Beer’s Best Friend: Soft Rye Pretzels

Pints and pretzels brought to you from the folks at Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham, North Carolina, by way of The American Craft Beer Cookbook. 

Soft Rye Pretzels are just one of the 155 mouthwatering recipes from favorite brewpubs and breweries featured in The American Craft Beer Cookbookby John Holl. This style of pretzel is soft, dense, and chewy. Best enjoyed fresh and warm right out of the oven, these treats are better than any ballpark variety, and the touch of rye gives the dough a pleasant spice kick. Serve with mustard, the Gouda Fondue (recipe available in the book), or the Bavarian Cheese Spread (also available in the book).

Pair these beauties with a British IPA. Berkshire Lost Sailor IPA, Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Left Hand 400 Pound, or Middle Ages ImPaled Ale all come to mind. Or how about a Vienna Lager? Blue Point Toasted Lager, Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, Great Lakes Eliot Ness, Trapp Vienna Lager are all worthy contenders.

Soft Rye Pretzels 

Makes 12 pretzels.


  • 1 ½ cups warm water, 85–90°F
  • 15 grams sugar
  • 20 grams active dry yeast
  • 420 grams bread flour
  • 115 grams rye flour
  • 85 grams barley flour
  • 20 grams kosher salt
  • 65 grams unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for oiling bowl
  • 12 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
  • ⅔ cup baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk


  1. Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl. Mix gently and let rest until the yeast begins to foam.
  2. Combine the bread flour, rye flour, barley flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast mixture is foamy, slowly add it and the butter to the flour mixture with the mixer on slow speed, and mix until just combined, about
 20 seconds. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Mix the dough on slow speed for 1 minute, and then increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes longer, or until the dough forms a ball and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured work surface for 2 minutes. Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a moist towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Portion the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch-long rope of even diameter. Fold the rope into the pretzel knot shape and press the dough together firmly where it intersects at the twist and the ends.
  6. Bring 12 cups water and the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Working in batches of 3 or 4, depending on the size of your pot, slowly lower each pretzel into the boiling water 
and cook for 30 to 45 seconds, pushing down and re-submerging the pretzels with a slotted spoon as needed. Transfer the pretzels to a wire rack 
to dry.
  7. When all the pretzels are boiled, arrange them on large baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 6 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, whisk the 1 tablespoon water and the egg yolk together in a small bowl. Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 8 to 10 minutes longer, or until dark brown. Serve warm. The pretzels will keep for about a day unwrapped, but not overnight. Wrapping in plastic will melt the salt and distort the crust.


Learn More

John Holl

About the

John Holl is Senior Editor of Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine and formerly the award winning editor of All About Beer Magazine. The author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook, he’s judged beer competitions around the world, co-hosts the Steal this Beer Podcast and his work as appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Wine Enthusiast. Holl lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Learn more about this

Related Reads

Featured Titles

  • Beer for All Seasons

    Beer for All Seasons

  • Tasting Beer, 2nd Edition

    Tasting Beer, 2nd Edition

  • The Beer Geek Handbook

    The Beer Geek Handbook

  • Making Homemade Wine

    Making Homemade Wine

  • Herbal Goddess

    Herbal Goddess