Snake Charmer’s Pretzels

By 08/08/2020July 31st, 20232 Comments

Coiled and ready to strike! Don’t worry, it doesn’t take a snake charmer to tame these bad boys, dipping them in your favorite mustard will do the trick. The next installment of my Carn’evil’ themed recipes are these delicious soft pretzels made with beer. They’re yeasty, hoppy, salty, and soft but chewy and oh so yummy.

I must admit that I was a wee bit intimidated to make these because I’d never made homemade pretzels before and after reading up that the dough had to be boiled before baking made me very nervous. Especially because I wasn’t sure how my idea of coiling the dough into snakes would hold up in boiling water. So I’ll share some of the mistakes I made that eventually helped me learn how to  make the perfect pretzel snakes. If you follow each of these tips you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful snake charmer!

First tip: Roll out each snake one at a time. It will ensure that your snake doesn’t rise too much before boiling. My first attempt at this idea, I rolled all of them at once and by the time I got to boiling them all, they were so puffed up because they continued to rise. It made for snakes that had little detail and no tapering of the tails. The second reason for rolling one at a time, is that your first few won’t look as good as you think they will. It takes a bit of trial and error to know how thin to roll your ropes of dough to get the most realistic look. So learning as you go is key.

Second tip: Place your snake on a a large spatula to hold its shape as you dip it into the boiling water. Unlike normal pretzels that are twisted over on itself to hold its shape, these snakes are not. So it’s very important to not let the snake come off the spatula as it boils. The dough will begin to float to the top of the surface around 20 seconds, so make sure to raise the spatula with the dough as it begins to float. After 30 seconds, gently lift the boiled snake and slide it onto a paper towel to drain and cool a bit. If you do have a snake that gets away from you, use a wooden spoon or another spatula to corral it onto the spatula. Don’t worry too much if it loses it’s shape, you will be able to correct it. (See the next tip)

Third tip: To transfer the boiled snake to the baking sheet, lift the dough by picking up the paper towel below it and then flip the dough over into to your other hand and remove the paper towel. Put the snake onto the baking sheet. After boiling, the dough will have puffed up a little causing you to lose some of the snake detail, so at this point you can refine your snake shape and detail by pinching the dough to thin out the tail portion or pinch the area behind the head of the snake to thin out the neck area. If your coils became a little unraveled, re-position them closer together so when they bake they’ll seal up.

Forth Tip: Add your eyes and mouth by poking the dough with a chop stick first and then make sure you push your peppercorns into the dough. As the dough bakes, some of the eyes may bulge out if they are not pressed in enough. Also don’t forget to salt your snakes after the egg wash. I forgot to do this on my first batch. 🙂

Snake Charmer's Pretzels

Coiled and ready to strike! Tame these snake-shaped soft beer pretzels with your favorite mustard or cheese sauce.
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Course: Snacks
Cuisine: Carnival Food
Keyword: carnevil, Halloween, Halloween Food, Halloween Ideas, Halloween Recipes, snakes
Servings: 12 soft pretzels


  • 1 bottle amber or dark beer
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 9-10 cups water (for boiling)
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 Tbsp water (egg wash)
  • Coarse salt
  • pink peppercorns (eyes)
  • dried chile (tongue)


  • Heat beer and butter in a small saucepan to 110-115 degrees and remove from heat. Add yeast and stir until dissolved.
  • Attach the dough hook to a stand mixer. Add 3 cups of flour, brown sugar, salt, and the yeast mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth, adding enough flour in 1/2 cup portions until a soft but sticky ball forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it's smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  • Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled.
  • About midway through the rising time, preheat oven to 425 degrees, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and bring water and baking soda to a rolling boil.
  • Once the dough is doubled, punch down dough and turn onto floured surface and divide into 12- 3 oz balls of dough. Use a kitchen scale to ensure they are of equal size.
  • Working with one 3 oz ball of dough at a time, roll into ~18 inch rope, roll one end out into a thin tail, leaving the other end thicker for the head of the snake.
  • Coil rope into snake shapes and place on a large spatula.
  • Gently lower the spatula containing the snake dough into the boiling water ensuring that the dough does not come off the spatula. Let the pretzel cook for 30 seconds. It will begin to float up to the surface of the water at 20 seconds so make sure it doesn't float off the spatula.
  • Gently lift the spatula and pretzel out of the water and carefully transfer it to a paper towel to drain. Once drained, pick up paper towel with the boiled dough on it and flip the dough into your hand and then place the pretzel on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat the rolling and boiling with remaining balls of dough working one at at time.
  • Place 5-6 of the boiled snakes, at least two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Now, you're ready to add details like the eyes and tongues(optional) to the snakes.
  • For eyes, use a chopstick to poke eye holes into the dough.
  • Add pink or black peppercorns into the eye holes and press into the dough so that they stay put while baking.
  • Optional: Cut small strips of a dried chile and notch out a forked tongue, trim to size and then add to the mouth of a snake pretzel.
  • Brush egg wash over pretzels and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack and serve with mustard.


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