Soft Pretzel Dogs (an homage to Auntie Anne’s Pretzels)

I have this embarrassing salad bar practice. You’re going to think I’m silly (or else you’re going to leave me a comment saying, “I DO THAT EXACT SAME THING!” and make me feel a little better. No pressure.)

See, I’m a little shy about how much salad dressing I eat. I was never one of those mostly-veggies-with-a-spritz-of-lemon-juice salad people. I was (am!) one of those bacon-cheese-and-crouton salad people, where the dressing has to touch every leaf with its creamy goodness. But I can never quite shake the feeling that the person behind me at the salad bar is watching me pour my bleu cheese dressing with thinly veiled disgust, silently tabulating the calories I’m about to consume.

To deal with this uncomfortable situation, I developed a little pantomime routine in which I dump as much salad dressing as I want on my salad before giving a little gasp and jerking the bottle up as if to say, “Oops! Of COURSE I didn’t mean to pour that much salad dressing — it just came out so fast!” Then I snap up my salad and hastily head to my seat.

I’m sure the lemon-spritzers in line behind me think I’m disappointed that my salad got drenched and that I’m really only eating it because I hate to waste food . . . right?! Okay, maybe I’m not fooling anyone.

The truth is, while I eat reasonably all week, I go all out on the weekends. And I can eat a lot. Like, enough so that more than one waitress has been driven to exclaim over the amount I have consumed (they better be glad I don’t believe in docking tips). Like, enough that I can almost always out-eat any fully grown, healthy, hungry man around me.

In college, the impressive amount I could eat would become glaringly apparent in the dining hall, where most gals were ordering half a grapefruit for breakfast and my plate was overflowing with bacon and eggs. And a waffle. With, like, butter and syrup and stuff. This disparity produced lots of food embarrassment. For some reason, perhaps especially as a woman, I always feel like I should be, um, daintier or something.

Sometimes, though, a certain food compels me to stop caring about what other people are thinking. Recently, that food was Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Dogs. I first saw them in the Dallas airport on a layover. I was reserved, ordering only one along with a couple of other small snacks.

But my first bite of that buttery, yeasty pretzel wrapped around a juicy hot dog was a surreal experience — and I don’t think it was just the medicine I take for my flight anxiety. I was hooked. I talked about the pretzel dogs throughout my entire weekend trip, and when I found myself flying back home to Charlotte through Dallas, I was prepared.

As soon as we touched down, I hastily disembarked and headed straight for the nearest Auntie Anne’s. There, I immediately threw caution and food embarrassment to the wind, ordering 3 pretzel dogs and a big soft pretzel on the side to, um, balance out my meal. And cheese sauce. I was in pretzel dog heaven.

Clearly, the next step was to figure out how to make pretzel dogs at home in Charlotte. I found the following recipe and, while not perfect, it’s pretty darn close, not to mention pretty darn easy!

The baking soda solution I dipped my pretzels in didn’t seem strong enough to give them a nice deep brown color, so I tweaked it below. I also had a lot of fun with flavors. I made soft pretzels, pretzel dogs, cheddar pretzel dogs, and jalapeno pretzel dogs. And all bashfulness aside, over the course of a weekend, I ate almost every single one of them myself.

Do you ever feel any food embarrassment, or are you an unabashed eater?

Soft Pretzel Dogs



Recipe by: Adapted from CDKitchen
Yields: 8 pretzel dogs and 5-6 pretzels

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups regular flour
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
8 Nathan’s all-beef hot dogs (do yourself a favor and don’t use anything but Nathan’s!)

Toppings:
cheddar cheese
jalapeno slices (wear gloves to handle, and don’t touch your eyes!)
coarse salt, to taste
4 tablespoons butter (melted)

Directions:
Place warm water in mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast in, stirring to dissolve. Add the sugar and salt and stir. Add the flour and mix until combined. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (this took a few minutes on high speed with my KitchenAid mixer equipped with a dough hook). Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it. Place it in a warm area to rise at least 1/2 an hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. When dough’s almost finished rising, prepare a baking soda water bath. I used one that I don’t think was strong enough (from the original recipe) to brown the pretzels appropriately, so I’ve poked around and found a better one for you. Mix the warm water and baking soda and continue to whisk periodically as you work with your dough.

Once your dough is risen, spray cooking spray over a spot on your counter and turn the dough out onto it. Use a sprayed pizza cutter to slice off a strip of dough. Roll it, starting from the middle and working outward with greased hands, into a thin rope — the thinner you get it, the more like Auntie Anne’s pretzels it’ll be. I even gently picked it up and let gravity help me lengthen it every now and then. For inspiration, watch this awesome video from the folks at Auntie Anne’s on shaping, dipping, and baking pretzels.

Form your strand into a pretzel shape OR wrap it around a hot dog OR wrap it around a hot dog and strip of cheese OR wrap it around a hot dog with a strip of cheese and some jalapenos. When you wrap it around the hot dogs, just slightly overlap the dough so there aren’t many gaps. Now dip the pretzel into your soda solution and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and serve immediately with hot mustard or Cheez Whiz (tastes just like Auntie Anne’s cheddar dip!) for dipping.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Cheesecake Challenge! Choose any one of 9 cheesecake recipes to prepare within the next month. Email a photo to me by 4/5/2011 to be featured on Willow Bird Baking! Get more details about the challenge here.

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72 Comments

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72 responses to “Soft Pretzel Dogs (an homage to Auntie Anne’s Pretzels)

  1. You crack me up! Three cheers for the pretzel dog AND to massive amounts of salad dressing!

  2. Meggie Wallace

    These look delicious!!!!!!!! I’ve never had anything from them (aside from samples) but yum! Will have to try these, for sure πŸ™‚

    I just tend to have my gorge days. It’s not usually only subject to weekends, but just 2 days (or more, depending on my mood) in general where I just gorge out on what I want, and can’t help it. Like the strawberry bread sitting in the kitchen right now….. It’s a compulsion!!!! Too darn delicious to pass by!

    Mmmm bacon on a salad… .. TONS of dressing. That’s right, you speak my language. I’m no bunny rabbit

  3. I’ve never made pretzels. Probably because I hate them. I don’t really hate them. I just highly dislike them. But when I go to Auntie Ann’s, I love the cinnamon raisin ones and love dipping them in cream cheese. So, seeing this recipe actually inspires me to make some of my own. But with a twist of course. Thanks for sharing. However, on to the previous comments you made about the salad buffet situation. We’re in the same boat, so don’t feel alone. I always feel like people are calculating my every move. Maybe it’s because I do the same to others. I mean c’mon, like you don’t stare at someone who’s put 10 lbs of cheese on their salad? I know I do. But I don’t want them judging me! I want to swirl 1,000 Island Dressing all over my salad with a touch of Balsamic Vinaigrette or French Dressing (sorry did that just turn your stomach?) and not have anyone say anything. But I feel that once I return to my seat, they serve their salad and sit and gossip about me to their friends. Or maybe that’s just me who does that?

  4. mommajcooks

    Yum, yum, yum!
    These look so delicious and fun…definitely going to make these with my kids!
    Also, I’ll never forget a very good guy friend in high school telling me that one of the reasons he liked me so much was my huge appetite! I’ve never eaten “like a girl!” Haha!
    Sadly, now, I have to watch what I eat and portions. It catches up with me now…aging stinks!

  5. terry

    I love to divide my salad dressing into 3 sections. one for blue cheese, one for ranch, and the other for russian. I don’t care who is watching, I pile it on and enjoy…when you get older you will realize that you only live once.

  6. good LORD these look good. I so want to make them… I have been meaning to TRY pretzels with gluten free flour… Hmm…

    oh my, that happens to me all the time, pouring too much dressing on my salad – it comes out SO fast!! πŸ˜‰ yep. I love dressing, and I do feel like everyone is looking at me as I add… a lot. and if nobody sees me? I’ll still add more stuff on top to hide some of the dressing… more edamame and hard boiled egg… YUM.

  7. I bet these are delicious, I love the kind wrapped in crescent rolls!

    I can sympathize with you on the salad dressing thing. There used to be a salad place here in DC that would mix everything together for you, and would always ask if you wanted your dressing light, medium, or heavy. I’d say heavy, and then ask them to add even more.

    I certainly don’t eat salads when I’m trying to eat healthy. Bring on the croutons!

  8. These look delicious ! I think the cheddar pretzel dog is my favorite!

  9. Oh, I always eat what I want. Bring on the bacon! I don’t go to salad bars very often, but at home I fluctuate between a healthy veggie-loaded salad and one with bacon, croutons, cheese, and creamy dressing. I feel ya!! The pretzel dogs look tasty!

  10. I’m not a huge salad dressing fan, but I can totally relate to your food anxiety. I can eat obscene amounts of food too, and I’ve also surprised the hell out of my fair share of waitresses (who do they think they are saying anything, anyway?). What makes me most uncomfortable is when I’m eating with my friends, family style, and consuming the same amount of food as them just isn’t enough for me. I hate digging in for seconds when no one else is… It sounds so silly to type it all out, but I guess that’s just how I feel!

    On that note, kudos to you for going all out! Auntie Anne’s Pretzels are AMAZING. You could wrap their dough around a shoe and I’d still eat it πŸ˜€

    • Oh, I know exactly what you mean! For some reason, I always seem to be hungrier than friends I’m with! And I think this entire post should be a lesson to all waitresses: NO comment is the best comment! Ha!

      I agree, by the way, that an Auntie Annie’s Pretzel-wrapped shoe would be one tasty shoe πŸ˜‰

  11. I haven’t craved a hot dog in a long time, but I’m craving one now!

  12. R

    Oh I’m exactly the same!! I have an uber appetite that can match any man’s appetite, and I sometimes feel a bit self-conscious about it. Especially when around friends that eat like birds (and one of these friend’s is male). But I suppose that comes with enjoying food – so long as we don’t go overboard with ourselves.
    I don’t really remember what food makes me lose my self-consciousness (perhaps a moist chocolate cake, or a brownie?), but I definitely believe that being around certain types of people helps with it. When around people that equally enjoy food, one always feels much more comfortable.

  13. Em

    I’m so glad I’m not the only female who can out-eat the males around her! My cousin recently said that the only problem with being in a same-sex relationship is that she no longer has a male to ‘hoover up’ the leftovers from a meal, and I was a bit shocked that she thought that was the male’s job (Isn’t it just whoever is hungry? ARE WE EVEN RELATED?)

    I remember on year 11 camp, it was an 8-day intensive of hiking and canoeing, and I was the only girl who ever ate seconds. The boys would always give me first pick of the leftovers because they were so impressed. One of the days, a girl just didn’t eat dinner because it was roast and she didn’t like roast or roast vegetables. Um…? It was food! I was all over that!

    That being said, don’t understand your salad dressing love. But I respect it.

    • LOL @ “ARE WE EVEN RELATED?” And I agree about food — any food! Can’t believe someone would pass up an entire dinner because she didn’t like it. To each his own, but it’s not how I roll!

      You know, I don’t think I really love salad dressing so much as I love the effect that LOTS of it has on a salad stuffed with other goodies. Ha πŸ™‚

  14. Aww you are so cute! Although if I ever see anyone do that with salad dressing at the next salad bar I frequent, I’m totally going to look at them skeptically.

    I would have probably gotten four pretzel dogs. At least. And when I make them…I might eat a whole batch. We’ll see.

  15. Yuleidy

    I am a ranch dressing addict, so I completely understand how you feel. I eat it with almost anything including pizza. The only difference is there is no shame in my game πŸ™‚

  16. You are so funny! Those people behind you in line are probably just jealous because your salad will taste so much better! One of my pet-peeves is when waiters comment on how much you eat. It never makes anyone feel good about their eating so just keep your mouth shut!

  17. YUUUMMMM!!! I love soft pretzels! I’m not even much of a hot dog eater, but these little pretzel dogs sound genius! I wonder if I can find a way to healthify this! *wheels turning* πŸ˜‰

    I have always been a pretty shameless eater, but I will say that since becoming interested in health and nutrition, I do sometimes feel that when eating with family members or friends, they are paying much more attention to what’s on my plate than in the past (maybe it’s in my head?) so while I genuinely love eating foods that are good for my body, this has also caused me to feel an extra sense of responsibility to practice what I preach, thereby not always eating as much (or as shamelessly) as I would sometimes like!

    P.S. Your cheesecake challenge definitely has me wanting to do some shameless eating! πŸ˜‰

    • Oh I know you could! I see turkey dogs entering the picture πŸ™‚

      You make a good point that it’s a double edged sword. Whether people are taking notice because you’re eating a ton or taking notice because they know you’re a healthy eater, it FEELS like there’s a lot of “taking notice” going on πŸ˜€ Maybe we should all promise to stop looking at other people’s plates. HA.

  18. Sara

    Those pretzels look delicious, they make me think back to when my mom used to that with some sort of Pillsbury goodness and now I totally want to make my own pretzels and pretzel dogs.

    Also I think shame (or maybe just having to share) makes me hungrier, while I’m at home my eating habits vary, but when I’m eating out if I get my own stuff I inevitably have to get a doggie bag but if I eat at a buffet or share with friends I tend to go MOAR and try to pretend I wasn’t eyeing anybody else’s plate. I’m pretty sure nobody actually cares but I feel judged.

  19. Julie, these look delicious! What a fun spring/summer treat. I’ll have to try these sometime! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Diane

    I LOVE Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Dogs. I had my first one this past summer at the Perimeter Mall in Atlanta and I was in HEAVEN.

  21. Allison

    Oh my god, those pretzel dogs look AMAZING.

    I have absolutely ZERO salad bar shame. I pile on the cheddar cheese and croutons with my ranch dressing. If I want to eat a salad, it’s going to be delicious!

  22. Jennifer

    The Auntie Annie’s pretzel dogs ROCK. You HAVE to try a plain one with the sweet mustard dip sometime. I have one every dang time I go to the mall…. and I seem to be there a lot lately….. coincidence??? Probably not…

    And I don’t care who’s lookin…. I NEED dressing on at least 97.854% of the components of my salad. Just cuz.

  23. I only put a teensy-tiny but of salad dressing, but only because I don’t particularly like it all that much.

    Cookies are my primary “all-you-can-eat” food. If I make a couple of batches, I usually have to give them away right away, otherwise ALL the cookies are gone (to my belly) in a day or two. *blush*

  24. Rick

    Julie,
    These look great, especially the jalapeΓ±o dogs. As for salad bars, I figure you are paying for it and you can fix your salad any way you’d like. Same goes for how much one eats. Why do some restaurants advertise all you can eat and then are really slow in bringing more food to the table. I hate that.

  25. Amanda

    Oh yes, constant food embarrassment especially since I’m short, which equates in people’s minds with eating like a bird. Screw that, when I’m hungry, I’m hungry and I’ll eat until I’m satisfied.

    I’m more of a lemon spritzer then a dressing glopper, but my lemon spritzed salad usually breaks the “don’t eat anything bigger than your head” rule. Mmm, veggies.

  26. I’m just so glad to hear someone else takes flight medication! I have to confess that I’ve never had an Auntie Annie’s (one in the CLT airport?), but I love all things bread and hot dogs, so I’m definitely making these!

    • Oh, man, I am a MESS on an airplane without it. A MESS, I tell you. And even with it if the dose isn’t high enough. Eep.

      I’m not sure if there’s an Auntie Annie’s in the CLT airport (something I NEED to find out before my next flight), but there’s one at Northlake Mall, Concord Mills, and probably a few others! You must try them!

  27. Okay, now you’ve got me wanting one of those pretzel dogs…I guess it’s the mall for me this weekend. (Or I could always make them myself and then have a really good excuse to eat way more of them than I should.) When I was younger I could eat pretty much anything I wanted without any ill effects. Ever since I passed the big five-oh though, the pounds pack on too easily for me to eat whatever I want. I do still indulge on occasion though. πŸ™‚

  28. Q

    you realize it’s auntie annes.. not annies… right?

  29. Yum, yum, YUM!!! I usually get the soft pretzel bites with nacho cheese. SO good! I’ve never tried the pretzel dogs though. I’ll have to next time. I wish we could go together. I would order 3 dogs an pretzel bites with cheese and you would understand. The Hubble usually makes me share the pretzel bites with him and he thinks that’s enough. Silly boy!

  30. Rachel

    Fact: when I was a kid, I’d eat croutons in ranch dressing. Like, as a meal from the salad bar. Obviously. So no judgment here! πŸ™‚

  31. Hayley

    This post made me LOL! While I don’t even bother to look embarrassed at the amount of salad dressing I put on my salad (enough to prompt my husband to ask “Would you like salad with your dressing?”), I also feel like perhaps I should be daintier when it comes to my food intake.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t be reaching for a 5th slice of pizza when the rest of my table-mates are groaning about how FULL they are after eating just three. But dammit, I’m at the gym (almost) every day, and I eat (mostly) well ALL WEEK! I shouldn’t HAVE to feel bad. Weekends are my happiest food times, and I’m so glad that I’m apparently not the only one πŸ™‚

  32. M

    Just made these – SO good! I got twelve pretzel dogs and four medium size pretzels out of my dough…don’t think they’re going to last long!

    I dipped mine in an egg wash after the baking soda so that gave it a slightly more even colouring than the ones in the photo. I made plain and ate them with a bowlful of cheese sauce…don’t know if that’s better or worse than a bowl of salad dressing!

    Thanks for the recipe – will definitely be making these again.

  33. This totally remind me that I have a box of Auntie Anne’s pretzel mix in my pantry. score! Yes they totally sell the mix so you can make them at home. Oh and I love pretzel dogs too although when I go there I get suckered in to the cinnamon sugar ones. yum!

  34. I found your blog today, and I love your different recipes! When I stumbled upon this one I knew I had to let you know about the most wonderful pretzel dogs I have EVER had.

    If you are ever in the Annapolis, MD area you HAVE to stop by the Amish Market. They are open thurs, fri, and sat, and they make the absolute best pretzel dog I have ever eaten. When I went to school in massachusetts I dreamed about these pretzel dogs, it is that serious. You would absolutely fall in love. Look, I can’t even stop talking about them.

    Thanks for your fun recipes!

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