Jalapeño pretzel bites with spicy beer cheese dip

Is it just me or does anyone else miss going to a bar to watch games? Honestly I’m not even that big a sports fan but there’s something so fun about the energy of the crowd, the people watching, the beer, and of course, the snacks. Oh, I miss bar snacks.

Since it’s covid and we can’t go out, I’m exploring ways to make bar food at home so we can enjoy it while we watch the Super Bowl. And one of my favorite bar snacks is pretzel bites.

These delicious jalapeño pretzels remind me of the Auntie Anne’s ones at the mall I used to love growing up. But the real MVP is actually the spicy beer cheese sauce. It’s flavored with garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, Dijon mustard, extra sharp cheddar, and an IPA. Basically, all the good stuff. It’s soo good. I recommend eating the leftovers with some veggies, fondue-style.

Note: This recipe makes 28 bites and about 2 1/2 cups of cheese dip. You can halve the dip recipe, but I prefer to have extra and use it as fondue for veggies or bread.

Ingredients – jalapeño pretzel bites

  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons warm milk (not hot), separated
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeds and white part removed, minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Ingredients – spicy beer cheese dip

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on your spice preference
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon or spicy brown mustard
  • 3/4 cup IPA beer, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) freshly grated cheddar cheese (do not use pre-shredded; that stuff is covered with cornstarch and will make your sauce grainy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions – jalapeño pretzels

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking tray with a silicone mat.
  2. In a large stand mixer bowl, mix 3/4 cup warm milk, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 packet of yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes so it gets foamy. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Using the stand mixer hook attachment, mix at medium low speed until you have a dough. Add jalapeños, plus 1-2 more tablespoons of flour at a time or until your dough is no longer sticky and can be easily handled.
  3. Knead dough into a ball and let rest in a warm place for 15 minutes. Note: I used my oven with the light on.
  4. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of agave until well combined. Set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups of water and 1/4 cup baking soda to a boil. Using a timer, boil 3-4 pretzel bites at a time for about 15-20 seconds. Remove quickly, using a slotted spoon. Place on baking sheet and use a paper towel to dab away any extra water.
  6. Brush each pretzel bite with the milk-agave wash and sprinkle on coarse sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until pretzel bites are golden brown.

Instructions – spicy beer cheese dip

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat and let bubble. When it bubbles, whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and mustard. Whisk everything together. Add beer and milk, whisk together and let it come to a boil.
  3. Lower heat to low and whisk in cheese until well combined. Remove from heat and whisk in black pepper.
  4. For a truly creamy texture, transfer sauce to a high speed blender and blend for 1 minute. Serve sauce warm with warm pretzels.
  5. Note: Sauce will thicken significantly as it cools. If you want to thin it down, whisk in a little more warm milk.

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