Buttery soft beer pretzels served with an Oktoberfest cheese dip make the perfect snack for celebrating Germany's famous fall festival or game day! Featuring a perfectly brown, chewy crust with a fluffy interior, no one will be able to resist these freshly baked Bavarian pretzels.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Always a crowd favorite: Need the perfect party-pleasing appetizer? No one can resist a soft pretzel straight out of the oven. Every time you serve these homemade beer pretzels, they’re sure to disappear right away and garner rave reviews.
Surprisingly simple: Making homemade dough can be intimidating, but don’t let it scare you. This dough is incredibly forgiving and comes out perfectly every time even for the beginner baker. One bite and everyone will think you’re a master bread baker with this recipe.
Make-ahead options: Entertaining is always easier when make-ahead recipes are on the menu. You have three different make-ahead options here with freezing, refrigerating and reheating.
Flour: This recipe has specifically been tested with all-purpose flour.
Beer: I like to use an Oktoberfest beer when it’s available, typically from August through October. If you can’t get an Oktoberfest, an amber ale makes a wonderful substitute. We want a malty beer here. Non-alcoholic beer also works with this recipe — just try to find one that matches an amber ale style.
Yeast: Make sure you get dry active yeast, not instant yeast.
Baking soda: We add baking soda to boiling water and briefly boil each pretzel before baking. This is what gives the pretzel its signature brown exterior. Traditionally, pretzels are boiled in a lye solution, but baking soda is much more accessible for the average home baker.
Cheeses: Along with the mascarpone, we use a mixture of Gouda and Gruyére for the Oktoberfest beer cheese dip. Of course, you’re welcome to substitute one or both of those varieties for your favorite melting cheese.
Milk: This is for our beer cheese sauce, so make sure you get whole milk for the best flavor and texture.
Salt: In addition to table salt for the dough, we want salt for the exterior of the pretzel. You can buy pretzel salt, but coarse kosher salt works just fine if you can’t find it.
Soft Beer Pretzels
Step 1: Let’s start by heating the beer and some water until it reaches the temperature listed on the yeast package, about 100-110 degrees F. Once it warms, we pour it into a large bowl with salt and sugar, sprinkle yeast on top and let it sit until it turns foamy like so (photo 1).
Step 2: Now we add the flour and melted butter on top of the yeast mixture. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, we mix the flour until it forms a shaggy dough (photo 2). We then switched the paddle for the dough hook attachment and let the machine run until it forms a smooth and elastic dough (photo 3).
Note: Alternatively, you can knead by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer. For this method, stir with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl to form that shaggy dough, and then knead by hand on a lightly floured surface.
Step 3: We remove the dough, lightly oil the bowl, return the dough to the greased bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Now we place the bowl in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size (photo 4).
Step 4: Once the dough has risen, we divide it into eight equal pieces and then form into pretzels. To shape our pretzels, we first roll each dough ball into a long rope, about 18 inches in length (photo 5). We then form the rope into a U shape (photo 6) and criss cross the ends of each rope (photos 7 and 8).
Step 5: From here, we lower each pretzel one at a time into boiling baking soda water. After boiling for 30 seconds, we remove the pretzel from the baking soda solution with a slotted spoon or spatula (photo 9).
Step 6: We place each boiled pretzel on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brush with an egg yolk wash to further promote browning and finish with a sprinkling of coarse salt (photo 10). Now we bake until we reach pretzel perfection.
For an extra decadent touch, brush the pretzels with melted butter right when they come out of the oven and serve immediately. It doesn’t get better than these homemade soft pretzels.
Oktoberfest Beer Cheese Dip
Step 1: To make our dip, we start by melting butter and whisking in flour to make a roux (photo 11).
Step 2: After whisking for a few minutes, we pour in the Oktoberfest beer and milk with some Dijon mustard, nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce and bring the mixture to a simmer (photo 12). Make sure it doesn’t get hotter than a simmer. Otherwise, the milk can break, leaving you with a grainy sauce.
Step 3: Now that the beer sauce is nice and warm, we stir in some softened mascarpone with the grated Gouda and Gruyére until they melt (photo 13).
The beer cheese sauce is now ready to go with those buttery, warm beer pretzels. Serve with some German sausage, like these smoked beer brats, and some crispy pork knuckle, and you have yourself the perfect Oktoberfest meal.
Tip: To keep the beer cheese sauce warm, I like to keep it in a miniature slow cooker.
As promised, we have three make-ahead options for these soft beer pretzels. Let’s review.
Refrigerate the dough. After shaping the pretzels, cover them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Let the refrigerated pretzels sit at room temperature for an hour and then boil in the baking soda mixture and bake immediately.
Freeze the dough. Cover the dough in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. To thaw, simply place in the refrigerator the night before baking, and it should be ready to go the next day. You can freeze it as a giant dough bowl or individually shaped pretzels.
Reheat the baked pretzels. Sprinkle the beer pretzels with a little water, wrap in foil and reheat in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes. Admittedly, this is my least favorite option because the pretzel exterior isn’t quite as crisp. For best results, I recommend following one of the above options, but it's an option, nonetheless.
The interior bread shows off a subtle beer flavor, but it’s light enough that even people who don’t like beer will love these pretzels. Of course, you can substitute water for beer, but the beer truly does add a nice complexity you won’t get with water.
Yes, this step is what gives the pretzels its signature brown color and crisp exterior. Otherwise, you will just have pretzel-shaped bread. Don’t skip this step.
If you have any leftovers, allow them to cool completely and keep in an airtight container. While they’re best freshly baked, they will last for two to three days. You can keep them at room temperature.
Create a warm place for rising: Dough likes a warm environment to properly rise. If the ambient temperature is too cold, it won’t rise, which can be a problem if your home is chilly during the cooler months.
You can place the dough in a sunny spot or turn on the oven light with the door closed for an hour before rising. Place the dough in the oven with the light still on and it will rise beautifully. If you have a fireplace, I’ve also found placing the dough about 3 feet from the fire works well.
Double check the expiration dates: The baking soda and yeast will not react if they’re expired.
Don’t overheat the beer and water mixture: If the beer mixture is too hot, it can kill the yeast. An instant-read thermometer ensures your liquid is at the right temperature.
Keep the dough covered: Air can cause the dough to dry out. While shaping the soft pretzel dough, keep it covered with a towel or plastic wrap.
Pairing that same Oktoberfest or amber ale is perfect with these pretzels. These beer styles match the nutty notes in the cheese sauce and naturally mimic the bread's subtle sweetness. A German lager also works nicely.
When wine strikes your fancy, a chardonnay is perfect. Chardonnay's buttery notes are practically made for soft pretzels, and the wine's silky texture works well with the pillowy dough.
Whether you’re enjoying Oktoberfest, game day or just a casual night with friends, these soft beer pretzels are a guaranteed hit. Don’t be surprised if they become a new party favorite.
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Soft Beer Pretzels With Oktoberfest Cheese Dip
- Mixing bowl
- Plastic wrap
- Parchment paper
Soft Beer Pretzels
- 1 cup beer Oktoberfest and amber ales work well
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup butter melted, divided
- 10 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel or coarse kosher salt
Oktoberfest Cheese Dip
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 12 ounces Oktoberfest beer
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of nutmeg freshly grated
- Few dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 8 ounces mascarpone softened
- 8 ounces Gruyere shredded
- 8 ounces Gouda shredded
- Salt and pepper to taste
Soft Beer Pretzels
- Mix the beer and ½ cup water together and heat to 100-110 degrees or the temperature listed on the yeast package. In a mixing bowl, pour in the warm beer and water mixture with sugar and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit until it turns foamy, about five to 10 minutes.
- If using a stand mixer, add the flour and ¼ cup melted butter to the beer and yeast mixture and use the paddle attachment on low speed to combine into a shaggy dough. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Turn the speed up one notch to speed two and knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about four minutes. If kneading by hand, stir in the flour and butter with the beer and yeast mixture in the mixing bowl until it becomes a dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, lightly oil the bowl, place the dough back in the bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees and boil 10 cups water with baking soda.
- Meanwhile, divide the dough into eight equal pieces and lightly oil the countertop. Roll the dough under the palm of your hand until it resembles a snake, about 18 inches long. Shape the dough into a U and then cross each end to the opposite side just off center.
- One at a time, drop the shaped pretzel into the boiling water and baking soda for 30 seconds. Move to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Beat an egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush it over the boiled pretzels. Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake until the pretzels turn golden, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly brush with remaining 4 tablespoons of melted butter if desired. If the butter brushes off any salt, you can always add more if you'd like.
Oktoberfest Cheese Dip
- Melt the butter and whisk in flour. Constantly whisk for about four to six minutes.
- Whisk in beer and milk. Continue to whisk to ensure lumps don't form. Whisk in Dijon mustard, nutmeg and Worcestershire and bring to a simmer. Do not boil.
- Stir in the softened mascarpone. If needed, you can soften the mascarpone in the microwave. It's OK if it gets a little melty. That will help it mix better. When it's mostly incorporated, stir in the Gruyere and Gouda until it melts. If you'd like a thinner consistency, you can always add more milk. Season with salt and pepper and serve with warm pretzels. Enjoy!
- Dough likes a warm environment to properly rise. If the ambient temperature is too cold, it won’t rise, which can be a problem if your home is chilly during the cooler months. You can place the dough in a sunny spot or turn on the oven light with the door closed for an hour before rising. Place the dough in the oven with the light still on and it will rise beautifully. If you have a fireplace, I’ve also found placing the dough about 3 feet from the fire works well.
- Double check the expiration dates. The baking soda and yeast will not react if they’re expired.
- Keep the dough covered. Air can cause the dough to dry out. While shaping the soft pretzel dough, keep it covered with a towel or plastic wrap.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.