Food & Swine

ballpark style soft pretzels


As many of you know, softball was a major part of my life for many years.  As a fastpitch softball pitching coach, I still get my ‘fix’ for the sport. I don’t however, get the ballpark food-fix anymore.  Ever.  Waaaa. I loved, love and will always LOVE soft pretzels.  The chintzy ones you get at the concession stand for about $3 and that comes with a side of canned cheese sauce, still yummy.  Until a year or two ago when I made my own homemade soft pretzels for the first time, I didn’t know what I was missing.  These pretzels are so easy, relatively quick and they are scrumptious.  Their texture is perfect and the egg wash makes them have great color.  The boiling baking soda/water bath gives them their trademark sheen, don’t skip that step.  Be sure to make the quick Garlic Cheddar Dipping Sauce to take these to the next level!  *My Dad endorses these as the best pretzels he’s ever had.  Thanks Dad!

Cristen I9A

*My softball career was complete when my Dad along with other parents of these 4 seniors below threw out the first pitch in our last game.  My Mom is behind the camera as usual.  She never missed a game either.

Cristen H9

I love these girls and still keep in touch with them all.

Cristen I9

Many many pitches, many many pretzels.


Step by step instructions here with my trusty helper, full recipe for pretzels and dipping sauce at the end of the post.


Here’s the ingredient lineup.  Water, yeast, butter, salt, sea salt, baking soda, sugar and yeast.


Put 1 1/3 cup of warm water in a large mixing bowl.


Add 2 1/4 tsp of yeast , the equivalent of 1 packet.


Add 1 TBSP of sugar to the warm water and yeast.


Whisk this mixture and set it aside for 5 minutes until foamy.


See those bubbles, that means the yeast is working!  Yahoo!


Now grab 1 1/2 tsp salt and add it to the bowl. (I use the children’s medication cups for measurement all the time.  Repurposing at its finest!)


Add 4 cups of flour to the mixture.


Add 4 TBSP of melted (and cooled a bit) butter to the bowl.


Try to whisk it…


Ooooops… spatula please?


Clean it out and mix with spatula until mostly combined.


Turn dough out onto a clean (lightly floured) work surface.


Here’s the dough after being kneaded for 1 minute.


Now, for 5 minutes by my little helper, she’s getting good at it!


Here is the finished dough, smooth and elastic.


Clean and grease the large mixing bowl.  Place dough in, spray grease on top of dough so it doesn’t dry out.


Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.


Once it has risen until double, punch down, let rest 5 minutes.


Cut into 8 pieces.  Roll each into 24 inch ropes.


Shape into a U.


Do this… (this is hard to explain!)  Ha!


Now secure the tabs onto the lower part of the pretzel shape by poking into the 2 layers forcefully.


Here’s half of the recipe.


The other half we made ‘pretzel bites’ out of.  Here’s my helper cutting the bites up.


Two dozen bites.


Now gather 1/2 C baking soda.


Add that to 10 cups of boiling water.


Soak the pretzels in the boiling baking soda bath for 30 seconds each.  Only soak a couple at a time.


Now for the bites…


Remove them from the water, set back on the silicon lined sheets or parchment lined sheets.


Brush with egg wash.


Sprinkle with flaky sea salt (I LOVE THIS Fleur De Sel from Allspice in Des Moines!)


Bake at 450 degrees for 14-16 minutes until well browned. (about 12 minutes for the pretzel bites) *The above picture was taken halfway through baking.


Finished pretzels.




All of this amazing texture… no rise time?  Yes seriously.  It goes against my natural thinking when working with yeast, but this fluffiness is extraordinary.

Sauce Instructions:


Now for the sauce…over medium heat melt 2 TBSP butter in a saucepan.  Add 2 TBSP flour and stir.


Add 3/4 C milk, whisk well and cook until thickened.  (Whisk constantly.)


Now add shredded cheese (1 C).  You can shred your own or use packaged.  The texture will be better with cheese you shred yourself.  Fyi.


Now add seasonings.  Salt pepper and garlic powder.  Stir well.  Serve hot with soft pretzels to sweet little helpers.


Ballpark Style Soft Pretzels

by Cristen from

Makes 8 large pretzels or 48 pretzel bites

Time: 10 minutes dough, 1 hour rise, 15 minutes shaping and prepping, 15 minutes baking.

Pretzel Ingredients

1 1/3 C warm tap water (115 degrees)

1 packet of instant or active dry yeast

1 TBSP sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

4 TBSP butter, melted and cooled a bit

4 C all purpose flour

Pretzel Water Bath:

1/2 C baking soda

10 C water

Egg Wash:

1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water, mixed well

Fleur De Sel, Kosher or regular salt for topping

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar.  Swirl to incorporate and let stand for 5 minutes to proof. (Proof means let your yeast show you it will work by foaming a bit.)  Add salt, butter and flour.  Stir to combine.  Turn out onto a clean workspace and knead for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Place in greased bowl, spray top of dough with nonstick cooking spray.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise 1 hour, until doubled.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove from bowl.  Punch down, wait 5 minutes.  Divide into 8 equal pieces.  Roll into 20-24 inch ropes.  Shape into pretzel shape. (For pretzel bites, roll into 12 inch ropes, cut 6 bites out of each of the 8 portions of dough) Let rest on a sheet pan lined with parchment and sprayed with oil, or on a silicon lined sheet pan.  Bring 10 C water to a rolling boil.  Add baking soda.  Submerge pretzels in a couple at a time, keeping them covered in the boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove from water, return to sheet pan.   Brush entire top of pretzels with egg wash.  Sprinkle with desired amount of salt.  Bake for 14-16 minutes, until nicely browned.  Remove, let cool a few minutes.  Serve warm with Garlic Cheddar Dipping Sauce.

Garlic Cheddar Dipping Sauce

2 TBSP butter

2 TBSP flour

3/4 C milk

1 C cheddar cheese, shredded (can use packaged shredded cheese)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Melt butter, stir in flour, mix for 1 minute to cook raw flour flavor out.  Add milk, whisk and cook until thickened.  Add cheese and seasonings.  Mix well.  Serve warm.  (*if sauce gets thick, add milk and warm again.)

*Coming soon… a sweet cinnamon sugar laden version with vanilla bean glaze for dipping!


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  • Reply RandomSweetnessBaking March 5, 2014 at 3:19 am

    I had no idea pretzels could be this easy to make! And now that hockey season is winding down and the concession stands will be closed, we can eat them at home. Yay!

  • Reply Jennifer Flaa (@JeniEats) March 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    These look really great and it was fun to hear about your experience playing softball. I also love that canned cheese sauce. Husband will like these.

  • Reply My Creative Days March 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    These look so yummy. I really want to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Cristen March 5, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Thanks! Pretzels were always my favorite ballpark food. I appreciate you checking this recipe out! Cristen

  • Reply Scott March 5, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Looks super easy! I’ve never made homemade pretzels, this will be a great weekend project!

    • Reply Cristen March 5, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      Awesome! Thanks Scott!

  • Reply jantinawennerstrom March 5, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    So the recipe and post is great! Great photos and looks awesome and yummy! But I have to ask… what is the photo of on the sides/background of your page? I can’t place that :)

    • Reply Cristen March 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Thank you! The background of my page was supposed to be the hide of a pig with its colorful hair but I never got a good enough picture. The hair of the background is actually the hide and hair of a bull, a tame bucking bull my friend owns. I’ll be posting his story soon! He’s awesome!

  • Reply jantinawennerstrom March 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks for replying! I look forward to his story! :)

  • Reply nicolepatt March 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    These look awesome! It was fun to see your softball pictures!

    • Reply Cristen March 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks Nicole! Feels like a million years ago, but I can still play a bit!

  • Reply Megan March 8, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    This looks so good, might have to make it tonight :)

  • Reply renaelaunderlife March 13, 2014 at 1:44 am

    These.look.amazing. Pinning!

    • Reply Cristen March 14, 2014 at 1:21 am

      Thank you! I need to get better at pinning! :)

  • Reply Laura July 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Looks so good!!!! High heel gourmet brought me here.

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