America loves pretzels. They’re a great accompaniment to watching TV, pair well with beer and, of course, what baseball game is complete without a warm, soft pretzel dressed in brown mustard?
So it’s only fitting that the twisted, salty dough get a holiday. Every year, April 26th marks National Pretzel Day and pretzel joints around the United States are giving away America’s favorite carb-loaded snack. But instead of waiting in line to claim your foodie freebie, try making these pretzel bites at home.
It’s easier than you think. The secret is in the dough, which has a buttery taste with a slight hint of brown sugar sweetness. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting the two to three hours for the dough to rise. But it’s worth the wait. This recipe makes eight dozen airy and doughy soft pretzel bites that are great for a party or for family movie night.
Thanksgiving.com has a helpful step-by-step video guide along with photos outlining how these pretzel bites are made.
For the pretzel dough
- 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
For baking pretzels
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Kosher salt
To make the pretzel dough
- 1 Place the yeast in the bottom of a large bowl.
- 2 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.
- 3 In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and light brown sugar.
- 4 Using a wooden spoon, add flour mixture and butter to the yeast mixture. Stir together well, using your hands as it forms a dough.
- 5 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.
- 6 Lightly oil a large bowl, add dough and roll it around in the bowl to coat all sides with the oil.
- 7 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.
- 8 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.
To bake the pretzels
- 1 Heat oven to 450F with racks positioned in the upper and lower third levels of the oven.
- 2 Using a brush, oil 2 parchment-covered large baking sheets and set aside.
- 3 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).
- 4 Add the first batch of pretzel bites (approximately 12) and cook 30 seconds (the pretzel bites will rise to the surface very quickly).
- 5 Transfer with a slotted spoon to baking sheets.
- 6 Working very quickly, sprinkle pretzel bites lightly on both sides with kosher salt before they dry.
- 7 Repeat with remaining pretzel bites, returning water to a boil between batches.
- 8 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.
- 9 Immediately transfer pretzel bites to wire racks lined with parchment paper to cool.
- 10 Serve immediately or, once cool, store in plastic bags.