Whether you go for a sweet or savory pretzel these soft pretzel bites are super easy to make at home!
When I was about 7 we moved to a county that was just about smack in the middle of about 3 large cities and when we wanted to “get out” we always headed toward this one town in the Northern VA area about 45 minutes outside of DC. Fun was wandering around the mall for us. Yeah, we were those small town people. Whenever we’d go to the mall I absolutely loooved stopping by either Auntie Anne’s or Cinnabon. Since I’m still grieving over the loss of Cinnabon at that particular mall we’ll just talk about pretzels today.
Auntie Anne’s pretzels are perfect. Soft and chewy on the inside with a great crust on the outside. I’ve tried to make soft pretzels at home in the past and they never turn out. Either they’re rocks or they just don’t taste like pretzels no matter how meticulously I followed the recipe and I could never figure out why! Then I realized that, out of sheer laziness, I was skipping the most important step. The baking soda bath.
I did a lot of research about why this step was important and set out to see if they were right. So I made my pretzels again, bites this time, and spent an extra 5 minutes doing the water + baking soda bath. Seriously, when I realized how little time it actually took me I couldn’t believe I’d been skipping it all these years. And lo and behold the internet was right!
The baking soda bath is crucial for a pretzel to taste like a pretzel because of the chemical reaction that happens when you add baking soda to boiling water and it helps the crust brown making sure you don’t over bake them into tiny bricks waiting for them to brown. So they’re perfectly brown on the outside while still being soft and chewy on the inside.
So for the love of Pete don’t skip the baking soda bath! And then be sure to customize the flavor any way you like. I kept these sweet so I could serve them as dessert to some friends but you can also sprinkle them with sea salt instead and serve them with a hearty chipotle queso dip or creamy avocado ranch dressing or be a pretzel purist and just go with plain mustard instead. You can’t go wrong!
What’s your favorite way to eat a soft pretzel?
For the Pretzels:
- 2 1/4 tsp active yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm milk
- 2 Tbs honey
- 3 cups flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbs cinnamon
For the Dipping Sauce
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 4 Tbs butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
For the Pretzels:
- Pour warm milk into a mixing bowl, add honey, sprinkle top with yeast, and stir gently. Allow yeast to proof for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.
- Fill a 4 qt pot with water and bring to a boil. Add flour and salt to to mixing bowl and mix until dough comes together around the dough hook or paddle. Once dough as formed a ball knead dough for 3-4 minutes. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.
- Turn dough onto a clean surface and shape into a ball. Cut the ball into 4 quarters and roll each quarter into a rope about 18 inches long. Cut the rope in half, then cut those halves in half, and then cut each quarter into 4ths so that you have about 64 even sized nuggets of dough.
- CAREFULLY add baking soda to water a tablespoon at a time.* Place dough into boiling water about 8-10 at a time and let boil for 20-30 seconds. Remove to a towel or paper towel using a slotted spoon.
- After all the bites have been boiled arrange on a lined cookie sheet so they're not touching and brush each one with an egg wash.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 9-10 minutes or until brown.
- Remove bites from oven and allow to cool for ten minutes. Then dip the bites into melted butter and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
For the Dip:
- Cream together cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar until dip reaches your desired thickness.
*If you add too much baking soda at once it will bubble up and spill over onto the stove. Trust me when I say that's not a mess you want to clean up 😉