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!

EatingWell.com, July 2022


Credit: Tara Donne

Recipe Summary

45 mins
1 hr 15 mins


Soft Pretzel Bites
Popping Pepper Butter


Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

6 pretzel bites, 2 tsp. butter & 1/2 tsp. culinary crystals
244 calories; protein 5g; carbohydrates 36g; dietary fiber 2g; sugars 3g; added sugar 3g; fat 9g; saturated fat 6g; mono fat 3g; poly fat 1g; cholesterol 23mg; vitamin a iu 315IU; vitamin b3 niacin 3mg; vitamin c 2mg; vitamin e iu 1IU; folate 107mg; vitamin k 1mg; sodium 350mg; calcium 15mg; iron 2mg; magnesium 26mg; phosphorus 84mg; potassium 101mg; zinc 1mg; omega 6 fatty acid 1g; niacin equivalents 4mg; selenium 18mcg.