We have a serious love for party food that is both, super tasty and easy to make while being super inexpensive. For us, pretzel bites fall into that category. Their salty outsides and super soft insides make them irresistible and there's hundreds of ways to get them dressed up for your next party. Here's how to whip up a batch.
Pretzel bites are the gift that keeps on giving. You start with what seems like a small batch of unassuming dough and as you start working, you create 100+ little bites that puff up into all their pretzel-tastic glory! They are a true loaves to fishes type snack where you can make something quite phenomenal in a short amount of time with very little supplies (or space). You will need a large pot (something to boil water in), an oven and hopefully one other helper, it's a quick process and making them with a friend or family member really helps. Here's how to get started:
Yields 100+ bites or 30 pretzels
1 Recipe Pretzel Dough from Smitten Kitchen (adapted from Martha Stewart).
Set a large pan with 2" of water in the bottom on the stove to boil. Hopefully by the time it comes to a boil, you'll be finished working with the dough. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit as well, with racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven.
After allowing dough to proof in a warm area , heavily flour a work surface and dump dough out of bowl. Flour hands and shape into a large rectangle roughly 3/4 of an inch in thickness. Using a bench scraper (our preferred method), knife or pizza cutter, cut off 1 long strip, 1" wide and set aside. Cover remaining dough with a towel. Cut dough strip into 1" pieces and set aside, covering them with a towel.
Repeat the process until all dough has been cut into pieces and has been placed under a towel. The entire cutting process should take you no more than 15 minutes, so work quick.
Once water is boiling, add 1/4 cup Baking Soda and 2 tablespoons of sugar to it (it will foam, don't walk away from the pan!). Once it foams up, it should die down quickly, which is your cue to reduce the heat to a simmer. If for any reason the foam doesn't reduce, remove pan from heat for a few seconds until it does so. We have had one instance where the bubbling for whatever reason kept on going, so be mindful when doing this step.
Add 10-12 bagel bites to your boiling water and simmer for 90 seconds on each side. This time might increase or decrease depending on the size your bites are actually cut to. Check out the photo above for a bite that doesn't get boiled long enough. When they are removed from the water they'll shrivel. Don't undercook! Once each side has cooked (we just stir them with a large spoon and everything turns and gets coated accordingly) remove from pan and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and make sure the pieces do not touch. Arrange them in a manner which will allow the tray to hold as many pieces as possible and then brush tops with a mixture of 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water. Sprinkle with Kosher or sea salt and place tray in oven.
*Note: If your bites stop puffing to their maximum capacity, rinse pot and refill with water, add baking soda and sugar again to water and start over. You'll know when they're done if you can eat one out of the water, the inside will have the texture of a dinner roll with a soggy exterior.
Bake pieces for 12-15 minutes, you'll see the tops change color within the last 5 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack for cooling. They are best when eaten while still warm, though they'll stay super tasty for a full 12 hours when left uncovered on the counter or in a bowl. You can make them ahead for a party, just toss them in a zip top bag in the freezer as soon as they are cool to the touch. Then reheat in a 200 degree oven until warm!
You can serve them with a dip of your choice, it doesn't have to be a traditional mustard and can be any of of your family favorites! Don't forget, when it doubt, turn to a nice cheese sauce and most everyone will be happy.
Related: Recipe Review: Soft Pretzels from Smitten Kitchen
(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)