Soft Pretzel Bites with Popping Pepper Butter 

If you loved Pop Rocks as a kid, then this fun appetizer is for you. Unflavored culinary crystals—the basis of the classic candy treat—are blended into softened flavored butter. When you spread the butter onto chewy, soft pretzel bites, you'll get a surprise burst with every bite!

soft pretzel bites
Photo: Tara Donne
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins


Soft Pretzel Bites

  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 1 ½ tablespoons barley malt syrup

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 ¼ cups whole-wheat flour

  • 6 cups water

  • ½ cup baking soda

  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt

Popping Pepper Butter

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pimientos

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons unflavored culinary crystals


  1. To prepare pretzel bites: Stir lukewarm water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the dough hook. Let stand until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the water, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer set on low, stir in malt syrup, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour, 1 cup at a time, gradually increasing the speed to medium, until enough flour is incorporated so that the dough is pliable but not sticky. Knead until the dough comes together in a smooth ball and springs back lightly when touched, about 5 minutes. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, 30 to 35 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare butter: Mix butter, pimientos, paprika and salt in a medium bowl or small food processor until completely blended. Set aside.

  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Coat the parchment with cooking spray. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.

  4. Meanwhile, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, about ½ inch in diameter and 12 inches long. Cut each rope into 6 pieces.

  5. Stir baking soda into the boiling water. Working with 6 pieces at a time, drop the bites into the boiling water for no more than 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining off any excess water, to a clean kitchen towel to dry off. Transfer the bites to a prepared baking sheet and sprinkle each with a little coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining pretzel bites.

  6. Bake the pretzel bites until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with the butter and culinary crystals. Dip a pretzel bite in the butter, then sprinkle with a few crystals.

To make ahead

Refrigerate butter (Step 2) for up to 8 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Parchment paper

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

244 Calories
9g Fat
36g Carbs
5g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Serving Size 6 pretzel bites, 2 tsp. butter & 1/2 tsp. culinary crystals
Calories 244
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 3g
Added Sugars 3g 6%
Protein 5g 10%
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Vitamin A 315IU 6%
Vitamin C 2mg 2%
Vitamin E 1mg 4%
Folate 107mcg 27%
Vitamin K 1mcg 1%
Sodium 350mg 15%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 2mg 11%
Magnesium 26mg 6%
Potassium 101mg 2%
Zinc 1mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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