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Looking for the perfect cheese dip for soft pretzels or pretzel bites? Here’s how to make our favorite version and customize it to your tastes.

homemade soft pretzel bites on a black plate and pretzel cheese dip in a white bowl
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Why we love this recipe

I hardly think you need convincing that soft pretzels and cheese dip are delicious. This is our favorite version because it:

  • Has a great, creamy, thick but not too-thick texture that works well hot, warm, or even close to room temperature
  • Uses fresh, good quality ingredients
  • Is super-flavorful
  • Lets you customize to your heart’s content — use beer, milk, or a combination as the base liquids, and change up the cheeses if you like

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • You can use any kind of beer that you like, but note that it will concentrate a bit in flavor as it simmers. I’ve pictured a very strong, hoppy IPA here. If you use a beer like this, it will contribute to the flavor profile in a major way and will probably be a bit polarizing. For a gentler flavor, use a lighter tasting beer. If you prefer just a hint of beer flavor, you can swap in whole milk for a portion of the beer. Try 1 cup beer plus half a cup of whole milk, or even 1 cup milk plus half a cup of beer. If you’d prefer a pretzel cheese dip that doesn’t include beer at all, that’s fine too. You can substitute the full 1 1/2 cups of beer with whole milk.
  • Extra-sharp cheddar is the classic choice for beer cheese dip and provides a nice savory contrast to the sweetness of the beer. You could swap in a good, nutty gruyere or a regular or smoked gouda for half the cheddar if you like. Just make sure to use varieties that melt well.
  • The cream cheese plays multiple roles in this recipe. Its creaminess rounds out the flavors, and it helps keep the texture of the dip just right regardless of whether you’re serving it very warm or closer to room temperature.
  • I prefer to use a bit of fresh, finely minced shallot and garlic, but you could substitute 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder if that’s what you’ve got.
  • As written, this recipe is not spicy. The bit of ground cayenne provides a very gentle heat that rounds out the flavor. You can add more if you like.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a great batch of pretzel cheese dip. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll cook the shallot and garlic in the butter and stir in the flour to make a flavorful roux.
  2. Pour in the beer and add the seasonings.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes, until thickened.
  4. Off the heat, stir in the cheeses. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Does beer cheese dip contain alcohol?

Thinking about serving this dip at a party with kids? The vast majority of the alcohol evaporates during the five minutes of simmering, so you don’t need to worry about it. Depending on the beer you choose, the flavor will be the strongest consideration for kids.

What else can I use this sauce for?

Made with half beer and half milk, this makes a great sauce for beer mac and cheese. Stir in half a pound of cooked elbow macaroni.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Pretzel cheese dip is at its absolute best in the first few hours after cooking. But if you need to, you can make it earlier in the day and reheat it very gently, at half power in the microwave, in a double boiler, or over very low heat on the stovetop before serving. Overheating a sauce with melted cheese in it will cause the sauce to break, so just keep a close eye on it.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and can be reheated the same way.

More favorite game day snacks

homemade soft pretzel bites on a black plate and pretzel cheese dip in a white bowl

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homemade soft pretzel bites on a black plate and pretzel cheese dip in a white bowl
5 from 4 votes

Pretzel Cheese Dip

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Looking for the perfect beer cheese dip for soft pretzels or pretzel bites? Here's how to make our favorite version and customize it to your tastes.
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
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Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
  • ½ small shallot, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons (23 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces beer, see note 2
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) extra-sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Instructions 

  • Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, a minute or two.
  • Add flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Pour in beer and raise heat to high.
  • Stir in mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne.
  • Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes, until thickened.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and cream cheese until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Cool slightly before serving. Dip will thicken up a bit as it cools but will still be a great, dippable consistency at room temperature. If you like, serve it in a small slow cooker or fondue pot

Notes

  1. I prefer to use a bit of fresh, finely minced shallot and garlic, but you could substitute 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder if that's what you've got.
  2. You can use any kind of beer that you like, but note that it will concentrate a bit in flavor as it simmers. I've pictured a very strong, hoppy IPA here. If you use a beer like this, it will contribute to the flavor profile in a major way and will probably be a bit polarizing. For a gentler flavor, use a lighter tasting beer. If you prefer just a hint of beer flavor, you can swap in whole milk for a portion of the beer. Try 1 cup beer plus half a cup of whole milk, or even 1 cup milk plus half a cup of beer. If you'd prefer a pretzel cheese dip that doesn't include beer at all, that's fine too. You can substitute the full 1 1/2 cups of beer with whole milk.
  3. As written, this recipe is not spicy. The bit of ground cayenne provides a very gentle heat that rounds out the flavor. You can add more if you like.
  4. Extra-sharp cheddar is the classic choice for beer cheese dip and provides a nice savory contrast to the sweetness of the beer. You could swap in a good, nutty gruyere or a regular or smoked gouda for half the cheddar if you like. Just make sure to use varieties that melt well.
  5. The cream cheese plays multiple roles in this recipe. Its creaminess rounds out the flavors, and it helps keep the texture of the dip just right regardless of whether you're serving it very warm or closer to room temperature.
  6. Pretzel cheese dip is at its absolute best in the first few hours after cooking. But if you need to, you can make it earlier in the day and reheat it very gently, at half power in the microwave, in a double boiler, or over very low heat on the stovetop before serving. Overheating a sauce with melted cheese in it will cause the sauce to break, so just keep a close eye on it.
  7. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and can be reheated the same way.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 239kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 249mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Snacks and Starters
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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