You guys know how much I love sourdough, right? It is one of my favorite things to bake with. I love the smell of fresh yeast, the light tang of the dough and the quality of the bread. I also love developing and baking recipes with my sourdough discard. It’s the perfect way to boost the flavor in a roll, biscuit or even pancakes and waffles. These sourdough discard pretzel bites are the best of the best when it comes to sourdough baking. They are light, fluffy and use up some of that discard lurking in the back of your fridge. Come on…I know it’s back there…just waiting for the perfect recipe to be used in. This is it!Jump Directly to Pretzel Bites with Sourdough Discard Recipe
Why Use Sourdough Discard in Pretzel Bites?
I am not a fan of food waste. I try to find uses for almost everything in my kitchen, and I enjoy meal planning to use up all the random veggies I have at the end of the week. This same thought process goes for sourdough discard. I love that this recipe helps me do my part in decreasing food waste by utilizing the sourdough discard. Truthfully, I keep discard in my fridge just so I can make this recipe—it is that good! If you don’t have discard in your fridge, go ahead and sub fresh sourdough starter. It will work too.
Instant Yeast Helps the Pretzel Dough Rise
Discard in this recipe refers to refrigerated sourdough culture that is past its prime and over-ripe. it won’t have the same properties as a fresh, young, bubbly leaven (or sourdough starter). The cultures are often sluggish and do not produce the same rise as a bubbly starter would. Because of this, the pretzel dough benefits from the addition of instant yeast (affiliate link: I buy my yeast at my local mill, so look around to price check ). I love instant yeast for its fool-proof nature, but if you only have active dry, that’s okay too. Just proof it with a little warm water and sugar, wait 5 minutes and you should be good to go. The instant yeast gives the dough a quick rise while the sourdough discard gives a slight depth of flavor to the pretzel bites.
Baking Soda Wash
One of the unique things about these sourdough pretzel bites is the baking soda wash that is applied to the pretzels before baking in the oven. This gives the pretzels a golden brown, crunchy exterior with a soft, chewy middle that is just delicious. The baking soda wash is so simple and perfect for those little fingers that want to help you in the kitchen. Heat up ½ cup of water in the microwave until very hot (almost boiling but not quite). Add in a Tablespoon of baking soda (watch for the mixture to fizz up). Stir vigorously until the baking soda is completely combined with the water. Then brush the mixture using a pastry brush (affiliate link) onto each pretzel bite. Let the pretzel bites rise for 10-15 minutes while the oven preheats and then bake to perfection.
Brush on that Butter and Top or Dip to Perfection
Don’t skip over this step when making these sourdough discard pretzel bites. Keep on brushing the melted butter on top of the hot pretzel bites until it is all used up. The butter helps the toppings adhere and gives a delicious flavor to the pretzel bites. It’s worth it. Promise. Once the pretzels are fully covered in butter and toppings, enjoy them hot. They definitely do taste best eaten right away. We also like dipping them in cheese sauce or this yummy honey mustard sauce:
- Dipping sauce: 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 Tablespoons honey
Perfect Recipe to Bake with Kids
If you’re looking for a particularly kid-friendly recipe, this one is it. You can mix up the dough with your child or ahead of time and then after the dough’s first rise, let them help you roll the pretzels into logs, cut them up into bites and brush with the baking soda mixture. Kids can be so hands-on in this recipe and they love brushing the tops of the pretzels with melted butter and toppings at the end…not to mention eating them! Definitely check this recipe out if you are looking for a fun afternoon baking with your kids.
Double the Recipe to Make a Batch of Pretzels Too
While I am partial to the pretzel bites, this dough does make delicious pretzels too. My kids seem to love shaping the pretzels and playing with the dough, so I often double this recipe and shape half into pretzel bites and let them shape the other half into pretzels. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece and shape into a U. Fold over, twist around and then bring the ends down and pinch into the bottom part of the dough (see pictures for visual). Brush with the baking soda wash, bake for 9 minutes at 500 degrees, brush with melted butter and toppings and you have some delicious sourdough discard pretzels. These pretzel are yummy and fun for kids to make, though I really am partial to the pretzel bites; the perfect chewy, “pillowy” goodness in one bite.
Sourdough Pretzel Bites Make the Perfect Snack
Sourdough discard pretzel bites are the perfect snack. They are small, perfect to feed a crowd and absolutely delicious. I love how easy these are to customize so everyone can enjoy their perfect pretzel bite. Go find that sourdough discard in the back of your fridge and enjoy an ethereal soft, crispy sourdough discard pretzel bite. Yum!
Pretzel Bites with Sourdough Discard
- 1/2 cup sourdough discard or bubbly sourdough starter, 145 grams
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water 175 grams
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 5 grams
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast 7 grams
- 1 teaspoon salt 5 grams
- 2 cups all purpose flour* 285 grams, plus more for rolling
Baking Soda Wash
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 teaspoons salt for topping
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese if desired
- 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar if desired
- To a large bowl or to bowl in a stand mixer, mix together the sourdough discard, water, sugar, instant yeast, salt and flour.
- Knead by hand about 5-8 minutes or knead in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. Add a little more flour as needed. The dough will still be sticky, but not overly sticky. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a ball in your fingers. If it forms a ball with minimal sticky residue left on your fingers, you can stop adding flour. Check out a few other tips for kneading dough here.
- Lightly oil a bowl or container (affiliate link) and turn the dough around in the bowl to cover it lightly with the oil. Drape a kitchen towel or some plastic wrap over the bowl and let dough rise for 1-1 ½ hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Once dough has doubled in size, flour a counter with 1-2 Tablespoons flour and punch down the dough. Turn it out onto the floured surface and separate into 4 sections.
- Roll each section into a long strand and cut each strand into 6-8 pretzel pieces. Place each pretzel bite on the parchment paper.
- Heat ½ cup of water in the microwave until almost boiling. Add 1 Tablespoon of baking soda (it will bubble up a little) and mix together. Make sure the baking soda is completely dissolved before proceeding.
- Using a pastry brush, brush each pretzel bite with the baking soda/water mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Let the pretzel bites rise for about 10-15 minutes (usually the amount of time it takes for the oven to preheat) before baking.
- Bake the pretzel bites for about 8 minutes until crisp and lightly brown on the outside.
- While the pretzel bites are baking, melt the unsalted butter and prepare any toppings (salt, parmesan cheese, cinnamon sugar).
- As soon as the pretzel bites are baked through, remove them from the oven and brush with melted butter. Continue adding butter until all of the butter is on the pretzel bites. It may seem like a lot of butter, but keep adding it for the best taste and flavor.
- Top with salt, cinnamon sugar or parmesan cheese and enjoy immediately.
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂