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Beer Pretzels with Drunken White Cheddar Sauce

These golden pillow-y beer pretzels are salted and hardened on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. Served with a white cheddar beer sauce, it’s perfection all around.
Drunken Pretzels with White Cheddar Beer Sauce 6

“Oh no—not another recipe with beer!” (Said no one, ever.)

There are two types of recipes that I get excited about posting most—delicious pasta dishes and recipes that include beer.

Back in May my pal Jared, owner and creator of The Hesitant Chef, asked me to develop a recipe and write up a guest post for him.

If you don’t know Jared, you need to rectify that. Not only does he provide his readers with delicious nosh like salmon gravlax and  homemade cream cheese, but the guy also brews his own beers and ciders. WHAT. I wish I had those bragging rights.

Aside from sharing a deep appreciation for beer and cider, Jared and I have a few other things in common; we’re both from Southern Ontario, we love beer, we love food, we love beer in food and we love sharing beer and food with our friends. With all that considered, I really wanted to develop a recipe that reflected all of these things.
 
This recipe was available exclusively at The Hesitant Chef for a while, but Jared was nice enough to give me the nod to make it available here as well.

Beer Pretzel Collage
Drunken Pretzels with White Cheddar Beer Sauce 3

If anything pairs well with beer, it’s a salty snack—like pretzels. And it just so happens that beer has yeast in it. What is yeast great for? Dough. So making beer pretzels was a bit of a no-brainer.

Oh, it gets better.

As I was deciding on what type of beer to use (I went with a Bavarian lager), I thought that including a homemade cheese sauce for dipping would be wise. You CANNOT have a salted pillow-y pretzel without a warm cheese sauce. (I can’t, anyway.)

Ah, and guess what makes a cheese sauce even better? Yes. Beer. Are you sensing a theme here? (The theme isn’t alcoholism, I promise.)

Let’s chat about a few things first.

The Dough.

Let me preface this by saying I’m not very experienced with dough and this was my first time making pretzels. I had no idea what sort of consistency I was looking for, but common sense suggested it should feel like homemade pizza dough so I hoped for that. Thankfully the dough turned out wonderfully; it was easy to mix, easy to knead and easy to shape.

This dough needs to rest for an hour. Once that hour is up, cut it into 8 segments and roll each segment into 18-20-inch long dough ropes.

Once you roll out a dough rope, take the two ends and form a circle. Then, cross the two ends over from one another, approx. half an inch. Twist the ends around once and fold the ends to the bottom of the pretzel. Pinch the ends at the bottom of the pretzel to seal and secure.

Pretzel Fold Step-by-step

 

Before putting these bad boys into the oven, you want to give each of them a 30-second soak in boiling water with baking soda. This is an example of science in baking and why it’s important. The boiling process helps the interior of the pretzel “puff” and a crust begins to form. If you skip boiling, you’ll be robbed of the chewiness that you long for in a soft pretzel. The addition of baking soda increases the pH bringing it to the basic/alkaline end of the scale and it gelatinizes the crust. This helps achieve that sexy golden exterior with a crackled surface and hints of pulled crust.

Once done, brush the pretzel tops with your egg wash and hit those bad boys with some coarse Kosher or sea salt.

Pretzel Egg Wash

Now, you’ll notice these big puffy pretzels don’t quite look like your standard symmetrical stadium pretzels. In all honesty, I’m kind of thrilled about this. Though I do love me some stadium pretzels, there is just something really inviting and comforting about these warm, golden puffs and their homespun aesthetic. They are like a pretzel-bagel-brioche hybrid and that can never be a bad thing. When you pull one of these pretzels apart, the pillow-y goodness inside is a total dream.

The only thing that can make it better is, of course, a warm and gooey cheese dip.
Pretzel Dip

The Cheese Sauce.

This is the kind of cheese dip you’ll want to keep dunkin’ into, so if you’re against double dipping, get over it.

I did some homework on different beer + cheese dipping sauces and tried a few new tricks, but I decided to scratch’em and roll with what I know: my trusted method for creamy mac and cheese sauce. It’s never failed me and I wanted to provide you with a trustworthy method.

Something worth noting is the importance of your beer being at room temperature. This is SO important. Adding cold beer to a cheese sauce will break the sauce resulting in a frothy pool full of curds. No bueno.

Another little trick—I’m a firm believer in starting a good cheese sauce off with a roux. I’ve run into some people who claim that the roux is an unnecessary step and I couldn’t disagree more. I’m not saying they’re wrong and I’m right—to each their own—but in my experience, the roux ensures a nice and thick velvety texture that will make your toes curl and your tastebuds sing. Who could pass that up?

The best part of this cheese sauce is that you can actually taste the beer-y goodness. Needless to say, all of this pairs amazingly well with a nice cold beer.

The Beer.

The type of beer you use is an important choice to make. While reading up on other recipes, I came across some instances where people tried using IPAs and were sorely disappointed. IPAs can be great for meat marinades and glazes, but it’s seemingly not as welcomed in the world of breads and cheeses due to it’s bitter notes. Based on these findings, I avoided the IPA and went with a trusty lager. Lager always seems safe. I wouldn’t mind trying a porter or whit sometime, but if you’re looking for that beloved classic beer flavor, a lager or pilsner is totally where it’s at.

And now I’m finally just going to tell you how to make this.

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5 from 1 vote

Beer Pretzels with Drunken White Cheddar Sauce

These golden pillow-y beer pretzels are salted and hardened on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. Served with a white cheddar beer sauce, it's perfection all around.
Servings 8

Ingredients

Pretzels

  • 1 12 oz bottle of lager or pilsner
  • 1/4 oz active dry yeast 2.25 teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups + 1.5 all-purpose flour divided
  • 10 cups of water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda

Pretzel Topper.

  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons beer
  • Coarse kosher salt

Cheese Sauce.

  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup lager or pilsner room temperature
  • 8 oz aged white cheddar shredded
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Pretzels.

  • In a sauce pan, heat the beer over moderate heat bringing it to a temperature of 115°. Remove from heat and stir in the yeast. Stir until dissolved.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, salt, beer/yeast mixture, and 3 cups of flour. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Gradually add the remaining 1.5 cups of flour to form a softer dough (note the dough will be sticky - this is normal).
  • Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic and smooth (this took me about 7 minutes)
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn once to grease all of the doughs’ surface, and cover with a dry towel. Place in a warm place until the dough has risen. This should take about an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • Punch down on the dough.
  • Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into eight pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and then roll each ball into an 18-20 inch rope.
  • Bend the ends of each rope, forming a circle, and cross the two ends over from one another, approx. half an inch. Twist the ends around once, and fold the ends to the bottom of the pretzel. Pinch the ends to the bottom of the pretzel to seal and secure.
  • In a dutch oven, bring the water and baking soda to a boil.
  • With a slotted spoon, carefully immerse pretzels, two at a time, into the boiling water and allow to simmer for 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels with slotted spoon and set on paper towels to dry.
  • Once done, place the pretzels on a baking sheet approx. 2 inches apart from one another.
  • Mix the topper ingredients together in a bowl and gently brush each pretzel top with the wash; finish by sprinkling coarse salt over the pretzel tops.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.
  • While the pretzels cool, you can start on your cheese sauce.

Cheese Sauce (Yields 1 cup).

  • Melt butter in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Gradually whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. Continue to whisk until a thick roux forms.
  • While whisking, slowly and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid any clumps.
  • Bring the heat up a bit so the milk comes to a boil, and whisk until the roux has dissolved into the milk, thickening the sauce.
  • While whisking, slowly add 1/2 cup of beer.
  • Allow to simmer until the sauce thickens again.
  • Add the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese melts.
  • If the sauce is too thick, you can gradually add more beer as you whisk until you reach a desired consistency.
  • Add the Dijon mustard.
  • Season with kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  • Serve with the pretzels.

Notes

Once the pretzels have cooled, you may freeze them in a resealable freezer bag. To thaw, leave at room temp or microwave each pretzel until heated through (times vary depending on microwave). If you have leftover cheese sauce, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, simply transfer to a saucepan and heat on medium-low heat. Add a few splashes of milk to get a creamy consistency going again, and once you have a creamy consistency, remove from heat and serve.

26 Comments

  • Jen
    August 11, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    5 stars
    Thanks for posting this recipe and such detailed steps! I had never made pretzels before but love them I don’t have a lot of experience with yeast doughs but want to learn more. I followed your pretzel recipe to the letter and I ended with beautiful and delicious pretzels with the pillowy chewiness I had been craving. For the cheese sauce I used Grevé instead of cheddar because I had some to use up. The consistency of the sauce was perfect and I agree that it’s worth making the roux. The flavor using the Grevé unfortunately overpowered the pretzel so when I make them again, I will use a less stinky cheese. Thank you again for this recipe, I had a really fun evening making it. :-)

    Reply
  • Sandra Eisenmann
    March 18, 2019 at 9:21 am

    So, success using the bread machine!I just made sure that I did the ingredient order as directed by the machine. Very tasty and will be selling to our Brewery crowd soon! Enjoy the day!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      March 18, 2019 at 9:29 am

      Hey Sandra! I’m so glad you had success with the machine! Thanks for letting me know. I hope everyone enjoys them!

      Have a great week :)

      Reply
  • Sandra Eisenmann
    March 14, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Will do! Not enough time last night but this weekend on it!

    Reply
  • Sandra Eisenmann
    March 12, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    So, my husband if a long time professional Chef. Also has baking skills. I found your recipe and he made last night. The dough did not rise. I am so disappointed as we were planning on using these for an upcoming Event. Thoughts?
    I am not a baker so I suggested he try again and put in my bread machine on the dough setting. What say you?

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      March 12, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Sandra!
      I’m sorry to hear your dough didn’t rise. Dough not rising could be due to a number of factors, from the yeast being dead to the dough being left to rise in a room that is too cool. Another thing to consider is the temperature of the warmed beer before adding the yeast. Too hot of a temperature will kill yeast, so if it was any hotter than the suggested temp in the directions (115º F) that could have been the culprit. I’ve made these pretzels several times with no issue, so I’m thinking it was one of those silly oops’s that happen to the best of us every once in a while. Keep me posted if you try again!

      Reply
  • Andy
    April 21, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    I followed the instructions to a tee and I got a big ass bowl of runny wanna be dough. What did I do wrong?

    Reply
    • Andy
      April 21, 2018 at 6:43 pm

      Nevermind, im an idiot

      Reply
      • Killing Thyme
        April 22, 2018 at 10:52 am

        Lol — did things end up working out? If I can help with anything let me know. Or, if the directions were written in a way that left you feeling like an idiot/skipping a step, please call me out! I assure you you’re no idiot, it happens to everyone ;)

        I hope you got to enjoy some pretzels—or something equally awesome!

        Reply
    • Sandra Eisenmann
      March 12, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      Oh, we will. They look too tasty to not. Our Event is Thursday at a brewery, where we were going to use their beer. See how much time we have.

      Reply
    • Sandra Eisenmann
      March 12, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      Also, what do you think about using a bread machine on the dough cycle?

      Reply
      • Killing Thyme
        March 13, 2019 at 9:43 am

        I haven’t tried making the dough using a bread machine, but I’d say it’s totally worth a shot. Will you let me know if it works? And, good luck! Sounds like a fun event. I love this snack idea for an event at a brewery. Using/supporting local beer is my jam and you sound like my kind of people. They will LOVE that!

        Reply
  • Samantha | My Kitchen Love
    July 22, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I’m literally sitting on the floor of my kitchen trying to justify not making dinner tonight so I can make this gorgeous things! My kids should be okay with that, right? The detailed tutorial is a must for people like me. Plus, beer.

    Reply
  • Shauna
    July 22, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I remember trying to make pretzels when I was a teenager and it was pretty much a fail. I think the dough stuck to everything and they ended up looking like big blobs. They were overly chewy too!
    Maybe I’ll try again. The cheese sauce sounds divine!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      July 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      I was super relieved that they didn’t stick. I hope you do give it a go again. Like I said to someone else above—if I can succeed at these, anyone can. Definitely rock the cheese sauce if you make them :)

      Reply
  • The FoodOlic
    July 22, 2016 at 11:18 am

    This looks fantastic, thanks for sharing! There is nothing like a freshly done warm pretzel… and with beer on top! WOW

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      July 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks! I agree, I could hardly wait to sink my teeth into these bad boys. You get a nice hint of lager from both the pretzel and the cheese, so that + a nice cold pint of lager? Hnnggggg…. no words. Haha.

      Reply
  • Janice
    July 22, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Last time I tried to roll & fold mini-pretzel cookies, it was a disaster. My mom was so good at it. I am not, haha! These beer pretzels look perfect, and I totally agree about using a roux for cheese sauce. Soooo much better! And I dare say, it’s a little more stable & less finicky too! Melted cheese can be difficult to work with. I think the roux helps the sauce turn out more smooth.

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      July 22, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks, Janice! This comment makes me glow coming from a baker like yourself. I agree about the roux as well—so much less finicky and so much more velvety.

      Reply
  • Amanda
    July 22, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Beautiful shots! I’m eager to learn how to make pretzels

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      July 22, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! I’m really glad they turned out. Try it out—if I can make it happen, anyone can. I rarely bake and this was my first batch of pretzels ever so you’ll be good ;)

      Reply
  • Aimee
    July 22, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Great tutorial and so very creative. Pinned!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      July 22, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks, Aimee!

      Reply
  • Colleen
    July 22, 2016 at 12:33 am

    Awesome post! These pretzels look amazing and your photos make me drool!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      July 22, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks, Colleen! I want to make them again soon. VERY soon.

      Reply
  • Karly
    July 21, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Oh my. I’m always a sucker for a good pretzel, but this cheese dip just puts it right over the edge. Totally drooling over here. I cannot wait to try these!

    Reply

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