Do you think irresistible, can’t-get-enough pretzel bites are too difficult to make at home? Think again! This easy recipe for homemade pretzel bites will have you baking up pretzels for afternoon snacks, party trays and comfort food on occasions when you can’t make it through the day without carb-loaded contentment.
The soft pretzel bite fun starts with the yeast-risen bread dough, which has a subtle butter flavor and a hint of brown sugar sweetness. After you bring the simple combination of ingredients together, use some muscle to knead the dough for 10 minutes (consider this a calorie-burning bonus before you nosh a dozen or two soft pretzel bites!). Set it aside, and two to three hours later, you’ll have an airy dough that is ready to be transformed into pretzel bite perfection.
Once you divide the dough and roll it into long ropes, cut your pretzel bites. They may look bland and uninteresting at this point, but in just a few minutes, they’ll be in the oven, and you’ll be entranced by their salt-flecked deep brown color and heady aroma.
After you piece out your pretzel bites, let them quickly bathe in a pot of boiling baking soda water. Transfer them to baking sheets and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the bites are nicely browned.
Eat your homemade pretzel bites hot out of the oven with your favorite dipping sauce, or let them cool on wire racks and save them for later. We don’t expect you to have the self-control to wait for later: They are that good!
Baker’s note: The baking soda bath is essential in making these soft pretzel bites. The 30-second dip in the boiling baking soda water gives each pretzel bite its authentic dark brown color, and locks in the trademark chewy pretzel interior.
Homemade soft pretzel bites
Serves 8 dozen
- One 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast (with date that hasn’t expired)
- 1 cup 110F water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons packed, light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- Vegetable oil for coating bowl
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Kosher salt
Make pretzel dough:
- Place the yeast in the bottom of a large bowl.
- Add the warm water and allow to stand until the yeast develops a creamy surface and bubbles up, about 10 minutes. Note: Make certain that the water is at the correct temperature. If the yeast doesn’t develop, start over with a new packet of yeast.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and light brown sugar.
- Using a wooden spoon, add flour mixture and butter to the yeast mixture. Stir together well, using your hands as it forms a dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes, sprinkling on more flour as needed if the dough begins to stick to the work surface.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, add dough and roll it around in the bowl to coat all sides with the oil.
- Cover with a lightweight kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft-free place at room temperature until it doubles in size, approximately 2 to 3 hours.
- Punch down dough and divide it into quarters. Form each quarter into 4 balls. Roll each ball into a 12-inch-long rope. Cut each rope into six 2-inch pieces and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Heat oven to 450F with racks positioned in the upper and lower third levels of the oven.
- Using a brush, oil 2 parchment-covered large baking sheets and set aside.
- In a 4- to 5-quart pan, bring water and baking soda to a boil (mixture will be foamy at first but will dissipate as it cooks).
- Add the first batch of pretzel bites (approximately 12) and cook 30 seconds (the pretzel bites will rise to the surface very quickly).
- Transfer with a slotted spoon to baking sheets.
- Working very quickly, sprinkle pretzel bites lightly on both sides with kosher salt before they dry.
- Repeat with remaining pretzel bites, returning water to a boil between batches.
- Bake pretzel bites in the oven, switching baking sheets between racks and rotating sheets halfway through the baking process until pretzels turn a deep brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Note: Watch closely toward the end of the baking process so they do not get overly done.
- Immediately transfer pretzel bites to wire racks lined with parchment paper to cool.
- Serve immediately or, once cool, store in plastic bags.
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