Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

I know a lot of people have been looking forward to getting this recipe, and I can see why – it’s a winning combination!  These are little rolls of soft, flavorful pretzel dough filled with ham and cheddar cheese.  They are easy to make and were a big hit at the party (I think I made about 4 dozen, and there were maybe 4 left).  For the sake of not having less to do at the last minute, I made these the day before and just reheated them in the oven right before the party.  I think they tasted just as good, but definitely did not look as nice the second day so if you’re concerned about the appearance, I’d make them more of a last-minute task.  Of course, they disappeared so quickly, I may be the only one worried about how they looked 🙂  I didn’t really measure the amount of filling ingredients I used, just however much seemed like enough but not too much.  I didn’t serve a dip with these little bites, but I think they would be great with a spicy mustard or a nacho cheese a la food court pretzels!

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
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For the dough:
1½ tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2½-3 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
½ cup small diced ham
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

To finish:
6 cups water
4 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt (or pretzel salt), for topping

To make the dough, combine the yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2½ cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix until a dough has formed.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until a soft, elastic dough forms.  Add the remaining flour a 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is tacky but not sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles on the surface, about 1½ to 2 hours.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 4 equal pieces.  Stretch or roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 4-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle some of the diced ham and the shredded cheese over one third of the dough closest to an edge, lengthwise.  Roll up tightly, filling edge first, so that the filling is tightly sealed inside.  Slice the log into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough, and the remaining filling.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 2o seconds and turning once. They should be slightly puffed.  Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer them back to the baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Brush the warm pretzel bites with the melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Source: adapted from Pennies on a Platter, originally from Gourmet, October 2009

28 Responses

  1. Oh what a great way to use up leftover Christmas Ham. I still have some in my freezer! I’m also planning on Ham and Potato soup and Ham omelets.

  2. These look easy to make and I know they’d be a huge hit! Thanks for posting the recipe!

  3. I’m trying to picture this… so after you slice the log, but before you toss the slices in the water… you have to seal the edges of the slices, right? Or won’t the filling come out in the pot of water?

    • Hi Maggi,
      As you can see in the picture, you leave the sides open. A little bit of the cheese melts out during boiling, but the filling stays in for the most part.

  4. Glad to know that the appearance isn’t as great if making a day ahead. I was thinking of prepping them Saturday for the Super Bowl, but I think I’ll wait until Sunday instead! 🙂

  5. Sounds like a delicious recipe! Just one questions regarding the boiling part: does the cheese filling melt out and get messy when you boil the pretzels? Thanks!

  6. These look Amazing! But as someone who hasn’t experimented with yeast or dough, it sounds a little complicated 😦 Would you have more pics of the process that you can email me if you had a chance? Unless there is a ready made dough you think would be suitable enough to use (until I sum up the courage to use yeast)!


    • Hi Lorie,
      I didn’t take any pictures during the process. It’s really not complicated at all. Just follow the recipe! Baking with yeast is not difficult at all, it seems to be needlessly intimidating to people.

  7. Thank you for posting this recipe! I want to make them for our Superbowl party. I have a few questions though. When you boiled them, the filling was ok? I plan to make them in advance, when you baked them first did you finish then with the butter and salt or do that part after reheating them for the party? Also, how did you reheat them in the oven.

    Thank you so much! I love your blog!!

    • Hi Lisa,
      Yes, the filling was fine during boiling. A bit of the cheese melts out but plenty stays in. You need to complete the whole process at once (boiling, then baking) and then just reheat later. I don’t even remember how I reheated them. Probably just as I do most things, at 350˚ F until they were warm.

  8. Oh my goodness, these look sinful (in a good way!) Yum!


  9. Yum! These DO sound delicious. What a combination!

  10. These bites are gorgeous. I can’t imagine them lasting long at a cocktail party. Lovely presentation too.

  11. Thanks for answering my questions Annie. I can’t wait to make these!

  12. Hey Annie! Thanks so much for the great blog. I am just wondering, besides Ham, what other substitute would work well in this as a filling. I want to make them just as delicious for nonham eaters but I’m not sure what else would go nicely with cheddar and pretzels.

    • Hi Zeze,
      I’m sure just about any filling combo would be good. I think something with chicken is always a safe bet. You could change the cheese as well. There are so many options!

  13. These look amazing! I just came across your site and am hooked!

  14. These look great and very versatile! YUMMY!

  15. i didn’t make these for an appetizer. i made them and put them in my kids lunch box. they loved them. something a little different. like a hot-pocket, only, not gross. Thanks!

  16. I made these this weekend and my hubby loved them. Great for our own superbowl party!

  17. Hi Annie,
    I’m in the process of making these delicious looking ham and cheese pretzel bites right now… and I’m having a hard time figuring out what the difference is between sticky and tacky. I keep adding flour to the mix and I feel like I’ve put a lot in and it still looks pretty sticky to me. Do you think I messed up? I guess I could just wait and see if it rises for me. I love your site btw! Your chicken enchilada rolls up bites were a huge hit at our super bowl party.

    • Hi Lacey,
      Good question. My personal definition to help decided stick vs. tacky is to stop the mixer and touch the dough gently with your finger. If the dough slightly sticks, but then your finger pulls back without any dough sticking to it, that is what I consider tacky. If you come away with dough on your finger, I would add a little more flour. Don’t be afraid, sometimes I feel like I’m adding way too much flour but this method of decision has worked really well for me.

  18. Yum, I’m going to make these for sure. I’m thinking about doing part whole wheat flour and part all-purpose flour. I do that a lot with recipes and they turn out ok. I’ll let you know!

  19. Thanks so much for this recipe, it was a HUGE hit at our house last night!! I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and the dough was FABULOUS!! I actually made half the recipe one night for dinner and just put the rest of the dough in the fridge for company the next day…worked great!! You always have such great recipes….keep them coming!!

  20. I made these last night — they were absolutely delicious and a huge hit! The only thing I would do different next time is flip them halfway through the baking time, as they were a touch soggy on the bottom. I can’t wait to make them again – my fiance said they are the perfect party appetizer!

  21. Hi Annie! I love your website! I’ve made a ton of things and they have all been amazing! I was wondering if these could be made and refrigerated up to the point of boiling them in water and doing that part the next day? Or if freezer them would work? Thanks 🙂

    • Tawny,
      I have not experimented with a break in this recipe, so I can’t say for sure. However, I would not refrigerate them without boiling first. The dough will continue to rise even in the refrigerator and you’ll end up with monstrous bites. Freezing at that point might work but like I said, I don’t know.

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