This Easy Beer Cheese Dip with Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites is extra delicious and makes the perfect appetizer! Melty cheddar and mozzarella cheese, lager beer, and yummy spices makes this creamy cheese sauce perfect for salty soft pretzel bites. This is perfect for game day and tailgates!
Homemade soft pretzels are actually insanely easy to make (all you need is some pizza dough!), and the beer cheese sauce isn’t too far behind. This game day appetizer is sure to impress and tastes a million times better than anything you could buy at the store.
What Is Beer Cheese Sauce?
Beer cheese is basically a cheese sauce made with a little bit of beer to give it a deliciously rich flavor. It doesn’t taste too beer-y, but it tastes richer and a little more “adult” than that classic yellow nacho cheese sauce. Beer cheese is especially delicious paired with salty soft pretzels.
- Pizza dough. For the pretzel bites, all you need is some pizza dough! You can either buy store-bought pizza dough, or you can make your own with my Easy Pizza Dough recipe.
- Cheese. Of course you need cheese for the beer cheese dip. You need 2 cups total, but feel free to use a few different kinds of cheese. I like to use 1 cup of sharp cheddar, ½ cup mozzarella, and ½ cup Jarlsberg cheese. Cheddar is what is classically used in beer cheese dip, and I love the color and flavor that it brings to the sauce. I like adding some mozzarella to give it extra gooeyness when it’s melted, and the Jarslberg cheese pairs so well with the beer (gouda would also be good). You can use any combo of cheese you want!
- Beer. The other necessary component of beer cheese. I normally opt for a light lager or ale, but again, you can use any beer that you want. Just keep in mind that stronger flavored beers (like stouts and malts) will give the beer cheese a stronger flavor, so make sure that’s what you and your guests want. You can also use a nonalcoholic beer!
I recommend starting with the pretzel bites, and making the beer cheese sauce while the pretzels are baking in the oven. Either can be made ahead of time, but I think that the beer cheese is best fresh, while the pretzels can be fine sitting out for a while.
Soft Pretzel Bites
If you are making your own dough from scratch (see my Easy Homemade Pizza Dough recipe), make sure to leave enough time to let the dough rise before you start on the other steps.
Step #1: Roll out your pizza dough
Divide your pizza dough into 4 equal sections. Roll each section into a long rope and cut into small bite-sized nuggets. You can cut them as large or small as you like, but I typically aim for 1-2-inch cubes.
Step #2: Boil the water
In a large pot, bring about 3 liters of water to a boil. Add the baking soda slowly and carefully – it will cause the water to boil up. I recommend using your largest pot. If the water is too high in the pot, it will boil over when you add the baking soda and create a huge mess on your stove.
Step #3: Boil the dough
Drop the dough balls into the boiling water/baking soda in about 4-5 separate batches, and boil for about 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the nuggets to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Step #4: Brush & Salt
Brush the nuggets with a beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon of water, and salt generously with coarse salt or pretzel salt.
Step #5: Bake
Bake the pretzel bites at 425°F for about 25-30 minutes, until the pretzels are a deep golden brown color. Remove and let cool.
Beer Cheese Dip
I recommend making the beer cheese while the pretzels are in the oven, and serving immediately after. If you are making it ahead of time, the beer cheese can be reheated in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes, stopping to stir occasionally, until heated through. If the sauce is too thick after reheating, you can add a couple tablespoons of milk.
Step #1: Make the roux
A roux is a mixture of flour and fat (usually butter) cooked together and used to thicken sauces.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until completely incorporated. Continue to stir until the color has deepened slightly to a light golden brown.
You can use a whisk here, but I find that using a rubber spatula works the best.
Step #2: Add the spices
Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and all the spices and continue to mix until combined.
Step #3: Add the milk and beer
Slowly and gradually pour in the milk, about a tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition to prevent lumps. Once the milk is fully incorporated, slowly pour in the beer, continuing to mix. If you add the milk and beer too fast here, you may get lumps.
Let the mixture come up to a light simmer (you may need to turn the stove up or down), stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly.
Step #4: Add the cheese
Remove the pot from the heat and add your cheese. Stir the sauce until the cheese is completely melted.
Serve right away, or save in an airtight container and reheat gently in the microwave or stove.
One thing I love about this beer cheese dip is how adaptable it is! You can serve it with the soft pretzel bites (or buy frozen soft pretzels to make it extra easy), fresh veggies, or tortilla chips.
If you want the sauce to be thicker, continue to simmer the sauce over low heat until the desired thickness is reached.
If you want the sauce to be a little thinner, you can add more milk until it’s how you want it.
I like using cheddar cheese for that sharp flavor, mozzarella to make it extra gooey, and Jarslberg or Gouda cheese to really bring out the beer flavor. But feel free to play around with it and add whatever cheese you want! You can also change the type of beer or the amount of spices.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Grate your own cheese! Pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it that prevents clumping, which hinders the melting process. For the smoothest, creamiest cheese sauce, make sure to buy your cheese in blocks and grate it yourself.
- Play around with the flavors! You can play around with the seasonings, cheeses, and beer that you use. If you want it a bit spicier, add more cayenne! If you want a more intense beer flavor, use a darker beer. And you can add any of your favorite cheeses!
- If you want a thinner sauce, just add a bit more milk. If you want to thicken the sauce, continue to cook it until the desired thickness is reached.
Other Great Party Recipes
Did you love this Beer Cheese Dip with Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites? Make sure to leave a 5-star rating in the comments section down below!
Beer Cheese Dip with Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites
Soft Pretzel Bites
- 1 batch pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
- 3 liters water
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoon coarse salt or pretzel salt
Beer Cheese Dip
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or spicy brown mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup milk (see notes)
- ½ cup lager beer (see notes)
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (see notes)
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (see notes)
- ½ cup shredded Jarlsberg or Gouda cheese (see notes)
Soft Pretzel Bites
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring a large stockpot with 3 liters of water up to a steady boil, and slowly add the ½ cup of baking soda. Be careful, as this will boil up when added. If the water is boiling too aggressively, you can turn the temperature down slightly.
- Divide your pizza dough into 4 sections. Roll each section into a long rope and cut into small nuggets, about 1-2-inches long. Drop the dough into the boiling water in small batches, and boil for about 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the nuggets to the baking sheet.
- Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush this egg wash onto each of the boiled pretzels. Top with a generous amount of course salt, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the pretzels are a dark golden brown.
Beer Cheese Dip
- While the pretzels are baking, make the beer cheese dip. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter and flour. Whisk constantly until the butter is melted and completely incorporated with the flour. Continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes, stirring often, until the color has slightly darkened.
- Whisk in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and all the spices (garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne).
- Slowly pour in the milk, about a tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly after each addition until all the milk is added. Add the beer and stir until thoroughly combined. Bring the mixture up to a light simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cheese, and stir until the the cheese until fully melted. If you want the dip to be thicker, continue to cook the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve warm.
- Beer cheese is best served right away, but you can reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding more milk to thin as necessary.
- You can use any kind of milk – skim, low-fat, or whole.
- You can use any type of beer – I used lager, but use a darker/lighter beer based on taste preference.
- I used sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and Jarlsberg cheese for optimal flavor and texture. You can use any combination of cheese – I recommend using at least cheddar and mozzarella. Make sure to shred your own cheese for the best texture! Pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it to prevent clumping, which hinders the melting process.