Stuffed with melty sharp cheddar and meant to be shared, these homemade Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists are a warm, crowd-pleasing snack that’s sure to be a hit at your next party or game day.
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Oktoberfest. Halloween. Game days. Family gatherings. Any occasion is a good excuse to add some fresh baked soft pretzels to your party menu. Stuffing them with sharp, melty cheddar cheese is just the icing on the proverbial cake, I’d say.
If you’re intimidated by making your own pretzels, please don’t be! Pretzel dough is super easy to make in a stand mixer, and after a quick boil they cook up in no time. Even better, there are two different ways to break up the process and make these Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists ahead of time. Check out the notes in the recipe below for more details.
Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists
Homemade pretzels are one of my favorite things. I imagine I’ll always be experimenting with pretzel dough, but I have to admit that I’m incredibly happy with the recipe for these Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists.
After a bit of testing, here are my notes on choosing ingredients for your own soft pretzel twists:
The addition of a bit of whole wheat flour to the recipe adds a nice nutty flavor to the final product. It also gives a tad bit of stiffness to the dough that helps the soft pretzel twists keep their shape. I really like it, but if you don’t have any whole wheat flour on hand feel free to substitute the same amount in regular all-purpose flour.
I’ve tried stuffing these pretzels with both soft gouda and extra sharp cheddar. Let me tell you – the cheddar is by far the more delicious option. Not only does the bite of the sharp cheese stand out loud and clear against the dough, it also holds up better during baking. Even if a bit bubbles out of your pretzel twists, it should all mostly stay together (unlike the gouda, which seemed to ooze out and disappear through any cracks in the dough). Ultimately, use a medium-soft cheese you can cut into strips and that you like the flavor of – that’s the most important part.
I love baking with pumpkin beer this time of year! The best part is that once you’ve measured out what you need for the recipe, you get to finish off the bottle as you bake. I’ve tried a number of pumpkin beers, but my favorite is Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. To be honest, I’m not sure how strongly the pumpkin flavor carries over into the finished product, but I still like adding this beer to my pretzels.
If pumpkin season has passed and you still want to give this recipe a try, try your favorite amber ale or lager and see how it goes. I’m sure it would be delicious!
Genuine pretzel salt can be a bit hard to find, so if you don’t feel like ordering online (like I did), feel free to use your favorite coarse kosher salt instead. It’s not exactly the same and doesn’t look quite as “picturesque”, but it totally works in a pinch!
Making Pretzel Twist Shapes
When I’m making food for a party, it’s important to me that I can feed as many people as possible. I fell in love with this soft pretzel twist shape because it allows me to serve a good number of people a nice sized portion
To make a pretzel twist shape, break off a ball of dough a little larger than a golf ball. Roll out ‘ropes’ of dough about 15 inches long, gradually tapering the ends into a point (I just measured to the length of my cutting board). Make sure the rope is left thick enough that you can stuff a sliver of cheese into the center. Cut a slit about three inches long half way through the center of the rope, stuff it with an equally long strip of cheese, and re-mold the dough back around the cheese.
Now that you’ve filled the dough ‘rope’ with cheese, the rest is easy. Using the cheese as your center point, gently fold the rope in half and twist the two ends together. Ta-da! Soft pretzel twist complete.
That being said, you can form your pretzels however you’d like. If you prefer traditional pretzel shapes, go for it.
Next time you have friends over to watch the game or a movie, make a big batch of the Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists with a side of grainy mustard. I promise your guests will be grateful!
Need a few ideas for what to dip these Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists into? How about my recipe for hard cider cheddar cheese sauce, or this perfect-for-Oktoberfest Bavarian Cheese Dip? If you’re up to it, you could even make your own mustard!
Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists
Stuffed with extra sharp cheddar, these Cheesy Pumpkin Beer Soft Pretzel Twists are meant to be shared at your next party or game day! Serve with some grainy mustard or a spicy cheese dip.
Makes about 14-16 Pretzels
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 ¼ cup pumpkin beer (I use Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale)
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4-6 oz extra sharp cheddar, cut into strips about 1/3 inch thick and 3-4 inches long
- A large pot of water
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water (for egg wash)
- ¼ cup pretzel salt (or other course salt for topping)
Oil the sides of a medium-sized mixing bowl with the vegetable oil and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, honey, and warm water. Lightly stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes until frothy.
Once the yeast is activated, add the beer, melted butter, and salt. Mix on low speed with a dough hook until combined.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the all purpose and whole wheat flour. With the dough hook still on low speed, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, a half a cup at a time. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to the well-oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise for one hour in a warm place.
When the dough has nearly doubled in size, preheat the oven to 425°F and bring the large pot of water to a low boil. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepare the egg wash.
Break off a piece of dough a little larger than a golf ball, and shape it into a rope about an inch thick and 15 inches long, tapering off at the ends. With a sharp knife, slice a three- to four-inch slit half way through the middle of the rope, careful not to cut all the way through. Place a strip of cheese inside the slit and reform the dough around it. Fold the rope in half (with the cheese-filled part in the center of the curve) and twist the ends together.
Add the baking soda to the boiling water. Drop in the twists 2 or 3 at a time and boil for 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels with a spider or slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain.
Once they've all had a baking soda bath, arrange the pretzels on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops of each with the egg wash. Sprinkle with pretzel salt to your liking and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the tops are golden. Some cheese might bubble out of the twists, but that’s okay. Serve the soft pretzel twists immediately, with a side of coarse mustard or thick cheese sauce.
Activating Yeast: Make sure the warm water is hot to the touch, but not scalding. You need warm water to activate the yeast, but too hot could kill it.
Choosing a Beer: While I love the twist pumpkin ales add to this recipe, not everyone loves pumpkin beer. If pumpkin beer is out of season (or it's not to your taste), any amber ale or lager would work beautifully!
Making Ahead: Sometimes you don’t have time to complete a full recipe in one day, or you need to make your snacks well in advance of your party. There are two ways you can freeze this recipe to make things ahead:
First, you can freeze the dough after it’s risen. Wrap it in plastic wrap, slip it into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag, and freeze for up to 2 months. Allow the dough to thaw in the refridgerator overnight before using, and then to come to room temperature before dropping into the baking soda bath.
Second, you can freeze the baked pretzel twists. Once you've finished the recipe, allow the fully cooked pretzel twists to cool to room temperature (for this method, I recommend under-baking the pretzels just slightly - enough that the dough is cooked through, but the tops aren't browned too much). To freeze, place them on a baking sheet, leaving a little space between, and leave in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Transfer the frozen pretzels to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and use within 2-3 months. When ready to serve, bake in an oven set to 350°F for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.