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29 Jan

These Homemade Pretzel Bites Are Better Than The Mall’s

pretzel-bites-a

My snack love language is pretzel bites. Usually the only times I get them are at the movie theater (slightly stale with molten cheese sauce in its own compartment) or at Auntie Anne’s in my hometown mall (nuggets so buttery that don’t need any dipping sauce). I once tried to make them myself when I was in 8th grade after watching too much Food Network. All I remember is giving up after one tray, because it was so much work to boil, then bake, then salt. Now I do all of those cooking tasks just for a weeknight dinner, so it’s not as daunting to use a three-step process when the end result is SO. MANY. PRETZEL. BITES.

PHOTO BY CHELSIE CRAIG
PHOTO BY CHELSIE CRAIG

Choose your own topping adventure—I’m partial to everything spice.

For the Super Bowl this year, I’m ready to tackle our new pretzel bites recipe. It’s definitely a project, but most of the work is done in the stand mixer (if you have one; if not, you can knead by hand) and the most time is spent waiting for the dough to rise so you can roll it like Play-Doh and cut into bite-sized nuggets. They’re crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside—aka the ideal texture. Instead of using lye, which can be hard to find and work with, they turn a deep mahogany color after boiling in a baking soda bath for about 20 seconds before baking for 8 to 12 minutes at 500°. You can sprinkle on coarse salt, paprika, everything bagel spice, sesame seeds, poppyseeds, caraway seeds—whatever you’re into right now. Food director Carla Lalli Music introduced the Bon Appétitstaff to her favorite German mustard, Düsseldorfer Löwensenf mustard, which often comes in a tube. There’s mild, medium, or extra hot, but all of them have a balanced spice and can be squeezed onto every pretzel to stop double-dipping. Brilliant.

PHOTO BY CHELSIE CRAIG
PHOTO BY CHELSIE CRAIG

We love this German mustard in a tube for any and all pretzels.

But really, what are pretzel bites without cheese? Luckily, we have a spicy cheese spread to go along with them. If you love pimiento cheese, you’re really going to love this unfussy, opposite-of-nacho-cheese dip. It’s made with a cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and two whole cups of cheddar, but hey, this is meant for sharing! Grated garlic and a pinch of cayenne pepper give it a zippy punch, and paprika makes it look pretty. You could double the recipe and have backup in the fridge for when it inevitably runs out at your football-viewing party, and like pimiento cheese, it tastes fine cold or room temperature. It doesn’t need to be constantly reheated and doesn’t congeal like queso. It’s ready for all the pretzel dipping you need for hours. And, as they say, once you pop the fun don’t stop.

PHOTO BY CHELSIE CRAIG
PHOTO BY CHELSIE CRAIG

Get lost in swirls of spicy cheddar dip.

Hannah Kim
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