Country Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites

Edward Lee

610 Magnolia, MilkWood, and Whiskey Dry, Louisville, KY; and Succotash, National Harbor, MD

Diners enjoyed these delicious country ham and cheddar pretzel bites at the Beard House in 2009. Few authentic ham houses remain even in Kentucky, so if you can’t find real country ham, prosciutto is a great substitute.


  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup finely diced country ham
  • 1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeño peppers, flesh only, seeds discarded
  • 2 teaspoons honey, optional


In a small bowl, mix together the warm water, 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar, and the yeast. Let stand for 8 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and the milk.

Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the yeast mixture and the milk mixture. Slowly raise the speed until a loose ball of dough is formed. Cover with cling wrap and let the dough rise in a warm environment for 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a floured surface and cut the dough into 4 rough balls. Working with your fingers and as gently as you can, roll 1 ball into a long rope of dough, about an inch in diameter. Flatten with a rolling pin, then press a quarter of the ham and a quarter of the cheddar into one half of the flattened rope, making sure they are evenly distributed. Fold the uncovered half of the dough over the other. Use your fingers to shape the dough into a rope again. Cut at 1-inch intervals and transfer the bites to a sheet pan. Repeat with the other 3 dough balls.

Let the bites rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Combine the water and the baking soda in a small sauce pot. Heat and bring to barely a simmer. Working in small batches and with a slotted spoon, dunk the pretzel bites into this bath for 20 seconds. Immediately transfer to another sheet pan. Repeat until all of the bites have been dunked.

Sprinkle the bites with sea salt. Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown and nicely puffed. Remove from the oven and brush with the melted butter.

To prepare the jalapeño mustard, whisk together the Dijon mustard and jalapeño in a small bowl. Whisk in the honey, if using. Serve the warm pretzel bites with the jalapeño mustard on the side.


About 3 dozen