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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