Football Pretzel Bombs
Delicious little pretzel bites filled with ham and cheese. Don't expect them all to be pretty; they will ooze cheese, and some will take on interesting shapes! Embrace the crispy escaped cheese - that's the best part! Makes 60-64.
  • 1 can (12 oz) beer
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 6 ounces grated cheddar cheese (about 1½ cups)
  • 6 ounces grated mozzarella cheese (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 5-ounce can cooked ham chunks, drained, OR ½ cup (or more to taste) finely chopped cooked ham
  • ½- 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 egg whisked together with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
  1. Pour beer into a small pan and heat until very warm - about 110 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl (a standing mixer with a bread hook is best) combine the warm beer, white sugar, and yeast. Allow the mixture to sit 6-8 minutes, or until bubbly.
  3. Add softened butter, brown sugar, salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix well.
  4. Slowly add remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl and is not sticky to the touch. You are looking for a fairly stiff dough, but not dry. Dry dough is very hard to seal when you're making the footballs.
  5. Knead for 6 minutes by machine, or 8 minutes by hand on lightly floured surface.
  6. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning several times to coat the dough. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled - about 1 hour. WHILE THE DOUGH IS RISING:
  7. Cover two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  8. Combine the cheese, ham, and hot sauce. Mix together very well. Go ahead and use your hands to knead it into a solid mass. Since your hands are already messy, save time later by rolling 64 balls of cheese mixture, about 1 teaspoon each. You may have a little left over. Save it for topping a casserole or for a grilled cheese sandwich!
  9. When dough has doubled heat oven to 400 F.
  10. Work with half of the dough at a time, leaving the other half covered. Separate dough into ½ ounce pieces (approximately 1 tablespoon). Roll into balls and flatten into rounds with the bottom of a heavy glass or a rolling pin.
  11. Place one cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough and bring the edges up over the cheese. Pinch the dough firmly. Really....pinch the heck out of it! Roll briskly but gently between your hands. If you see a crack, pinch it and roll again. Roll either side of the ball firmly to create pointed ends if you are making football shapes.
  12. Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large tall saucepan and then lower the heat a little to get a gentle boil
  13. Drop 8-10 footballs into the boiling water at a time. Allow them to boil for 30-40 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon or spider, and place onto prepared cookie sheets.
  14. Using a razor blade (I used an X-Acto knife) or a very sharp paring knife, cut two short parallel lines in the top of each football, with a line in between. (Imagine a capital letter "I", laying on its side.) This will represent the laces. (If you want to get fancy, you can cut little laces too.) Be careful not to cut all the way through the dough or you are certain to have the cheese blow out the top! Note: If you are making round shapes instead of footballs, Cut a shallow "X" in each ball.
  15. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.
  16. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes, or until a rich brown.
  17. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Recipe by The Rowdy Baker at