Fluffy homemade pretzels are paired with a flavorful cheddar cheese beer cheese sauce that comes together in just 15 minutes once the pretzels are baked.
Twisted soft pretzels and beer cheese dip is the perfect appetizer for a gathering or game day. Mix up the recipe by making soft pretzel bites, normal-shaped pretzels, or pretzel sticks!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Texture - chewy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside! Plus, then you get to douse it in the delicious beer cheese dip.
Flavor - you get that irresistible yeast flavor from the pretzel dough paired with coarse salt on the tops, which is already the best combination.
Then, the creamy beer cheese dip is sharp from the cheese, with a dull spice from the cayenne pepper, and of course, the flavor from the beer is prominent without being too overpowering.
Crowd-worthy - Tell me a crowd that wouldn't enjoy soft pretzels and beer cheese dip on football Sunday?! This recipe is sure to be the hit appetizer for any crowd big or small. If you need more than 6 large pretzels, there are instructions included to turn these into chewy pretzel bites, instead.
I would consider this soft pretzels and beer cheese dip recipe to be made mostly with pantry staples, but here are a few ingredients to specifically note.
- Active dry yeast. I prefer to use active dry so I know right away if the yeast is dead or alive. However, you can also use instant yeast - keep reading for details on how to make this swap.
- Baking soda. In lieu of a lye bath, this recipe uses a water and baking soda bath to quickly boil the pretzels before baking. This creates that tangy flavor that you get from the outsides of the pretzels and also aids in browning during the baking process. Note that you will need ½ cup of baking soda, so check how much you have before beginning!
- Beer. This is used for the beer cheese dip. I typically like to use a lager as it has a good bit of flavor without being too overpowering. Feel free to use a heavier beer for a stronger flavor!
- Milk. Whole milk is used to make the creamy, cheesy dip the correct consistency alongside the beer.
- Seasonings. Garlic powder, mustard powder (or dijon mustard), Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper is all used in the beer cheese dip. Pretzel salt, flaky sea salt, or coarse sea salt can all be used for the top of the pretzels.
- Cheese. I love to use a mix of a super sharp Dubliner cheese (or any aged cheddar), plus a classic yellow sharp cheddar for the nostalgic beer cheese color.
See recipe card for the full ingredient list and quantities.
- Beer - use any type of beer that you enjoy drinking. Note that the stronger the flavor of beer, the stronger the taste in the cheese dip will be. I find it best to use something middle of the road like a lager so the cheddar cheese flavor and spices still come through. Want to omit the alcohol? Use non-alcoholic beer!
- Cheese - a variety of cheeses can be used, but I find it's best to use at least one type of sharp cheese like aged cheddar or gruyere cheese. If you want it slightly tangier, add about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese. Ultra creamy? Replace the yellow cheddar with Velveeta cheese.
- Yeast - while the recipe uses active dry yeast, you can also use instant dry yeast and just mix all ingredients together rather than letting the yeast bloom. Note that the dough may rise more quickly.
- Milk - 2% milk or whole milk can be used, as well. Note that whole milk will produce the creamiest version of the cheese dip recipe. This recipe has not been tested with non-dairy milk.
- Soft pretzel bites - once the pretzel dough is rolled out into a long rope, use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the water bath for the same amount of time, then bake for at least 10 minutes or until the soft pretzel nuggets are a deep golden brown.
- Soft pretzel sticks - roll the dough into a long rope, then cut into 6-inch logs, water bath, then bake for at least 10 minutes until golden brown.
- Normal pretzels - these can also be made into six, normal-shaped pretzels and baked for the same time as this recipe. Watch how to shape pretzels!
- Toppings - top the pretzels with everything but the bagel seasoning or sesame seeds prior to baking.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow it to stand for a few minutes until the yeast activates and becomes foamy.
Two: Add the melted butter, salt, and flour and mix it together with the dough hook attachment.
Three: Knead until the dough cleans itself from the sides of the bowl. Cover and move to a warm place to double in size.
Four: Remove the dough and cut it into six equal pieces.
Five: Take a piece of dough and roll it evenly into a log (about ½" wide).
Six: Pull one side down to meet the other, then cut it in half.
Seven: Pinch one side to seal the edge.
Eight: Wrap the strands around each other, pinch the other side closed, then twist with both hands to make it a tight twist.
Nine: Prepare a baking soda water bath in a large pot, then add the pretzels to the boiling water for thirty seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the boiled pretzels to a prepared baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper.
Ten: Add salt to the tops of the pretzels, then bake until golden brown.
Hot tip! Make the beer cheese dip while the pretzels are baking so you can dive it while everything is hot!
Easy Beer Cheese Dip
Eleven: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat then add the seasonings, flour, and whisk to combine. Whisk in the beer until the mixture thickens.
Twelve: Add in the milk and continue whisking until the milk becomes very warm to the touch and gets slightly thick.
Thirteen: Reduce the heat to low then stir in the cheese until melted. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired.
Fourteen: Keep in a pot or transfer to a serving dish and dunk in the warm soft pretzels.
Hot tip! Keep the dip over very low heat and allow people to serve themselves onto their plate or small cups. As the dip cools, it thickens and coagulates, so it's best to keep it warm the whole time.
- Prepare the water bath and place it over heat once you are ready to start assembling the pretzels so the timing lines up.
- Use blocks of cheese and shred them yourself so the cheese melts best.
- Keep the dip warm so it doesn't seize up. I'd recommend using a small slow cooker or leaving it in the pot over the lowest heat. Allow individuals to serve themselves on their plates or use small cups.
- Have leftover beer cheese dip? Use tortilla chips, sliced baguette, or chopped vegetables as dippers.
- Make the cheese dip up to a few days ahead of time and reheat before serving, adding a splash of milk or beer to loosen the mixture and stir.
Any beer can be used, but I find that a medium-bodied beer like a lager provides the best balance between the beer and cheese flavors. For a lighter version, Modelo is a great option. Very strong beers like IPAs can take over the flavor of the cheese and seasonings but is a good option if you want major beer flavor.
Any type of bread, crackers, pretzels, or crudités vegetables are great dippers for beer cheese.
Sure! While I love the freshness of homemade soft pretzels, frozen store-bought pretzels can absolutely be used, especially if you're short on time. Aldi and Trader Joe's have great versions!
Store the baked pretzels in a sealed container at room temperature for three days. Reheat the pretzels for 2-4 minutes in a 425℉.
Store the beer cheese dip covered in the fridge for one week. To reheat, add to a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in a bit more milk or beer and whisk until it becomes liquid and hot again. To reheat in the microwave, add additional liquid and microwave in thirty-second bursts, stirring in between each.
The baked pretzels can be frozen in an airtight container for one month. Reheat in a 425℉ oven for 5-10 minutes until the insides are warm.
More Appetizer Recipes You'll Love
Soft Pretzels and Beer Cheese Dip
- Stand mixer with dough hook attachment
- Large pot
- Slotted spoon or spatula
- Large sheet pan
- Parchment paper
- 1 cup warm water (110℉) 8 fl oz
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast one packet
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3-3½ cups all-purpose flour 360-420g
- 8 cups water 64 fl oz
- ½ cup baking soda 288g
- coarse salt to top the pretzels
- ¼ cup unsalted butter 57g
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 23g
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder or dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
- 1 cup beer 8 fl oz
- ¾ cup whole milk 180ml
- 1 cup dubliner cheese shredded
- 2 cups yellow cheddar cheese shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- Stir together the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow it to stand for five minutes until the yeast becomes foamy on top of the water.
- Add the melted butter, salt, and flour and mix it together with the dough hook on low, then increase the speed to medium high and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough begins to pull off the sides but is still slightly tacky.
- Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. About one hour.
- Before beginning the pretzel assembly, set a large pot of water (with the 8 cups) on the stove to boil. Also preheat the oven to 425℉/220℃.
- Turn the dough out onto the counter and cut the dough into six pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into an even log (about 16"), then pull one end down to meet the other end and cut the log in half at the rounded section.
- Pinch together one end and twirl the strands tightly around each other, pinching the other end to seal after twirling.
- Transfer the pretzel twists to a baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper.
- Once the water is at a low boil, stir in the baking soda, then add two pretzels at a time to the water and boil for about one minute.
- Use a slotted spoon, spatula or spider to transfer the boiled pretzels back to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pretzels.
- Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of the pretzels, then bake in the center rack for 13-17 minutes or until the pretzels are nicely golden brown on top.
- Prepare the beer cheese while the pretzels are baking.
Beer Cheese Dip
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour, garlic powder, mustard powder, worcestershire, and cayenne and allow it to cook for about 30 seconds.
- Whisk in the beer and allow it to thicken slightly, then whisk in the milk.
- Whisk occasionally until the milk gets hot, then stir in the cheeses until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste, then top with a bit of cayenne or smoke paprika, chopped parsley and enjoy with the hot pretzels!