Here I am with another pretzel recipe, and I have to say that I’m not even the least bit sorry. Especially because this time we’re not fussing around with making our own dough! It’s easy to get excited about pretzel pinwheels that don’t take hours to make– simply pop open a can of refrigerated breadstick dough and you’re already ten steps ahead of the game.
Speaking of “the game”, these cheddar and ham stuffed appetizers would make an absolutely perfect party snack for your Super Bowl celebration this weekend. Serve them with a little mustard on the side and a lot of beer to wash them down with and people will be begging for more. You may want to make a double or triple batch.
The key to the signature pretzel flavor we all know and love lies in alkaline. When dough is dipped in a solution of high alkaline (pH) water, it turns the exterior of the dough into a glossy film and promotes enhanced browning and chewiness when exposed to heat.
The method usually used to get some extra alkalinity on our pretzels is a lye bath. Lye gives that deep brown, ultra chewy crust that we’re used to seeing on Bavarian pretzels. However, lye is a hazardous chemical, and it’s difficult to handle or get a hold of as a home cook.
For this reason, we switch out the lye for baking soda, which is slightly less potent but also much safer and most people will have it on hand already. Instead of super dark pretzels, we wind up with something that’s much more similar to Auntie Anne’s pretzels, but pretzels none-the-less. I, for one, happen to love those kinds of pretzels. Can’t get enough of them. If you’re also incapacitated when the smell of buttery fresh mall pretzels wafts in the air, then these are going to be a treat for sure.
Because we’re simplifying the pretzel-bathing, why not take it a step further and use pre-made dough instead of making it from scratch? Pretzel dough is actually very similar to that used in pizzas and breadsticks, so a refrigerated can of Pillsbury dough breadsticks will work just as well. These also happen to be just the right size to make pinwheels, so loading them up with meat and cheese just seems right at this point.
We roll everything up, bake until golden brown, and brush with butter to give it that great glisten that we’re used to. A sprinkle of salt finishes it off and we’re ready to serve up our Ham and Cheese Pretzel Pinwheels, all hot and cheesy and utterly delicious.
- 2 cans refrigerated breadstick dough (24 breadsticks)
- 4 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup baking soda, plus more if needed
- 1 lb deli ham
- 1 lb cheddar cheese slices
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Coarse salt, such as kosher salt, pretzel salt, or sea salt, to top
- Dijon or honey mustard, to serve
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Separate the breadsticks and set aside. Using a pizza cutter, slice the cheddar cheese and ham to be the same width as the breadsticks. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup baking soda into 4 cups hot water until it dissolves. The baking solution should be just slightly cloudy. Place a kitchen rag next to the bowl.
- Dip a breadstick into the baking solution for 30 seconds. Make sure the entire breadstick has been dipped. Transfer to the kitchen towel to let any excess water drip off.
- Layer the cheese and ham on top of the breadstick. Roll one end of the breadstick inward to create a spiral or pinwheel. Pinch the end of the breadstick to the side to seal. Place on the baking sheet and repeat until the baking sheet is full.
- Bake until golden brown and puffed up, about 15 minutes. Tent the finished pretzels with foil to keep them warm. Repeat for the next batch.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the butter onto the pretzels and sprinkle with salt.
- Serve immediately with mustard to dip.