Pretzel Bites

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Similar to Auntie Anne’s famous mall pretzels, these buttery pretzel bites disappear in a flash.

It’s a good thing these pretzel bites are easy to whip up with very few ingredients because they disappear in record time when served with grainy mustard or beer cheese dip. They’re perfect for game days, parties, snacking, or rainy days when you just need a fun baking project. The recipe is almost identical to my soft pretzel recipe, which is a copycat of Auntie Anne’s famous buttery mall pretzels, only it’s easier since you don’t have to fuss with twisting the dough into pretzel shapes; you simply form the dough into long ropes and snip it into bite-sized pieces.

Pretzels bites are great to make with kids ­or if you’re a beginner when it comes to working with yeast, as the dough is a dream to work with. I use a stand mixer for the recipe, but if you don’t have one, you can mix and knead the dough by hand.

What You’ll Need to Make Pretzel Bites

ingredients for soft pretzels

The baking soda in this recipe is not used for leavening. Rather, it is dissolved in boiling water and used as a dipping solution for the pretzel bites prior to baking. Quickly soaking the pretzels in this solution gives the pretzel bites a rich brown crust and distinct pretzel flavor.

The brown sugar in the dough balances the flavor and does not make the pretzel bites taste sweet, especially with the salt in the dough and the coarse salt sprinkled on top. If you prefer a cinnamon sugar topping, omit the coarse salt on top. Brush the pretzel bites with butter after baking and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (½ cup sugar plus about ¾ teaspoon cinnamon).

Step-by-Step Instructions

Warm the milk and 2 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave until the butter is just melted, about 90 seconds; do not boil. (Alternatively, warm the butter and milk in a small saucepan.) Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved; set aside.

warmed butter and milk

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour with the yeast and salt.

flour, yeast, and salt in mixing bowlMix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.

mixed dry ingredientsWith the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk mixture to the bowl.

mixing the pretzel doughWhen the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch to the dough hook.

kneading the pretzel doughKnead for about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand.)

kneading the pretzel dough

It should be smooth and slightly tacky, as shown below.

dough in mixer

Shape the dough into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl.

pretzel dough in bowl

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

pretzel dough after rise

Meanwhile, in a 2-qt baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2¼ cups boiling water. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved; set aside and let cool to lukewarm (or cooler). (Later you’ll dip the dough in the solution, which will give  the pretzel bites a rich brown crust and pretzel flavor.)

whisking the baking soda solutionPreheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

punching down the dough

Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn it out onto a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a log, then cut into 6 equal pieces; cover with a damp dishtowel so the dough doesn’t dry out.

pretzel dough cut into sixths Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 24-inch rope about ½-inch thick, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch.

rolled out pretzel doughCut each rope into 1¼-inch pieces. They will shrink a bit as they sit.

pretzel bites cut and ready to dip
Working in batches, drop the pretzel dough bites into the soda solution and let them sit for about 2 minutes.

soaking the bites in the baking soda solutionUsing a slotted spoon, remove the pretzel dough bites from the solution, letting any excess liquid drip off, then arrange the bites on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1½ inches apart. Sprinkle evenly with the coarse salt.

raw pretzel bites sprinkled with saltBake until golden, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, for 8 to 9 minutes; watch the bottoms carefully as they can burn.

baked pretzel bites fresh out of the oven

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the baked pretzels.

brushing melted butter on pretzel bitesThe pretzels are best enjoyed warm out of the oven or fresh on the same day (reheat in the oven or microwave). Serve with grainy mustard or beer cheese dip.

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Pretzel Bites

Similar to Auntie Anne’s famous mall pretzels, these buttery pretzel bites disappear in a flash.

Servings: About 85 pretzel bites
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus 1 to 2 hours to rise

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast (1 package)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • About 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk and 2 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave until the butter is just melted, about 90 seconds; do not boil. (Alternatively, warm them in a small saucepan.) Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, gradually add the warm milk/butter mixture to the bowl. When the dough forms a cohesive mass, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, the dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand.) Shape the dough into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2¼ cups boiling water. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved; set aside and let cool to lukewarm (or cooler). (Before baking, you'll dip the pretzels into the solution, which will give them a rich brown crust and pretzel flavor.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 450°F and set two oven racks in the centermost positions. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn it out onto a clean work surface. (If the dough feels sticky, you can dust it with a bit of flour as needed.) Shape the dough into a log, then cut into 6 equal pieces; cover with a damp dishtowel so the dough doesn't dry out. One at a time, roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 24-inch rope about ½-inch thick, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Cut each rope crosswise into 1¼-inch pieces. They will shrink a bit as they sit; that's okay.
  6. Working in batches, drop the pretzel dough bites into the baking soda solution, swish around, and let each batch sit for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pretzel dough bites from the solution, letting any excess liquid drip off, then arrange the bites on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1½ inches apart. Sprinkle evenly with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, switching the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through cooking, for 8 to 9 minutes; watch the bottoms carefully as they can burn. Repeat with the remaining batches.
  7. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the baked pretzels. The pretzels are best enjoyed warm out of the oven or fresh on the same day.
  8. Note: Active dry yeast may be used instead of instant yeast, however, the dough will take longer to rise. To give active dry yeast a boost, you can dissolve it in the warm milk and butter, let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.
  9. Note: If you prefer a cinnamon sugar topping, omit the coarse salt. Brush with butter after baking and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (½ cup sugar plus about ¾ teaspoon cinnamon)
  10. Make-Ahead Instructions: After the dough has risen, it can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for a few months. Thaw the frozen dough in the refrigerator before using. The dough can be shaped into pretzel bites while still cool, but allow about 30 minutes for the bites to puff up a bit before dipping and baking.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 5 pretzel bites
  • Calories: 126
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 897 mg
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Super easy appetizer – a huge hit with the kids and the adults!

    • — Michelle on May 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe was so simple and aside from the time for the dough to rise it is very quick to prepare them, especially when the dough hook does all the work! At the end of the evening I went to put the remainder away and there were only 3 little bites left! Love that we can add this to our binder of favourite recipes! Can’t wait to make them again. Thanks for another great recipe!!!

    • — Mandy on March 31, 2022
    • Reply
  • So for whatever reason my first attempt didn’t rise. It might’ve been because I don’t have a mixer and did everything by hand. My second attempt did rise but I found that it burned very quickly in the oven. Just after the 8 min mark I could see it start to burn. I was only able to squeeze about 4 minutes more out of the oven when the tops just barely started to brown. Not sure what I’m doing wrong but I’m so tired of kneading I will have to attempt again another day.

    • — Victoria on March 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Victoria, I’m sorry you’ve had a problem with these! I’m glad that you were able to get them to rise the second time around but sorry that you had a problem with burning. If you try these again, I’d reduce your oven temp by 25°. I’d also put an additional sheet pan under the one that has the pretzels on them. That extra layer of insulation will help reduce any burning on the bottom of the pretzels. Hope that helps and that you have better luck next time around!

      • — Jenn on April 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • Load on the butter at the end. Amazing.

    • — Hostess on March 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    Can this be made in a bread machine, then taken out after 2nd knead to shape into a rope?

    • — Therese F Cislak on March 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Therese, I’ve never used a bread machine so I can’t say confidently whether or this would be appropriate for one. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on March 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • My kids devoured these in no time flat – the preference was for cinnamon sugar over salted…but I think both were amazing!

    • — Liz on March 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • These were simple to make and went over well with all ages (people were asking to take extra home, so I will take that as a compliment)!

    I doubled the recipe and used my bread machine to knead the dough.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the time you devote to this website, Jenn! I have learned to much from you and so many of your recipes have become my go-to!

    All the best! ♡

    • — Emm on March 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • 💕

      • — Jenn on March 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • HI I have not made these yet but would like to do with the dip shown in the picture. It looks like it has grainy mustard in it as you mention in your narrative. Is there a recipe for this dip? Thank you in advance.

    • — Cheryl S on March 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Cheryl, It’s straight from a jar – Maille Rich Country Dijon Mustard Blend. 😊

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank you. I will check it out!

        • — Cheryl Skornik on March 20, 2022
        • Reply
  • This recipe was sooo easy. I didn’t have whole milk so I substituted it with 1/4 cup of oat milk and 1/4 of sour cream (for the fat content). The recipe as perfect! I halved the recipe and it was super easy. The pretzels browned pretty fast so I made sure to keep an eye on them and turned them over.

    • — CJ on March 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can these be made without sugar? Or are they not sweet and the sugar is to help the dough rise?

    • — Bonnie on March 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Bonnie, the pretzels aren’t very sweet, but you can cut the sugar in half. (It’s not needed for rising.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 17, 2022
      • Reply
  • Is there a way to make the recipe with sourdough starter/discard?

    • — Karen on March 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Karen, I’ve never tried it, so I wouldn’t recommend it — sorry! If you feel strongly about using sourdough starter that you have, I’d suggest searching for a recipe that calls for it.

      • — Jenn on March 17, 2022
      • Reply

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