plastic. Let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 minutes.
  • Punch the dough down. Divide into pieces and roll out ropes. Twist into the classic pretzel shape. Rest on buttered parchment paper.
  • Wearing rubber gloves, and using tongs or a large spatula, dip the pretzel in the lye solution.
  • Place pretzels on silpat mats or buttered parchment paper on stainless-steel baking sheets. Sprinkle pretzels evenly with pretzel salt.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • MacLaggan suggests buying food-grade lye (called food-grade hydroxide lye micro beads) from Essential Depot on Amazon and using rubber gloves and eye protection.
  • If your oven has a convection cooking option, use it. If not, then MacLaggan suggests rotating your pans midway through the cooking process to ensure even baking.
  • MacLaggan recommends mustard and beer cheese as sides for pretzels.