Remember that time I made soft pretzels? They were good. They were really, really good.
Some of my friends had the genius idea to turn them into pretzel bites. And who doesn’t love finger food?!
So when I came across this recipe - pizza pretzel bites – it would not be an exaggeration to say that I squealed a little with delight and quickly informed John that I had to make them. Like now. And by “now”, I meant the upcoming weekend.
And I did.
And they were delicious!
These definitely require a bit of prep, but it’s so worth it. Again, not exaggerating.
First, we’ll have to make the dough.
Incredibly easy: combine water, sugar, yeast, and melted butter in a stand mixer. Let this sit for a few minutes (5 – 10, should do), until the yeast has activated.
Add salt and flour, then mix with the dough attachment, about 3 – 4 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, then place in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. I used a pastry cutter, which worked well.
Roll out each piece of dough into a rope, about 22 inches long.
Keep the dough covered with damp paper towels while you move on to the next step. Otherwise, the dough will form a hard outer layer.
Cut the dough into one inch pieces to form the pretzel bites.
I found the rolling-out and filling stages to be easier with the ingredients already prepped. Cut the pepperoni (or whichever pizza-style fillings you choose!) into small, bite-sized pieces.
Roll out each piece of dough.
Add some grated mozzarella. (Alternatively, you could buy mozzarella string cheese, cut ‘em into tiny pieces, and place inside each pretzel bite.)
Throw in some sliced pepperoni, as much or as little as you like.
Then fold over the dough and pinch the ends to seal.
Repeat with remaining dough (this is the part that takes a while…), then place on a baking sheet and cover with a damp paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then carefully add baking soda. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution, about 15 bites at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, then place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Brush the tops of the bites with egg wash and season liberally with salt.
*As a side note: in the past I’ve made pretzels by simply dipping them into a water-baking soda solution, not boiling them. One of my friends recently asked me which method was preferred. Dipping them is certainly faster and easier than boiling them, but both recipes work well and produce a mighty fine pretzel. Until I do a side-by-side taste test/comparison, I have no clear preference!
For the sake of experimentation, I placed half of the pretzel bites on parchment paper-lined sheets, and the other half on Silpat-lined sheets. The end result? No difference in how the bottoms cooked. All pretzel bites were crispy and delicious!
Further, I sprinkled half of the bites with kosher salt while the other half received a healthy dose of coarse sea salt. Here, there was a noticeable difference. If you’re looking to replicate that wonderful, salty pretzel that you can pick up from a street vendor or your favorite pretzel shop at the mall, use coarse sea salt. It’s crunchier, more flavorful, and well, it just generally gets my vote. Also, it looks fantastic.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
Here are the pretzel bites with kosher salt:
…and those with sea salt:
You’re drooling, aren’t you?
Even though these take a while to assemble, you are graciously rewarded with a mountain of pretzel bites. I was able to get well over 100 bites. That’s a lot of pretzel.
Serve with your favorite pizza sauce (here’s mine! I love this zesty, old school style sauce).
Seriously, what are you waiting for?!
Pizza Pretzel Bites
Yields: > 100 pretzel bites
Time: 1 hr dough resting, 1 hr prep, 20 minutes cooking
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 oz unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- Canola oil
- Pepperoni slices, cut into small pieces
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- 5 quarts water
- 3/4 cup baking soda
- 1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tbsp cold water
- Coarse sea salt
- Pizza sauce (for serving)
- Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tbsp at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface, and knead into a ball with your hands.
- Oil a bowl with canola oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites.
- Roll each bite flat with a rolling pin. Stuff each bite with pepperoni and cheese. Fold over the dough and pinch the ends. Set bites on a baking sheet and continue until all pretzel bites are stuffed. Cover with a damp paper towel as you work.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat and carefully add the baking soda.
- Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches (about 15 bites at a time). Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Make sure they are not touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes. Serve warm with pizza sauce.