There aren’t many appetizers that I order more religiously than pretzels and beer cheese. The salty, warm, chewy pretzel pairs perfectly with a side of rich, creamy beer cheese. We will walk you through the ingredients and steps needed to make one of the best pretzel and beer cheese combos we have ever had. Let’s get started with the pretzels.
Making a pretzel is surprisingly easy, and only requires 7 ingredients. We have step-by-step images below of how to fold the pretzel shape, but the shape is by no means a requirement. We have also used this recipe to make pretzel bites. Most of the ingredients will already be in your pantry, and whatever you need can be picked up at any supermarket.
The following is a list of what you will need. After you make the dough and shape it as you’d like, the dough goes into a baking soda bath to give it the salty, chewy flavor you expect from a pretzel. The baking soda bath ingredients are also listed below.
- 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1 standard packet of instant or active yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon of fine kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of melted, unsalted butter
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- Coarse sea salt for taste
Baking Soda Bath
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 9 cups of water
- Mix the active yeast well into the warm water and let the mixture sit for 90 seconds. The yeast should start to foam by the end of the 90 seconds. Whisk in the salt, brown sugar, and melted butter until the mixture is smooth. Slowly add in the flour 1 cup at a time and mix with either a wooden spoon or a dough hook on a stand mixer. After you have added all 4 cups of flour, the dough should no longer be sticky. If the dough is still sticky, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour at a time until it is no longer sticky.
- Now that you have made the dough, transfer it to a floured surface and knead for 4 minutes. After kneading, mold the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl covered lightly with a towel for at least 10 minutes.
- While the dough rests, prepare the oven and baking soda wash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and mix in the 1/2 cup of baking soda into 9 cups of water. Bring the baking soda bath to a boil.
- After the dough has rested for 10 minutes, begin to shape your dough. If you are going to shape it into the traditional shape, cut off about 1/3 of a cup of the dough and roll it into just under a 2-foot rope. Shape the rope as shown below this section. If you want to make pretzel balls, start the same way and make just under a 2-foot rope with 1/3 cup of the dough. Cut the rope into 2-inch sections to make your bites. Rolling the dough into this length of rope will keep the thickness consistent and ensure even cooking.
- Once you have shaped your pretzels or cut them into bites, it is time for the baking soda bath. Once the baking soda bath is boiling, drop in one to two pretzels at a time. Boil the pretzels for a maximum of 30 seconds, and then remove them with a slotted spatula. Allow the excess liquid to drip off into the pot and then transfer the pretzels to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Once all the pretzels have had their baking soda wash and have been transferred to the baking sheet, sprinkle the pretzels with coarse sea salt. Once all of the pretzels have all the salt you desire, place them in the oven and bake for 12-16 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown. Once the pretzels have been removed, let them cool and enjoy! They are delicious on their own, but this post wouldn’t be appropriate for us Beer Junkies without adding a wonderful beer cheese, so lets move on!
Shaping Your Pretzels
Start by rolling your dough into a rope between 20″ and 24.” Rolling about 1/3 cup of dough into this length helps ensure that all of the pretzel gets cooked evenly.
Bring both ends down and wrap them around each other as shown above. This step sets up the traditional knotted interior that you expect in your pretzel.
Finally, bring the bottom of the twisted rope you just made to the top of the pretzel and press the ends in to secure the pieces together. After this step, your pretzel has been formed and it is ready for its baking soda bath.
Now for the fun part, the beer cheese! As I am sure you know, different beer styles will impart different flavors to the cheese. Lighter beers will give, as the name suggests, a lighter flavor to the beer while darker beers will produce deeper and richer flavors. For our beer cheese, I have used both our Oktoberfest and Munich Helles recipes, and between the two I preferred our Oktoberfest. It added a lovely rich flavor that I found delicious. I have some more beer recommendations below.
- Maduro Brown – Cigar City Brewing
- Oktober Fest Marzen – Ayinger
- Vienna Lager – Devils Backbone
- Modelo Negra – Modelo
- Flagship IPA – Goose Island
- Dortmunder Gold – Great Lakes Brewing Co
- Modelo Especial – Modelo
- Budweiser – Anheuser Busch
Beer Cheese Ingredients
The beer cheese has more ingredients than the pretzel, but it is still not a difficult recipe to make. The ingredients are below.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cup beer
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese
- 8 oz pepper jack cheese
- Before doing anything else, I would shred your cheese. Use block cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese as the pre-shredded cheese has additives that will make melting difficult.
- Once you have shredded the cheese, melt the butter, and mix in the flour, onion powder, and garlic powder over medium heat in a saucepan.
- Stir in the milk slowly until smooth. Once you have mixed in the milk, stir in the beer slowly. After you have finished mixing in your beer, add the mustard and continue cooking until the sauce is thick and bubbling.
- At this point, reduce the heat to low and add all of your cheeses until it is smooth and melted. Do not overheat the cheese or it can become grainy.
- Once the cheese is all mixed in and your sauce is smooth and creamy, it is ready to be enjoyed! Break off a piece of one of those pretzels and dig in.
If you decide to make this recipe, feel free to leave us a comment to let us know how it went! Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter below for more exclusive beer content. Cheers!