These Sourdough Soft Pretzels are so reminiscent of those ballpark pretzels. Not quite as big, but certainly big on flavor, texture, and salt!
Don't have sourdough starter? No problem! These soft pretzels can still be made with a simple substitution.
What Makes These Soft Pretzels so Good
Many soft pretzel recipes involve boiling the pretzels and/or multiple proofs of the dough. This recipe has one proof only and no boiling! Less mess and less time.
You gotta love that! This soft pretzel recipe also uses some sourdough discard. This is part of a sourdough starter that usually gets thrown away when the starter is fed or refreshed.
It's so sad throwing away starter, so I'm always on the lookout for great recipes in which to use it. In this case, the sourdough discard helps elevate the flavor of the pretzel.
It does not make the pretzels taste sour by any means. If you don't have starter and aren't interested in establishing one for this recipe, I have a tip below for substituting.
To Salt or Not to Salt
There's inevitably a big debate that ensues when soft pretzels are made and consumed. Salt or no salt. Now, lemme tell ya, I am a big lover of pretzel salt.
There is such a thing as too much of it, however, my threshold for the quantity of this stuff is pretty darn high.
I'm not exactly sure why this is either because growing up, my mom was ultra reserved when it came to using salt in her cooking.
We never had salt on the table and it was never something that was asked for when we ate out at restaurants either. My mom's cooking was, and still is, excellent - this is in no way a criticism, she's the best - love you mom!
But, my parents both don't like salt in their food. Which makes me wonder where I developed my love for salt.
Oh well, I suppose some things will forever remain a mystery! All I know is, I am definitely on #teamsalt. If you are on #teamnosalt, you can of course choose not to use salt. Or, you can just use salt sparingly.
Tips for Making This Recipe
- If you don't have a sourdough starter, you can buy one and start your own from somewhere like King Arthur Flour. Or, you can borrow some of a friend's starter. Or, you can omit the sourdough starter all together and substitute it with 4 ounces of additional bread flour plus 4 ounces of water
- Shaping a pretzel for the first time can be a bit intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually pretty straightforward. Here's a great quick video on how to do it. There are many methods, so feel free to try any of them to shape your pretzels
- This recipe calls for pretzel salt. Yes, there is such a thing. You can find it easily online, however, if you did not order in time, you can substitute for any coarse salt or even Maldon. I wouldn't use table salt, as it's too fine and will dissolve into the pretzels
- The recipe calls for brushing the pretzels at the end with butter as an option. It's not optional in my opinion. You should always brush them with melted butter. The butter makes for a perfect finish to these pretzels and enhances the flavor
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1 cup sourdough starter unfed/discard * (see substitution below)
- 3 cups bread flour
- ¼ cup nonfat dry milk
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- coarse pretzel salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter optional
- Prepare the Pretzel Dough: Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Grease the parchment with vegetable oil spray to make double-sure the pretzels won't stick. Mix and knead together all the pretzel dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a cohesive, fairly smooth dough. It should be slightly sticky; if it seems dry, knead in an additional tablespoon or two of water. Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes. It will rise minimally.
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, fold it over a few times to gently deflate it, then divide it into 12 pieces, each weighing about 2 ¼ to 2 ½ ounces. Roll each piece of dough into an 18" rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel.
- Dissolve the sugar in the water for the topping. Brush the pretzels with the solution and sprinkle lightly with coarse pretzel salt.
- Bake the pretzels for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're a light golden brown. (Note: This is correct; there's no need to let the shaped pretzels rise before baking) Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush with melted butter, if desired.
- If you do not have sourdough starter, you can omit it all together and substitute it with 4 ounces of additional bread flour plus 4 ounces of water
- Store pretzels loosely covered at room temperature for 2-3 days
- Recipe from King Arthur Flour
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