Aka your new favorite way to eat carbs.
These cheesy pretzel twists are legit out of control from their hot, buttery, golden exterior to all that glorious coarse salt and the moment you break it apart or take that huge giant bite… I think you know where I’m going with this…
ALL THAT CHEESE! The best of surprises.
These pretzel twists are a little something I whipped up last week watching a pre-season football game with my hubs (2 year anniversary soon, crazy!). Soft pretzels are like gold to this guy, which makes rational sense considering my entire homemade soft pretzel repertoire essentially starts from his family recipe. What I particularly love about the family pretzel recipe is that it’s quick. You don’t have to wait hours (or days!) for the dough to rise.
If you want to turn the pretzels up a notch, however, wrap the dough around a stick of cheddar cheese. Or cut them into bites and call it a delicious day.
Let’s focus on the cheese version right now. The dough? It’s basic and straightforward. You’ll only need 6 ingredients to get things going. Start with warm water + yeast. Not just any yeast, my go-to for nearly all the bread baking I do: Red Star Platinum. The reason I always recommend this yeast to you is because this is a premium instant yeast with a difference that not only you can taste, you can see as well. Your pretzels, your rolls, your breads, your pizza crusts– will puff up more. The volume you’ll get simply cannot be achieved with other yeasts on the market. That’s why Platinum is my fave. Makes working with yeast easy and your finished product absolutely fabulous.
And after the water + yeast comes some flavor: a little honey, a little salt, a little melted butter. The 6th ingredient? Flour. Use all-purpose flour for fluffy white pretzels, use whole wheat flour for denser and more wholesome pretzels. Whichever flour you choose, you’ll need about 4 cups.
Once the dough is made, pull a little apart at a time, roll it into a log, then coil around a long piece of cheese. I simply used these cheese sticks. String cheese works too, but you might need a little more dough because they’re a little fatter. You can make the pretzels as large or as small as you want– they’ll be the size of the cheese inside. So if you’re not using pre-cut cheese sticks or string cheese, you can slice the cheese however large you want. Keep in mind, though, the more cheese inside, the more likely the cheese will seep out. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I love the burnt cheese on the sides!
The baking soda bath is next. This is the step right before baking the pretzels and is definitely one of the most important. Here’s why: a suuuuuuper quick dip into boiling water + baking soda is what gives your pretzels that wonderfully authentic golden brown color. Basically, a baking soda bath will get you that iconic pretzel look. Not only that, the baking soda bath also helps give the pretzels their chewy exteriors. The best part after the cheese inside, am I right? For the baking soda bath step, I use my large dutch oven. Works wonders every time.
Another reason behind those crisp, shiny, chewy, golden brown pretzel exteriors? A little friend I like to call the egg wash. Just a simple brush of beaten egg after the baking soda bath and before baking will really make a difference.
Don’t they look like weird little mummies? ↑ ↑
And OK, since we’re already breaking the diet rules today, let’s brush a little melted butter on the pretzels after they come out of the oven. The melted butter will seep inside the hot pretzels. It’s all so beautiful.
Whether an after-school snack, football food, or a vegging out on the couch with all the carbs– these pretzel twists are the answer to all cravings. By the way, I think we can all firmly agree that no other snack can live up to melty cheese inside of a homemade pretzel!! You’re definitely trying these ASAP.
More pretzel recipes:
- Basic soft pretzels (whole wheat version too!)
- Soft pretzel bites
- Pumpkin praline soft pretzels
- Homemade crab pretzels
- Mom’s seasoned pretzels (unbelievably easy)
You should also try these ham & cheese pockets. More cheese surprises!!
Cheesy Pretzel Twists
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300ml) warm water, plus 9 more cups for step 5
- 1 packet Red Star Platinum instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 Tablespoon (20g) honey
- 1 Tablespoon (15g) melted unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3.75 - 4.25 cups (470 - 530g) all-purpose flour + more for work surface
- 18-20 cheddar cheese sticks (about 4.5 inches each)1
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg, beaten
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- optional for topping: 4 Tablespoons (60g) melted unsalted butter
- Whisk the yeast into the 1 and 1/2 cups warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Some clusters of yeast may remain. Add honey, melted butter, and salt. Whisk until fairly combined. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add up to 1/4 cup more. Poke the dough with your finger - if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, then shape into a ball. Place in a large greased mixing bowl. I usually use nonstick spray to grease it, but olive oil works too. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm area for about 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Use a sharp knife to cut off a handful of dough. Roll into an 18-inch log, about 3/4 inch thick. Coil extremely tightly around a cheese stick. You do not want any cheese to be exposed. Pinch to seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining cheese and dough.
- Combine 9 cups of water with the baking soda in a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a rapid boil. Drop 2-3 pretzel twists into boiling water and let sit for 20 seconds. Remove with a spatula and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Make sure the pretzels aren't touching.
- Brush beaten egg over each pretzel. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and brush each pretzel with melted butter. Serve warm.
Make ahead/Freezing: The prepared pretzel dough can be refrigerated for up to one day or frozen in an airtight container for three months. Thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerated dough can be shaped into pretzel twists while still cold, but allow some extra time for the pretzels to puff up before the baking soda bath and baking. Baked pretzel twists freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat in the oven at 300°F (149°C) until warm.
Cheese is bound to seep out a little, but to avoid a total cheese explosion-- make sure you wrap the cheese up extremely tight. No cheese peeking out from under the dough! If the unused ball of dough rises a lot while you're working on coiling the pretzels, make sure you punch it down to remove any air bubbles.
- I used these cheese sticks, which are about 4 - 4.5 inches long. They can be found at any major grocery store. You can also use string cheese or slice your own.
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SHOP THE RECIPE
Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
5-qt Tilt Head Glass Bowl | Kitchenaid Stand Mixer | Pastry Brush | Le Creuset Cast-Iron Dutch Oven | Measuring Cups
Today I’m working with Red Star Yeast. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.