The holidays are weird for us.
We spend almost all of them in the Twin Cities with our families, and, since we moved to Fargo, haven’t spent a lot of time decorating or holiday baking. Our families spoil us when we’re in town and so there’s no need to bring treats.
Over the past few years, I do try to make one thing that I can share as gifts. Two years ago I made these spicy cheese biscuits and last year I tried to make rum balls. They were made from crushed Oreos and vanilla wafers and were generally a fail, no matter how kindly my coworkers described them.
This year, I’m back on the savory track because I know we’ll find many holiday sweets. I found Dani’s recipe for cayenne pretzels on Chowhound and thought they’d be something I could give to the old friends I catch up with and family members who are hosting meals.
These pretzels are extremely compelling and one of those trashy foods one has a difficult time justifying making at home but devours at parties. Perfect gift material.
Good Seasoning salad dressing packets work OK, but taste noticeably sweeter. 2015’s batch taught me that we really like the combination of Spicy Ranch Dressing packets + a good dash of garlic salt + some Old Bay Seasoning.
2 envelopes of ranch dressing or ranch dip mix
1-2 teaspoons cayenne (more for extra spice)
1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil
30 oz of buttery twist pretzel sticks (Hyvee sells two 10oz bags for $3 in their house brand)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- In a bowl, whisk together the oil, ranch mix and garlic salt.
- Distribute the pretzels on two sheet pans as evenly as possible. I lift the pretzels from their bags so the excess salt remains in the bag. It’s OK if they are thicker than one layer.
- Ladle the oil mixture over the pretzels, dividing half into each pan.
- Stir to coat the pretzels with tongs or a spatula.
- Place both pans in the oven. You can place them on two different shelves above each other.
- Stir the pretzels about every 15 minutes. A spatula will do a better job at scraping up the seasoning from the bottom of the pan and redistributing them over the pretzels.
- Bake until the oil is absorbed and the pretzels are toasty. This should take anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour.
- Cool and pack into airtight containers.