No matter what the occasion, pretzel bites are a hit at parties! They’re easier to make than you’d think, and you can get creative with dips! You’ll definitely want to add my pretzel bites with green chili cheddar and mustard dipping sauces to your next party menu.
This recipe came about in an interesting way… book club! The book club I’m in meets during the school year at various local restaurants to talk about our book for the month and socialize. One of our stops was – not kidding – the restaurant/bar at a local hotel. A book club member had been before, and was raving about the beer cheese fries. I am always up for the chance to try a good fried potato dish, as are most of the ladies, so we went for that month’s meeting. Before we got to the fry portion of the evening, two of the ladies ordered a pretzel appetizer to share. The pretzels came with two dipping sauces, a cheese sauce (naturally), and this mustard sauce that had everyone raving! They even asked for more to add to their main course later. *ahem* The fries. These are the perks of adulthood people.
Being the resident professional food blogger in the club, I was told “you should make this and we will eat it”, and I’m totally game for this. Only I never actually got to it until last Monday when a recipe club meeting rolled around. Apparently, I’ve gone full suburbia and joined every club short of the Junior League. Hm. At least my current clubs are basically all about food (and running…). Anyway, I came across a pretzel bites recipe on That Square Plate, and knew I couldn’t put off pretzel bites any longer!
Whitney is one of my blog friends, and I’ve made several of her recipes including the BBQ Shrimp New Orleans and a version of the Crab Pasta with Chardonnay Cream Sauce. I like following her blog because she speaks to me as a fellow coastal Southern girl. Different coast, same serious love of seafood. Bacon and breakfast recipes also make frequent appearances, so her recipes make me happy and everything is pretty easy. Easy recipes with flavors people like are good. Check her out.
I basically followed the pretzel bites recipe to the letter. Modifications I made included adding a bit of garlic powder because garlic goes in everything, and using grey sea salt to top the pretzels because that’s my default coarse salt. I’m not going out to buy pretzel salt when I make pretzels every once in a while.
The sauces are where I got creative! I believe a warm cheese sauce is a must for pretzels, but I like sauces with a little twist. A can of fire roasted diced green chilies added a tiny bit of heat and flavor. There are a few tricks to getting a smooth cheese sauce. First, don’t use pre-shredded cheese. It seems easier, but shredded cheese contains an additive to prevent clumping, also preventing a smooth melt. Second, stir in the cheese off the heat. If you leave the cheese on the heat, it will split and you will have a grainy sauce. Finally, don’t stir in the green chilies until the very end. I ignored every single one of these cheese sauce rules that I *know* last Monday, and my sauce never did make it to recipe club. Don’t do that.
Thankfully, the Dijon mustard dipping sauce turned out ridiculously good. Ridiculous. I had a standard Dijon mustard on hand, but my personal preference is to use whole grain for a more “rustic” look. Either works, the flavor is the same, this is purely a matter of aesthetics. It takes 2 minutes to whip up this sauce, and when you dip still warm from the oven pretzel bites into it, magic happens. I almost ate my weight in pretzel bites before going to recipe club, and the Godfather kept a bowl (plus sauce) for he and Princess A to share.
Don’t worry, the club got plenty, we even had some leftovers. But pretzel bites with green chili cheddar and mustard dipping sauces has already been requested for our first football watch party.
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp . active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp gluten optional
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 4 1/2 cups to 5 all-purpose flour
- Enough vegetable oil to coat a large bowl
- 3 quarts water
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 1 tablespoon whole egg beaten with a of warm water and a tablespoon of melted butter
- Pretzel salt or very coarse sea salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup milk
- 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 4 oz can diced green chilies
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard standard or whole grain
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the melted butter, sugar, warm water, and yeast. Stir and allow to sit 5-10 minutes until bubbly.
Stir in the gluten, if using, garlic powder, and salt. Stir in the flour, one cup at a time until you have a smooth dough that's still wet to the touch but not sticky. Meaning that if you touch it with your finger, it feels a bit tacky, but nothing sticks to you.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Set in a warm place for one hour until the dough is about double in size.
When the dough has finished its rise, preheat the oven to 425 F, placing the baking racks in the upper and lower middle sections of the oven. Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper, spray with nonstick spray, and set aside.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large stock pot. When the water is boiling, add the baking soda. Be careful it doesn't bubble over!
While the water is coming to a boil and the oven is preheating, dump the dough onto a very lightly floured smooth work surface. Separate into 8 equal sections. I used a kitchen scale to help me, you may also just eyeball the measurement.
Working in batches, roll each section into a thin rope about 2 feet long, then use a dough scraper or butter knife to cut the dough into approximately 1 inch sections.
Working in batches of about 12-15 each, drop the pretzel bites into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and arrange about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the coarse salt.
Once the first sheet is full, place it in the oven on the bottom middle rack and set your timer for 7 minutes. Finish filling the second baking sheet while the first starts its bake.
When the first 7 minutes are up, move the first pan to the top middle rack and place the second pan on the bottom middle rack. Set the timer for another 7 minutes. You might need to set it for 7 and a half, but I found 14 minutes to be perfect for me. Prepare the third sheet, then remove the first sheet from the oven, move the second sheet to the top rack, place the third sheet on the bottom. Continue the boiling/baking assembly line this way until all the pretzel bites have been baked. Cool the pretzel bites on wire cooling racks to free the sheets. Once the pretzel bites are done, make the sauce.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir. Adjust any seasonings or ingredient levels to taste.
Set aside until ready to serve.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for 3-4 minutes until the mixture starts to brown. Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps, and cook, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes until it starts to thicken. Remove from the heat.
Stir in your cheese and keep stirring until all the cheese has melted, and then add the green chilies.
Transfer to another bowl, and serve immediately with the pretzel bites and Dijon mustard dipping sauce.
Be the party MVP. 😉