Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Pretzels: not just from a packet, not just as a bun, not just from New York City street vendors. Now you can make your own homemade soft pretzel (bites). And dip them in cheese sauce.
Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Soft pretzel dough is much easier than you would think t0 make. It’s a soft yeast dough that has a bit of sweetness in it from sugar, and it’s actually quite similar to the dough you’d use for bagels.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese SaucePretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Though the dough is soft, with some extra flour on the counter, you won’t have too much trouble kneading it until it’s very smooth. Then, you’ll let it rise in a warm, dark spot in your kitchen.Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

And then, you make pretzels. Since these are just pretzel bites, you don’t have to worry about twisting the dough into pretzel-shaped knots. Rather, after rolling the dough into ropes, you cut it into bite-sized nuggets.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese SaucePretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Here’s probably the most important (but still not hard!) part of making these pretzel bites. You boil them in baking soda-spiked boiling water, a step that gives the pretzels their signature pretzel-y taste.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Finally, after that, you bake the pretzels. You can do the whole batch ahead of time, then reheat them in smaller portions when you’re ready to eat (that makes them a  good office snack, even).

And of course, there’s also the cheese sauce. Once you learn to make cheese sauce, you’ll find you’ll want to dip everything in it–not just pretzels.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Simply make a roux from butter, flour, and milk, then add cheese, hot sauce, and cayenne.

Making Cheese Sauce for Hot Pretzels

And: time to go for the dip!

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Get the full recipe below.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

INGREDIENTS

Pretzel Bites:
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4-teaspoons)
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
Sea salt

Spicy Cheese Sauce:
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded (or 3 ounce block)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

To make the pretzel bites:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, 1 cup warm water, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon salt until the dough is soft and not sticky (you may need to add the remaining ½ cup flour). Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it until the dough is elastic and smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it stand in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough is twice as large.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large saucepan, over high heat, bring to 7 cups of water and baking soda to a boil. Meanwhile, punch down the dough and turn it onto a work surface. Separate the dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a rope about 1/2-inch thick. Using a knife, cut the rope into 1/2 inch to 1-inch lengths.

Drop 3 to 4 pieces at a time into the boiling water. Boil for about 30 seconds, using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat as needed. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the spicy cheese sauce:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking occasionally 1 to 2 minutes or until the flour is golden brown and smells nutty. Slowly whisk in the milk, using the whisk to break up any clumps. Bring the mixture up to a boil and cool 3 to 4 minutes or until all the clumps have disappeared and the mixture has thickened.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cheese, hot sauce and cayenne. Serve warm with pretzel bites.

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