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5 from 8 votes

Homemade Pretzel Bites with Garlic Caramel Sauce

Homemade pretzels are so easy and fresh. Not hard to make at all. This recipe allows you to make regular twisted pretzels but the pretzel bites are perfect party fare. Best served within a few hours of baking, but the caramel sauce can be made days ahead of serving.
The Garlic Caramel Sauce was originally created by Chef Gerald Rush at Tela's Bar and Grill. I did my best to replicate the recipe and even received a tip on using brown sugar in the sauce for perfect flavor.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time14 mins
Total Time2 hrs 14 mins
Course: Appetizer
Keyword: party food, pretzels
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 657kcal
Author: Good Dinner Mom


For the caramel sauce

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil, more or less
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into three pieces
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the pretzels

  • 1 ½ cups warm water 110° to 115° F
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 ½ cups*
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Non-stick cooking spray for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 ½ tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt
  • *all-purpose flour may be substituted with bread flour for a more chewy bite


For the caramel sauce

  • Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut the tops off each garlic head. Sprinkle with light oil and salt to taste and wrap loosely in aluminum foil. Place on center oven rack and bake until the garlic is soft and golden, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • While the garlic is baking, pour the sugar into a medium saucepan and heat to medium-high. Using a metal spoon, stir the sugar just occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pan. At first the sugar will be lumpy, but will soon melt and start turning brown. Don't stir too often, just enough to keep everything evenly cooking. After about 5 minutes, the sugar should be fully melted and become a rich amber color.
  • At this point, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the butter. the mixture will start to bubble quite rapidly. That's just what you want.
  • Again using a metal spoon, stir the butter and sugar until they melt together almost completely. This takes about a minute.
  • Next, pour in the heavy whipping cream and sea salt*. The mixture may bubble up and hard at this point, just stir to keep it down.
    *If you're making regular caramel, add ½ teaspoon of salt and no more. If you're making a salted caramel version, add anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1½ teaspoons depending on your liking.
  • Stir constantly now until the sauce is all mixed together and is smooth. Place back on the stove at medium-high heat again for about 20 seconds more. Remember to keep stirring. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once your garlic has finished baking, using your hands, squeeze the softened garlic out of the clove pods. Place the garlic in a small sieve and using the back of a spoon, smash the garlic through the sieve and using the same spoon, scrape the garlic off the under-side of the sieve and whisk into the caramel until fully incorporated. Serve immediately for a hot option or cool 15 minutes to room temperature.
  • Over several minutes, the caramel will become harder to stir. For a manageable sauce, just heat in microwave for 10-15 seconds and stir again.

For the pretzels

  • Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  • In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface (spray surface with non-stick cooking spray and then wipe most of the spray off the surface) and divide into baseball size pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 1-inch thick rope. For knot pretzels- Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. For pretzel bites- snip rope into desired sized bites, 1 to 2 inches long. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
  • Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds, pretzel bites can go in about 10 at a time. Remove them from the water using a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return to the sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel or pretzel bite with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


  1. The garlic sauce appears to have a lot of steps but it truly is very easy. If you're not up for making the sauce from scratch, you can buy store bought (good quality) caramel sauce and simmer it with smashed garlic cloves over medium-low heat for several minutes. Remove and discard the garlic or leave it in.
  2. Per the original chef at Tela's, chef Gerald recommends using light brown sugar to enhance the flavor of the sauce. I had a very hard time with brown sugar as the molasses makes everything very sticky. I do prefer the flavor using the brown sugar but just know, it's going to be tricky. You'll need to stir quite a bit to get the lumps out. I finally gave up and left a few in there and called it good. No one cared. If using the brown sugar, absolutely use a metal spoon for stirring rather than a rubber spatula.


Calories: 657kcal | Carbohydrates: 118g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 4878mg | Potassium: 163mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 510IU | Vitamin C: 2.9mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 5.1mg