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I've been making traditional German pretzels with a lye bath, but the pretzels tend to bake onto the baking sheets. I've tried a few different kinds of trays, all with less that perfect results.

  • Non-stick coatings actually stick to the bottom of my pretzels and get pulled off the trays.
  • Some pans without coatings react visibly with the lye solution, i.e. bubbling. Unfortunately, I'm not sure which metal this pan was made of. On the other hand, the pretzels stick less.
  • Wax paper sticks to the degree that I have to cut it off.

I would like to find a solution that prevents my pretzels from sticking and me from ingesting any Teflon, metal, or paper.

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You can avoid the tray altogether and bake them on a steel rack. Lye doesn't react with stainless steel (or with carbon steel, for that matter). It will stick lightly to the rack, just like anything else on stainless, but due to the small surface, you should be able to separate them.

The second way would be to just use enough rock salt on a steel tray so that they are too high to stick. But it might mean that you'll get too much salt embedded in them.

And as a final word, you might just be using too much lye, or too strong a solution. Pretzel were baked long before there were silpats, and they didn't strip the seasoning off the tray.

Avoid any coated trays (teflon, enamel), and, most of all, aluminium.

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You need a Silpat! I recommend a half sheet size Silpat and a Stainless Steel Half-Sheet Pan.

A Silpat is a silicone mat. It's the most non-stick way to bake anything, and they're quite durable. Buy a couple of mats and you can just swap them out when baking multiple batches.

According to folks at The Fresh Loaf the silicone shouldn't react at all with the lye.

Aluminum reacts badly with lye, so be sure that nothing you use with the lye contains aluminum.

  • most 1/2 sheet pans are aluminum, so your first & last sentances may be conflicting – Joe Oct 6 '14 at 18:50
  • @Joe That's why I made the point, but it's good that you bring it up again to highlight it. Some 1/2 sheet pans are SS. If I often made pretzels, I would would invest in one. As a matter of fact, answer edited to offer a SS option. – Jolenealaska Oct 6 '14 at 19:03
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After you dunk the dough twists in your alkaline solution, transfer them to a cooling rack to allow the excess liquid to fully drain from the dough before transferring them to your baking sheet. Give them 5-10 minutes to shed as much of their bathwater as possible.

And regardless of what type of pan you choose to bake the pretzels on, spray the pan LIBERALLY with quick release spray - or oil-down your pan - whatever...just make sure you really spray or grease or oil your pan before you transfer your air-dried twists for baking.

If you use a Silpat or other silicone baking mat, spray it down or oil it too. Pretzels stick to metal. Pretzels stick to parchment. Pretzels don't adhere as strongly to silicone baking mats but they don't just fall off those mats either. Whatever you're baking on, coat it with something - don't be shy.

So...(1) no lye puddles, & (2) spray/oil/grease liberally.

  • I don't know if I'd use the grease advice. It will sure help with releasing, but I'd be afraid to produce soap, not a very tasty pretzel glaze. – rumtscho Oct 7 '14 at 7:26
  • The concentration of NaOH is too low for that to present a problem. I re-checked my recipes and they tend to recommend oil specifically. See also: ruhlman.com/2009/11/how-to-make-pretzels – Stephen Eure Oct 7 '14 at 12:19
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When you say wax paper, I'm assuming you really mean parchment paper (since wax smokes like crazy in the oven). Have you tried nonstick aluminum foil? It works really well for keeping stuff from sticking. Or what about greasing the pan or using ceramic pans? They make ceramic baking pans (like cookie sheets).

  • Aluminum reacts badly with lye. – Jolenealaska Oct 6 '14 at 18:02
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    aluminum is the wrongest material to use together with lye (well, the wrongest one common in kitchens). You may get a violent exothermic reaction. – rumtscho Oct 6 '14 at 18:03
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    OK. I did not know that. – Brooke Oct 6 '14 at 19:45

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