This authentic German soft-baked Sweet Pretzel Recipe is a fun homemade appetizer, dessert, or snack! These German pretzels are sweet and deliciously buttery while being entirely dairy-free and vegan. All you need to make them is just 8 pantry-friendly ingredients. They are so cute, delicious, and comforting.
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (eggless & dairy-free)
- German baking made plant-based
- Comforting and fluffy sweet yeast pretzel
- A special treat that is fun to make
🇩🇪 When do you eat sweet pretzels in Germany?
These twisted baked goods are a German classic and are probably one of the first foods to think of for many when thinking about German cuisine. But when do you eat pretzels in Germany?
Sweet and savory pretzels are eaten all year round in Germany. You can find them in any German bakery – sometimes cut in half with butter and toppings (like a sandwich), or even with cheese melted on top! They are often eaten as a snack but served with Weißwürste (German kind of sausages) or with Obatzda (Bavarian cheese spread) they make a whole meal.
🏮 The Martinsbrezel
Around St. Martin's Day (11th November, each year), soft sugar pretzels are extremely popular in many regions of Germany, such as the Sauerland, Upper Franconia, and parts of the Ruhr region (which is where I am from). These soft sweet pretzels are widely known and referred to as "Martinsbrezel".
The sweet Martin pretzel is so old, that its original roots can no longer be traced clearly. However, we do know that sweet yeasted bread used to be very precious and was only eaten on special occasions. In addition to sweet pretzels, other traditional pastries in the form of rolls, croissants, Weckmännern or Stutenkerlen are also very popular during that time in Germany.
🥨 What is traditional pretzel dough made of?
A classic pretzel consists of a lye dough, so flour, yeast, water, salt, and baking soda for the lye. However, in some regions and at some bakeries, lye pastries may contain lard.
Sweet soft pretzels are a simple yeast dough without lye. Since they are sweet, they have added sugar. At the end of baking, they are brushed with butter and rolled in vanilla sugar or sprinkled with coarse sugar.
This vegan soft sweet pretzel recipe uses only 8 pantry-friendly ingredients.
For the pretzel dough:
- 1 cup lukewarm plant milk, such as almond milk (250 ml)
- 2 teaspoon active dry yeast (7g)
- 3.5 oz vegan butter (100g)
- 3.5 oz organic cane sugar (100g)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 17.6 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (500g)
For the sugar coating:
- 2 tablespoon melted vegan butter (30g)
- 4 tablespoon organic cane sugar (50g)
- 4 teaspoon of vanilla sugar, or 2 packets (16g)
- Electric mixer with dough hook attachment, or knead by hand
- Bowl for resting the dough
- Bowl cover
- Baking tray
💭 The origin of the Pretzel shape
The shape of a pretzel is truly beautiful in my opinion. It was already known hundreds of years ago and has been the emblem of bakers since the 14th century. As so often with such old foods, there are different theories about how the shape originated.
The most common theory stems from Bavaria, where in earlier times, it was customary to cross your arms to pray, placing your hands on your shoulders. According to this theory, the pretzel is supposed to resemble this movement of prayer. That also explains the pretzel's name best. The Latin word "bracchium" means "arm". Translated into old high German, it became "precita" or "brezin". Which leads to the German term of pretzel: Brezen, or Brezel.
👩🏽🍳 How to shape a pretzel
Skilled pretzel bakers loop the dough using a special throwing technique. Since that takes time and practice, I have a beginner-friendly folding technique for you.
Divide the prepared pretzel dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape them into balls. On a clean work surface (do not use flour) take a ball and roll it into a strand that is around 24 inches (60 cm) long. The strand should be slightly thicker in the middle and thin at the ends.
Transfer the long strand to your prepared baking tray to form the pretzel on it. That way you don’t have to transfer them again. Pick up both ends and "twirl" them around each other. Press the ends to the sides of the "pretzel belly". Cover dough pieces with a cloth and let rest one last time before baking.
I am showing you how to shape pretzels in this video also.
Fresh pretzels are best the day of baking. If you're not eating all the pretzels right on the day they're baked, it's best to put them in a bread box, or cover them with plastic wrap on a clean plate. Store them at room temperature for a day. Otherwise, the pretzels will keep fresh, covered, in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days. Refresh briefly in the oven before eating.
❄️ How to freeze
If you want to store them longer than a couple of days I recommend freezing them. Store in a freezer-safe container, or bag and seal airtight to protect them from freezer burn. Label with the date of freezing. Stored properly they will keep fresh for up to 6 months. To defrost simply bake them briefly in the oven and enjoy.
German Soft Sweet Pretzel Recipe (vegan)
- Electric mixer with dough hook attachment or knead by hand; Bowl for resting the dough; Bowl cover or kitchen towel, Baking tray
Sweet pretzel dough
- Whisk lukewarm plant milk with active dry yeast until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Melt the butter. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and combine.
- With an electric mixer and the dough hook attached add milk-yeast-mix and melted butter while running it on low speed. Once ingredients form into a dough ball increase speed. Knead everything for 10 minutes until a uniform, smooth dough is formed. (You can also knead the dough by hand if wished) Roll into a ball shape and add to a lightly greased wooden, glass or plastic bowl. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm, non-drafty place, until doubled in size. It takes around 1 hour. I prefer putting it to rise into the oven with the light on for warmth, but don’t turn the oven on.
- Once it has risen divide the dough into 8 equal pieces of ca. 110-120g each. Form the dough pieces into long sausages (approx. 60cm / 24 inches), leaving the middle thicker and thinning out towards the outside. The thick part forms the belly of the pretzel at the bottom. The thin strands are joined together at the top to form the typical pretzel circle. Any overlapping dough that remains at the top is folded in towards the belly. Twist the two 2 strands of dough around each other 2 times, then tuck them over the belly of the pretzel. It’s best to form the pretzels directly on the place of the baking tray, so you don’t have to transfer them again.
- Now they need time to rise again (about 45 minutes to 1 hour). Brush lightly with a little biting water, or melted butter to prevent them from drying out. Cover them with plastic or a lightly damp kitchen towel and keep them in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 230°C / 440°F (bottom/top heat). Do not use the hot air option, since it tends to dry the pretzels.
- Bake on the middle shelf for around 10-12 minutes. While they are baking mix cane sugar with the vanilla sugar on a large flat plate. Optional step: Run the cane sugar through the food processor for extra fine sugar before mixing it with vanilla sugar. Brush the warm pretzels with melted plant butter and dip them directly into the sugar mixture. Be careful not to burn your hands, let them cool a bit before doing that!
The provided nutritional information is an estimate. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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