Soft Pretzel Bites (Gluten-free!)

soft pretzel bites (gluten-free)

If there was one type of snack food I couldn’t get enough of growing up, it was definitely the pretzel. At the end of each trip to PACE and later Sam’s Club, you better believe I was in line at the concession stand ordering a SUPERPRETZEL soft pretzel with salt (then knocking about half of the topping off en route to the car, why did they always apply so much?). Shopping at Valley Fair during our biennial summer visits to California was not complete without a buttery Wetzels Pretzels pretzel and frozen lemonade to wash all that salty goodness down. And let’s not forget the boxes of Bachman Pretzel Stix that were a lunchbox staple.

soft pretzel bites (gluten-free)

So, I know pretzels, and was delighted to find a recipe for soft pretzel bites last year — aka Party Pretzel Bites — that adapted well to a gluten-free version. And then I got distracted, made brioche buns out of the dough more than a couple times (See: Exhibit A, Exhibit B and [upcoming post] Exhibit C), plus some cinnamon buns, and took my sweet time coming back to where it all started (sorry!). With Oktoberfest kicking off tomorrow, though, there was no way I was going to keep this recipe tucked away any longer!

You’ll love that these pretzels use the same exact dough as the brioche buns. One master recipe to learn, so many possibilities. Feel like pretzel buns instead of bites? Use the making/shaping/baking instructions for the buns, but boil them in the baking soda/evaporated cane juice concoction indicated below. Tired of cutting out bites? Go ahead and form a few (or all of) the long logs into large pretzel twists. Those are just a few of your options!

Grab a bottle of Omission Beer — or your favorite gluten-free brew — and whip up a batch of these soft pretzel bites. Take it from this self-proclaimed pretzel aficionado, you won’t be disappointed! Prost!

Soft Pretzel Bites

(very heavily adapted from Five and Spice via Food52)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Inactive Preparation Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours

Baking Time: 15 minutes

Makes: About 6 dozen

Ingredients

  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) millet flour, plus more for pan and rolling
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) garbanzo fava flour
  • 96 grams (1/2 cup) potato starch
  • 32 grams (1/4 cup) arrowroot starch
  • 9 grams (1 tablespoon) xanthan gum
  • 7 grams (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 12 grams (1 tablespoon) evaporated cane juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp (you’re looking for it to be thickened but soft, like whipped cream beaten to soft peaks)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 21 grams (1 tablespoon) honey
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) water, room temperature

For Boiling:

  • 6 cups water
  • 42 grams (3 tablespoons) baking soda
  • 18 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons) evaporated cane juice

For topping:

  • 1 large egg white lightly beaten with 5 grams (1 teaspoon) water
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (crush into smaller pieces using a mortar and pestle) or Maldon sea salt

For serving:

  • Smooth and/or coarse Dijon mustard

Instructions

Make and Shape Dough:

Dust a couple rimmed baking sheets (a large and small will do just fine) with millet flour; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together millet flour through salt; fit mixer with paddle attachment. In a small spouted bowl or measuring cup, whisk together melted and cooled butter through water. Turn mixer to low and pour butter mixture into dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a millet floured surface. Sprinkle the top with more millet flour, then roll the dough around a little, covering all sides with flour. Pat the dough into a disk and divide into 4 – 6, equal-size pieces. Roll dough into a ball then out into a log, about 3/4″ in diameter. Cut log into 3/4″ – 1″ pieces (you’re looking for each “bite” to be about 5 – 7 grams). Transfer cut pieces to the prepared baking sheet, leaving ample room between each for them to rise. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cover pans loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a draft-free spot to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in height.

Boil and Bake Pretzels:

About 15 minutes before pretzels are through rising, position oven rack in the center and preheat to 425°F. Line two large baking pans with parchment; set aside.

Once dough is through rising, warm the water in an 8-quart NON-ANODIZED pot over high heat. Once water is hot, but not yet simmering, add baking soda and evaporated cane juice, stirring to dissolve. Bring water to a boil, then lower heat to medium.

Once pretzel bites have risen, gently transfer about 1 dozen at a time into the boiling water. Cook for about 1 minute, flipping/stirring about half way through. Using a mesh skimmer¹ or slotted spoon, remove the bites — allowing water to drain back into the pot — and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. (Please note: the pretzels will look a little puckered after boiling, but puff right back up in the oven.) Repeat until you fill one pan (about 3 dozen pieces).

NOTE: The longer the water boils, the more foamy it’ll get when the bites are added. To avoid overflow, I found that turning off the burner, adding the bites then turning the burner back on works well. Additionally, if the water has boiled away too much, you can add more water/baking soda/evaporated cane juice in the same proportions indicated above.

Brush the first sheet of boiled pretzels with one or two coats of egg wash, sprinkle with sea salt. Place pan in oven and bake until deep golden brown, 15 minutes.

While the first batch of pretzels bake, repeat boiling process with remaining bites. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt just before removing the first batch from the oven, and popping this second tray in.

Serve and Store:

The pretzels are best served warm, with mustard for dipping. Store pretzels tightly wrapped at room temperature for a day or two. For best texture and taste: Reheat leftover pretzels on a sheet pan for about 5 minutes at 350°F.

Notes

¹ Mine is an all metal one from Ikea, purchased years ago. It’s no longer available, but this one is highly rated and available through Amazon or this rubber handled one from at Ikea.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Recreating Happiness
    September 21, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Omg, you are my hero! I recreate recipes and make them gluten free for a living (via blogging) but for some reason pretzels have always eluded me. My family and I have so terribly missed pretzel bites. One quick question: Arrowroot is not something I normally have on hand, is it heavy like potato starch or light like tapioca starch? I’d love to try making these tomorrow if I can sub the arrowroot for potato or tapioca starch.

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      September 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      So glad you found this pretzel recipe! Hopefully this isn’t toooo late for you, but arrowroot is closest to cornstarch (I’ve successfully made the brioche buns with cornstarch before) — even better, the volume and gram measures are the same for each!

  • Reply
    Mara
    September 6, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I was delighted by your brioche burger buns yesterday, thank you!! I’m now very tempted to make pretzels, but can you please explain why the boiling water includes baking soda in the pretzel recipe but not in the bun recipe? Thank you!

    • Reply
      Heather
      September 30, 2017 at 3:32 am

      Hi Mara! Sorry for the delayed reply. I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed the brioche buns — thank you for the kind feedback. The addition of baking soda to the boiling water makes it more alkaline, giving the pretzel bites their characteristic darker crust and (for lack of better description) pretzel flavor.

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