With chewy crusts and soft centers, these sweet pretzel bites have everything that’s great about soft pretzels in a bite-sized package. For a fall twist, this version is rolled in cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice!
It would be an understatement to say that I’m excited to share this recipe with you! These sweet little bite-sized pretzels are the best fall treat. They’re fun to make, flavored with aromatic pumpkin pie spices, and are more than just a little addictive.
I’d never made pretzel bites before testing this recipe, but the process is pretty fun. Much like making homemade bagels, it seems intimidating at first, but is totally manageable once you dive in.
It’s a bit of a project, so I’d definitely recommend setting aside a chilly fall day, pouring yourself a warm cup of tea / coffee / apple cider and making a morning of it. The pretzel bites require a classic dough that you have to knead by hand, but the steps to make the bites are great for helpers and little hands. Any kid or adult who has ever played with Play Doh will totally recognize the process of rolling the dough into “snakes” and slicing the snakes into even pieces. They don’t have to be perfectly even to bake up into delicious pretzel bites.
Boiling in Baking Soda
The secret to that dark brown, chewy crust that makes soft pretzels so unique is a brief boil in a water and baking soda mixture. The mixture is 8 cups of water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. That 1/2 cup is correct! It sounds like a lot, but it really is the key. The dough just needs a quick 30 second bath in the water / baking soda and then is baked briefly in the oven.
When those bites come out of the oven, roll them in butter and then in a cinnamon-sugar-pumpkin pie spice mixture.
Though they’ll be fine at room temperature for a couple hours, good luck keeping any around that long!
Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Bites
For pretzel bites:
- 1 cup Warm Water (between 100 F to 110 F)
- 1 (1/4 oz) packet Active Dry Yeast
- 3 cups Bread Flour, plus more for work surface (see note)
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Caramel sauce (for serving), optional
For boiling pretzel bites:
- 8 cups Water
- ½ cup Baking Soda
- In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, until a creamy foam develops on the surface.
- In a smaller mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and brown sugar.
- Add 4 Tbsp softened butter and dry ingredients to water / yeast mixture.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
- Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn dough out on floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes, adding additional flour a bit at a time if needed to prevent sticking.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.
- Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, ~2 hours.
- When dough has risen, heat oven to 450 F / 232 C.
- Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or rub them with oil.
- While oven is heating, fill a large saucepan (I often use my wok for these) with 8 cups water and baking soda. Bring mixture to a boil (as the water heats, it will develop large foam bubbles on the top).
- While water is coming to a boil, punch down dough and divide into 6 sections.
- Divide each dough section in half and roll each half into a 12-inch rope.
- Cut each rope in to 6 2-inch pieces. (Note: This should make 72 pretzel bites, but it’s fine to make them slightly larger and have fewer. If you make larger bites, bake them for 2 to 3 minutes longer than the time listed below.)
- Working with 12 pretzel bites at a time, carefully drop them into the boiling water / baking soda mixture. Boil for 30 seconds and then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to prepared sheet pans.
- Bake pretzel bites until deep golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through baking, 8 to 10 minutes.
- While pretzel bites bake, melt 4 Tbsp butter in one medium bowl. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a second medium bowl.
- When pretzel bites are finished baking, allow to cool slightly on the sheet pans.
- Working in batches, drop warm pretzel bites into butter and then sugar mixture, turning to coat on all sides.
- Serve pretzel bites on their own or with warm caramel sauce for dipping. They’re best served warm but, once cool, they can be kept at room temperature for a couple hours before serving.
For classic cinnamon-sugar pretzel bites, substitute ground cinnamon for the pumpkin pie spice in this recipe.
It’s rare that I’m on the other side of the camera, but I’m loving this picture that Frank took with all THREE of our girls!
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