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5 from 7 votes

Mac & Beer Cheese in a Mini Pretzel Bowl

By: Bella Bucchiotti
Mac & beer cheese in a mini pretzel bowl is the ultimate comfort food. This Oktoberfest, Super Bowl or game day appetizer using mini pretzel rolls and a beer cheese sauce for macaroni is tasty. This mini pretzel bread bowl recipe with a panko pretzel topping is an autumn favourite.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 12 pretzel rolls, I used Pretzilla Burger Buns
  • 1 Pound pasta, cellentani/cavatappi pasta, cooked according to box instructions
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. black pepper , ground
  • 1/2 Tsp. mustard, ground
  • 1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp. paprika
  • 1 Pinch nutmeg 
  • 2 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Cup beer
  • 6 Cup sharp cheddar, sharp, freshly shredded 

For the panko/pretzel topping: 

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter 
  • 1/4 Cup panko , unseasoned
  • 1/4 Cup pretzels , crushed, salted


  • Using a small, serrated knife, carefully cut a circle into the top of your pretzel rolls. I find it’s easiest to cut at an angle in a cone shape. Do not go all the way to the bottom because we don’t want to puncture the sides or the bottom of the bread bowls.
  • Once the top of the rolls have been removed, if you desire, place them in a resealable bag so they can be served along with the beer mac later. Gently pull out pieces of the bread with your fingers, making sure to leave at least ½” on all sides of the bowl. If you accidentally rip out too much, or make a hole, no worries. Use a piece or two of the bread you’ve been pulling out to push into the hole and mend it. Put the cut bread bowls into a resealable bag as you did with the tops so they stay as fresh as possible while you cook the mac and cheese. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Slowly sprinkle in the flour, whisking until combined. Allow the flour to toast in the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. It will start smell nutty and begin to brown when it’s toasted.
  • Gradually add heavy whipping cream, then beer, whisking the entire time. Bring mixture up to a low boil, continuously whisking until it has thickened. This takes about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, ground mustard, cayenne, paprika, and nutmeg. Stir to mix.
  • Add in shredded cheddar and stir until it has completely melted, forming your cheese sauce.
  • Add cooked pasta to the sauce and stir with a wooden spoon until it is spread throughout.  
  • Fill each pretzel roll with the beer mac. 

Panko Pretzel Topping: 

  • In a small pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add panko and crushed pretzel. Stir, coating the crumb mixture in the butter. Continue stirring for 3-5 minutes, or until browned.  
  • Sprinkle some of the crumb mixture on top of each of the prepared macaroni-filled bread bowls. 


This mac and beer cheese is best served immediately but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat, place the leftover mac and cheese in a pot, add some milk (a little at a time), and heat over medium heat. Adding the milk to the mac and cheese helps the cheese to “re-activate” without the greasy separation.
Only cut and fill as many of the pretzel rolls as you plan on serving. Microwaving the leftovers can separate the oil from the cheese, as mentioned, and leave you with a greasy mess on your plate. However, I have microwaved the mac and cheese inside of the pretzel rolls in a pinch. After about 1 minute and thirty seconds, they are heated throughout but, while they taste pretty much the same, the texture is not. 


Calories: 512kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 858mg | Potassium: 244mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1658IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 449mg | Iron: 1mg
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