Soft pretzels with cheese sauce dip. The pretzels are baked until perfectly golden brown, then served alongside an easy, creamy, cheesy mustard pretzel dipping sauce that comes together extremely quickly. These are the perfect snack for a crowd.
Soft Pretzels with Cheese Sauce Dip
It has taken me a really, really long time to properly fall in love with New York. I moved here four years ago, chasing a two-year long-distance relationship (which worked out for the best!), and kind of expected to just instantly fit in. Turns out that it’s not all that simple. It took me a long time to make friends that were ‘mine’, rather than just Richard’s friends, and I found it really hard being away from home, and finding a new routine in this big, strange city. There was also this weird feeling of guilt - that I should be having the time of my life living in my dream city, yet somehow, I wasn’t.
New York and I are getting there, but soft pretzels with cheese sauce and I were love at first sight. I had one for the first time the day I landed in NYC, and it’s been a long-term committed relationship ever since. I’m addicted.
So when The Feedfeed and Land O’Lakes® asked me to make a Sandwich using their Deli American inspired by my hometown (NYC), I knew it had to have a cheesy dip situation, and include my fave NYC carb, pretzels. I decided to keep my ‘Sandwich’ simple to really highlight how delicious the Land O Lakes® Deli American Cheese is, and make pretzels, and a super cheesy, stringy, mustardy dipping sauce to go alongside. A lot of people find pretzels a little intimidating, but I promise once you have made them once, you won’t be able to stop, especially when they are paired with this cheesy dipping sauce. Land O Lakes® Deli American makes things super easy and delicious - it is sliced fresh at the deli, which makes for a fairly epic cheese sauce.
How to make Soft Baked Pretzels
The pretzels come together super easily - a little bit of beer in the dough adds another depth of flavour. You can either prepare the dough the night before, or make the day of, and can shape it into whatever shape you like (I tested a bunch of things, from rolls to hotdog shaped buns, to sticks to bites) - whatever you prefer to use as a vessel to get as much cheese sauce in your mouth in one go. The cheese sauce can be easily reheated, making preparing it ahead of time super easy. Happy dipping!
A few wee tips for soft baked pretzels with Cheese Sauce Dip
Some pretzel recipes will have you use lye to soak the pretzels in. Giving the pretzels a wee bath in lye (sodium hydroxide) helps to speed up the Maillard reaction, which gives the pretzels that lovely brown colour and chew. However, lye is caustic (alkaline) and scary, so I used something a little less alkaline but still very effective - baked baking soda. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is moderately alkaline, but baking it produces sodium carbonate, which is slightly more alkaline, so therefore perfect for dipping your pretzels without having to worry about the safety risk of using Lye. Yay chemistry!
To make baked baking soda: Line a sheet pan with foil, and spread 1 cup of baking soda evenly over it. Bake at 250˚f / 121˚c for one hour, then transfer to an airtight container. This will be enough for four batches of pretzels - you use 1/4 cup at a time.
I tested these a bunch of ways. At first, I found that putting the pretzels straight out of the water bath onto the parchment caused all kinds of issues. They were sticking very, very badly. I found two ways around this - either drain the pretzels for a few minutes on a wire rack after dipping and then transfer to lightly oiled parchment paper, or line the baking sheets with silpats or silicone baking sheets rather than baking paper. I found baking on silicone to be the easiest option - once the pretzels come out of the dip they are a little delicate, so moving them from the rack to the baking sheet can be a little stressful. A few silpats or silicone baking sheets are a great investment!
I also tested a half batch of both the pretzels and the cheese sauce, and both work perfectly.
If you don’t want to make pretzel shapes, these can also be made into rolls too which would be perfect for hot dogs (hot dogs dipped in this cheese sauce would also be perfect, just saying)
These also do great with an overnight rise if you wanted to prep the dough ahead. Just bring it out 45 minutes to an hour or so before you shape them to give it some time to warm up slightly.
Often bread recipes will ask you to turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Avoid using flour if you can because the friction between the bench and the dough makes it much easier to roll out.
With most breads, we do the second rise lightly covered. With pretzels you want to do the second rise uncovered, so that they develop a wee skin which stands up against the baking soda bath. They also have a quick spin in the fridge just before you dip them so that they don’t get too soft and hard to work with once they hit the warm water.
This cheese dip is crazy easy to make. You can customize however you like. It is best served warm, so I suggest serving it in a microwave safe dish - when it needs re-heating, you can just zap it for 30 second intervals, stirring well between each, until it is the temperature and consistency you like. I reheated some that had been in the fridge for two days and it was still perfect!
Recipes related to this soft pretzel recipe:
- Pretzel Bites
- Caramelised Onion, Goat Cheese, and Sundried Tomato Pesto Pretzel Buns
- Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Rolls