Rye Pretzels with Cheesy Beer Sauce

If you’re a pretzel and beer fan, you know that the two are a match made for one another. This recipe pairs dense, chewy rye pretzels with a beer-based cheese sauce, yielding the ultimate pretzel snack to serve as an appetizer or crowd-pleaser at a party.

Prep
45 mins
Bake
18 to 22 mins
Total
10 hrs 10 mins
Yield
10 pretzels
Rye Pretzels with Cheesy Beer Sauce

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl combine the flours, salt, and yeast. Add the beer, water, honey, and butter, stirring to combine and then kneading briefly to bring the dough together. The dough will be sticky, but fairly stiff.

  2. Cover the bowl and place it somewhere warm. After 30 minutes, run a bowl scraper or spatula down the inside far wall of the bowl, bring the dough up from the bottom, and fold it over on top of itself. Repeat three times, rotating the bowl 90° each time. 

  3. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for an additional 30 minutes before refrigerating for 8 to 16 hours.

  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide it into 10 pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Let the balls rest for 5 to 10 minutes. 

  5. To shape pretzels: Form each dough ball into a 5” log. Roll the logs into 22” ropes, leaving a fatter portion in the center about 4" to 6" long. Twist each rope into a pretzel, and place the pretzels on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  6. Cover the pretzels and let them rest and rise at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. 

  7. After the rest, chill the pretzels in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes; this helps to firm them up and makes them easier to dip (though you can skip this step if you’re pressed for time). While the pretzels are chilling, make the cheese sauce.

  8. To make the cheese sauce: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter, stir in the flour, and cook the mixture for about 30 seconds. 

  9. Add the mustard or mustard powder and Worcestershire sauce (if using). 

  10. Slowly pour in the beer, whisking to incorporate. Once the sauce is smooth, remove the pan from the heat. 

  11. Add the cream cheese, stirring to incorporate the pieces as they melt. Stir in the cheddar cheese. It won’t fully melt; that’s OK. Set the sauce aside to cool.

  12. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 

  13. To finish and bake the pretzels: Prepare the water bath by combining the boiling water with the baking soda in a shallow dish or pan, stirring to dissolve the baking soda as best you can. Let cool until you’re ready to soak the pretzels. 

  14. Place the pretzels into the water bath and allow them to soak for about 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels, letting the excess water drip off before placing them back on the baking sheet.

  15. Using a sharp knife or lame, slash each pretzel horizontally across its base. Top them with coarse kosher or pretzel salt, if desired.

  16. Bake the pretzels for 18 to 22 minutes, until deeply browned. 

  17. To serve the pretzels: Rewarm the cheese sauce in the saucepan or microwave until hot; the cheddar cheese will melt, making a smooth sauce. 

  18. Serve pretzels warm or at room temperature with the hot cheese sauce.

  19. Store pretzels, well-wrapped, for up to 3 days at room temperature; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make stuffed pretzels: Prepare the dough through step #4. Take each dough ball and stretch it into a bagel shape about 3" to 4" in diameter (without puncturing the center), leaving a 2”-diameter flat indentation where a bagel’s hole would be. The bottom of this indentation should be 1/8” to 1/4” thick, with the outer edge of the pretzel itself about 1/2” to 3/4” thick.

    Continue with the recipe as directed above, starting with step #6 (letting the pretzels rest and rise), and continuing through step #14 (their soak in the water bath).

    Once you’ve transferred the soaked pretzels to the baking sheet, fill the depression of each with a tablespoonful of one of the following fillings (or another filling of your choice): sautéed mushrooms; fresh, cooked, or sun-dried tomatoes; diced, roasted vegetables; cooked pancetta or bacon, ham, or other cured meat; smoked fish, or pesto or other savory jam or sauce.

    Top each pretzel with a heaping tablespoon of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the outside of the pretzels with coarse kosher or pretzel salt, if desired.

    Bake the stuffed pretzels for 18 to 22 minutes, until deeply browned. Remove them from the oven, allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve warm. To garnish, top pretzels with fresh herbs or a more artistic variation on the filling that’s inside them (e.g. a thin slice of tomato).

    Store stuffed pretzels in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; freeze for longer storage. Reheat stuffed pretzels in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes before serving.

    Stuffed Pretzels