Serves a Crowd

Party Pretzel Bites

December  2, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes a lot!
Author Notes

I find the smell of soft baked pretzels so alluring I can never seem to pass one up, but then I always find them disappointing. Once you get past the salt and the unique baking soda flavor of the skin, the insides are often tasteless and styrofoamy. So, I thought, why not try making pretzels with an enriched challah style dough so the crumb would be flavorful. Yum! You can shape the dough as pretzels, but for a party I'd suggest cutting up strands of dough into little pretzel bites. It will make a ton! —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: fiveandspice is a nutrition grad student whose cooking, styling, and entertaining we admire.
WHAT: Brioche-like soft pretzels in bite form. You can serve with mustard, but your guests may not even notice.
HOW: Have faith. By the time the dough has boiled and baked, it will puff beautifully, even if it looks a little shriveled along the way.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Making your own pretzels takes only an afternoon and a bit of attention, and will make you legendary. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup warm water (around 105F)
  • 3/4 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting surfaces, etc.)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg white, for egg wash
  • fleur de sel
  1. In a large bowl stir together the warm water and honey. Sprinkle with yeast and let stand until the yeast is foamy (about 5 minutes). Stir in the butter, salt, and eggs.
  2. Stir in the flour until it is entirely incorporated and it comes together in a shaggy ball. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for several minutes, until smooth. Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until it rises and collapses (90 minutes - 2 hours)
  3. Punch the dough down, and on a floured surface roll it out into 8 ropes, each about 3/4 of an inch wide. Cut the ropes into 1 inch pieces, separate them from each other placing them on a tray or baking sheet and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425F. Bring a large pot filled with 8 cups of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, stir in 2 Tbs. sugar and 1/4 cup baking soda. It will bubble up like crazy! But then it will subside. Turn the heat down to a high simmer and add your little dough pieces, about ten at a time, making sure they're not crowding each other or bringing the temperature down. Let them simmer for about a minute, giving them a couple little stirs during the process to make sure both sides cook. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and put onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Repeat until all the little dough bites have been cooked in the water and have been placed onto baking sheets. You can squeeze on quite a few per sheet, as long as they have a space between each of them. Brush the bites with egg white and sprinkle with fleur de sel.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until they are a deep chestnut brown, make sure you don't take them out when they're too pale. Remove onto cooling racks immediately to cool. These pretzel bites are best eaten the day they are baked (very best fresh baked, of course), so I guess you'll have to do it the morning or afternoon of the party!
  7. Serve with a little bowl of mustard, blue cheese dip (1 cup crumbled blue cheese whisked with 1/2 cup mascarpone), or chocolate fondue.
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60 Reviews

Maurine H. February 8, 2021
Oh my, these are so so good! I just made them for the Super Bowl, was super nervous that they weren’t going to turn out, and they ended up picture-perfect. They’re my new party trick (for, you know, when parties are a thing again).
Yolanda M. November 20, 2020
These wereTHE BEST. I’ve made them several times and they have always been a hit.
Jeongmin October 10, 2017
I did this dough by hand kneading and it was a bit to wet to knead. I added more flour to it. And as soon as I put them into boiling water, the surface of the dough got wrinkled quickly.
Gardener February 6, 2017
I finally tried this recipe but was disappointed in the results. The rich, silky dough was lovely to work with after the rise and I wish I turned it into a loaf of bread instead of the pretzels that turned overly soft and kind of soggy over time, with no crust to speak of and just ok taste.
jessie May 2, 2015
I was a little worried as I was putting them into the boiling water they were not holding a smooth puffed up shape. I found that if I stretched them a bit when I put them into the water they held better but still looked like wrinkly little fingers. Also, the water was getting pretty yellow for the last batches. But I baked them and they tasted pretty little soft pretzels.
KEN March 29, 2015
i made these today. damn things would not come off the parchment paper!! just saw that complaint here. waste of time
Meaghan F. February 2, 2015
These are almost too good to be legal... Made them yesterday to take to a Super Bowl party and had to pull up the recipe before people believed they were homemade.
janet V. October 19, 2014
Can you make the dough the day before, then boil and bake the day of?
kissy28c October 8, 2014
OMG just seeing this recipe. Can't wait to try it. Nom nom nom.
Christine February 7, 2014
We made these pretzels bites today but could not remove them from the parchment paper without leaving the bottom half of the pretzel. Why? I didn't see any other comments with a similar problem. Thanks
gingerroot February 7, 2014
Hi Christine, was the part stuck to the pan a darker color - did it look dark and wet? I made these for Super Bowl Sunday and 96% of them were perfect and delicious. However my last pan (and so the last to be cooked in the water) had a number that were stuck to the pan. I think they were undercooked.
fiveandspice February 8, 2014
I think gingerroot is right. The temperature of the cooking water can cool down as it cooks all those batches of pretzels, so they may have not cooked enough in the water, or the water might not have been hot enough to cook them fast and then they can get soggy, which might explain it.
Ned S. January 2, 2014
So delicious! Definitely a recipe you want to try out.
mary-ellen October 25, 2013
I made these today. They were perfect. However, my dough hardly rose at all. So much so, after reading the comments and no one had this problem, that I nearly threw out the dough. Decided to bake them anyway. They were so good that I had to tie my hands behind my back in order to stop myself from eating them. Does the dough really rise and then collapse? Was my yeast not fresh enough? So pleased, but want to know the facts before I attempt to make them again. Thanks
fiveandspice February 8, 2014
Sorry I'm so very late to answering this comment! I only get notified of them sometimes, for some reason. Anyway, it's possible that your yeast wasn't quite fresh enough or that the temperature where the dough was rising was a little too cool. But then the heat of the water and the oven gave enough oomph to the tiny air bubbles that had formed that they expanded and the bread worked out. Collapsed isn't maybe the best term for what happens with bread rising, it's just one that gets used in recipes. It's more like the rising processing reaches a plateau. Though sometimes dough does rise and expand enough that after a while it collapses.
fellowworker July 15, 2013
Look. Guys. Gals. Please. Just make pretzel buns out of this recipe! They are certainly fabulous.

As an aside, instead of baking soda in the water bath, take some baking soda (about a cup) and bake the hell from it at 250 degrees for an hour. Use your baked soda 1:1 like you would baking soda. It's slightly more alkaline, but not quite lye, and will make a deliciously hazel crust and crumb.
Wulffmom January 27, 2013
I made these as rolls today for hamburgers. I split them into 6 parts (could have done 8), boiled them for about 30 seconds on each side, egg wash, scored the tops, then baked them at 425 for 20 minutes. They came out great. This dough makes such flavorful pretzels and I think they'll go great with a nice cheeseburger with lots of mustard!
fiveandspice January 28, 2013
That sounds amazing!
oregon C. January 25, 2013
Planning to make these for annual Super-Bowl party next week. Do they stay fresh if I make them the day before? Looks like a single recipe makes around 80 bites??? Thanks -- saved this recipe a while ago, looking forward to them.
fiveandspice January 26, 2013
80 sounds about right. They keep alright if you make them the day before and rewarm them. You can also make them up through boiling them, and once they're boiled (don't use an anodized pot!) you can freeze them on the baking sheet overnight, then take them out, brush them and salt them, and bake them until they're nicely browned (I'd guess that'd be 20-25 minutes from frozen).
i triked these and they taste great
fiveandspice December 30, 2012
mollycumming December 1, 2012
Wow, these are fantastic! I made them today for a party, served without a mustard or dip, and they were a huge hit. Thank you for the recipe!
fiveandspice December 2, 2012
Awesome! That's great to hear.
Nuala September 18, 2012
I would love to make these for an upcoming birthday, but don't want to spend the day of the party prepping. Could I make these ahead, freeze, and reheat? Or perhaps make them up to step 5, freeze, and bake the day of the party? Any suggestions appreciated!
fiveandspice September 18, 2012
I definitely think so. And, I think you could take either approach. They'd probably taste the most "freshly baked" if you made them up through step 5, and then after they'd come out of the water bath, freeze them on a lined baking sheet (like you would gnocchi) with space in between each, then once they're frozen solid, transfer them to an airtight container. Then, I think I would defrost them before baking them. I think it would also work fine to bake them fully, freeze them, and then gently reheat them in a warm oven before serving.
JulieBoulangerie December 21, 2012
Yes, you can make these ahead (fully baked) and re-heat! I did 350 degrees for 10 minutes from frozen. I would avoid salting them before the first baking- the cool down has the potential to make the salt dissolve on the "skin." Maybe brush the frozen nuggets with water and sprinkle with salt before the warm up.
yes you can make these up to step 5 and re-heat, I did and they tasted superb! I would brush them with a little more salt before you bake them after defrosted as freezing them looses some of the salt.
meganvt01 September 3, 2012
I made these tonight for a labor day get together - they are a substantial effort but worth every bit of time and energy!!! One caveat - these are so good - your guests may fill up on them while gobblingly them up voraciously and or be hungry for dinner :). These would be amazing for a football game day spread. I can't wait to make them again! Thanks Emily for another great recipe.
fiveandspice September 3, 2012
Yeah, it's true, there's a lot of steps going on in these ones! But, they're so addictive, how can you refuse?! ;) I'm so happy you guys liked them!
Newbiebaker July 20, 2012
I have never cooked anything like this before but tried them at a friends and decided after eating about half the batch that I would give it a shot.
Everything went well but we had an issue with the cooking process. We found that one corner of the bites (big or small bite) took a really long time to cook.
I would like to try these again so I thought I would ask what potentially could have cause the problem.
My guess is possibly overworked the dough or I didn't boil them for long enough.

Any thoughts?? The cooked parts tasted amazing!!
fiveandspice July 21, 2012
Hi Newbiebaker! I'm glad you gave these a try, but I'm sorry you had this funny difficulty with them. I don't think that overworking the dough would have caused one corner of the bites to take longer to cook. I'm not even sure exactly what you mean by that - like all the ones in one corner of the baking pan or else one corner of every single bite? It could be possible that if they aren't getting flipped and getting cooked on both sides during the boiling process, then the sides that aren't getting boiled would cook differently. Another possibility is that your oven bakes unevenly and has pockets of different temperatures, so you could try rotating pans during the baking process. If the egg white doesn't coat them evenly, the parts not brushed with egg white may also give the appearance of cooking at a different rate because the egg white makes them brown more. Those are the thoughts that I have. I hope it goes well on your next try. And, feel free to give more details about exactly what happened if you want and I can try to give more specific thoughts.
Newbiebaker July 21, 2012
It was pretty much every bite and when I started looking at them (trying to find what I could eat) it looked like both ends where they were cut had a little bit that wouldn't cook.
It seemed odd because if anything I would have thought that it would be the center that would not be fully cooked, not the outside edge.. I am going to try again today.. will be more careful with the boiling and wee how it goes!
I am determined to figure out what went wrong and try it again..
fiveandspice July 23, 2012
So strange. I can't at all figure out what would cause that. I hope it went better the second time!