Bread, beer and cheese – a favored crowd-pleasing combo that’s taken up a notch (or ten) thanks to these homemade pretzels and beer cheese dip. Classic-style soft pretzels are the perfect pairing to this indulgent beer dip for the ultimate savory snack.
From a pumpkin cheese ball at Halloween to a cranberry baked brie at Christmas, it’s no secret a cheese dip is a fail-safe appetizer to please all palates. With these homemade pretzels and creamy beer cheese dip, you now have fuss-free finger food you can wow your guests with all year round.
If you’re intimidated by homemade pretzels, I got you. The dough itself is super simple (you even likely have all the ingredients in your pantry) and the kids will love getting involved with the kneading and knotting. You just need a little patience for the rise time and some self-control to avoid devouring these lightly salted twisted treats the minute they’re out of the oven.
If time is your issue, I’ve done the hard work for you and discovered that thanks to this pretzel recipe, you can make them ahead with ease. I tried and tested a few methods and found whether you boil, bake and freeze or just roll, twist and freeze either way this recipe reaps the same mouth-watering results. This means whether reheating or baking, these homemade pretzels are the perfect make-ahead appetizer or Saturday night snack that you can keep in the freezer for when those carb cravings strike.
Now let’s not forget the pretzels’ booze-laced sidekick – delicious beer cheese dip. Creamy, sharp and salty with the added tang of your favorite IPA it’s the ultimate appetizer for potlucks, game days, and get-togethers. Pair with your pretzels, add it to your game day appetizer board or play around with pita, crackers, or crunchy veggies for a sensational snack.
One of my favorite things about this homemade pretzel and beer cheese appetizer is that you can customize it to your tastes, budget, and time limit. Keep it classic with sea salt sprinkled pretzels or get creative with seeds and spice. Switch up your beer and cheese selection for a different dip each time or create a selection for your guests to fight drool over.
WHY WE LOVE THESE HOMEMADE PRETZELS WITH BEER CHEESE SAUCE
- Low Maintenance – When you’re entertaining a crowd fuss-free finger food is always a winner. That’s why these homemade pretzels with beer cheese are ideal appetizers. Straightforward to make with minimal washing up, it’s a win, win for those with limited kitchen skills or time.
- Unbeatable appetizer – The heavenly combination of warm, chewy pretzels and salty yet sharp melted cheese works wonders with the bold beer flavor for an appetizer guaranteed to impress.
- Freezer friendly – The most time-consuming part of this recipe is the rise time of the pretzel dough, so whip up a batch when you can and throw it in the freezer for delicious homemade pretzels any time. Or, boil and bake the pretzels to thaw and enjoy even more quickly.
- Customizable – From switching up the beer and cheese combination to customizing your pretzel coating there are so many ways you can make this recipe your own.
- granulated sugar- you can also replace this with brown sugar
- active dry yeast
- unsalted butter
- kosher salt
- all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil
- baking soda
- Coarse salt or pretzel salt
- shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- cream cheese
- IPA Beer
- dijon mustard- a teaspoon of dry mustard can be a replacement.
- green onions
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Switch up the beer – When making beer cheese dip, you want a burst of bold, hoppy flavor with each bite so avoid light beers such as Coors or Bud. I used Lagunitas IPA, but any good quality IPA beer will work, or even Guinness if you’re a fan. Note, stout beers are a delicious addition but they may affect the color.
- Pretzel coating – For that classic pretzel flavor I coated my pretzels with coarse sea salt but feel free to mix it up with other coating combos such as garlic powder and red pepper flakes, onion powder and rosemary, caraway, or sesame seeds.
- Choosing a cheese – A sharp cheddar cheese is my go-to for a beer cheese dip as it melts well and is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. If you prefer mild and creamy use Monterey Jack, spice things up with a Pepper jack cheese, or for a hint of sweetness use Gouda or Gruyere which also pairs particularly well with beer.
- Skip the spice – I’ve added mustard and jalapeno to give this beer cheese dip a gentle kick, however you can switch these for smoky paprika and Worcestershire sauce for an equally bold flavor with a little less heat.
- To lye or not to lye – While I’ve used a baking soda bath for that irresistible mahogany glow and chewy texture, pretzel perfectionists prefer a lye bath as this is how traditional German pretzels are made. Lye can often be difficult to source and it won’t affect the end result, but if you have some to hand use it if you prefer.
- In a Rush?- Use instant yeast if you're in a time crunch. This will reduce the dough rising time by at least half. If you want to skip the pretzel dough making process all together, use a pizza dough as I did with this stuffed pretzel ball recipe.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Microwave safe bowl
- Mixer with dough hook (if using)
- Wooden spoon
- Warm damp cloth
- Slotted spoon
- Pastry brush
- Baking sheet
- Oven safe 8x8 dish
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PRETZELS
1. In a large bowl combine warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
PRO TIP: If the yeast mixture does not become frothy, you will need to start again with another sachet as the yeast hasn’t worked correctly.
2. In a separate bowl stir together flour and kosher salt.
3. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Add honey to butter and stir to combine.
4. Slowly add butter and honey to the yeast, while mixing on low.
5. If using your mixer, attach the dough hook. If kneading by hand begin by adding flour with a wooden spoon and switch to hand kneading once it gets too difficult to stir.
6. Gradually add flour to the wet mixture. Knead the dough until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and the dough ball is smooth.
PRO TIP: In the rare instance your dough is too dry or crumbly, add a little more water. It’s important the dough has enough elasticity for that unmistakable chewy texture.
7. Remove dough from bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well with vegetable oil. Once again add dough to the bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth and place in a dark corner in your kitchen to rise. Allow dough rise to double in size, about 1 hour.
8. Once dough has doubled in size, punch dough down and divide into 8 or 16 equal pieces on a lightly floured surface.
9. On a lightly greased surface, roll each piece into an 18-in. rope and twist it into a pretzel shape.
10. Bring water and baking soda to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add pretzels (one at a time) and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a lined baking sheet.
PRO TIP: Avoid boiling your pretzels for longer than 30 seconds as they can sometimes develop a metallic taste.
9.Brush top of the pretzels with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
10. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
11.Bake pretzels for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
HOW TO MAKE BEER CHEESE RECIPE
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and stir to combine.
3. Pour mixture into an oven safe 8x8 dish or two small cast iron pans.
4. Bake until the top begins to golden and is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.
PRO TIP: For the last 5 minutes, place the beer cheese under the broiler for added browning on top.
- Don’t skip the baking soda bath – This iconic step cannot be skipped. The baking soda bath provides the pretzels with the flavor, texture and color we all know and love. To save time you can pop the baking soda water on to boil while you twist the pretzels if you prefer.
- Avoid dense dough – Don’t get too carried away with the kneading as this can result in dense pretzels. You’ll know if you’ve over-kneaded the dough as it will feel stiff and will rip instead of stretch when pulled.
- Shredded is best – For indulgently, smooth beer cheese dip use shredded cheese instead of cubed. Cubed cheese takes longer to melt which means your dip can overcook and curdle. Make sure it is freshly shredded however, as pre-shredded bagged cheese often contains starches which can make your beer cheese gritty.
- Bold and balanced – If you’re using a milder cheese like mozzarella or Monterey Jack then choose a beer that is equally mild and not a dark stout which will overpower the flavor. You want both the deep, hoppy flavors of the beer and the sharp tang of cheese to complement each other.
- For the best most delectable results I’d recommend enjoying your beer cheese dip immediately as it will eventually harden once served.
- You can store any extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it within 3 days. Reheat it in the oven at 350 degrees until warm through.As it contains dairy it will not freeze well.
- Store the pretzels in an airtight container and freeze if desired for up to 12 months. You can also freeze pretzel dough and then thaw it overnight before baking as per instructions above.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What makes pretzel dough different than regular dough?
Pretzels are made using a simple yeast bread recipe that is then formed into a pretzel shape. The main difference from regular dough however, is that it is then boiled before baking.
Do you have to boil pretzels before baking?
Boiling the pretzel dough is the secret to a chewy interior but that signature crisp exterior. If you skip it, you also risk losing that deep golden glow that pretzels are famed for.
How do you shape a pretzel?
Start by rolling your dough into an 18-in. rope. Create a U-shape with your rope by picking up both ends. Then, twist both ends around each other twice. Fold over the twist at the top to meet the bottom of your “U-shape”. Press in the ends creating a pretzel shape. You can also add a little milk or water to help the ends stick to base.
What’s the best beer to use in beer cheese dip?
The beer provides the majority of the flavor, so for an unforgettable dip avoid light or fruity beers. You want robust, hoppy flavors which you’ll find with a German-style lager or a craft IPA. Guinness can also work well and makes this dip ideal for a St Patrick’s Day appetizer, but note stouts can affect the color.
Can you serve beer cheese to kids?
There is no fear of getting drunk from beer cheese. The majority of the alcohol will evaporate when you bake it in the oven. This means the actual alcohol content is very little and safe for all ages to consume. However, if preferred you can also use a non-alcoholic beer as they offer the same flavor without the alcohol content.
OTHER GREAT APPETIZER RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
Classic-style soft pretzels are the perfect pairing to this indulgent beer dip for the ultimate savory snack.
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil
- 10 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Coarse sea salt
- 2 cups (16 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups IPA Beer
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1 jalepeno , seeded and diced
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic , minced
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup diced green onions , plus more for garnish
In a large bowl combine warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
In a separate bowl stir together flour and kosher salt.
Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Add honey to butter and stir to combine.
Slowly add butter and honey to yeast, while mixing on low.
If using your mixer, attach the dough hook. If kneading by hand begin by adding flour with wooden spoon and switch to hand kneading once it gets too difficult to stir.
Gradually add flour to wet mixture. Knead the dough until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and dough ball is smooth.
Remove dough from bowl, clean bowl, then oil it well with vegetable oil. Once again add dough to bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth and place in a dark corner in your kitchen to rise. Allow dough to double in size, about 1 hour.
Once dough has doubled in size, punch dough down and divide into 8 or 16 portions. On a lightly greased surface, roll each piece into an 18-in. rope and twist into a pretzel shape.
Bring water and baking soda to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add pretzels (one at a time) and boil for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a lined baking sheet.
Brush pretzels with egg and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Bake pretzels for 12-14 minutes and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, add all ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour mixture into an oven safe 8x8 dish.
Bake until top begins to golden and is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.