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There is nothing like biting into hot, fresh baked, chewy pretzel bites! These homemade pretzel bites can be made in the air fryer or baked in the oven, easy peasy either way! Using a no-rise pretzel dough, a quick baking soda bath and classic pretzel salt, make these the perfect fall afternoon snack!
There is something about the warmth of a homemade pretzel, they scream all sorts of things like football food, tailgating or Oktoberfest. Pretzel bites are the perfect game day snack; serve with a side of your favorite mustard, or try a mustard “flight” for dipping!
I am all about the snacks, I could make an entire meal off of an appetizer get-together! These Air Fryer Toasted Raviolis are the bomb! You have to try my Air Fryer French Toast Sticks, Air Fryer Apple Crisps, Air Fried Steak Tips and these Air Fryer Steak Fries.
Did you know that October is National Pretzel Month? Sure is! And I have teamed up with several other bloggers to bring you several delicious recipes for pretzels! Be sure to check out the other recipes at the end of this post.And for more Pretzel Month fun, check out:
- Pretzel Crusted Chicken Strips by The Freshman Cook
- Pretzel Rolls (with Sourdough Discard Option) by Art of Natural Living
- Reuben Pretzel Bites by Palatable Pastime
- Spicy Honey Mustard Hard Pretzels by The Spiffy Cookie
Depending on whether you make these in your oven or air fryer there are a few pieces of equipment I recommend:
- Air Fryer | If air frying, then well you need an air fryer! I love my smaller Instant Pot Air Fryer lid that fits on my 6 qt Instant Pot, one less large small appliance to store, and since we are almost empty nesters, we do not need a large one.
- I would recommend the Breville Smart Oven for larger families and for smaller families or college students, I would definitely recommend this Instant Pot Air Fryer Combo.
- Spider Strainer | These wide slotted strainers are a great way to work in boiling water or oils, they pull out the soft pretzel bites easily and allow to drain quickly.
- Bench Scraper | These are workhorses, acting as scrapers, cutters of dough and scooping up chopped veggies!
- Baking Sheet | You will need these regardless if you use the oven or air fryer, these USA Half Sheet pans are heavy and my favorite! Grab a package of pre-cut parchment paper sheets while you are at it!
This recipe comes together so quickly, simple pantry ingredients and you’ll have a fabulous appetizer. The full recipe and quantities are in the printable recipe at the end of the post.
- All-Purpose Flour | I use Organic unbleached flour for all of my baking, or most of it!
- Yeast | Quick rise or any other yeast is just fine.
- Warm Water | It’s been said that yeast does not like chlorine, which is in most of our tap water. I warm some filtered water in my tea pot, just barely warm about 110 degrees F. You don’t want to kill your yeast!
- Sea Salt | I used kosher salt, but you can also use a fine salt as well
- Sugar | I used molasses, but you can also use honey, brown sugar or regular sugar too — yeast likes the sweets!
- Pretzel Salt | this might be the only ingredient you don’t have on hand, you can certainly use any coarse salt, but pretzel salt sticks and tastes so amazing!
- Baking Soda | For the best tasting pretzel bites and the classic dark brown pretzel look you won’t want to skip the baking soda bath!
Air Fryer Pretzel Bites vs. Oven Baked Pretzel Bites
But I will be totally honest with you, while the air fryer quickly and efficiently bakes the pretzel bites, to a beautiful dark pretzel brown, unless you have a large air fryer, it’s time consuming. So see my comparison of the two methods below.
Air Fryer Pretzel Bites Tips
- I recommend you make half batch of the pretzel dough, or freeze balance of dough.
- Preheat the air fryer to maximize crisping and baking time.
- Perform baking soda bath right before adding pretzel balls to air fryer.
- Spray pretzel bites with a little spray oil OR brush with a melted butter right before frying.
- Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight baggie or container.
Oven Baked Pretzel Bites Tips
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Perform the baking soda bath to all pretzel bites and sprinkle with pretzel salt if desired or brush with butter as they come out of the oven and then sprinkle with pretzel salt.
- After the baking soda bath, set on parchment lined baking sheet, about ½ inch apart.
- Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes until browned and puffed.
- Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight baggie or container.
How to Make Soft Pretzel Bites
Be sure to read the whole recipe before starting, but this is a super simple recipe, you can even make them ahead and keep them warm in the oven.
Step 1 | Make Pretzel Dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or make by hand and get an arm workout), place the yeast, warm water and molasses.
Blend for a second to combine, then allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to bloom the yeast while you measure your other ingredients.
Add flour and salt together, then with mixer on low, add flour a little at a time, about ¼ cup. If dough is too sticky add a tablespoon of additional flour, if too dry, add a few teaspoons of water a little at a time.
Dough will look shaggy at first, slowly increase speed to medium low with the dough hook (J attachment) and knead in the mixture for 1 minute. Or remove to floured surface and knead by hand for 1 minute.
Step 2 | Preparing Pretzel Dough for Bites
Grab an 8th of the dough and on a floured surface, using both hands, roll the dough into ropes — about 10 inches long. Repeat with each dough ball.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium or large pot, carefully add ⅓ cup of baking soda (it will boil violently, as you can see, mine boiled over making a huge mess) — but the pretzel bites are worth it!
Next, using a slotted spoon or a spider, add between 10-12 pretzel dough bites to the baking soda bath for about 30 seconds, remove to prepared baking sheet. If baking, repeat with remaining pretzel bites, if air frying, continue to air frying instructions.
TFC PRO TIP | If desired, brush with melted butter (about 2 tablespoons should cover most of the bites) and sprinkle with pretzel salt, but you can bake them without butter and salt and add at the end.
AIR FRYER PRETZEL BITES BAKING INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat Air Fryer to 390 degrees F, be sure to do your baking soda bath just before adding to the air fryer.
Spray pretzel bites with a little spray oil or just spray the air fryer basket and carefully place air fryer bites so they aren’t touching in basket. I was able to get about 8 in my smaller basket.
I love using Avocado oil, it performs well at high heat and its heart healthy too
Close lid and set timer for 4-6 minutes, mine were done at 4 minutes, remove and if you haven’t salted, brush with a little water or melted butter and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
Repeat with remaining pretzel bites.
Is a Baking Soda Bath Necessary for Pretzel Bites?
It is not necessary, and you will save a lot of time, however; before you write off doing the baking soda bath, it’s important to know what you will be missing.
The image below shows pretzel bites made without the soda bath on the left, they are pale and unappetizing; the middle soft pretzels were bathed in soda bath and sprayed with oil, the ones on the right were soda bathed and brushed with butter. As you can see, you get the classic dark brown coloring by dunking the pretzel bite dough into the baking soda bath, the pretzel bites on the left are rather anemic and blah looking and honestly tasting.
The baking soda not only gives the pretzels their dark color, but also provides the classic pretzel chewiness and taste — so you decide!
Oven Baked Soft Pretzel Bites Instructions
- In batches, boil the pretzel bites in baking soda bath for 30 seconds – set a timer, you don’t want them staying in too long!
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Remove from bath with slotted spoon or spider strainer, place on baking sheet and if desired, sprinkle with pretzel salt (can also do after baking).
- Place boiled pretzel bites on baking sheet so they are not touching, but they can be close together. Bake for 10-12 minutes until puffed, dark brown and chewy and hot!
- Brush with melted butter and top with favorite seasoning or pretzel salt.
- Serve immediately!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Allow them to cool completely, place on sheet pan so they aren’t touching and flash freeze for 30-60 minutes (this will keep them from sticking together), transferring to airtight container after that for freezing up to 3 months. To reheat (pretzels are best served warm), place on sheet pan in preheated 300 degree oven and heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove and brush with butter and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
You may also microwave pretzel bites, but they get a little soggy tasting.
Technically, no, but if you are okay with not having a classic, chewy, dark brown pretzel bite, then I am not going to stand in your way. But the baking soda actually increases the pH in the dough, creating a reaction that provides a rise along with the classic dark brown color of pretzels! It’s so worth it!
Pretzels are best eaten within about 2 hours (or less) from the time of making. They are best served warm, so they are chewy and fresh, however; if needed. Store pretzels in an airtight container, they tend to get soggy in the fridge or on the counter, so I recommend freezing. They will be fine for 3-5 days on the counter.
Of course, the dough will continue to rise but at a much slower rate, be sure to bring the dough to room temperature before adding to the baking soda bath.
Yes, just like a good pizza dough, you can easily freeze pretzel dough. To thaw simply remove from freezer and place in fridge overnight, or set on counter until thawed and proceed with rolling, making bites, soda bath and baking.
Probably because your dough is too dry, you need something wet in order for the pretzel salt or any other topping to stick. To do this, sprinkle with a little water or brush with melted butter and then sprinkle pretzel salt on top. This may be done before or after baking.
Variations for Pretzel Bites
So you want to change it up a bit, well okay, here are some great ideas!
Pretzel Seasonings and Toppings
Instead of classic pretzel salt, let’s get crazy!
- Sprinkle with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning from Trader Joe’s — like an Everything Bagel, bite sized!
- Try the Everything But the Elote seasoning or something similar! YUMMO!
- Brush with butter before baking and sprinkle with parmesan cheese — pretzel parmesan bites!
- Try Chili Lime seasoning or even sprinkle with a little dry Ranch dressing!
- I am loving the idea of this popcorn seasoning variety pack and making a variety of bites! Cheddar Cheese pretzel bites, Cracker Pepper Asiago Pretzel Bites or how about Buttery Caramel Corn pretzel bites!
- Sprinkle or roll in cinnamon sugar mixture for the ultimate cinnamon sugar pretzel bites (a must to brush with melted butter first if you ask me!)
Dipping Ideas for Air Fryer Pretzel Bites
- Dipping sauces are the way to go! Try this AH-MAZING Beer Cheese Dip, whipped up in minutes or made ahead!
- Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is always a winner in my book!
- Ever dipped your pretzels in bbq sauce? Why not, delicious!
- Whip up some of this thick and chunky pizza sauce, it’s a delicious dunker!
- Sweet Tooth? Try dipping in this Vanilla Sauce, or drizzling in this browned butter glaze!
Ways to serve Chewy, Warm Pretzel Bites
- Try this Buffalo Chicken Dip, be sure to provide carrot sticks and celery too!
- or this Antipasto Dip would be so delicious!
- They would be delicious in a Mediterranean Hummus.
- And don’t forget just serving with a variety of mustards! Honey mustard, spicy brown mustard, regular yellow mustard, Dijon….mmmm good!
- Instead of croutons, try crispy pretzel bites on your favorite soup or salad!
I hope you loved this recipe, don’t forget to PIN and be sure to pop below the recipe card and comment!
It’s also National Pizza Month — be sure to check out all of my great pizza recipes!
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About Kathleen Pope
Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer
Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.