Pretzel Chicken: Weeknight Keeper

May 16th, 2011 · 45 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick

I’m guessing most of you out there don’t regularly get emails from friends with the subject line: “Pretzel Chicken.” And I’m also guessing that if you did, your heart wouldn’t jump when it showed up in your inbox. But that was the somewhat sad state of affairs last week when my friend Jodi sent me the email, saying she was going to debut the dish for Shabbat dinner, a ritual with her husband and six-year-old daughter that she is trying to make more regular. The launch of the ritual, of course, warmed my heart, but what really grabbed me was the recipe. It was the famous City Bakery pretzel chicken that I have been lunching on for the past five years. It’s all mustardy and zesty and dredged in crushed sourdough pretzels — I don’t think I’ve ever taken a bite of it without announcing to whatever poor soul is sitting across from me I must replicate this at home. The kids will freak!

We introduce the girls to new meals almost every week — not just because I need new things to write about here on DALS, but because I like them to flex their adventure muscles whenever possible. You might think this act of bravery has resulted in an ever-expanding, deep repertoire of dinner inspiration, yet, somehow, every single time Andy has asked me “What should we have for dinner?” in the past 13 years, my first thought is always “Turkey Chili.” Not that we end up making that, but it’s my dinner brain default setting because it’s so damn easy, so universally-loved, and one of those meals we knew was a keeper as soon as we debuted it at the table. I’m proud to announce that, as of this past Wednesday, the pretzel chicken has earned the Keeper title as well. Once I pureed the marinade (which doubles as a dip) the recipe was so hands-off and so un-screw-up-able that I found myself wondering what to do with myself at 6:30 on a Wednesday night while it baked. Finish that story about Pixar by Anthony Lane? Catch up on my new favorite American Idol blog? (James!!? Crushed!)  Customize a pair of Chucks for Abby? Pour myself a Dark and Stormy. Oh, wait, I did that one already.

For the Pretzel Chicken Recipe…

I usually can’t help but adapt a recipe — either for my own taste or my kid’s — but this one was so perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing. So I’m sending you over to the Food & Wine website, which is where Jodi found it first. But come back and let me know what you think.

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45 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ellen // May 16, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I make pretzel chicken often, it’s my daughter’s favorite!

  • 2 Jilanna // May 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I think my husband is going to love this! Quick question – salted or unsalted pretzels?

  • 3 Jenny // May 16, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Jilanna – I’d go salted pretzels, but if you don’t have them, just add salt to dredge.

  • 4 Jilanna // May 16, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Thanks Jenny! I try to limit my salt but still want to balance the flavours. Can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ll let you know how it goes. :)

  • 5 jenny // May 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I should also note that this is excellent the next day, cold, which is how I usually eat it at CB.

  • 6 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // May 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    OK, this looks AWESOME!! Cannot wait to try!! Leftovers would be great cut up over salad, no?

    Oh, this is how I get Julia to try something BTW, I tell them about this food blog I read and about Phoebe and Abby and what they are eating — Julia finds it all Extremely Interesting!

  • 7 Liesel // May 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Oh yeah, and I was JUST getting ready to head to the grocery store. Thank you!!!

  • 8 654carroll // May 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    yum. making this tonight (or at least this week)! just a suggestion, too–reserve some crushed pretzels for ice cream topping. (I made a bootleg of a Peels brownie sundae with peanuts, caramel sauce, and pretzels that i could easily eat three meals a day for the rest of my life.)

  • 9 Trish O // May 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Yummy This looks great. I think I will try this week. Does anyone have any ideas on what I should serve with it. I am so bad with putting together sides. Thanks for the help.

  • 10 jenny // May 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Trish O: I served it with a green salad with avocado, edamame, snipped chives, maybe cucumbers? I can’t remember what dressing, but if you want to minimize work, just drizzle with olive oil and squeeze lemon on it or just use the chicken dip as salad dressing. You could also do my favorite easy side dish: just halve an avocado, pour salad dressing into the hole and be done with it!

  • 11 Melissa // May 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I love City Bakery’s pretzel chicken. Can’t wait to try this. Also love their pretzel croissant, but I’ll keep going to the bakery for that one.

  • 12 jenny // May 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Will no one join me in my commiseration for an American Idol without James?

  • 13 Jilanna // May 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Jenny – I just finished supper and my husband has gone back for seconds. THANK YOU for this fabulous recipe recommendation. It is a Keeper!

    Sides: green beans and DALS for me, steamed potatoes, carrots and Pardon the Interruption (PTI) for my husband. We are seated side by side, so it’s our version of family dinner for today. :)

  • 14 Jilanna // May 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I used Neal Brothers multigrain pretzel nuggets, btw. They were lower in sodium than the other brands I looked at and have a nice sweet flavour.

    Sorry to flood your comments! And sorry, I’m not an Idol fan! Anyone want to talk about Biggest Loser? :)

  • 15 kate // May 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    This got a thumbs-up from both the picky 6 year old and the 3 year old and my husband declared it a keeper. Loved it! Thank you!

  • 16 Trish O // May 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for the side ideas. I am going to make this tomorrow. Can’t comment on the American Idol. My boys declared it a “girl” show this season for some reason and as the only girl in the house I lost the battle of the remote. Ah, maybe next season…

  • 17 Angie // May 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I will join you in your sadness about James. My 8 yr. old daughter Zoe and I were crushed! I mean, what’s the point in watching the finale? They can’t shoot off fire cannons behind any of those 3, now can they? *sigh*

  • 18 ron // May 16, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    mr. jodi here. one important thing about the recipe – it makes nowhere near enough dipping sauce. i usually triple it.

  • 19 The Very Hungry Bookworm // May 17, 2011 at 6:09 am

    That sounds AMAZING. I don’t have kids, but I have a picky boyfriend to feed and he loves every one of those ingredients. I cannot wait to try this out.

  • 20 Mary // May 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

    so upset about James. Unbelievable, I wasn’t even a huge fan but defintiely thought he deserved to be in the finale and was moved by his story. I think he didn’t appeal to the voting demographic (tween girls) and his demographic (teen boys and older metal heads) aren’t watching or are too cool to vote. Show will be much less interesting. sad:(

  • 21 Emilee Whitehurst // May 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Made this last night, right after reading it! I even went to the grocery store during lunch to get the mustard and pretzels… and it was DELICIOUS! Thanks for this addition to my collection of random weeknight chicken recipes! I made a salad and used the left over dressing for that as well… made a great side dish compliment for the chicken!

  • 22 vicki // May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Made it last night….huge hit! And yes, our entire family is mourning the loss of James on Idol. I can’t take one more week of Hailey!!!

  • 23 Beth // May 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Thank you! Made this last night and my nugget-loving-yet-skeptical-of-all-other-chicken-preparations-children ATE it up!!!!

    It was easy and yummy and successful! Thanks for pointing it out.

  • 24 Julie // May 19, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Love the look of this. The boys would adore it, I think. I keep hearing references to City Bakery, which I obliviously walked past in New York..

  • 25 tamara // May 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I just made this last night & it was a HUGE hit!!! Thank you! My chicken-hating husband LOVED it, I ate seconds, this is a keeper! It was a snap to make and gave me plenty of time to do other things besides make dinner & clean the kitchen! THANK YOU DALS!!!

  • 26 Stefanie // May 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    This looks great, but the only pretzels I have are peanut butter stuffed and might go terribly with chicken.

    Will try it soon.

  • 27 Andrea // May 24, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Twist – I used Trader Joe’s peanut butter stuffed pretzels…yummmmmmmm


  • 28 Dahlia // May 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    this was ridiculously great. Thank you!

  • 29 holly // Jun 14, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    This was absolutely fantastic! Thanks!

  • 30 Kelsey // Jul 12, 2011 at 9:25 am

    We made this last night – delicious! And the recipe is a snap to make, even without a food processor. I just used a rolling pin to crush the pretzels (didn’t want to jam up my blender).

    My husband loved this, and he doesn’t even like mustard! Of course I had to pour the extra dressing over everything. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • 31 Sara // Sep 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I can’t seem to find the pretzel chicken recipe. I’m dying to try it. Am I blind?

  • 32 Natalie // Sep 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Sara – I struggled to find it too. Here it is:

  • 33 Anita // Sep 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    made pretzel chicken last night- delicious and easy. i did marinate the chicken in the mustard mixture for 30 minutes before baking and adding pretzels. even my super-picky 3 year old wanted some bites (probably due to the pretzel aspect)

  • 34 Amy L. // Oct 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I read your newsletter. Do I win the Inmod Teak Bowl?

  • 35 Melissa // Jan 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I feel so stupid asking this question but the wording has me confused for some reason…”transfer to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet”…does this mean that the chicken should be placed directly on a bare oven rack with the baking sheet underneath to catch drippings? and if so, should I spray the rack with cooking spray to avoid sticking?

  • 36 Jenny // Jan 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    melissa – that is kind of confusing, you’re right. i usually just put the chicken right on the baking sheet, but it’s asking that you put it on a cooling rack (like for cookies) that’s been set on top of a baking sheet. I think! Good luck.

  • 37 654carroll // Jan 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    need to comment that i

    1.) thought to make this for dinner
    2.) shopped for it (about 300 yards from my front door)
    3.) prepared it
    4.) put it in the oven
    5.) picked up daughter at daycare (about 100 closer than grocery store)
    6.) took it out of the oven

    all within an hour and 10 minutes.

    then turned up the oven a little and made drop biscuits in another 12 minutes.

  • 38 Lori // Mar 16, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Love this! My 6 year old said it was “incredibly good!” and he’s not much of a meat-eater at all. I substituted plain yellow mustard for the whole grain because my kids can barely handle mild dijon. It was still great.

  • 39 Rachel // May 2, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    DELISH! I made it with GLUTEN-FREE pretzels tonight and it was STILL great! (my hubby is gluten-free, but no-one else at the table was – kids loved it too!) YUM.
    Also, so happy to have found DALS – I feel inspired by your down-to-earth approach, Jenny. Thank you!

  • 40 Courtney // Jul 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Just made this tonight and it was wonderful!!

    I didn’t grind the pretzels enough so we were scooping some of the breading off the pan; even so, delicious!!

    If only the 3.5 year old daughter would go for it…


  • 41 Nulasha // Oct 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Just wanted to say, I have browsed website after website for dinner ideas and yours is one of the VERY few where I am actually FINDING recipes I want to try!! I already found 3 and still going through it… Keep up the AWESOME work!

  • 42 Nicole // May 15, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Just became obsessed with your site as I have a baby and a three year old. I love to cook, eat healthy and all but it’s hard! Loved this recipe, as did my son and husband! Amazing that it pleased everyone! I’m looking forward to trying more recipes!
    Do you have a post on how you organize your recipes??

  • 43 Meg // Jul 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Handsome and I despise mustard … Dipped it in a mixture of honey and oil … Oh my! Deeeelicious!

  • 44 SarahT // Jul 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Pretzel chicken has been feature in our dinner rotation since I fist saw it here (I probably make it at least once a month). I’m happy to report that it translates well to being made gluten-free – while the gluten free pretzels don’t make for quite as crispy a topping, it is still really yummy. And my celiac toddler gobbles it up – so it has helped her gain back weight that she’d lost. Thank you.

  • 45 Kathy // Oct 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I have not cooked for my 3-year-old boy/girl twins since before they were born and this was the first recipe I’ve made for the family. Everyone really liked it, including my son who had declared he didn’t like chicken. (He took a third serving.)

    Anyway, now I super trust your judgment and I’m back on your site looking for more recipes.


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