Sprouted Wheat Jalapeño Pretzel Braid with Skillet Queso

"Soft, hot pretzels made with sprouted wheat and fresh, spicy jalapeños, served up for a crowd... and dipped in homemade, so-much-better-than-just-plain-ol’-melted-cheddar queso" — that's the tempting description penned by the author of this recipe, Katherine Hysmith of The Young Austinian. Sprouted wheat flour makes a soft, silky, easy-to-handle dough — perfect when you're shaping a large braid like this one.

45 mins
20 mins
2 hrs 15 mins
1 large pretzel, 12 servings
 Sprouted Wheat Jalapeño Pretzel Braid with Skillet Queso


  1. To make the pretzel: Place the jalapeños and 1 tablespoon of water in a mini food processor or blender and pulse until the peppers are finely diced and slightly puréed. Alternatively, finely dice the peppers by hand.

  2. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. In a large bowl, combine the 1 1/2 cups water, flours, sugar, yeast, salt, butter, and jalapeño purée. Mix and knead until smooth, using a stand mixer, your hands, or a bread machine set to the dough cycle. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and set it in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes.

  3. Start preheating the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a flat work surface.

  4. Deflate the risen dough and divide it into eight equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into long, thin ropes about 20” to 22” long. Let the ropes rest for about 10 minutes, uncovered.

  5. To prepare the water bath: Boil water and pour it into a large, wide bowl, filling the bowl at least halfway. Add the baking soda and stir; it won’t dissolve entirely, but whisk or stir vigorously enough that you dissolve most of it.

  6. To shape the pretzel: Twist together two of the ropes and shape them into a small ring. Braid together three ropes and form into a ring around the outside of the twisted ropes. Braid together the final three ropes and form a third ring around the previous one. Trim the edges of each ring as needed. There should be a small hole left in the middle of the three rings.

  7. Carefully slip the smallest ring into a colander, then dunk colander and ring into the water bath. Let the ring sit, submerged, for about 2 minutes. Remove the ring from the water, and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining two rings.

  8. Reform the concentric rings on the baking sheet, tucking in any edges as necessary.

  9. To make the topping: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and water. Lightly brush the rings with the egg white/water and liberally sprinkle with pretzel salt.

  10. Place the pretzel on a rack towards the bottom of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan (back to front, front to back), and tent lightly with foil. Continue baking until the pretzel is a deep golden brown, about 10 more minutes.

  11. Remove the pretzel from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.

  12. To make the queso dip: In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and quickly whisk to form a roux, cooking for about 30 seconds.

  13. Add the half-and-half and whisk briskly until smooth. Lower the heat and add the cheese and chili powder, stirring until smooth. Add more half-and-half or milk, about a tablespoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency; salt to taste. Serve alongside the pretzel.

  14. Store any leftover pretzel well-wrapped, at room temperature, for several days; freeze for longer storage. Refrigerate any leftover dip for up to a week.