Soft Pretzel Bites

Soft Pretzel Bites

Soft, pillowy pretzel bites are easy to make and are a winning snack for any party or event. 

What’s With the Baking Soda?

A baking soda bath is key to chewy, golden brown pretzel bites. The alkalinity provided by the hot baking soda bath gels the surface starch, which bakes to a browned, hardened finish. Many professional bakers use food-grade lye to provide the alkalinity, but baking soda is safer and more accessible for home cooks. 

These small bites are easier to make than full-size soft pretzels because there’s no need to shape each one into a perfect knot. Just cut, dunk them in the baking soda bath, and bake them! 

How To Serve Pretzel Bites

Pretzel bites are perfect for the gameday crowd and make a fabulous treat for family get-togethers. Cheese sauce is fantastic for dipping warm pretzels, but feel free to serve them with honey mustard or a mustard and mayonnaise dip. Impress your friends and family with homemade, freshly baked pretzel bites!

“Homemade soft pretzels are such a delightful treat that everyone needs to try making at least once. The cheese sauce enhances the savory and salty taste of the pretzel bites but you might consider a sweeter topping for them like brown sugar in the future.” —Noah Velush-Rogers

Soft Pretzel Bites/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Pretzel Bites

  • 1 cup (226 grams) water

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 3 cups (362 grams) all-purpose flour, divided, more for the work surface

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, more for greasing

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons pretzel salt or flaky sea salt

For the Cheese Dip

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, more to taste

  • 1 pinch salt, more to taste

Steps to Make It

Make the Pretzel Bites

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make soft pretzel bites

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Stir together and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    Water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Add 2 cups (240 grams) flour to the bowl and mix until smooth.

    Flour added to the yeast mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Add the remaining 1 cup (122 grams) of flour, salt, and melted butter. Change to the dough hook and knead until the dough is soft and slightly tacky, about 7 minutes. Alternatively, knead by hand, about 10 minutes.

    A smooth ball of kneaded dough

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    Smooth dough sitting in a greased bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Position a rack in the upper and lower parts of the oven and heat to 400 F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Grease the paper lightly.

    Two baking sheets lines with greased parchment paper

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Fill a large Dutch oven or other large pot half way with water. Bring to a boil over high heat.

    A large pan of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Punch the dough down, transfer it to a lightly floured surface, and divide it into 4 equal pieces.

    Four pieces of dough on a floured cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  9. Roll each portion of dough into a log 10 to 12 inches long. Slice the log into 1-inch pieces. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dough.

    A roll of dough cut into 1 inch pieces on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  10. Slowly add the baking soda to the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium to maintain a boil.

    Baking soda added to the pot of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  11. Add 9 to 10 pieces of pretzel dough to the boiling water and swirl them around for 15 seconds.

    Pieces of dough in the pot of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  12. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer the dough pieces to the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

    Pieces of boiled dough on parchment paper-lined baking sheets

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  13. While still damp, sprinkle salt to taste over each piece of dough. Bake the pretzel bites until deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. While the pretzels are baking, prepare the cheese dip.

    Salt-topped pretzel bites on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Make the Cheese Dip

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

    Melted butter in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Add the flour, dry mustard, and black pepper. Cook, constantly whisking, until combined and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

    Flour, mustard, and black pepper with melted butter in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Gradually whisk in the milk, and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.

    Milk added to the flour mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Add the cheese and stir until smooth. Add the hot sauce and salt to taste.

    Cheese added to the milk mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Serve the dip immediately with the warm pretzels.

    Soft pretzel bites served with cheese sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Recipe Tip

The baking soda foams up when it’s added to the boiling water, so add it gradually.

Make Ahead

The pretzel dough may be made a day or two in advance. After the dough has risen for 45 minutes to 1 hour (step 5), refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Take the dough out of the fridge, let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, then shape, dunk, and bake as directed.

Recipe Variations

  • For a sweet finish, replace the pretzel salt with pearl sugar or sanding sugar.
  • Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzel Bites: Combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Omit the pretzel salt and bake the plain unsalted pretzel bites as directed. Toss the hot pretzel bites with 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. Add the cinnamon sugar and toss to coat.

How To Store

  • Soft pretzels are best eaten warm, shortly after baking. The salt melts, and the pretzels become moist when stored in an airtight container or bag, but they may be stored in a paper bag for a few hours or frozen for more extended storage.
  • To freeze soft pretzel bites, arrange them on a baking sheet and place the pan in the freezer. When the pretzel bites are frozen solid, wrap them in foil and transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. Label the bag with the name and date and freeze the pretzel bites for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat soft pretzels, wrap them in foil and place them in a preheated 300 F oven; heat for 6 to 8 minutes. 
  • Refrigerate leftover cheese dip in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze leftover cheese dip, place it in a freezer container. Label the container with the name and date and freeze the dip for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat cheese dip in a saucepan over low heat; stir frequently and thin as necessary with milk or cream.

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