Chewy Pretzel Twists

I might as well call this post “Aw, carbs, why you gotta be so good!” because confession: I am completely and totally powerless in the face of chewy, soft, salty pretzels especially when they are dunked in a creamy made from scratch cheese sauce.

These. These pretzel twists, reminiscent of every pretzel I’ve ever had at an outdoor baseball game or indoor mall food court (only a zillion times better), are my solace and comfort and true happiness. I could live on them and be completely satisfied (and even be ok with a side of broccoli thrown in because, yeah, cheese sauce). Bread and cheese forever.

Chewy Pretzel Twists

And while these pretzels are completely other-worldly, I have to say that this cheese sauce is pretty much earth shattering. I’ve made a few cheese sauces in the past with the classic butter/flour roux, milk, and cheese and while they are rich and saucy, they just don’t cut it in the dunk-and-be-happy department for pretzels calling for extreme cheese factor and super creaminess without the grainy texture that sometimes comes with those flour-based cheese sauces. So taking a lesson from my recent fondue victory, I made three or thirty versions of a classic cheddar version and oh, my cheese sauce. It’s luxurious and thick and perfectly melty and cheesy. The key is keeping it warm because no one likes gloppy, cold cheese sauce. Am I right or am I right?

So if you are as excited about pretzels and cheese as I am, this post is dedicated to you. And if you are as inept as I am at following pretzel-twisting directions without a visual, the pictures below the recipe are just for you. I’m out to make the world happy and peaceful through amazing pretzels, homemade glorious cheese sauce and picture collages. Bring on the carbs and cheese, baby.

Chewy Pretzel Twists

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Two Years Ago: Little Quinoa Patties
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Soft Pretzel Twists with Homemade Cheese Dipping Sauce

Yield: Makes 8 large pretzel twists

Soft Pretzel Twists with Homemade Cheese Dipping Sauce

I took a note from my favorite chewy pretzel bites recipe and instead of boiling the pretzels, I dipped them in a mixture of hot water and baking soda. It makes the recipe slightly easier without having to clean out a big, ol' pot; however, if you want even more extreme chewiness, consider following the boiling steps in this recipe instead of dunking in the water/soda solution. Your call!

Also, for the cheese sauce, don't be tempted to use preshredded cheese. It's coated with an anti-caking powder that means it doesn't melt the same as cheese shredded by your own little hands. It's worth the extra few minutes, I promise!

Ingredients

    Pretzel Twists:
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cup milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 - 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (about 15 ounces)
  • 4 cups hot water + 1/2 cup baking soda for dipping
  • 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water
  • Coarse, kosher salt for sprinkling
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Cheese Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (don't use preshredded)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (don't use preshredded)
  • Dash of paprika
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. For the pretzel dough, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl, if mixing by hand), combine the water, milk, oil, yeast, salt and 1-2 cups of flour. Mix until well combined. Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Knead for 3-4 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with saran wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Let the dough rise until doubled, about an hour or so depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
  3. Gently deflate the dough and on a lightly greased or floured counter, pat the dough into a rough 9X12-inch rectangle. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 equal strips, about an inch or so wide.
  4. One at a time, take a strip of dough and roll it into a very long, thin rope, about 24-inches long. If the long rope keeps shrinking when you let go, let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes before continuing to roll.
  5. Fold the rope in half (follow the pictures below if a visual will help), and starting with the loop end, twist down the length of the dough. Grab the end without the loop and fold it up to meet the other end and then bring it underneath so you have a shape similar to the ribbon associated with cancer awareness (random, but it works) with the loop end on top. Gently pry the loop open with your fingers and bring the other end through the opening and tuck underneath. Behold, the twist is complete!
  6. Repeat with the remaining strips.
  7. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place an oven rack right above the middle position. Whisk together the hot water and baking soda. One by one, dip the pretzel twists into the water mixture and place them on a lightly greased parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Whisk together the egg and water and brush a layer of egg wash on top of each pretzel followed by a sprinkle of coarse salt.
  9. Let the pretzel twists rest for 10 minutes. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Immediately out of the oven, brush on the melted butter.
  10. For the cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Toss the cheeses and cornstarch together until evenly coated. One small handful at a time, add the cheese to the simmering broth, stirring constantly in a slow, S-shape pattern. Let the cheese melt before adding the next handful. Once all the cheese has been added and it has melted, stir in the paprika and any additional salt to taste, if needed. Keep the cheese sauce warm over low heat (don't let it simmer or boil) or in a small crockpot or fondue pot. The cheese sauce can be refrigerated and warmed over low heat, if needed (add a tablespoon of milk or broth to loosen it up a bit while reheating).
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/chewy-soft-pretzel-twists-with-homemade-cheese-dipping-sauce/

Recipe Source: pretzel twists adapted from these amazing soft pretzel rolls, cheese sauce from me after lots of experimenting to get it just right

Soft Pretzel Twists - How To

54 Responses to Chewy Soft Pretzel Twists with Homemade Cheese Dipping Sauce

  1. Homemade pretzels are THE BEST! That dipping sauce looks killer!

  2. nosh says:

    wow!!! yummm! another great bread recipe on your blog! ive said it before on your blog and will say it again , nobody has such great bread recipes like yours. can you pleeeease share other varieties if you have made any, like brioche, honey oatmeal wholewheat bread, babka, CROISSANTS AND PUFF PASTRY?? and mashed potato rolls! i have seen them on other blogs but would like to try your recipes because they always trn out perfect!

  3. Stacey says:

    I am over the moon that you tested a recipe for cheese sauce! I can’t wait to use this, my husband will be so happy. Thanks so much!

  4. Beth says:

    I have always thought the phrase ‘man cannot live by bread alone’ was bunk, because I totally could…I really enjoy your blog; thanks!

  5. Sheila says:

    What a great post! I love your tutorials that make my life so much easier when cooking/baking. Is it possible to love and hate at the same time?? I’m loving this recipe and sauce. Groan . . . .yet hating the knowledge that my thighs are growing even larger just reading and mentally marking what I need to make it. 🙁

  6. Oh, the carbs. Yes, please!

  7. Jess says:

    Did you shred your own cheese? I know that sometimesthe pre-shredded stuff doesn’t melt the way it needs to

  8. Jennifer says:

    I worked at Auntie Anne’s in high school and we did the dunking in hot baking soda water method. So I also make them that way at home…much faster than the boiling thing.

    I’m excited about this cheese sauce especially!

  9. Stacey says:

    Oh Mel, these look divine. Can’t wait to try them! And pix of the twisting process are very helpful!

  10. Melissa G says:

    How do these freeze? With 4 ppl in our house, we’ll have leftovers!

  11. Heather says:

    Great, there goes my diet.

  12. Dana says:

    These look amazing! Love the step-by-step photos and commentary!

  13. Cammee says:

    Ok girl, you’re making me cry! These are my daughter’s favorite thing ever. I even sent them to her in the MTC, thank goodness for same day delivery. I just want to make a big batch and ship them across the world, but I don’t think moldy pretzels and rancid cheese sauce will make her happy. Carbs feed my sorrows so I’ll eat a batch in her honor. 😉

    • Mel says:

      Oh boy, Cammee, that almost made ME cry (not the moldy pretzels part, the your daughter being across the world part). I’ll eat a few in her honor, too.

  14. Kim in MD says:

    Mel- you have the best tutorials! Seriously, when recipes seem daunting you always find a way to make them seem totally easy! These soft pretzels look so delicious, as does the cheese sauce!

  15. Your pictures are WONDERFUL! I saw the beginning picture and thought—No way would I make these. But with your pics, I am thinking—Now wouldn’t that be fun to make and bring to a family gathering. Well done.

  16. Anna Da silva says:

    Mel I love your side and your recipes 🙂 .Quick question don’t you need some sugar to feed the yeast?

  17. Amanda says:

    I can’t wait to try this! My husband and I had fresh pretzels with smoked gouda cheese sauce at a (not in our state) restaurant a couple of months ago. I could have guzzled gallons of that sauce! I may try adapting yours with some smoked gouda…just to see what happens.

  18. Becky says:

    I’m so totally making these! I might even boil half of the batch and dip the other half of the batch before baking just because I’m nerdy like that 🙂

  19. Ashlee T says:

    These look so good!!! I love me some pretzels. I made your pretzel bites over the weekend while my sisters and their kids were here. To say they loved them is an understatement. My niece said “these would be really good with a cheese sauce”. Now I can thrill them with this recipe! Thank you!!!

  20. How do I love thee (and your soft pretzels and cheesy sauce)? Let me count the ways…one thousand seventy eight, one thousand seventy nine, one thousand eighty…and on and on and on…

  21. Sandy says:

    These look great – I have something new and tasty! to look forward to this weekend! Thank you so much! 🙂

  22. Anna says:

    How does the cheese sauce keep? Would you be able to Make a batch, keep it in the fridge and then just reheat the amount you need?

    • Mel says:

      Anna – that’s a great question; I’ve only ever refrigerated it once. It’s definitely best served right away, but it can be reheated with a little bit of broth or milk to help loosen it up while it warms.

  23. Trish says:

    Mel, you are my favorite!

  24. Kattie Earl says:

    You must create a cookbook! PLEASE!!! I will purchase a few and keep them in my safe. If the magnificent internets ever go caput then my family will starve and I will have a blank look on my face not knowing what to cook! Thank you for your recipe’s!!

  25. Lindsay says:

    Mel, you make the yummiest food! I always LOOOOOVE your stuff! Thanks!

  26. Yay, another version of pretzel’s! I love pretzels of any kind and these look amazing!

  27. Brittany says:

    Hey Mel, I am making your Roasted Cauliflower with White Cheddar Soup and the homemade croutons. I also want to make these. They seem pretty similar, but do you think these would work for the croutons as well? Thanks in advance!

  28. Lauren says:

    My son is home from college this weekend and specifically requested your soft pretzel rolls. I was thinking about a variation of the shape when lo and behold you have provided me with the perfect solution! We have enjoyed many recipes from your blog and I am grateful for all of the hard work that must go into testing (and sampling

  29. Kajsa says:

    Wow! Anything dipped in cheese is great but carbs this beautiful dipped in cheese must be heavenly! I think this is the stuff that will make us through the long, dark swedish winter…

  30. Carolyn says:

    OH MEL! I died and went to heaven. Next time I am making a double batch! I like the thicker skin so I boiled mine but otherwise followed the exact recipe.YUM YUM YUM!

  31. lb says:

    Mel- I am planning on making these asap, but I have the regular yeast instead of instant. How different would the directions be if I swabbed the regular yeast for instant? I know I will need to proof it…

    • Mel says:

      If you are using active dry yeast, just proof the yeast (probably 2 1/2 teaspoons of active dry) in the warm water with a pinch of sugar and proceed with the recipe after it foams and bubbles.

  32. Deb says:

    Made these over the weekend and they were AMAZING!! I cut the strips thinner so I got 15 smaller twists. They were devoured instantly. The cheese sauce is really good too and could not be easier. It is temperature sensitive like Mel said but the flavor is awesome.

  33. Tyler says:

    I must say…..”Is there anything you CAN’T make??” Yet again, another tempting recipe. Just the picture alone made my mouth water. Maybe make some baked potatoes too for the extra cheese sauce….if there is any left over.

  34. Erin says:

    These were so good!! I made a double batch and we ate them for dinner (yes dinner…don’t judge!). They were all gone by the end of the night. The cheese sauce was fantastic too! Thanks for all of your recipes Mel!! I don’t know what I’d do without you!

  35. Michelle says:

    I made these tonight to go with dinner. SO delicious and filled my pregnancy craving perfectly! Thanks!

  36. Barbara Ostergaard says:

    I wanted to love these, but they didn’t end up being the really chewy goodness I was hoping for. I felt the egg wash may have added to a flavor I wasn’t looking for as well. I have asked my food scientist daughter to help me understand what the soda water step does for it. If that helps to make it chewy, I want more of that, somehow. And I must get a fondu pot. I loved the cheese sauce, but it got too stiff to use almost immediately when serving.

  37. Ruth Cox says:

    Just made a modified version of your cheese sauce for our homemade Mac n cheese! So so so much easier than my usual roux, used arrowroot instead of cornstarch. My kids adored it! just perfect.

  38. Shane says:

    I made these tonight for my family and they loved them! The cheese sauce was too thick so next time I will add less cornstarch and possibly more broth. Otherwise, these were fantastic! After eating them as pretzels, I cut them in half horizontally and made a ham and provolone sandwich. YUM!

  39. TIffiny says:

    Last year I made your soft pretzel rolls for Christmas, and my dad said he wished he had a cheese sauce to dip them in. So this year I made the soft pretzel rolls again, and they were awesome of course, and I made this cheese sauce for them. It was a huge hit! My dad loved it and so did everyone else. I haveven’t made the pretzel twists yet, but it’s on my list of things to make!

  40. Jerri says:

    Hi Mel,

    I am fairly new to grinding my own wheat. How is it used in your bread recipes? I’m not sure if I need to add the things I have in my recipes such as salt, lecithin, gluten, etc. This southern girl loves her carbs!!!!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jerri – I usually grind hard white wheat which subs in pretty well for white flour. I usually recommend starting with 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour. I don’t add other ingredients than what the recipe calls for except for if I’m using 100% whole wheat in bread recipes, often I’ll add a little gluten to mimic the properties of bread flour.

  41. Christie says:

    Loved these tonight. Definitely not as chewy as the pretzel rolls that are boiled but a delicious combination of a roll and pretzel!

  42. Heidi says:

    Hi! I love your blog, recipes, and your tutorials! I cook from it daily but hardly ever comment. BUT, these bad boys deserve my shout out 🙂 they were so so good and beautiful! My sis n law came over for lunch today and I made these with your Greek yogurt cookie dough dip and apples and it was a fun, easy, yummy lunch! Couldn’t have done it without the pic tutorial steps so thank you for taking the time to do that.

  43. Shany says:

    Hi Mel, these look amazing and I can’t wait to try them! Could you recommend a good substitute for the Monterey Jack cheese? Not available where I live. Maybe Gouda or Mozzarella? Thanks!

  44. Leena says:

    Hi Mel,
    Discovered this via Pinterest! And I love Pinterest to bits as it allows me to explore more like-minded surfers. And I love yor tutorial…it makes newbie like me (in bread making) wanna try immediately (though I am in the office now). My question would be: How do I keep the dough for next day baking? i.e. I prepare the dough at night and bake it the next early morning? Do it keep it out or in the fridge after the first rise?Thanks for reading and answering

    • Mel says:

      You could try making the dough, shaping it and refrigerating the pretzel twists (covered with greased plastic wrap) overnight and proceeding with the recipe in the morning. Good luck!

  45. Skip says:

    WTH where do I find the recipe beyond the coments

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