These soft beer pretzel twists have beer inside the actual dough, leading to a more complex, deeper flavor. Perfect for parties, game night or just a snack!
I’m not much of a drinker, though somehow I always have beer in my refrigerator. I do occasionally crack open a bottle to drink, but more often the beer is an ingredient in whatever I’m making. For example, I use it in my beer cheese dip which is probably the best thing ever to accompany my homemade soft pretzels or to smear on my pretzel buns for a third cheese on my double cheeseburger. But then I realized why not just add the beer into my soft pretzel dough? The resulting soft beer pretzel twists have to be my new favorite thing!
What are soft beer pretzel twists?
These soft beer pretzels are made with beer instead of water, giving the pretzel an extra layer of hoppy wheat flavor. The beer flavor isn’t super strong, but it’s pronounced enough to give the pretzel a deeper, more complex flavor than traditionally made soft pretzels.
What’s the difference between pretzels and pretzel twists?
You can definitely use this recipe to make more traditional pretzel shapes. However, I opted to go with a twist shape after being inspired by Kelly over at Just a Taste’s twist pretzels. They’re like the inside “knot” of a pretzel; no wings, just inner knot! The twist shape looks fun but also creates a softer pretzel as it bakes up like a mini challah bread loaf, all soft and tender, with no risk of a hard or overbaked part of the pretzel, like a more traditional pretzel shape.
How do you make soft beer pretzel twists?
Making the dough is easy. You warm up the beer and add a little bit of malt syrup or brown sugar to it. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid and let it proof. Then you knead in the flour, melted butter and salt. Set the dough to rise.
Once the dough has risen, you divide the dough into 12 pieces, form the pretzel twists, then boil the formed pretzel twists in a baking soda solution. Brush with an egg yolk wash, sprinkle with coarse salt and then bake!
How do you shape these pretzel twists?
Unlike traditional pretzels shapes, which has you twisting a rope of dough over just once, these twists start out as a rope, but are twisted three or four times. Then the ends of the rope that are twisted together are passed through the hole at the top.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds but once you get the hang of it, they’ll look like you spent all day making these twists!
Do you need to use lye to make soft pretzels?
Traditional pretzels are dipped in food safe lye, a strong basic solution, to give the pretzel it’s characteristic dark caramelized bitter brown crust. Though you can certainly mail-order food safe lye to use, I opted to create a less caustic basic solution using baking soda and water. The baking soda isn’t as strong a base as lye, but baking soda is readily available at grocery stores and doesn’t require mail ordering it or wearing protective gloves while using!
What sort of beer should I use for these pretzel twists?
Once you’ve created the dough, boiled them and baked them with the egg wash and salt, the beer flavor in the pretzels diminishes quite a bit. So I opted to go with a very hoppy IPA beer as my liquid. But you can use whatever beer you have on hand and like to drink. Here are a few common beers and how they would taste in the pretzel:
- Lager/Pilsner: This is a typical mild and malty American beer like Miller Light, Budweiser, and Coors. The resulting pretzel will only have a subtle malty beer flavor.
- Pale Ale: This hoppy beer is fairly middle of the road. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Liberty Ale are two popular brands. You’ll taste it in the pretzel but it won’t be super pronounced.
- IPA: This falls under the Pale Ale category but is more little more forward in flavor, often with a lot of hops. One of the most popular IPAs is Lagunitas Indian Pale Ale (which is the beer I used when testing this recipe). The more hoppy or bitter the beer, the more you’ll taste it in the pretzel.
- Stout: This dark brewed beer is fairly flavorful but not too bitter. Guiness is probably the most familiar brand of Stout beer. It will give a malty coffee or chocolate richness to the pretzel.
Can I make these non-alcoholic?
Sure! The alcoholic content of most beers hover around 4%, almost all of which will burn off when you boil and bake them. But if you are avoiding alcohol, you can still get a deeply flavored soft pretzel by using a non-alcoholic beer. Popular non-alcoholic beer brands include O’Doul’s or Beck’s Non Alcoholic Beer.
That said there is a burgeoning movement for non-alcoholic craft beers, which means if you look hard enough, there are some other great options out there! Keep in mind that even though the beer is labeled non-alcoholic, these beverages often have a little residual alcohol in them (under .5%) so check the label if that is a concern.
You can also opt to use a hop water, which is completely non-alcoholic. Lagunitas, as well as other companies, makes a hoppy water refresher that is sparkling water flavored with hops. Hops are a flower used in flavoring beer. It’s what gives beer floral, citrus and naturally bitterness. There is no alcohol or sugar in most hoppy water.
Finally you can always just use a recipe like my homemade soft pretzels which omits the beer completely and uses plain water in the dough.
What do you serve these homemade beer pretzels with?
I often eat soft pretzels all by themselves. But if you’re serving them at a party (or you want to treat yourself) try serving or eating them with some dips! Here’s a few suggestions:
- Beer cheese dip
- Pimento Cheese
- Yellow mustard
- Whole grain mustard
- Carrot Yogurt Dip
- Spicy Guacamole
How do I store homemade pretzels?
Let the soft pretzels cool completely to room temperature. Then store homemade soft pretzels in an airtight container or resealable Ziploc bag. Soft pretzels will last two to three days at room temperature.
Can I freeze these soft pretzels?
Yes! Homemade soft pretzels freeze great. Let them cool completely, then place them in a resealable Ziploc bag or airtight container. These pretzels well keep for about 2 months in the freezer.
One thing to note, the salt on the pretzel tends to dissolve when you place them in an airtight container and freeze them. However, this won’t affect the taste or flavor of the pretzels, as the crust of the pretzel will still taste salty from the dissolved salt!
If you like this beer pretzels recipe, check out some other awesome snacks and appetizer recipes suitable for a party:
- Fried Mac and Cheese Bites
- Pimiento Deviled Eggs
- Irish Meatballs
- Korean BBQ Wings
- Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
And check out some of these other recipes that use beer:
- Beer Cheese Dip
- Olive, Green Onion and Cheese Beer Bread
- Apple Brown Butter with IPA beer
- Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pie with Negro Modelo Beer
- Pumpkin Spice Eclairs with Chocolate Beer Pastry Cream and Ganache
Soft Beer Pretzel Twists
- 1 1/2 cups beer 12 fluid ounces or one standard bottle/can
- 1 tablespoon malt syrup or dark brown sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 7 grams or 1 package
- 4 1/4 cups bread flour 637 grams
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, 57 g or 1/2 stick
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda 170 g
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- Coarse salt
Warm the beer in a medium sauce pan until it is warm to the touch but not too hot (think bathwater). It should be about 100°F if you have an instant read thermometer. Add the barley malt syrup (or brown sugar) into the warm beer and stir until it is dissolved. Pour the liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the liquid and stir with a fork to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof. The top of the liquid should be slightly foamy. If it isn’t, discard and start over with fresh yeast.
Once the yeast has proofed, add both flours, butter and salt to the liquid. Stir it with the dough hook on slow speed until the liquid has absorbed all the dry ingredients. You might need to stop the mixer and scrape the sides with a spatula or plastic bench scraper to help.
Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and pulls away cleanly from the side of the bowl.
Pull the dough off the hook and out of the bowl. Lightly coat a bowl with cooking oil. Stretch the dough into a ball, gathering the rough edges of the dough into one side and then place in the bowl, with the rough edges down. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area to rise until the dough has doubled, about 50 to 60 minutes (though it could be up to 2 hours depending on how cold your kitchen is).
Once the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 450º, Line two baking sheets with silicon mats or lightly grease them with cooking oil. Place the water and baking soda in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the baking soda has dissolved.
Once the water has been brought to a boil, divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Cover the pieces with plastic wrap or a damp towel to keep them from drying out.
Roll one piece into a 20-inch long rope. Fold the rope in half.
Twist the ends three or four times together. Pull the bottom ends of the twisted rope up and through the “hole” at the top of the dough. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Once all the pretzels twists have been formed, boil six of them (or as many as will comfortably fit) in the baking soda water for 45 seconds. Flip the pretzels upside down and boil for an additional 45 seconds. Remove the pretzels from the water and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pretzels. Beat the egg yolk and water together and brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash.
Sprinkle the coarse salt on top of the pretzels. The egg wash will help the salt to stick. Bake in the oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until the pretzels are a dark brown. Rotating the pans once during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire cooling rack.
Feel free to form these pretzels in a more traditional pretzel shape if you’d like! See my instructions and photos for forming pretzels on my homemade soft pretzel recipe.