Spent Grain Pretzel Bites

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12/30/20 Update: This post has been updated from the original 2019 version to reflect my current recipe.

My boyfriend runs a small out-of-the-apartment microbrewery in his spare time, so we have a constant supply of spent grain. Usually, it goes straight from the Grainfather to the trash, but this weekend I decided to do something a little different. Inspired by my sister-in-law’s ingenuity in her own kitchen over the holidays, I saved a few cups of a 12:1 Briess 2-Row Pale/Caramel 40L (92% and 8%) mixture from the latest batch of our flagship IPA and dove back into bread-making for the first time in a several years. Honestly, I’d forgotten how fun and easy it is! And it’s always nice when something as versatile as spent grain takes on a new life rather than going to waste.

This recipe makes 28 pretzel bites!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spent grains
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 8 tbsp melted butter
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp honey/maple syrup
  • additional salt (to garnish)

Directions:

  1. Add sugar, yeast, cooled melted butter, and lukewarm water to a large mixing bowl and stir gently until most of the sugar has dissolved. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until a yeast raft has formed on the surface of your liquid.
  2. Add spent grain, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour and salt a little at a time to the wet ingredients. Mix with a spatula or your hands until a smooth dough has formed, about 15-20 minutes (or use the dough hook if you have a stand
    mixer). Once the dough gets thick and begins to form a large singular mass, I recommend using a press-and-fold motion, scraping the sides every so often to make sure everything is properly combined. If necessary, add a little bit of water (dry dough) or flour (wet dough) while youÕre kneading to keep it workable.
  3. Once you have a decent ball, add olive oil along the edge of the bowl and across the top of your dough ball. Do not knead the oil into the dough. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  4. When the dough has finished rising, divide into golf ball-sized rounds and spread evenly on several parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cover with a dishtowel and let rest for an additional 10-15 minutes to prove.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425F, and begin boiling 10-12 cups cold water in a medium sauce pot.
  6. When water has begun boiling, carefully add baking soda a little at a time to prevent overflow.
  7. Boil dough balls 4-5 at a time in the baking soda/water mixture for about 1 minute, then return to the baking sheet. Repeat until all dough balls have been boiled.
  8. In a small bowl, combine milk and sweetener of choice. Brush the tops of each dough ball with the wash and immediately season with coarse salt to garnish.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crusty on the outside.
  10. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool and rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with dip of choice.

This recipe goes great with sriracha beer cheese, Heady Topper mustard, sriracha, or your favorite dipping sauce!

The pretzels will keep in the fridge for three days, and warm well in the microwave!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Spent Grain Pretzel Bites

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spent grains
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 8 tbsp melted butter
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp honey/maple syrup
  • additional salt to garnish

Instructions

  • Add sugar, yeast, cooled melted butter, and lukewarm water to a large mixing bowl and stir gently until most of the sugar has dissolved. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until a yeast raft has formed on the surface of your liquid.
  • Add spent grain, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour and salt a little at a time to the wet ingredients. Mix with aspatula or your hands until a smooth dough has formed, about 15-20 minutes (or use the dough hook if you have a stand mixer). Once the dough gets thick and begins to form a large singular mass, I recommend using a press-and-fold motion, scraping the sides every so often to make sure everything is properly combined. If necessary, add a little bit of water (dry dough) or flour (wet dough) while youÕre kneading to keep it workable.
  • Once you have a decent ball, add olive oil along the edge of the bowl and across the top of your dough ball. Do not knead the oil into the dough. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  • When the dough has finished rising, divide into golf ball-sized rounds and spread evenly on several parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cover with a dishtowel and let rest for an additional 10-15 minutes to prove.
  • Preheat your oven to 425F, and begin boiling 10-12 cups cold water in a medium sauce pot.
  • When water has begun boiling, carefully add baking soda a little at a time to prevent overflow.
  • Boil dough balls 4-5 at a time in the baking soda/water mixture for about 1 minute, then return to the baking sheet. Repeat until all dough balls have been boiled.
  • In a small bowl, combine milk and sweetener of choice. Brush the tops of each dough ball with the wash and immediately season with coarse salt to garnish.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crusty on the outside.
  • Remove to a wire rack, and let cool and rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with dip of choice.
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7 comments
  1. Thanks Em for this recipe. Do you dry the spent grains, cook them, or just use them immediately after they are used for the beer?

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    1. Hi, Lisa!
      I typically freeze a few Ziploc bags of spent grains every time we brew, then thaw them overnight in the fridge when I plan to make pretzels the next day. Other than that, I don’t dry or cook them. They get plenty of “cooking” during the brewing process, so there’s no much left for me to do.
      I hope this helps! Happy brewing/baking!

    1. Yes, I believe it would! You would need to “punch” the air out of the dough after its first rise, roll it out into strips, and then let it proof for about ten minutes before shaping/boiling/baking, but the process should essentially be the same. I will try making traditional pretzel shapes myself next time I have some spent grain on hand and update you with the results!

  2. 5 stars
    These were delicious! at first i was concerned because my dough was very very wet and i ended up adding about 1.5 cups of extra flour to the dough, but they turned out great anyway. we ate them all in a couple days!! about to make another batch (: thanks for the recipe

  3. In Proper Units of Measurement, the Recipe Translates to 470 mLs of Water (236 ml = 1 CUP) and Just 410 grams of Flour. To That, Add the water contained in the spent grains. This is much more than 100% Hydration in Baker Math. Are you sure this isn’t a mistake? I’d Say even 70% Hydration is really pushing it with all the extra water from the grains.

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