Smoked Cheddar Beer Cheese with Soft Pretzels

An ooey gooey cheese dip that will keep you dunking! Beer + cheese + soft pretzels = very happy snacking.

Now that January is out of the way, BEER CHEESE!!

Finger dipping soft pretzels bites into a small pot of smoked cheddar beer cheese

I’ve been saving this one. With Sunday’s big event, it’s game on… though a fair question might be, is there EVER a bad time for this cheesy snack?

A few years ago, we were out at a local pub and couldn’t get enough of their most perfectly executed warm, soft pretzels served with a bowl of gooey, drippy cheese dip. My daughter, Dylan, was smitten.đź’– She marked it on the calendar as the place to return mere weeks later for her birthday. She couldn’t stop talking about that cheese.

Soft pretzels bites on a cutting board with a small pot of smoked cheddar beer cheese

When restaurants shuttered last spring, we embarked on a mission to recreate several favorite dishes at home. Guess what she chose?

Beer cheese.

Soft pretzels bites on a cutting board with a small pot of smoked cheddar beer cheese

And soft pretzels, of course. You can’t have one without the other. We found a soft pretzel recipe that rivaled the restaurant’s, but I’ve also found decent ones at the grocery store – it certainly does the trick when we don’t feel like baking.

Back to the cheese. When I mentioned beer cheese to my friend from Illinois, she had a very different vision. Beer cheese to her is a firm spread, served at room temperature or right out of the fridge. If that’s what you’re familiar with, this is something entirely different.

Soft pretzels bites on a cutting board with a small pot of smoked cheddar beer cheese

Flour and butter are cooked in a pot, to which milk and a light beer are added. Once it’s thickened, shredded cheese is stirred in. You can end up with wildly different results depending on which beer and which cheese you use. The first time we made it, using a sharp cheddar and a pale ale, it was much too bitter.

After a little tinkering, we found a combo of a mild smoked cheddar and gruyere to be our favorite- and a lighter beer, such as a pilsner, so as not to overwhelm the other flavors.

I can’t think of a better game day treat!

Finger dipping soft pretzels bites into a small pot of smoked cheddar beer cheese

Finger dipping soft pretzels bites into a small pot of smoked cheddar beer cheese

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Make AheadQuick & Easy

Smoked Cheddar Beer Cheese with Soft Pretzels

Total Time15 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk warmed
  • â…” cup light beer such as a pilsner
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese such as a combination of smoked cheddar and gruyere, or use a very mild cheddar
  • Soft pretzels for serving

Instructions

  • Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Add the milk, whisking as you pour it in to avoid lumps. Cook over medium heat, making sure you whisk the entire time so that the milk doesn't scorch on the bottom. It should take a few minutes to become the consistency of a thick yogurt. Add the beer, mustard, garlic powder, paprika and salt and cook another 3-4 minutes, whisking.
  • Stir in the cheese, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Pour into one large serving bowl or individual ramekins and serve with warm pretzels for dipping.

Tips & Tricks

The beer cheese can be made ahead and refrigerated. Gently warm over low heat before serving.

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