Monday, February 20, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites and Stuffed Pretzels

Soft pretzels are hands-down one of my favorite things. I've found two places with THE BEST soft pretzels ever. First: anywhere in Germany; there is nothing as good as a fresh, German soft pretzel- all buttery, salty, perfectly chewy, and delicious. Second: the Carmel Bakery in Carmel, California. I had actually been considering breaking vegan for that Carmel pretzel after my marathon in April, simply because it ends in Carmel, and, well, I will have run an entire 26.2 miles. The thought of walking by that bakery, or never having another German soft pretzel, was just too much to take.... until now.

(Unfortunately my husband had the camera when I made these, so I had to resort to using my phone... sorry for the bad pics!)

For some reason I'd always thought making your own dough, let alone your own pretzels, would just be far too difficult. I'm extremely happy to say that's not at all the case! Plus, these were incredibly easy to veganize (all it takes is using vegan butter, after all), and they made me just as happy & satisfied as those German and Carmel soft pretzels. These were delicious!

My motivating push to make these was this post that I saw on Pinterest. Originally, I was going to make them for the Superbowl, but since they should be served fresh out of the oven, I didn't want to have to travel with them. Since I didn't make these for a big party, I halved the recipe- and that's STILL enough for about 6-8 people as an appetizer.

Recipe adapted from Smells Like Home's Soft Pretzel Bites and Cheese Sauce

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 and 1/8 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp melted Earth Balance or other vegan butter (I used Smart Balance for these), plus 1-2 tsp for later
  • Vegetable oil (you'll need about a tsp or two)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • Pretzel, Kosher, or coarse sea salt
Stuffed Pretzel options:
  • 1 small crown of broccoli, lightly steamed and chopped into small pieces
  • Cheeze sauce from this recipe or some Daiya shredded cheddar-flavored cheeze
  • For "desserty" options: Mini Enjoy Life or other vegan chocolate chips, or strawberry jam
  1. Mix together the sugar, warm water, yeast in a large bowl with a mixer on low. Add in the flour and melted butter and mix for another few minutes, starting with the mixer on medium and then using a fork or spoon to bring together if needed. 
  2. Lightly oil a smaller bowl (I used about 1/2 tsp of canola oil) and transfer the dough into this bowl. Tightly cover and store at room temp (or somewhere warm) for about an hour. The dough should double in size during this time; you can leave it a little longer if needed.
  3. If making stuffed pretzel rolls, prepare your steamed broccoli (lightly steamed, it will cook a little longer  in the oven) or other veggies like spinach or kale, and cheeze sauce.
  4. Place the 5 cups of water and the baking soda in a large pot and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  5. While the water is heating, lightly oil a large work surface and divide the dough into about 4-6 pieces. If you want to make stuffed pretzels, make a few balls slightly smaller than your fist. For pretzel bites, roll out the pieces into long strands and cut into about 1-inch pieces. To keep the dough moist, cover lightly with a slightly damp paper towel as you are preparing the other pieces.
  6. Once the water is boiling, transfer the dough pieces into the pot, in batches. Gently turn the pieces around for about 30 seconds (about 1 minute for the larger rolls). Using a slotted spoon, drain, and transfer onto parchment-paper lined baking sheets. 
  7. (For stuffed pretzel bites or rolls, do this step after stuffing): Lightly brush with a some melted Earth Balance/butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  8. For stuffed pretzel rolls, use a knife to slice open the roll, and spoon some cheeze sauce & broccoli in. Close by pinching together, or leave open for a more-stuffed version. 
  9. Bake at 425 for about 10-12 minutes.
Serve them as bites (above), or as stuffed rolls (below) - either way, they're soooo yummy!
Pretzels stuffed with cheezey sauce and broccoli
As I said, these really aren't hard to make. In the end, I think the key to those amazing soft pretzels I love, in addition to the buttery taste, fresh dough, and coarse salt, is serving them hot & fresh. This recipe could be a little tricky to time for a party, since they should be served right out of the oven for best taste, but the "frantic-I'm-too-busy-to-talk" time is pretty minimal, so as long as you can slip away from your guests for about 15 minutes (and you have pre-made the dough), these should be party-ready. Originally, I had been planning on stuffing the little bites as well, but it turned out to be a little labor-intensive. And actually, I liked them better plain. You could always serve them with a little cheezey dipping sauce too!

So, I'm adding my kitchen to my list of all-time favorite soft pretzel places ;-)


  1. Dear K:
    Please send me a batch of these today - they look absolutey hungry, I mean amazing and now i cannot stop thinking about little salty & buttery pretzel bites.

    Your Friend Heather

    1. If I say they're on their way, that'd just be cruel, right? ;-) I actually polished off the batch I made really quickly- fresh baked bread is my weakness. Next time I *might* share these.

  2. Those look so good right now (especially because it's almost lunchtime!). I made pretzel bites once and you're right about them tasting best fresh out of the oven... The homemade kind definitely trumps any other soft pretzel I've ever tried! I love your stuffed version too!

  3. yup.. so true.. nothing better than some warm salty chewy pretzels right out of the oven. i made some for hubbs at superbowl, since i wasnt really watching..:) they were gone in 60 seconds:)

  4. Hello! I made these for the Super Bowl this year and wanted you to know these are the best pretzels I've ever had! I'm doing a blog post about them and will link to you and credit you for the recipe. Thank you!


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