Move over, Auntie Anne’s, because these soft pretzel bites are ridiculously soft and chewy with a wonderfully crispy golden outer crust. Yum!
If you think it takes pro-cooking skills to make homemade pretzel bites, think again. While this recipe does call for making yeasted dough, don’t be intimidated.
It’s a lot easier to make than you think!
And you know what? All that effort of kneading, proofing, and rolling the dough is absolutely worth it.
Believe me; you’ll feel a different kind of satisfaction once you pull it off.
And did you know that pretzels are considered lucky foods to eat on New Year’s Day? How cool is that?
Soft Pretzel Bites Recipe
To say these soft pretzel bites are delicious is an understatement.
These tender, pillowy treats with a crisp golden crust are heavenly!
You can dunk them in any kind of dip – whether sweet or savory – but honestly, even if you just sprinkle them with sea salt, they’ll be addictive.
This recipe is surprisingly easy, too, and it makes a lot – I’m talking almost 200 pieces!
They can definitely feed a crowd, but at the same time, don’t expect leftovers. These golden nuggets will disappear in a matter of minutes.
- Dough: a kneaded mixture of yeast, water, melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and flour.
- Baking Soda Bath: boiling water and baking soda is the key to giving the pretzel bites their signature texture.
- Egg Wash: beaten egg and water to be brushed on the tops of the pretzels to give them that extra golden finish.
Active Yeast vs. Instant Yeast
While both types of yeast work to leaven bread dough and give it a light and airy texture, they don’t work exactly the same way.
Yes, you can use them interchangeably, but it’s essential to identify which one you’re using – so be sure to check the label!
Active dry yeast has a granular texture, much like cornmeal. Think of it as a living yet dormant organism that needs to be woken up to get it to work.
It needs to be rehydrated by mixing it with warm water, milk, and sugar. Without this step, the yeast won’t be activated, which means it won’t do its job.
Important note: the water has to be just the right temperature to activate the yeast. If it’s too cold, it won’t wake up the yeast. If it’s too hot, it’ll kill it.
That said, you’ll want to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk. It has to be at 110 degrees Fahrenheit for this step to work.
Instant yeast, on the other hand, is a type of dry yeast that dissolves and activates much faster than active dry yeast. This means you don’t need to wake up the organisms with water and milk for them to work.
Simply add the instant yeast to the dough ingredients and knead right away.
Do You Have to Boil Pretzels Before Baking?
You have to boil pretzels before baking to get their signature chewy texture and golden-brown crust. You’ll use a baking soda bath (water and baking soda) to achieve this. Without this step, your pretzel bites will just have the texture of regular bread.
How to Make Soft Pretzel Bites
Working with yeasted dough may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not as hard as you imagine it to be.
True, there are lots of steps involved, but they’re straightforward to follow!
Step 1: Activate the yeast.
Dry yeast is basically a dehydrated version of fresh yeast, so you’ll need to rehydrate it with liquid ingredients to get it going.
Combine warm water, melted butter, brown sugar, yeast, and salt and let it sit for 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it starts to foam up on top.
This will take around 5 minutes.
Without this step, the yeast won’t do its job of making the dough rise.
Step 2: Make the dough.
Combine the yeast mixture and flour and beat them together using the hook attachment of your electric mixer.
Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, or until it forms into a ball of dough that’s soft and stretchy but not too sticky or tacky.
The dough shouldn’t be sticking to the bottom and sides of the bowl. If it does, add more flour and knead again.
If the dough turns out too stiff or tough, add a splash of hot water and knead again.
Pro-tip: You can knead the dough by hand if you don’t have a dough hook attachment. Lightly dust your work surface with flour to keep it from sticking.
Step 3: Proof the dough.
Place it in a greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let it rest for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
Important: do not skip this step! If you don’t give the dough enough time to rise, your pretzel bites will be tough, dense, and rubbery instead of light, fluffy, and airy.
Step 4: Shape the dough into pretzel bites.
Stretch the dough with a rolling pin and divide it into 8 wedges. Roll the wedges into 24-inch ropes and slice them into 1-inch pieces.
I like to use a pizza cutter or bench scraper for easier cutting. A sharp knife works great if you don’t have either.
Step 5: Drop the bites into a baking soda bath.
Bring water to a boil and mix in baking soda. Then, drop the pretzels, 8-10 pieces at a time, and let them cook for about 30 seconds.
This is key to giving the bites their signature crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside texture.
Step 6: Bake the pretzels.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pretzel bites onto a greased baking sheet. Brush them with an egg wash for extra shine.
Bake them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 14-16 minutes. Don’t be alarmed by the high temperature – it’s what gives the bites their lovely golden crust.
Step 7: Garnish with your favorite pretzel toppings, like salt or cinnamon sugar.
Serve and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Pretzel Bites
Topping and Dipping Suggestions
While pretzels are good on their own, they’re not as addictive without toppings and dips.
Here are some of my faves:
- Dip the freshly baked pretzel bites in melted butter.
- Sprinkle them with coarse sea salt – simple yet divine.
- Coat them in cinnamon sugar when they’re still hot, so it sticks.
- Honey mustard dip provides a sweet and tangy flavor.
- Ranch or bleu cheese dressing gives you a sensational, umami-rich pretzel experience.
- Nacho cheese sauce – because cheese makes everything better.
- Peanut butter or chocolate, something decadent to satisfy your sweet tooth.
How to Store Pretzel Bites
Pretzels taste best when served fresh from the oven. But, in case you have leftovers, you can store them in brown paper bags.
Don’t store them in Ziploc bags or airtight containers, as this will create condensation, making the pretzel bites soft and mushy.
Warm the pretzels back up in the broiler or the microwave for just a few seconds to help soften them again.
How to Make Pretzel Bites in Advance
As I said, pretzel bites taste best when served fresh from the oven. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare the dough in advance.
Make the dough and refrigerate it for up to 1 day or freeze it for 2-3 months.
Thaw frozen dough in the fridge overnight.
Take the bowl out of the fridge 2-3 hours before baking to allow it to come to room temperature. Shape, cook in a baking soda bath, and bake as instructed.
Can I Freeze Pretzel Bites?
Absolutely! In fact, pretzel bites freeze beautifully.
Place the cooled pretzel bites in freezer-safe bags and freeze for up to 2 months.
Let them thaw at room temperature and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
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