Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese

When I was a baker in Kingston, Ontario in my 20's, I used to make pretzel knots (much easier to tie than traditional pretzels) for friends and for little get-togethers. They were super easy to make and people were so easily impressed by them. For some reason, making dough intimidates people, but it really shouldn't. In reality, doughs are very forgiving.

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Make sure you check that the dough is active before adding all your ingredients (see step 1). Then, once your dough has come together, add water if the dough seems too stiff or add flour if the dough seems too wet. When over-mixing isn’t a problem (and it isn’t when you’re making pretzels or other breads), you can keep on mixing until the dough feels just right – malleable, but not sticking to your fingers.

This recipe for soft pretzels with beer cheese specifies the air fryer to bake the pretzels, but rest assured you can bake them in the oven if you prefer. Simply transfer the parchment lined baking sheet to a 375ºF oven and bake for 7 to 12 minutes (depending on the size of the pretzel or knot), until nicely browned on top and baked through.

The beer cheese dip that goes along with the pretzels is also very easy to make – just a dump and stir recipe. It could be Octoberfest in your house tomorrow… 

A Soft Pretzel being dipped in a crock of Beer Cheese.

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Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese

  • Prep Time: 1 h 30 m
  • Cook Time: 3 m
  • Total Time: 1 h 33 m
  • Servings:
    12
    24 medium or 48 mini pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water warm
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoons baking soda
  • coarse sea salt
  • melted butter
Beer Cheese Dip:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup minced Vidalia onion
  • 12 ounces dark or amber ale beer
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 4 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes. You should see the mixture foam a little. This ensures that your yeast is alive. If there’s no foaming, stop and try again with new yeast.
  2. Combine the sugar, salt and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the mixer running and using the dough hook, drizzle in the yeast, water and melted butter and knead dough until smooth and elastic – about 10 minutes.
  3. Shape into a ball and let the dough rise for 1 hour. Punch the dough down to release any air and decide what size pretzels you want to make.
    (a)To make large pretzels, divide the dough in half; then divide each piece in half a second time; finally divide each piece into three equal portions – 12 portions total.
    (b) To make medium sized pretzels, divide the dough in half; then divide it in half a second time; then divide it in half a third time; finally divide each piece into three equal portions – 24 portions total.
    (c)To make mini pretzel knots divide the dough in half; then divide each piece in half a second time; then divide each piece in half a third time; then divide each piece in half a fourth time; finally divide each piece into three portions – 48 portions total.
  4. Roll each portion into a skinny rope using both hands on the counter and rolling from the center toward the ends of the rope. Spin the rope into a pretzel shape (or tie the rope into a knot) and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Pre-heat the air fryer to 350ºF.
  6. Combine the boiling water and baking soda in a shallow bowl and whisk to dissolve (this mixture will bubble, but it will settle down). Let the water cool so that you can put your hands in it. Working in batches, place the pretzels (top side down) into the baking soda-water mixture and let them soak for 1 a minute. (This step is what gives pretzels their texture and helps them to brown faster.) Then, remove the pretzels carefully and return them (top side up) to the baking sheet. Sprinkle the coarse salt on the top.
  7. Air-fry in batches for 3 minutes per side. When the pretzels are finished, brush them generously with the melted butter and enjoy them warm with some spicy mustard.

Beer Cheese Dip
  1. Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan. Add the minced onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in the beer and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cream cheese and spicy brown mustard. Stir until the cream cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the Cheddar cheese and stir until smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Serve the pretzels with warm Beer Cheddar Dip in a crock so people can dip to their hearts’ delight.
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