Our soft pretzels with cheddar cheese sauce will take a little time and patience to make, but the instructions are easy to follow and the process is quite fun! The entire staff went bananas for this recipe—it’s a home run.
The pretzels are delicious on their own, but if you want to go the extra mile, the cheese sauce will make you ravenous for this snack 24/7! The trick is to shred your own cheese at home to make the roux. The pre-shredded variety from the store is loaded with starch, which will make the sauce grainy.
Once you make the pretzel dough, dip it in the alkaline solution to get that yummy pretzel favor, style like a pretzel then brush dough with the egg wash. Pop those suckers in the oven and wait for them to brown. Yeehaw!
Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe
- 1 1/4 cup water, lukewarm
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 5 cups water
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 1 Tbsp egg yolks, beaten with water
- coarse sea salt
- cheese sauce
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 oz cheddar cheese, freshly grated, 1 heaping cup
- Add lukewarm water to a small bowl then stir in packet of yeast and 1 tsp granulated sugar until dissolved. Set aside for 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes foamy.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, ½ cup sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture then begin mixing. Gradually pour in melted butter and continue mixing until the dough forms and all dry ingredients are incorporated. Knead for 8 minutes by hand or 4-5 minutes in a stand mixer, until the dough is smooth. Place dough into a clean mixing bowl coated with cooking spray, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap then let dough rise in a warm spot for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper then lightly coat with cooking spray. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface then divide dough into 16 equal portions. If you have a kitchen scale, divide the dough into 2½ oz portions.
- Working one by one, roll each dough ball into a 24" long rope then form the rope into an upside down “U.”
- Cross the ends over one another about 2" from the ends.
- Twist the ends once and fold the twist upward to slightly overlap the curved part of the “U.” Pinch lightly to set the dough in place and transfer to the oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a pot with a wide opening. Once the water boils, begin stirring, gradually adding baking soda—be careful when adding the soda, because the water will bubble vigorously! Once the soda has dissolved completely, reduce heat to medium-low and keep the water at a low simmer. Working one or two at a time, place a pretzel on a large slotted spoon or spatula then lower it into the simmering water. Let pretzel sit in the water for approximately 30 seconds. Remove pretzel from water then return it to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
- Brush each pretzel with egg yolk/water mixture then sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through baking if necessary for even browning. Remove from oven and keep warm.
- Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. When butter has melted, add flour and stir until combined. Cook flour in the butter for 30 seconds before whisking in the milk. Let the mixture come to a boil, reduce the heat to low then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce and salt until completely combined and then add the cheese in 3 increments. Stir until each addition is completely melted before adding the next. Do not use bagged pre-shredded cheese for this recipe or the sauce will become grainy.
- Once the sauce is completely smooth, transfer to a serving dish and dip the fresh warm pretzels till your heart’s content!
The process of dipping the pretzels in an alkaline solution (created by the baking soda) creates that dark brown coating on the outside that pretzels are famous for.