Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce

Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce | #recipe

Soft pretzels are my kryptonite. If they are available, I will eat them… at a festival, a sporting event, the mall, an appetizer at a restaurant… literally, anywhere. I have always had a love affair with soft pretzels. I usually don’t eat them with any sort of dipping sauce, save for when I’m at Hofbrauhaus and their huge Bavarian pretzel shows up as an appetizer. Then, I can’t resist the bier cheese that is served along with it. Truthfully, even though it’s an appetizer, I could make that my entire meal. Don’t put it past me to go to a hockey game or a baseball game and indulge in a soft pretzel and a drink and call it dinner. Actually, I do it pretty often.

I never said I was a fancy girl.

Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce | #recipe

I have been making this superb soft pretzel recipe for years now, but a couple of months ago, I started to prefer the pretzel nuggets when I made my obligatory pretzel stop while shopping – a higher chewy outside to soft inside ratio, which I love. I finally decided to tweak my pretzel recipe ever so slightly to make little nuggets.

Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce | #recipe

While I could eat these all day, every day without dipping them in anything, I was craving a cheese sauce the day I made these. I first made this cheese sauce (technically queso) from A Spicy Perspective back on Super Bowl Sunday. It was, without a doubt, the best queso I have ever had that didn’t come from a Mexican restaurant. The sauce was smooth and creamy and perfectly spiced, and I could have eaten the entire pot myself with a side of carbs.

Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce | #recipe

For this dipping sauce, if you prefer to not have a smokey flavor, simply omit the chipotle chiles. If you prefer it to not be spicy, simply omit the chipotle chiles and the jalapeño peppers. It’s perfectly adaptable to individual tastes, so it’s just as easy to create a basic cheese sauce if you’d like.

Whether you choose to dip or not, these little nuggets are the perfect snack for lazy summer days, picnics, lounging by the pool, or watching a game. This entire batch lasted a mere 24 hours in my house, so prepare to hoard these!

Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce | #recipe

One year ago: Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
Two years ago: Coconut Cream Pie
Five years ago: Sweet and Sour Chicken

Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

A favorite soft pretzel recipe in nugget form with a spicy, cheesy dipping sauce.


For the Soft Pretzels:
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
4½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cups baking soda
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, whisked together (for egg wash)
Coarse salt, for sprinkling

For the Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 chipotle chiles, minced (canned in adobo sauce)
1 (12-ounce can) evaporated milk (1½ cups)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)


1. Make the Soft Pretzels: Combine the water, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.

2. Add the flour and butter. Use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with the vegetable oil; set aside.

5. Combine the water and baking soda in a large, wide pot (a Dutch oven works perfect for this). Bring the mixture to a rolling boil.

6. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope about 1-inch in diameter. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.

7. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, about half a baking sheet at a time (or however many will fit comfortably given the size of your pot – don’t crowd them), for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a spider strainer or a slotted spoon. Place the boiled pretzels back on the baking sheet, brush the top of each with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.

8. Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

9. Make the Cheese Dipping Sauce: (I made the sauce while the pretzel dough was rising, then reheated it gently over extremely low heat when ready to serve.) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic and jalapeños and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened but not browned.

10. Stir in the chipotle peppers and the evaporated milk, then whisk in the cornstarch until thoroughly incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the cream cheese and mustard. Stir until the cream cheese is completely melted.

11. Add the shredded cheese a handful at a time, stirring after each until the cheese is completely melted. Serve immediately, or keep warm over the very, very low heat (do not let the bottom of the pan scorch) or on the warm setting in a small slow cooker.

(Pretzel recipe adapted from Soft Pretzel Recipe; Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce adapted from A Spicy Perspective)


51 Responses to “Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce”

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks on June 11, 2014 at 1:36 am

    I don’t know what I’d devour first…the bread or that sauce! Seriously I could use like 3 tbsp per 1 little piece of bread. I like a little food with my dip 🙂 And with the kick from the jalepenos, so good I bet! pinned


  2. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness on June 11, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Salty pretzel nuggets with melty, spicy cheese?! Oh my gosh, I think I just died a little. I want all those nuggets and I think that I could swim in that sauce! Pinned 🙂


  3. Mir on June 11, 2014 at 6:57 am

    I can never resist cheese sauce, and this one is so good! Not processed, but real cheese! And those pretzel bites. Wow.


  4. Michael R. on June 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I think I just found another food group! 😀


  5. Laura @ Raise Your Garden on June 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    To dip or not to dip……that is the question?

    Dip. Yes please!


  6. Patricia Scarpin on June 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    These would be perfect to munch on watching the soccer game tomorrow – look delish! I love how creamy the cheese dip looks!


  7. James on June 11, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I am also obsessed with soft pretzels, I’ve made your recipe several times. Have you tried making them into rolls? I’ve been using this recipe: to go along with my pulled pork.


  8. Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction on June 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Soft pretzels are the best! Love that spicy dipping sauce!


  9. ShaNae on June 11, 2014 at 9:53 am

    For cinnamon sugar bites would I brush them with melted butter then roll in the cinnamon sugar after they are baked? We love salted pretzels but love the cinnamon sugar more 🙂 Thanks!


    • Michelle on June 11th, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Hi ShaNae, That is exactly what I would do. Enjoy!


  10. marcie on June 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I love soft pretzels, and that spicy cheese dipping sauce sounds amazing!


  11. Cheryl on June 11, 2014 at 10:31 am

    You made me smile saying a pretzel and a drink can be a game meal for you. Can’t tell you how often I get a pretzel and diet coke at the Mall and I’m good for lunch!
    Will have to try these nuggets never wanted to bother with shaping a regular pretzel.


  12. Shaina on June 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Soft pretzels are one of my weaknesses, too! The first thing I crave at ANY sporting event is a big, fluffy, salty soft pretzel…and I won’t be happy until there’s one in my hand! (And I do NOT share!)


  13. kelly @ livelovepasta on June 11, 2014 at 10:52 am

    My local grocery store bakes soft pretzels the size of my head and I have a really bad habit of grabbing one and eating it while I shop. They are soooo good. These look amazing too!


  14. Mercedes on June 11, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Oh wow I could eat a whole bowl full of these! And that cheese sauce!


  15. Kelly on June 11, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Soft pretzels are the best shopping snack! These look delicious!


  16. Verna Provost on June 11, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I would love to make this, but I question the 2/3 cup of Baking Soda. Is that really right?


    • Aunt Bon on June 11th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      I was thinking the same thing,2/3 of a cup seems really excessive. I think I would try half as much and make sure the water level stays up.


    • Michelle on June 11th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      Yes, that’s correct! You really need a good baking soda bath to achieve that characteristic chewy exterior with pretzel flavor.


  17. Rebecca on June 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I love pretzels. And cheese. And spice. I love them together. YUM.


  18. Shikha @ Shikha la mode on June 11, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I can’t make these cus I will literally not share and eat them all myself!


  19. Jaclyn on June 12, 2014 at 12:23 am

    How perfect do these look!? Even better than the ones at the mall, total golden perfection!


  20. Sneha on June 12, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Pls can u give all the grt recipes in gram measurement


  21. Lisa @ Simple Pairings on June 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Ah, I love soft pretzels, and even better with cheese! This looks fantastic.


  22. Jeninfer Stewart on June 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    When my oldest gets home from camp we are going to make these! He loves soft pretzels!!! They look so yummy!


  23. sara on June 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Yuuuuuuuuuuuum. 🙂 These are making me hungry!


  24. Lorrie on June 13, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    These look so amazing. I have always wanted to try to make pretzels.
    Going to give this a try!


  25. Emily on June 14, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I made the dough last night, but ran out of time to bake the pretzels. I put the covered bowl of dough in the fridge overnight and it seems to have deflated. It’s warming up on the counter now, but I’m wondering if it’s salvageable? Or do I just need to start over? Thanks!


    • Michelle on June 17th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Hi Emily, Unfortunately, if you leave yeasted dough to rise for too long, it can collapse on itself and deflate. It would be nearly impossible to shape anything with deflated dough if that did happen. You would need to start over.


  26. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie on June 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Oh man soft pretzels are definitely too hard to resist. I have not made any in a long time though, sounds like I need to remedy that. Preferably with others around so I don’t eat them all in one sitting.


  27. Lynn on June 18, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    These look amazingggg. And that sauce… Don’t even get me started…


  28. Kevin @ Closet Cooking on June 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Yum! I just want to dive in!


  29. Margaret Smith on July 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    are we supposed to put the baking soda in with the rest of the ingredients for the pretzels or just in the baking soda bath?


    • Michelle on July 10th, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      Hi Margaret, The baking soda is JUST for the baking soda bath.


  30. Sara on July 16, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I didn’t have all the ingredients for the dipping sauce (I know, I know!) But I made the pretzel bites and they came out soft and so addicting. They were a hit at my home, thank you!


  31. Courtney D on October 19, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    These came out bitter… It was my first attempt at making any type of pretzel. I ended up realizing the bitterness was concentrated on the bottom of the bites, so I cut the bottoms off and then they were salvageable and a hit at the party I took them to. So… Any tips for why this happened and how to avoid that in the future? I suspect something to do with the baking soda?


    • Michelle on October 20th, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Hi Courtney, I have no idea why they would be bitter, it shouldn’t have anything to do with baking soda, that’s a standard method for making all soft pretzels.


  32. Valerie on October 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    These are amazing. I’m making them as part of an Oktoberfest party I’m throwing in celebration of my parents 50th anniversary. I have to make them a few days in advance… have you ever frozen then reheated them? Any tips to get them back to their amazing taste and texture post-freeze?


    • Michelle on October 24th, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Hi Valerie, These do freeze well; I would recommend popping them in the oven on 350 to reheat them and recapture as much as the original texture as possible.


  33. Jason on October 26, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Have you ever tried a cold lye bath instead of baking soda? I have found the outsides are perfect!. With the baking soda I feel it is easy to get soggy pretzels. Lye is nasty and you need to wear gloves but I do feel it is worth it. Would be interested if you ever get soggy pretzels or tried lye. Thanks.


  34. Sarah Brewer on November 16, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I made the cheese sauce only (already had pretzel bites) and I followed recipe exactly and it turned out too thick and chunky. Cornstarch didn’t mix well either….had to strain cornstarch chunks out of it before adding cream cheese and cheddar. It looked like a great recipe but failed to deliver. Disappointed it didnt work out 🙁 oh well maybe I’ll have better luck if I make pretzel recipe.


  35. Felecia on December 16, 2014 at 12:10 am

    These recipes were amazing and easier than anticipated! I have attempted another pretzel bread recipe before and failed, so I was nervous about making these. The nuggets turned out perfectly crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside and the dip was so flavorful. I had to sample a few to make sure everything turned out right. Now I hope I have some left to bring to the office party tomorrow. they are DELICIOUS! I think I found my go-to party snack recipe. 🙂


  36. Roseanna White on December 31, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Just made these for a New Year’s Eve party–so delicious!!! I only used half the amount of peppers in the queso but otherwise followed the directions to a T, and it all came out just beautifully. Thanks so much! (This holiday season I’ve also made your ciabatta [one of my favorites!!], the peanut clusters, and the chocolate-dipped potato chips. Everything’s been a big hit!)


  37. Hattie on February 1, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    These were fantastic! I have never made pretzels before so I was nervous but my husband was making cheese dip so I thought these would go well. The only problems I had was that I didn’t have parchment paper so I oiled foil and baked them on that. The pretzels stuck to it so most of my pretzels were bottomless. Oh well, my fault. Still wonderfully delicious. The super bowl was definitely elevated by their addition.


  38. Jennifer on January 20, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    These look divine! I know what I’m doing tomorrow.


  39. Katherine Johnson on February 1, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    I just tested these for a Superbowl party and I’m glad I did. They’re tasty, but more than half of the little buggers stuck to the parchment paper so they’re missing their crusty bottoms. Any idea what I did wrong? I used parchment, not waxed, oiled it and did the water/baking soda bath. A good dunk in cheese dip makes everything better, but it would be nice to have the crunch on the bottom for all of them. Thank you, BRB!


    • Michelle on February 3rd, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Hi Katherine, I would try eliminating brushing the parchment with oil to see if that helps get a better crust. Let me know if that works!


      • JMW on October 2nd, 2016 at 9:25 pm

        I had the same issue with them sticking to the parchment. I tried both oiling and not oiling. I used farm-fresh egg yolk and followed the recipe for the pretzels exactly and had the same sticking issue. Suggestions?



  40. Denise on February 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    If I want to make the dough the day before, for the sake of time, can I refrigerate it and if so when? Thanks.


    • Michelle on February 5th, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      Hi Denise, I’m not sure how it would fare in the refrigerator; I’ve not tried that. If you want to give it a shot, I would put it in after the first rise. Let me know how it works out!


  41. Beth on February 7, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I made these tonight, DELICIOUS. This was my last try to make pretzels, always a disaster. They came out perfect. I did not make the cheese sauce, will next time.


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