We have a couple of recipes that get used often enough they earn a permanent position stuck under a magnet on our refrigerator. These are the kinds of recipes that are usually handwritten and referenced so many times it just makes sense to leave them out.
One of our favorite go-to recipes, hanging by a very old ‘Save the Date’ magnet, is for chocolate chip cookies. Any time we get a craving for cookies, we can just refer to the refrigerator door for directions.
A new recipe for homemade pretzel dough has recently earned a coveted spot on our fridge. I love, love pretzels and learning a basic pretzel dough recipe can open the door to so many variations including these bacon cheddar onion stuffed goodies.
I made a promise to myself that I was going to try baking more bread this year. Baking, in general, has not been something that comes naturally for me. It takes a lot of trial and error, especially when working with yeast, to get things right. But after a couple tries I have these pretzels dialed in and have a few tips to ensure the pretzels turn out every time.
I think part of the problem is I am impatient. I want to complete a step in a recipe and move on, but bread making requires patience and finesse. It’s all about giving the yeast enough time to bloom, letting the ingredients incorporate, and allowing the dough to rise fully.
This recipe is a great introductory to working with yeast-based dough. The first step is to combine the yeast with warm water and sugar to activate it. While the yeast is ‘blooming,’ the dry ingredients get mixed and the butter can get melted in the microwave. After the yeast has had a chance to foam, about 5 minutes, it can get incorporated with the flour and butter. The dough can be mixed with a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment on medium for about 5 minutes or kneaded by hand for 6-7 until the dough is springy to the touch. The dough then gets placed in an oiled bowl while it rises for at least an hour.
After about an hour the dough should be doubled in size and the pretzels are ready to be formed. From here, they can get shaped into the traditional pretzel shape, rolled out and turned into nuggets, or stuffed. They take a quick bath in boiling water and baking soda to develop the signature pretzel color and popped in a hot oven for a few minutes.
If this is your first time making pretzels, it will be frustrating. The dough may not be the perfect texture and the shapes will not all come out but it’s ok. The dough is forgiving and even if some don’t turn out pretty, they still taste great and these are the ones you give to just your closest family and friends. Believe me, there is a reason why there’s only 6 knots are pictured.
In the same way I don’t know how to eat eggs without hot sauce, I find it almost impossible to enjoy a pretzel without mustard. I love any kind of mustard and I am absolutely serious when I say the main reason I wanted to bake these pretzels was just to have something to dip in some stone ground ‘Osark Stout Ale Mustard’ from Uncle John’s Cider Mill. So, so good.
This pretzel recipe would go great with any kind of dip and they make the perfect party snack. Try them this weekend or for your next event!
Homemade Bacon Caramelized Onion Cheddar Stuffed Pretzels
For the Filling:
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Large Yellow Onions, Chopped
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 12 Oz Bacon
- 6 Oz Cheddar Cut Into Small Chunks
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Season with salt. While the onions are browning, preheat the oven to 350 and place the bacon on 2 baking sheets. Place the sheets in the oven and allow the bacon to get crispy, about 8 minutes. Once the onions have cooked down and turned brown, add the vinegar and sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the heat. Crumble the bacon and combine with the onions.
For the Pretzel Dough
Adapted from the Alton Brown Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
- 2 1/4 (1 Packet) Tsp Dry Active Yeast
- 1 1/4 Cup Warm Water (Between 110-115 Degrees)
- 1 Tsp + 2 Tbsp Sugar, Divided
- 4 1/2 Cups Flour
- 1 1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
- 3 Tbsp Melted Butter
- 6 Cups Water
- 1/3 Cup Baking Soda
- Course Salt for Seasoning
Combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture and butter and mix on low until combined then turn to medium and let it mix for 5 minutes. If you don’t have a stand mixer, knead the dough for 6-7 minutes. Dough should be springy when complete.
Liberally oil the bottom of a bowl and place the dough inside, rotating to cover with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 and add 6 cups of water to a pot. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Divide the dough into 24 even pieces and form into small balls. Roll out each ball and spoon about a tablespoon of the bacon and caramelized onion mixture. Place a couple chunks of cheese on top and roll the dough over onto itself. Fold the dough roll in half, pinch the ends together, twist, and tuck the ends into the middle. Place the knots on the baking sheet.
Turn the pot of water on high and let the water boil. When all the pretzels are formed, add the baking soda to the water and gently lower 5-6 pretzels in the water. Let them soak for 30 seconds before removing with a slotted spoon and placing back on the baking sheet.
Place the pretzels in the oven for about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them. This is a hot oven and they will burn quickly.
Serve with your favorite mustard and enjoy!