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Soft Rye Pretzels

Yield: Yields 12 pretzels

These pretzels are soft, chewy, and flavorful, with a slight sourness that comes from boiling the pretzels in a baking soda bath. The baking soda also gives the pretzels their traditional dark mahogany color. Be sure to boil only a few pretzels at a time and to use the bath for only a single batch of the recipe–otherwise the baking soda water reduces too far and leaves a metallic bite to the dough. A simple dusting of sea salt, especially flaky Maldon salt, is the best to finish these.

This recipe is excerpted from Good to the Grain. Read our review.


  • 2Tbs. unsalted butter, melted, for the bowl and the baking sheets

For the dough:

  • 1  package active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt

For the bath:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

To finish:

  • Coarse sea salt, such as Maldon


  • Measure the yeast into a large bowl. Heat 1-1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan over low heat to a temperature that is warm to the touch, about 100°F, and pour it over the yeast. Add the honey and stir to combine. Add the flours and salt and stir again.
  • Dump the sticky dough onto a floured surface and knead. Add up to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, as needed, until the dough is tacky but not sticky. Knead for about 12 minutes, or until the dough is soft and supple.
  • Lightly brush a large bowl with melted butter. Using a dough scraper, scrape the dough into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise for about 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • While the dough is rising, place two racks at the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Brush two baking sheets generously with butter.
  • Once the dough has doubled, gently pour it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Take each piece of dough and roll it into a snake about 17 inches long, with thinly tapered ends. Don’t flour your surface as you roll; the slight stickiness enables you to roll the dough out evenly and quickly. Form the dough into a pretzel shape by folding onethird of the left side over the center of the snake, and then one-third of the right side over the left. Place the shaped pretzels onto the prepared baking sheets. Let the pretzels proof (rise) for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, for the bath, fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Once the pretzels are proofed and the water is boiling, add the baking soda to the water.
  • To poach the pretzels, lift 2 or 3 pretzels, depending on the surface area of your pot, into the bath. Boil each side for 30 seconds, use a strainer to remove the pretzels, pat any excess water with a towel, and transfer them back onto the buttered baking sheets. Boil the remaining pretzels. Sprinkle liberally with salt.
  • Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The pretzels should be dark mahogany in color. Transfer them to a rack to cool.

    good to the grain

Make Ahead Tips

These pretzels are best eaten the day they’re made, ideally within the hour.

Serve a basket of the pretzels with a pot of whole-grain mustard.


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