Pretzel Bites – Once Upon a Chef

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Similar to Auntie Anne’s famous mall pretzels, these buttery pretzel bites disappear in a flash.

Pretzel Bites

It’s a good thing these pretzel bites are easy to whip up with very few ingredients because they disappear in record time when served with grainy mustard or beer cheese dip. They’re perfect for game days, parties, snacking, or rainy days when you just need a fun baking project. The recipe is almost identical to my soft pretzel recipe, which is a copycat of Auntie Anne’s famous buttery mall pretzels, only it’s easier since you don’t have to fuss with twisting the dough into pretzel shapes; you simply form the dough into long ropes and snip it into bite-sized pieces.

Pretzels bites are great to make with kids ­or if you’re a beginner when it comes to working with yeast, as the dough is a dream to work with. I use a stand mixer for the recipe, but if you don’t have one, you can mix and knead the dough by hand.

Table of Contents

“Super easy appetizer – a huge hit with the kids and the adults!”

Michelle

What You’ll Need to Make Pretzel Bites

ingredients for soft pretzels

Find the printable recipe with exact measurements below.

  • Milk: The liquid base, enriching flavor and tenderizing the dough.
  • Unsalted Butter: Adds richness and is used for brushing on the bites for flavor.
  • Light Brown Sugar: Sweetens slightly and feeds the yeast for rising.
  • Instant/Rapid-Rise Yeast: Leavens the dough, ensuring light and airy pretzel bites.
  • All-Purpose Flour: The base of the pretzels; use the spoon-and-level method to ensure correct measuring.
  • Baking Soda: Dissolved in boiling water to make a dipping solution for the pretzels prior to baking; gives the bites a rich brown crust and distinct pretzel flavor.
  • Coarse or Kosher Salt: Enhances flavor with a crunchy texture on top of the bites.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Warm the milk and 2 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave until the butter is just melted, about 90 seconds; do not boil. (Alternatively, warm the butter and milk in a small saucepan.) Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved; set aside.

warmed butter and milk

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour with the yeast and salt. Mix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk mixture to the bowl. When the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch to the dough hook. Knead for about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand.)

It should be smooth and slightly tacky, as shown below.

dough in mixer

Shape the dough into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a 2-qt baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2¼ cups boiling water. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved; set aside and let cool to lukewarm (or cooler). (Later you’ll dip the dough in the solution, which will give  the pretzel bites a rich brown crust and pretzel flavor.)

whisking the baking soda solution

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

punching down the dough

Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn it out onto a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a log, then cut into 6 equal pieces; cover with a damp dishtowel so the dough doesn’t dry out.

pretzel dough cut into sixths

Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 24-inch rope about ½-inch thick, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch.

rolled out pretzel doughCut each rope into 1¼-inch pieces. They will shrink a bit as they sit.

pretzel bites cut and ready to dip

Working in batches, drop the pretzel dough bites into the soda solution and let them sit for about 2 minutes.

soaking the bites in the baking soda solution

Using a slotted spoon, remove the pretzel dough bites from the solution, letting any excess liquid drip off, then arrange the bites on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1½ inches apart. Sprinkle evenly with the coarse salt.

raw pretzel bites sprinkled with salt

Bake until golden, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, for 8 to 9 minutes; watch the bottoms carefully as they can burn.

baked pretzel bites fresh out of the oven

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the baked pretzels.

brushing melted butter on pretzel bites

The pretzels are best enjoyed warm out of the oven or fresh on the same day (reheat in the oven or microwave). Serve with grainy mustard or beer cheese dip.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make cinnamon-sugar pretzel bites?

If you prefer a cinnamon sugar topping, omit the coarse salt on top. Brush the pretzel bites with butter after baking and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (½ cup sugar plus ¾ teaspoon cinnamon).

Can I substitute active dry yeast for the instant/rapid-rise yeast?

Yes, you can substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast in equal amounts. Traditionally, active dry yeast required activation in warm water before use, a step known as proofing. However, modern active dry yeast is formulated to be mixed directly into the dough with other dry ingredients, similar to instant yeast. Despite this, doughs made with active dry yeast will take slightly longer to rise compared to those made with instant yeast. Therefore, if you’re using active dry yeast, be prepared to allow a bit more time for the dough to rise. To give active dry yeast a little boost, you can dissolve it in the warm milk and butter, let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.

Can the dough be made ahead of time?

Yes! After the dough has risen, it can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for a few months. Thaw the frozen dough in the refrigerator before using. The dough can be shaped into pretzel bites while still cool, but allow about 30 minutes for the bites to puff up a bit before dipping and baking.

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Pretzel Bites

Similar to Auntie Anne’s famous mall pretzels, these buttery pretzel bites disappear in a flash.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast (1 package)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • About 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk and 2 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave until the butter is just melted, about 90 seconds; do not boil. (Alternatively, warm them in a small saucepan.) Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk/butter mixture to the bowl. When the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, the dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand.) Shape the dough into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2¼ cups boiling water. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved; set aside and let cool to lukewarm (or cooler). (Before baking, you’ll dip the pretzels into the solution, which will give them a rich brown crust and pretzel flavor.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 450°F and set two oven racks in the centermost positions. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn it out onto a clean work surface. (If the dough feels sticky, you can dust it with a bit of flour as needed.) Shape the dough into a log, then cut into 6 equal pieces; cover with a damp dishtowel so the dough doesn’t dry out. One at a time, roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 24-inch rope about ½-inch thick, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Cut each rope crosswise into 1¼-inch pieces. They will shrink a bit as they sit; that’s okay.
  6. Working in batches, drop the pretzel dough bites into the baking soda solution, swish around, and let each batch sit for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pretzel dough bites from the solution, letting any excess liquid drip off, then arrange the bites on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1½ inches apart. Sprinkle evenly with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, switching the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through cooking, for 8 to 9 minutes; watch the bottoms carefully as they can burn. Repeat with the remaining batches.
  7. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the baked pretzels. The pretzels are best enjoyed warm out of the oven or fresh on the same day.
  8. Note: Active dry yeast may be used instead of instant yeast, however, the dough will take longer to rise. To give active dry yeast a boost, you can dissolve it in the warm milk and butter, let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.
  9. Note: If you prefer a cinnamon sugar topping, omit the coarse salt. Brush with butter after baking and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (½ cup sugar plus about ¾ teaspoon cinnamon)
  10. Make-Ahead Instructions: After the dough has risen, it can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for a few months. Thaw the frozen dough in the refrigerator before using. The dough can be shaped into pretzel bites while still cool, but allow about 30 minutes for the bites to puff up a bit before dipping and baking.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 5 pretzel bites
  • Calories: 126
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 897 mg
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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