If you’re in the mood for a soft, buttery pretzel, look no further than this Easy Bavarian Pretzel Recipe.
This recipe couldn’t be any easier with absolutely NO YEAST required!
If you make one recipe from my blog, let these Bavarian Pretzels be it.
What are Bavarian Pretzels?
Bavarian Pretzels are yeast-risen German soft pretzels that are dark and slightly crispy on the outside with a soft & chewy interior.
Their signature shape has the bottom of the pretzel nice and thick to achieve a soft & delicate center, with the rest of the pretzel being thinner and slightly crispier.
So, that’s exactly what we are going to mimic here!
Other than the unique shape, there isn’t too much difference between a Bavarian Pretzel and a classic soft pretzel that you may be used to.
How do you achieve a true soft pretzel texture?
Traditionally, soft pretzels are made with lye to get that dark exterior and soft, chewy interior.
Lye is a chemical compound that is very dangerous to work with due to very high acidity, so we’re going to avoid it.
Instead, we’re going to use a baking soda bath to achieve a similar result. While the exterior of the pretzel will not become as golden brown as it does when you use lye, dipping the pretzel dough in a mixture of baking soda & water helps to give these pretzels their slightly golden color and signature flavor.
Since the “skin” of the Bavarian Pretzel is not going to be as distinct without the lye, we’re also going to bake this pretzel up in the air fryer! By using the air fryer, we’ll be able to achieve the perfect Bavarian Pretzel texture.
But don’t worry, you can bake these in the oven if you do not have an air fryer. Check out my Pizza Dough Soft Pretzels to see them made in the oven!
Are Bavarian Pretzels healthy?
I’ll be honest with you: these pretzels are not necessarily healthier than traditional pretzels.
We’re using “two-ingredient dough,” which uses Greek yogurt and flour, to make these pretzels without yeast. The Greek yogurt adds protein to the mix, but it also adds some additional calories as well.
This recipe makes one very large pretzel, and splitting it as an appetizer and only eating half is plenty filling!
The entire Bavarian Pretzel contains 600 calories and 30g of protein, so you’ll have 300 calories and 15g of protein for half of the Bavarian Pretzel. How does that stack up against other pretzels?
As you can see, this Bavarian Pretzel is on-par with other Bavarian Pretzels you might find in terms of calories, but with double the protein!
How to make Bavarian Pretzels
This Bavarian Pretzel recipe does not use any yeast at all. We’re going to use the classic “two-ingredient dough” that you’ve seen from some of my other recipes like Protein Bagels, Bagel Bombs, and more.
By combining self-rising flour (which is just a combination of flour, baking powder, and salt) with Greek yogurt, you’ll be able to instantly make dough without messing with yeast.
Mix equal-parts self-rising flour and Greek yogurt until it forms a ball of dough.
Now, here’s a very important step:
Let the dough sit for one hour.
During this hour, the dough will not rise at all. In fact, it won’t look any different. But when you allow the dough to rest, it relaxes the gluten, which results in a lighter dough. You can skip this step if absolutely necessary, but the interior of your Bavarian Pretzel may be closer to a dense bagel instead.
I learned this trick when I made my Pita Bread Without Yeast- by allowing the dough to rest, it turned regular pita into pita pockets thanks to the extra air inside!
Once the dough has sat, it’s time to roll it out.
Since we’re making one large pretzel, roll the pretzel dough out on the counter into one long rope, leaving the center slightly thicker than the rest of the pretzel dough. This is how we’ll achieve that true Bavarian Pretzel shape.
Give the ends a quick twist to form your pretzel shape. Check out this video for a demonstration on how to easily fold the pretzel into shape.
The pretzel should be larger than your hand. If it doesn’t seem large enough, you can continue to roll out your pretzel rope until it becomes the size you desire!
Of course, you can turn this same recipe into smaller pretzels if you prefer, but I enjoyed it as one large pretzel the most.
If you wanted to make two smaller pretzels, you can follow the same exact instructions for forming 2 small versions from the same dough, and the result will still be unbelievably delicious:
The next step is what transforms this into a true pretzel: the baking soda bath.
Bring a combination of baking soda and water to a boil, then carefully drop your pretzel into it, letting it “bathe” for about 30 seconds.
Since this is a very large Bavarian Pretzel, I used 2 spatulas to lift it out of the water to transfer it directly into my air fryer basket.
Once in the air fryer, use a knife to create a slit across the bottom of the pretzel. While this isn’t completely necessary, it’s going to give us the true Bavarian Pretzel aesthetic we’re aiming for.
Melt down a tablespoon of butter to brush the top of your pretzel, then sprinkle with some coarse salt.
Air fry the Bavarian Pretzel at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Since we want this pretzel to cook evenly, we’re going to flip it over after 6 minutes, allowing the bottom to brown for the final 2 minutes.
As you can see by the above photo, the pretzel isn’t so pretty at the 6-minute mark. But once flipped, it will all come together during those final 2 minutes:
Brush the top of the pretzel with your melted butter once more, and then you’re ready to dig in! The butter will absorb into the pretzel almost immediately, and it’s going to give this Bavarian Pretzel an amazing buttery flavor, not to mention the smell of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.
What to serve with your Bavarian Pretzel
Nothing pairs better with a soft pretzel than cheese, so I always dip my pretzel in Queso dip!
But if you want to enjoy a true Bavarian Pretzel, you should pair this pretzel with some beer cheese. I made a beer cheese to accompany my Soft Pretzel Skillet, which I highly recommend checking out.
- 150g (1.25 Cups) Self-Rising Flour (See notes below for All-Purpose Flour)
- 150g Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Butter for brushing (I use Country Crock butter spread)
- Coarse Salt for topping
Baking Soda Bath
- 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
- 4 Cups Water
- In a large bowl, mix up the self-rising flour, Greek yogurt, and salt until it forms a ball of dough. It may seem dry, but work it with your hands until it all comes together.
- Once the dough has formed, fold it over and press it down numerous times to knead the dough, for about 1 minute.
- Let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour. You can skip this step, but the rest time relaxes the gluten and creates an airier pretzel (see notes for more). Note that the dough will not rise during this time and will still look the same after one hour.
- Once the dough has rested, roll it with your palms out on a clean surface, keeping the middle of the dough thicker than the ends to create that thick Bavarian pretzel we are after. See the photos above this recipe card for reference. We are making one large Bavarian pretzel, but you can make smaller pretzels if you prefer.
- Shape into a pretzel (here's a very simple demonstration).
- Combine 4 cups of water with 1/4 cup baking soda in a large saucepan to make your baking soda bath, bring to a boil, then remove from heat. While the water heats up, preheat your air fryer at 350 degrees F.
- Carefully drop the Bavarian pretzel into your baking soda bath and let it sit for about 30 seconds. Using 2 spatulas (since it's a large pretzel) lift the pretzel out of the water and place it directly into your air fryer basket. I did not spray my basket beforehand and it worked out just fine!
- Melt one tablespoon of butter in the microwave and brush the top of your pretzel, then sprinkle with your coarse salt.
- Air fry the Bavarian pretzel at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes, flipping it after 6 minutes. (If baking in the oven instead, bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes total)
- Once done, immediately brush with more of the melted butter, then dig in!
- If you do not have self-rising flour, use the same amount of All-Purpose flour, add 2 tsp baking powder, and use 1/2 tsp salt total for this recipe, rather than the 1/4 tsp it calls for.
- The Greek yogurt dough will become dense as it sits, but if you have any pretzel leftover, it will reheat very well and soften up.
- If you do not preheat your air fryer, you may need to cook the pretzel for a total of 10 minutes- I highly recommend preheating!
- You may be tempted to skip the butter, but I cannot recommend it enough. If you want your pretzel to smell just like Auntie Anne's, don't leave it out! I melted one tablespoon of butter spread, which only has 50 calories, and ended up using about half of it, so it only added 25 calories to this recipe. So worth it.
- If you do not let the dough sit, your pretzel may be a bit dense. I use this same dough for my Protein Bagels without the rest time, so you will have more of a bagel texture here. Even though the dough doesn't rise as it sits, it really helps to create a better rise.
- You can easily turn this recipe into 3 smaller pretzels if you want to keep the calories low, but I love making one large pretzel and simply sharing it.
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Nutrition InformationYield 2 Serving Size 1/2 of Pretzel
Amount Per Serving Calories 305Total Fat 1.5gCarbohydrates 56gProtein 15g