This Soft Pretzel Bites with Smoked Gouda Cheese Dip recipe = pure happiness. 🥨
Dip those buttery, pillowy soft (baked) pretzel bites into the smooth and creamy smoked gouda (and American) cheese and get ready for your life to be changed. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit; but they’re just really that good! 😂
As a kid, I remember loving frozen soft pretzel bites. One night Jon and I wanted pretzels, so I ordered them (Instacart to the rescue)! Let’s just say they weren’t as enjoyable as I had remembered. Our snack that we were so excited about was a complete letdown. We decided to try making our own recipe and it worked! Fresh, fluffy, buttery, salty soft pretzel bites; and now I will never, ever go back.
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Easy Soft Pretzel Bites with Smoked Gouda Cheese Dip Recipe
Making homemade pretzel dough from scratch may sound intimidating, but I promise you it couldn’t be an easier process! It’s a perfect recipe to make with your kids, limited ingredients, and much tastier (and healthier) than the cardboard-like pretzels you can find in the frozen aisle at the grocery store.
How to Make Soft Pretzel Bites
As you can see, on this day, I chose mess (and fun). If Jon were home, he may have killed me (or just looked at me with disappointment 🤣) since I make enough of a mess as it is in the kitchen. He’s the type to clean along the way and keep everything spotless as he cooks, and I’m the opposite; especially if I’m extra hungry. I just want to get the cooking process done quickly so I can eat, then I’ll clean after. I take after my mom in that sense!
The soft pretzel bites recipe is so simple. Warm the milk, three tablespoons of butter, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, and sugar dissolved. In the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer, add the flour, yeast, and salt. Make a well in the center and be sure to have your dough hook attached. Turn to speed two and slowly stream in the warm milk mixture.
The dough should form into a ball and start hitting against the sides of the bowl. Turn your KitchenAid to speed four and let it run for eight minutes. Once finished, form the dough into a rounded ball with your hands. It should be quite easy to form. Place the dough back into your KitchenAid bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rest on the counter for at least an hour. It should triple in size quickly!
Refrigerated pretzel dough or fresh?
At this time, you can either prepare the soft pretzel bites right away or place the bowl in the fridge and let it sit overnight and make them the next day. I’ve done both and I do enjoy the pretzels more when they’re prepared the same day, but the next day will do. A pretzel is a pretzel. They’re all good in my book!
How Much Baking Soda in Water
Now, in a large pot, bring eight cups of water and a half-cup of Arm & Hammer baking soda to a boil. The baking soda gives the pretzels that beautiful brown color that we all know and love. And if you don’t love pretzels, well then, I’m sorry we can’t be friends!
After the dough rises, it should feel almost hallow. It looks heavy and dense but it’s so light and airy! Divide the dough into four equal parts and roll each into a long rope shape. We like to cut them into bite-sized pieces using a dough scraper or knife, but you can form them into a traditional pretzel shape if you prefer.
Just be sure to adjust the cooking time, as necessary. 🥨
Drop your soft pretzel bites into the boiling water in batches, approximately twenty at a time, and swish them around periodically; I use a fine mesh strainer to swish, and to remove them from the water (after about a minute of soaking them). Transfer the soft pretzel bites to a cooking rack to allow them to air-dry for a minute or so, then onto an oiled baking sheet (you can line the baking sheet with parchment paper too). These steps help the pretzels release from the pan a bit easier, as they tend to stick because of the baking soda.
Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter in the microwave, brush each pretzel bite with butter, then sprinkle with coarse Kosher salt.
Bake in a preheated four hundred fifty-degree oven for eight to twelve minutes. The cooking time will depend on the size you cut your pretzels. Also, every oven is different! Cook the pretzels until golden brown and fluffy on the inside.
You could also bake the pretzel bites in your air fryer.
How to Make Smoked Gouda Cheese Dip
This smoked gouda cheese dip is soooo simple, creamy, and delicious. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk with the butter just until it melts. Sprinkle in the cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low. Break up the American cheese straight into the pot, stirring in between. Once that’s almost melted, add in the smoked gouda and keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Tip in your Rotel (I use hot, but you can use any kind you like). Serve immediately with your soft pretzel bites!
You can freeze any leftover and pretzel bites and smoked gouda cheese dip (separately). I like to reheat the pretzel bites in the air fryer and cheese dip in a pot on the stove, slow cooker, or dip warmer. They’ll be (almost) new!
It’s that simple! I hope you enjoy these Soft Pretzel Bites with Smoked Gouda cheese dip as much as we do. 😁🥨🧀
As always, I’d love to hear from you all! About your experience with this dish, any alterations you may have made and loved (or didn’t love), or just life and cooking in general. Please leave a review/comment/question below, reach out via email, and/or stay connected with me on social media, which I have linked below. Take care! – Jenna 🖤
MORE APPETIZER INSPIRATION:
Buttery, fluffy soft (baked) pretzel bites are dipped into a lusciously smooth and creamy smoked gouda cheese dip. So simple, and much better than the frozen store-bought pretzels.
Soft Pretzel Bites:
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 5 tablespoons melted salted butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) Fleischmann’s instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 8 cups water
- coarse kosher salt, for sprinkling
- avocado oil cooking spray, to prevent sticking
Smoked Gouda Cheese Dip:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons salted butter (I’ve used both salted and unsalted – either works)
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (depending on heat preference – you can also omit)
- 1/2–pound white American cheese slices, sliced fresh at the deli if possible – torn into pieces
- 1 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
- 3 ounces hot Rotel, with juices
- PREPARE THE SOFT PRETZEL DOUGH. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, three tablespoons of butter, and brown sugar until the butter is melted, and sugar dissolved. In the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer, add the flour, yeast, and salt. Make a well in the center and attach the dough hook. Turn to speed two and slowly stream in the warm milk mixture. The dough should form into a ball and start hitting against the sides of the bowl. Turn your KitchenAid to speed 4 and let it run for 8 minutes. Once finished, form the dough into a rounded ball with your hands. It should be quite easy to form. Place the dough back into your KitchenAid bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest on the counter for at least an hour.
- BOIL WATER. In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and a half-cup of Arm & Hammer baking soda to a boil.
- ROLL, CUT, AND SOAK THE DOUGH. Divide the dough into four equal parts and (with your hands) roll each into a long rope shape. Using a dough scraper or knife, cut the dough into bite-sized pieces. Drop your soft pretzel bites into the boiling water in batches, approximately 20 at a time, and swish them around periodically; I use a fine mesh strainer to swish and to remove them from the water (after about a minute of soaking them). Transfer the soft pretzel bites to a cooling rack to allow them to air-dry for a minute or so, then onto an oiled baking sheet (you can line the baking sheet with parchment paper then spray with oil if you prefer). These steps help the pretzels release from the pan a bit easier, as they tend to stick because of the baking soda.
- PREHEAT THE OVEN, THEN BUTTER, SALT, AND BAKE THE PRETZELS. Set your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius). Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter in the microwave, brush each pretzel bite with butter, then sprinkle with coarse Kosher salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the size you cut your pretzels. Also, every oven is different! Cook the pretzels until golden brown and fluffy on the inside.
- PREPARE THE SMOKED GOUDA CHEESE DIP. While your pretzels are baking, in a medium saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted. Tear the American cheese and add to the pan, followed by the smoked gouda cheese; stirring in between. Stir until fully melted, then add Rotel. Serve, and enjoy!
- You can make the pretzel dough the night before and store it in the refrigerator overnight, directly in the KitchenAid bowl covered with plastic wrap.
- It’s better to keep the cheese dip warm in something like a slow cooker/dip warmer/etc. to prevent it from seizing up!
- The pretzels and cheese dip freeze well in a freezer-safe bag/container. Store them separately. I like to reheat the pretzels in the air fryer!
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Appetizers
- Method: Stovetop, Oven
- Cuisine: American
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