The Most Flavourful Sourdough Pretzels with Rye and Stout Beer.

These sourdough pretzels are super soft on the inside, crisp on the outside and have a rich flavour from the rye with added depth from the stout. Pair with a grainy mustard, American-style hot cheese, whipped butter with herbs and garlic, or your favourite dip!

Sourdough Pretzel

My First Real Pretzel

I absolutely love sourdough pretzels. The first time I ever had what I consider to be a true German pretzel was on a family trip to Germany. We travelled to Freiburg so that I could have a chance to work alongside German Master Baker Michael Shulze at Baeckerei Pfeifle. Pretzels are so popular, as you can see in the picture below there are even pretzel designs in the walkways.

I grabbed the pretzel and it was truly life changing. A bit of salt on the base, crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The only thing that was missing was a German pilsner.

Upon my return to Canada I was determined to make the perfect pretzel. Every time I made pretzels, whether with sourdough or yeast, I always found something was lacking. Perhaps its the flour, the ambiance or maybe it was all in my head but I continued to search for a better tasting pretzel.

The idea for the rye and stout sourdough pretzels came to me by my friend and amazing baker Martin Philip. If you don’t know Martin he is a phenomenal baker and currently the head baker at King Arthur Flour Bakery in Vermont. The use of whole grains and stout give these sourdough pretzels enough flavour to stand up on their own or pair with a myriad of different dips.

Flour Specs:

I’ve always preferred doughs that are made with whole grains. Not only are they healthier but the taste is always better with the inclusion of whole grains. For this sourdough pretzel we are using rye but einkorn, spelt and other heritage grains will work (although slightly different hydration).

  • 50% Organic Bread Flour – 12.4% protein
  • 50% Fresh milled rye
  • Fresh milled hard red spring wheat – for the levain.

For this recipe I milled my own rye flour (check out my guide to milling here), but you could use any whole grain rye flour. If you wanted a lighter taste you could do 25% rye flour or use a medium rye but I prefer to use the whole grain.

Sourdough_Pretzel

Sourdough Pretzels Specs

Yield12 X 115 gram loaves
Total dough weight1380 grams
Pre-Fermented Flour7.75%
Levain % in Final Dough26%
Total Hydration48%

If you’d like to scale this recipe, you can do so easily with my sourdough pretzels dough calculator. This sheet will help you change the total amount of pretzels, the size of the sourdough pretzels and even the percentages of beer, water, levin or salt. This will help you customize the recipe to your environment (it’s also a great way to support the blog!).

Sourdough Pretzels Video

In this video I am making a yeasted pretzel but the overall process is the same. I wanted to share this to show how I safely dip sourdough pretzels. I will be uploading new versions of some of the old videos and new content on YouTube in the coming months. Make sure to subscribe if you want to catch all newest content.

Useful Tools and Ingredients

Rye Sourdough Pretzels Dough Schedule

In an effort to make these recipes easy to follow I have added dough schedules. For these sourdough pretzels I have added two schedules. One uses an overnight levain and the other is a young same day levain. Both will yield similar results, just use whichever fits your schedule best.

This schedule will be added shortly.

Total Formula

WeightIngredientBakers %
420 gramsOrganic bread flour54%
10 gramsWhole wheat flour1.8%
366 gramsWhole rye flour44.6%
161 grams Beer, dark stout17.8%
265 gramsWater35.2%
15 gramsSalt1.8%
63 gramsLevain, ripe1.8%
22 gramsHoney2.7%
59 gramsButter, room temperature7.1%
For the Lye Dip
1000 gramsWater, room temperature
40 gramsLye, food grade

If you’d like to make this recipe without the beer, simply sub water for the beer.

Sourdough Pretzel
Photo: Alex Nirta

Mix the Sourdough Pretzels Levain – 10:00am

WeightIngredientBakers %
54 gramsOrganic bread flour85%
10 gramsWhole wheat flour15%
63 grams Water at 26°C/80°F100%
63 gramsLevain100%
Total: 190 grams

I have had good success when using both an overnight and a quick levain. If I am going to be doing the final ferment in the fridge overnight I prefer to use the young levain and if I want to do a same day pretzel I prefer to do the overnight levain. If you’d like to make sourdough pretzels with an overnight levain you can drop the levain percentage to 10% (6.3 grams) and allow it to rise for 10-12 hours instead of 4.

Start by adding the water to your jar or container followed by the levain and both flours. Mix well to incorporate all ingredients fully. Cover and let stand in a warm place until ready, about 4 hours.

Sourdough Pretzel Levain
The ripe levain ready to be mixed.

Mix the Dough – 2:00pm

WeightIngredient
366 gramsOrganic bread flour
366 grams Whole rye
161 gramsBeer, dark stout
201 gramsWater
15 gramsSalt
190 gramsLevain, ripe
22 gramsHoney
59 gramsButter, room temperature

Using the bowl of a planetary style mixer add the levain followed by the water and beer. Add the rest of the ingredients on top. Mix the dough on first speed for 3-4 minutes. Stop the mixer, cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. Switch the dough to second speed and mix for another 3-4 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place in a warm place.

Desired Dough Temperature – 27°-28C/80-82°F

Sourdough Pretzel

Bulk Fermenation 2:15pm – 5:45pm

Bulk ferment the dough for 3.5 hours. Half way through the bulk fermentation flip the dough onto an un-floured work surface and fold the dough by bringing all the corners into the middle. After folding, place the dough back in the bowl seam side down and cover.

Divide and Preshape 5:45pm

Sourdough pretzel dough is a dry dough and it is important to keep it covered when you are not working with it. If the dough develops a skin it will make it very difficult to roll out. I also don’t use any flour for either step of shaping as the flour will prevent the dough from sticking to the table and rolling out properly.

Divide the dough into 110-115g pieces. Flatten the pieces and roll the dough up pressing it into itself until you have a little log. Roll the log to 12.5cm/5″ with slightly tappered ends. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Final Shape – 6:00pm

Roll the sourdough pretzel log into a 62cm/25″ log with tapered ends OR with little bulbs on the end. I like to roll them with tapered ends but traditional pretzels have the little bulbs (see the German pretzel above).

Shape the dough into a traditional pretzel shape and place onto a baking sheet lined with silicon baking mat or lightly sprayed parchment paper. Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes if doing an overnight ferment OR 30 minutes if doing a same day bake. If you will be making the sourdough pretzels the same day after 30 minutes skip straight to the dipping step.

An easy way to shape the sourdough pretzels is to pull the middle down toward yourself. Cross the arms and then flip the loop over to create the knot. Finally bring the arms down and cross over the pretzel.

Cold Fermentation and Final Proof 6:30pm – 9:30am the next morning

To place the doughs in the fridge overnight I like to put another empty sheet pan flipped over on top of the tray of sourdough pretzels. Cover the tray with a bag and place in the fridge. By using the sheet pan stack method you can stack more trays and don’t have to worry about the bag touching the surface of the dough.

Before you dip the pretzels remove the bag and second tray and allow the pretzels to rest uncovered for 15-20 minutes. This will dry out the surface and make them easier to dip, handle and bake.

Dip the Sourdough Pretzels in Lye 9:50am

For the Lye Dip
1000 gramsWater, room temperature
40 gramsLye, food grade
Depending on how many pretzels you are making you can change the amounts. I use a 4% lye (lye to water) solution when dipping pretzels.

Lye is also known as sodium hydroxide and is a strong alkali. On it’s own it can be toxic and corrosive so please be careful when using. Changing the ph. on the surface of the sourdough pretzels can accelerate the mallard reaction (non-enzymatic browning) and create the pretzel we all know and love.

If you don’t want to use lye you can also use baking soda. If you are using baking soda, bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add 110g baking soda. Blanch the pretzels for about 10 seconds per side, drain and bake.

Note: Please use extreme caution when using lye. Gloves, safety glasses

10 Tips for Dipping Sourdough Pretzels

  1. Source some good food grade lye. Make sure you follow your local guidelines and use caution when working with lye. If you can’t get lye you can use a baking soda solution (although it’s not quite the same).
  2. Use a silpat or some lightly oiled parchment.
  3. Chill your pretzels well in the fridge or freezer after shaping but before dipping as this will make them incredibly easy to handle and dip.
  4. Make sure the kids are in bed or the pets are in another room when you set up your lye dipping station.
  5. Cover the table well as you don’t want to drip anything on your table when you are dipping.
  6. ALWAYS add the lye to the water and not water to lye as you don’t want to splash this around.
  7. Wear gloves and goggles/eye protection when dipping.
  8. As soon as you finish dispose of the lye based on local regulations. Here I pour down the drain and run water immediately after. This will clean my drain at the same time as disposing of the solution.
  9. This type of pretzel doesn’t have an amazing shelf life and they are best eaten warm so make sure to eat them ASAP (don’t forget to save one for the kids).

Baking 9:50am – 10:20am

Sourdough pretzel
  • Preheat the oven to 232°C/450°F.
  • After dipping the sourdough pretzels and allowing them to drain place them on a sheet pan lined with either a silicone baking mat or a lightly oil sprayed parchment paper.
  • Place the pretzels in the oven and allow to cook for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

Sourdough Pretzels Final Thoughts

What’s not to love about sourdough pretzels? Overall this is a great spin on the classic white flour pretzel. A lot more flavour from the stout and the rye flour and a great way to get more whole grains into your baking.

Sourdough Pretzels

Other Sourdough recipes

For more sourdough formulas, check out some of my other sourdough recipes like my 50% whole wheat sourdough or my 100% whole wheat sourdough recipe.

If you like baking with rye as much as I do check out my rye chocolate cake or my sourdough brownies recipe.

Sourdough Pretzels Recipe Card:

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Sourdough pretzel

Full Flavour Sourdough Pretzel, Made with Rye and Stout.

  • Author: Matthew James Duffy
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Baking
  • Method: Sourdough
  • Cuisine: German

Description

These sourdough pretzels are super soft on the inside, crisp on the outside and have a rich flavour from the rye with added depth from the stout. Pair with a grainy mustard, American-style hot cheese, whipped butter with herbs and garlic, or your favourite dip!


Ingredients

Scale

For the levain:

  • 54 grams organic bread flour
  • 10 grams whole wheat flour
  • 63 grams water 26°C/80°F
  • 63 grams levain

For the dough:

  • 366 grams organic bread flour
  • 366 grams whole rye
  • 161 grams beer, dark stout
  • 201 grams water
  • 15 grams salt
  • 190 grams levain, ripe
  • 22 grams honey
  • 59 grams butter, room temperature

To dip the pretzels:

  • 1000 grams water, room temperature
  • 40 grams lye, food grade

Instructions

For the levain:

  1. Start by adding the water to your jar or container followed by the levain and both flours.
  2. Mix well to incorporate all ingredients fully.
  3. Cover and let stand in a warm place until ready, about 4 hours.

To mix the sourdough pretzel dough:

  1. Using the bowl of a planetary style mixer add the levain followed by the water and beer.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients on top. Mix the dough on first speed for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stop the mixer, cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Switch the dough to second speed and mix for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place in a warm place.
    Desired Dough Temperature – 27°-28C/80-82°F
  6. Bulk ferment the dough for 3.5 hours.
  7. Half way through at about the 1.75 or two hour mark give the dough a fold.
  8. Divide the dough into 110-115g pieces.
  9. Flatten the pieces and roll the dough up pressing it into itself until you have a little log.
  10. Roll the log to 12.5cm/5″ with slightly tappered ends. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
  11. Roll the sourdough pretzel log into a 62cm/25″ log with tapered ends OR with little bulbs on the end. I like to roll them with tapered ends but traditional pretzels have the little bulbs (see the German pretzel above).
  12. Shape the dough into a traditional pretzel shape and place onto a baking sheet lined with silicon baking mat or lightly sprayed parchment paper.
  13. Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes if doing an overnight ferment OR 30 minutes if doing a same day bake. If you will be making the sourdough pretzels the same day after 30 minutes skip straight to the dipping step.
  14. Place the doughs in the fridge overnight.  Cover the tray with a bag and place in the fridge.
  15. Uncover the pretzels and leave them in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before you want to dip and bake them. 
  16. Carefully dip the pretzels in lye (see the above notes AND video for full instructions). 
  17. Preheat the oven to 232°C/450°F.
  18. After dipping the sourdough pretzels and allowing them to drain place them on a sheet pan lined with either a silicone baking mat or a lightly oil sprayed parchment paper.
  19. Place the pretzels in the oven and allow to cook for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

Notes

  • Source some good food grade lye. Make sure you follow your local guidelines and use caution when working with lye. If you can’t get lye you can use a baking soda solution (although it’s not quite the same).
  • Use a silpat or some lightly oiled parchment.
  • Chill your pretzels well in the fridge or freezer after shaping but before dipping as this will make them incredibly easy to handle and dip.
  • Make sure the kids are in bed or the pets are in another room when you set up your lye dipping station.
  • Cover the table well as you don’t want to drip anything on your table when you are dipping.
  • ALWAYS add the lye to the water and not water to lye as you don’t want to splash this around.
  • Wear gloves and goggles/eye protection when dipping.
  • As soon as you finish dispose of the lye based on local regulations. Here I pour down the drain and run water immediately after. This will clean my drain at the same time as disposing of the solution.
  • This type of pretzel doesn’t have an amazing shelf life and they are best eaten warm so make sure to eat them ASAP (don’t forget to save one for the kids).

Keywords: sourdough pretzels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

You May Also Like