Irish Pretzel Knots

Irish Pretzel Knots horiz 2A little chewier than a soft pretzel, but not quite as crunchy as a hard pretzel, these beauties go perfectly with an ice cold beer. (Preferably green beer if you’re making them for St. Patrick’s Day.)

I know, I know…pretzels are German, not Irish. But “Irish Knot Pretzels” just didn’t sound as good. Pffft.

If you look at images of Irish Knots on your search engine, there are some great designs you can use. I made simple Trinity Knots and a slightly more complicated Celtic Cross. And by “slightly more complicated” I mean that if you have reasonably good spatial abilities, these will be easy. For you. I struggle with spatial concepts, so my learning curve was really, really big. Looking at a picture and deciding which part of the dough rope went over and which went under…well…let’s just say I should have made a video – just for laughs.

It took me a while, but I finally nailed it. The rest were much easier!

It took me a while, but I finally nailed it. The rest were much easier!

But YOU can do it!  Of course, if you don’t want to, you can always just make pretzel bites or sticks. You could also dye the dough green, but the brown outside might have a funky hue to it.

I experimented this time with a lye bath and loved the results. Since I’ve been warned about liability issues, I can’t give you directions or advice about this. However, I will say that the pretzels were delicious. If you’re interested in using lye instead of baking soda, please spend some time searching for safety information and instructions.

Attempting to create a crunchy, hard pretzel was more challenging than I expected. I made a few small changes to my Pretzel Bomb recipe, and was pleased with the results. The pretzels pictured are slightly crunchy with a nice, chewy texture. But being stubborn, I was determined to get more crunch, and learned that putting them back in the oven for an hour at very low heat dried them out satisfactorily. For the record, The Man preferred the chewy version, liking them even more than soft pretzels.

Irish Pretzel Knots
  • 1 can (12 ounces) beer(or 1½ cups water)
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar, divided
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 9 cups water
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 egg whisked well with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
  • Coarse salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Heat beer until very warm - about 110 degrees.
  4. In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer), combine warm beer, 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 6-8 minutes, or until bubbly.
  5. Add remaining sugar, butter, salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix well.
  6. Slowly add remaining flour. Dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl, and will feel slightly tacky. If it's STICKY, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead well - at least 5 minutes if you're using a mixer with a dough hook, or 8 minutes by hand. This will make the dough elastic.
  7. Work with small amounts of the dough at a time, using your hands to roll out thin ropes - about 18 inches long, if possible. Avoid rolling on a floured surface; you need friction! Try slightly spritzing your work surface with water or lightly buttering your hands before rolling.
  8. Create shapes with the ropes of dough. Use the blog photos to form Irish knots, or make your own creations. Set shapes aside until you have enough for one baking sheet.
  9. Bring water and soda to a boil in a large pot. Drop pretzels into water, a few at a time, for 30-40 seconds. Lift with a slotted spoon or spider, and set on prepared pan. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 30 minutes, or until very dark brown. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
  10. To achieve crunchier pretzels, return to oven set at 250 F for up to 1 hour. Test after ½ hour. If the pretzels are close to being dry, turn off oven and let them sit until cooled.


The first half of the knot.

The first half of the knot.

Another view

Another view…about 4 inches long.

Add second half.

Add second half.

An easier option - the Trinity Knot

An easier option – the Trinity Knot


What else can I tell you? I don’t let the dough rise first for these pretzels, because I’m looking for more crunch and less puffiness. If you’re after a soft pretzel, let the dough rise once for about an hour, punch down, and form your pretzels. Let them rest for 30 minutes before dipping or boiling them.
Keep your extra dough covered while you’re working. A damp cloth is good – even over the pretzels you’ve laboriously shaped while you’re working on enough for a full baking sheet. If the dough in the bowl rises, just punch it down and use it. Or you can let it sit, covered, in the fridge. Work as quickly as you can, but if you’re falling behind, the refrigerator is your friend.Beer and pretzels 1

I hope you’ll have fun with these. They’re good any time, of course, not just for St. Patrick’s Day.