February 6, 2014

Soft pretzels with cheddar-ale dipping sauce

Soft pretzels with a bowl of cheddar-ale dipping sauce.

I've always loved soft pretzels. I remember being a teenager hanging out at the mall and almost always getting a soft pretzel with some bright orange cheese sauce to dip it in. It was one of my favorite snacks/treats and something that I never had at home....until now. I finally decided to learn how to make soft pretzels myself. I've been wanting to try them at home for a few years now. So I made a batch last weekend to snack on during game. They were easier than I had imagined they would be. To make it a bit more "adult" I made a dipping sauce of sharp cheddar, pale ale, and pickled jalapenos. You can leave out the beer or dip your pretzels in something else like honey-mustard. Or, sprinkle them with some cinnamon-sugar instead of salt for a sweet version. These pretzels were adapted from this recipe and will make about eight pretzels (allow about 2 per person).

Bowl of cheddar-ale dipping sauce with a pretzel piece dipped in.
Soft pretzels
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 packet active instant yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, preferably unbleached
3-3/4 to 4-1/4 unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading/rolling
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg
coarse sea salt, for topping

Cheddar-ale dipping sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup ale 
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
2-1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
sea salt, to taste
finely chopped pickled jalapenos, optional and to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and have an extra baking sheet that is not lined.

In a large bowl, stir the water and yeast together until combined (some clumps will remain). Stir in salt and sugar until combined. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough is thick. Stir in another 3/4 cup of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is, add up to another 1/2 cup flour until you can press the dough and it bounces back. 

Heat about 8-9 cups of water in a large pot with the baking soda until it comes to a boil.  Beat the egg in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead for about 3 minutes, and shape into a ball. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into about 1/3 cup-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rope of about even diameter. I made mine about 13-15 inches long, so the pretzels were relatively fat. Then pull the two ends toward the center of the rope and twist the together, lightly pressing, to making the traditional pretzel shape. 

Using a spider or other large slotted spoon, dip each pretzel into the boiling water and let sit for 30 seconds. Remove and place on the unlined baking sheet to dry slightly. This step will give your pretzels their chewy texture. Once they are all pretty dry, dip both sides of each pretzel into the egg and then put them on the lined baking sheet. Once completed, top each with the coarse salt.

Bake for 12 minutes and then put the pretzels under the broiler for another 2-3 minutes until they turn brown - watch carefully so they don't burn!

While the pretzels are baking, make the sauce. Heat the butter and whisk in the flour and garlic powder. Cook for about 2 minutes and then whisk in the beer. Whisk well and bring to a low boil. Cook, until the beer thickens and is slightly reduced, about 4-5 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until smooth. Turn down the heat and whisk often until the sauce thickens, about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese a handful at a time. Season with salt and stir in the pickled jalapenos, if using (and definitely recommended).

Finished soft pretzels.
What was I cooking one year ago?: chicken taco soup
Two years ago?: spinach-artichoke dip
Three?: hot quinoa breakfast cereal 
4?: lime tart with a graham cracker crust


  1. I too love soft pretzels! Yours have turned out great, Amy. The cheesy dipping sauce sounds fantastic.

  2. Ah, such comfort food. My hubby would flip if I made him this cheddar ale sauce. Drooling!

  3. Ooh, the cheddar ale dipping sauce sounds delicious.

  4. Dear Amy, THese pretzels would be a huge hit in my home especially with the cheddar dipping. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  5. Soft pretzels are such a wonderful treat - love love love them! Your cheese sauce looks like the perfect thing with them too - thanks for sharing this!

  6. I'm definitely craving a big soft pretzel after seeing these! They look so good!

  7. I so want to try these immediately! They look and sound divine.

  8. Pretzels are one of my favorite treats and in combination with this great looking cheddar dipping sauce - quite irresistible :)

  9. Oh my, that cheddar-ale dipping sauce looks AMAZING! I could eat a whole bowl of that right now. I still need to try making homemade pretzels - I love them, but I've never tried making them myself!

  10. I need this in my life...asap! Obessed with soft pretzels and cheese dip!

  11. That cheddar ale sauce looks so much better than that bright orange stuff you get at the mall. I need to try making homemade pretzels too. It's crazy that there are so many things I have not tried making myself even though I cook all the time!

  12. Oh yes - I can already taste those pretzels covered in that awesome sauce!!! Perfect pretzels!

  13. wow, what a festife dish....
    cotton like inside with crisp outside that soaked the cheesy dip, clever idea!!!

  14. Hi Amy, your pretzels with dipping sauce look awesome. Well done!

    Have a nice day.

  15. we made jalapeno soft pretzels last week...so good! i love the sound of this sauce :)

  16. I so want to try and make these pretzels! and the dipping sauce sounds perfect :)

  17. Yum, yum! I adore soft pretzels and always forget that they are quite easy to bake :-) Love the dipping sauce, too.

  18. What a great idea with the dipping sauce- my kids would be all over these!

  19. These look so good. My kids would love these, but...they would have to fight me for them! And the dipping sauce! Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friday!

  20. Mmmmm pretzels. My weakness! Pinned!

  21. Pretzels and cheese, is there any better combination? Besides pretzels and mustard of course!!!

  22. OMGosh! I love soft squishy pretzels! Thanks for linking up to the Friday Frenzy!


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