Even if you don’t care about the game or the race or the band, pubs are a welcoming place. All that dark wood polished to a high shine feels like a warm English hug. The clink of silverware and chatter of servers and bartenders floats through the air, mingling with the delicious smells permeating the dining room. Chatter is encouraged. Rich beers are a good choice. Greasy fingers and sharing food are a must.
One of the best pub foods I wanted to bring into my home are warm, soft pretzels with pumpkin beer cheese. I’m adding the pumpkin because first, I am the Queen of Autumn, and second, pumpkin beer is underrated. There are a huge range of spicy fall beers, ranging from hoppy and spicy to mild and sweet. I’m here for pretty much all of them, so it was an easy jump into a cheesy beer sauce to schmear all over a homemade pretzel.
How Do I Make the Sauce?
This pumpkin beer cheese is basically a spread. At room temp, it’s thick, perfect for scooping up with your pretzels or smearing across a toasty baguette. The base of the sauce is a roux. You can make the sauce gluten free by using a gluten free baking flour, too.
Once you begin making the sauce, it goes really quickly. Have all your ingredients at the ready before you even turn on that stove burner. Constantly whisk the sauce as you are making it, ensuring it completely comes together before moving on to the next step. Once it’s done, taste it and adjust for salt, pepper, any heat you want, etc.
Sweet or Savory?
As written, this recipe is savory. However, it could easily be made sweet, dare I say even dessert-like, by making a few changes.
- Add brown sugar to your pretzel sprinkle. Keep the salt, just add some sugar!
- Use a sweeter pumpkin beer in the sauce. You could even use a hard cider to get more sweetness. To up that ante, you could also add some honey to the sauce.
- Top the sauce with a sweet garnish. Candied pepitas would be amazing on top of that sauce. If you want to get really fancy, you could reduce pumpkin beer with some added sugar to make a pumpkin beer simple syrup and top the sauce with that or use it to brush the pretzels.
No matter which way you go, make it yours! Keep the ratios of the main ingredients that I have here, but adjust the spices and sweetness to really make this a family favorite.
How Do I Serve my Soft Pretzels with Pumpkin Beer Cheese?
I suggest a traditional pretzel shape and size here, but that can easily be changed. You could shape these into pretzel rods, very small twists, or little nuggets. Add these soft pretzels with pumpkin beer cheese to a holiday appetizer table, or give this as a nice packaged gift.
Check out these other pumpkin recipes from The Bad Wife!
For more photos of this recipe and all the other homemaking projects I’m doing, including recipes, knitting patterns, and other fun stuff, find me on Instagram!
Soft Pretzels with Pumpkin Beer Cheese
For the Pretzels
- 4 cups AP flour Plus extra for dusting
- 1.5 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon honey Optional: You can substitute 1 tablespoon brown sugar instead of honey.
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 egg
- extra salt for sprinkling
For the Boiling Bath
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup baking soda
For the Sauce
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup whole milk Optional: Use half and half
- 1/2 cup pumpkin beer or cider
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons AP flour Optional: Use GF flour
- 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the Pretzels
- In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and honey. Stir together and let sit for 5 minutes. Check to make sure the yeast is foamy and active.
- Add the 2 teaspons of salt and slowly begin incorporating 3.5 cups of the flour, stirring all the while. You can use a stand mixer or a wooden spoon. The dough should be thick, not sticky. You may need to use all 4 cups to achieve this, but you might not, so add 3.5 cups and be the judge from there.
- Poke the dough with a finger. If it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3-5 minutes, dusting with more flour if the dough is too sticky. It should be tacky, not ripping apart on your hands or the surface. Shape into a ball, add to a bowl, and cover with cling wrap or a tea towel.
- Let the dough rest for 1-2 hours. It should become significantly larger, about doubled in size.
- Punch your dough to release the air, then turn out on a clean surface.
- Cut your dough into 12 even pieces.
- Roll each piece out into a long, thin tube, then shape into a pretzel. You could also make shorter logs or even bite-sized pieces as you prefer.
- In a large pot, bring your water and baking soda to a boil.
- While the water is boiling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper. Alternately, you could spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
- Once the water is boiling, add your pretzels in small batches, being exceptionally careful not to crowd the pot. Let them boil until they float, then remove with a slotted spoon, shaking off excess water, and arrange them on the baking sheet.
- Crack your egg into a clean bowl and whisk with a fork. Brush your pretzels with the egg wash.
- Bake your pretzels for 10 minutes.
- While the pretzels bake, melt your butter on the stovetop in a small pan.
- After 10 minutes, remove the pretzels from the oven. Brush them with melted butter, then sprinkle with salt.
- Bake the pretzels again for another 13-15 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.
Make the Pumpkin Beer Cheese
- While the pretzels are baking, make the pumpkin beer cheese.
- In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Don't let it get foamy or overly hot.
- Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter while continuously whisking.
- While continuously whisking, toast the roux for 2-5 minutes. Turn the heat down if your roux seems too hot.
- Once your roux is toasted to your liking, add the pumpkin beer and thoroughly whisk together.
- Add the milk, mustard, and garlic powder, then thoroughly whisk to combine. If you want to add any heat, now is the time.
- Optional: This sauce is pretty thick and will set up like a spread when it's cooler. If you want your pumpkin beer cheese to be thinner, add more milk or pumpkin beer to your liking.
- Add in the cheese by whisking it in, handful by handful, letting it completely melt and incorporate before adding a new batch.
- Once your sauce is creamy and the cheese is completely melted, remove from the heat.
- Keep your sauce warm until ready to serve. Sprinkle with pepitas if desired.