Game-day Recipe: Pretzel Bites and Beer Cheese Dipping Sauce

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This recipe for homemade soft pretzel bites with beer cheese dip is decadent and delicious and makes the most amazing party appetizer.

Collage of homemade pretzel bites and beer cheddar dipping sauce optimized for Pinterest

Are you ready for some football?? I'll tell you a secret--I don't care about watching sports. At all. But I do like the snacks!  Especially homemade pretzel bites with beer cheddar dipping sauce.  

They even kind of look like little footballs, don't they?  Wishful thinking?  Yeah, I don't care because they're so delicious!

Beer and Cheddar cheese dipping sauce with pretzels

 Yeah, I'd watch sports to have an excuse to make and eat this.

The pretzels were made using this soft pretzel recipe I posted earlier this year.  

pretzel dough rolled out into a long rope, surrounded by a dusting of flour.

The only difference is that instead of forming twisted pretzels, I cut the rope of dough into tiny nuggets about 1" wide.

Pretzel dough cut into bite sized pieces, already boiled, brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sea salt, and set on a baking sheet lined with a silpat.

Just like the standard recipe, they were brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with coarse sea salt, then baked at 450 Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes, until the pretzel bites were a beautiful golden brown color.

A little note about basting and brushing these--anything really--with an egg wash, or butter, or whatever.  For the longest time, I used an old school pastry brush with natural bristles.  For a time, I even had a feather pastry brush.  Those natural bristles just held more of the liquid than a silicone pastry brush did, and made less mess.  Sure, they were harder to clean.  Sure, they occasionally left bristles behind that I'd have to pick out, but I still didn't make the switch to silicone until I read about this silicone pastry brush in a Cooks Illustrated review.  It's got these cool waffley holes in the center bristles that really hold liquid well (imagine a bubble wand, same concept).  Plus it can just be thrown in the dishwasher and come out completely clean.  Plus it doesn't leave bristles behind.  Definitely worth switching out your old pastry brush for this model.  

White bowl of beer cheddar sauce surrounded by homemade pretzel bites, displayed on a wooden cutting board on a granite counter.

My girls absolutely love to help me make these, and the dough can take quite a bit of abuse and still come out looking reasonable, so it's ok to have helpers who spend most of their time doing this:

It's all good, educational, tactile fun.  

Once the pretzels are in the oven, it's time to start the...

Overhead view of bowl of beer cheddar dipping sauce surrounded by homemade pretzel bites

Beer Cheese Dip for Pretzels:

  • 1T butter
  • 2T flour
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 t dry mustard
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 6oz (half a bottle) of beer
  • 3 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • black pepper, to taste

Bottle of Dos Equis beer, surrounded by a nutmeg grater, a heaping teaspoon of flour, and a pile of shredded white cheddar cheese.

I have to mention here that there's just nothing like freshly grated nutmeg.  Do yourself a favor, and get an inexpensive nutmeg grater and a jar of whole nutmegs (available at any grocery store with the spices).  Your eggnog and pumpkin pie and macaroni and cheese and roasted asparagus will love you for it.

Saucepan with flour and a pat of butter just beginning to melt.

Making a Roux:

Start by melting the butter in a saucepan, and cooking it with the flour for about a minute.  It may seem silly, but this step is crucial to get rid of the raw flour taste.  This cooked butter and flour mixture is called a roux, and helps to thicken the sauce.

Cooking flour and butter together in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk, to make the roux.

Next, whisk in a cup of milk.  Keep stirring, and cook for several minutes, until the mixture thickens.

Beer pouring into a pot with roux

Once the milk mixture has thickened, pour in half a beer.  Bring back up to a simmer, continuing to stir constantly.  

Shredded white cheddar cheese being added to roux and beer mixture in a saucepan, being stirred with a wooden spoon

Stir in the black pepper, nutmeg, and mustard powder.  Stir.  Then add the grated cheddar cheese, one cup at a time, stirring until the cheese is melted and incorporated in the mixture before adding the next cup.

Hand dipping a homemade pretzel bite into a white bowl full of homemade beer cheddar dipping sauce.

Total cooking time approximately 10 minutes. Serve the beer cheese dip right away, gloriously warm and melty and delicious.

Overhead view of a wooden cutting board heaped with homemade pretzel bites, with a white bowl of beer cheddar dipping sauce in the center.

What's your favorite game day snack?

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Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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