Beer Nuggets…A Flashback to College Life


I lived in Dekalb, Illinois quite a few years ago and attended college at Northern Illinois University. And, if you have ever spent time in Dekalb, or attended NIU, you know what beer nuggets are. According to an article from the Northern Star back in 1989, beer nuggets began at Sgt. Peppers restaurant and were the result of an employee pizza fight. Employees were throwing dough at each other and a few pieces of dough fell in the deep fryer. These things were a mistake??

So what are beer nuggets, you ask? They are essentially deep fried pizza dough balls. I remember during college heading out to get a brown paper bag filled with these yummy gold nuggets, ready to dip in marinara sauce or, my favorite, nacho cheese sauce. There was nothing else like them and they always hit the spot.

Living out on the west coast for many, many years now, I have always missed my favorite comfort food, so I set out to make my own. Now, because of my hands, making dough has become difficult. I used to love kneading dough…taking out any stress on a pile of dough can be very soothing. But now, within a minute or two, my hands are screaming at me to stop. But, I found a solution to this problem….a bread machine.

Now, I am not normally the biggest fan of bread machines. I don’t like how most breads turn out and avoided them for years. But, as my hands got worse, I finally gave in and decided to give them another try. I found a West Bend model that I thought would work (it makes bread in a traditional bread loaf shape, not a funny square). While the bread turns out okay in this machine, the reason I love it is the dough setting. This machine will make bread, or in this case, pizza dough, without me having to lift a hand. Simply add ingredients and it does all the work for you…including rising. This made making my beer nuggets possible.

So, I played around with a few different pizza dough recipes and finally found one that I think comes close to my beloved beer nuggets. Simply add the ingredients into the bread machine and wait for the dough to be complete. Once the dough stage finishes, you take the dough out and form your nuggets. Grab a bit of dough and roll it out into a long snake-like shape. Using a sharp knife, cut 1-2 inch segments and place onto a flour-dusted plate. Repeat with remaining dough and you are set to fry

Drop hand fulls of these dough pieces into a 350 degree fryer until they are golden brown and you have your tasty nuggets ready to eat.

beer nuggets, fried pizza dough, Dekalb, NIU

Add a bowl of your favorite nacho cheese sauce, queso sauce or marinara and you are ready to kick back and enjoy some tasty comfort food. Also a great snack for football season.

While these will always bring back college day memories for me, the whole family has now acquired a taste for beer nuggets. What’s not to like about warm fried dough and cheese!

Pizza Dough Nuggets
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These warm fried dough nuggets will always bring back college memories for me. This simple recipe always delivers tasty little morsels of dough.
Recipe type: Appetizer or Snack
Serves: 50-100 muggets
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup flat, room temperature beer
  • 2½ cups flour (I use all purpose but bread flour works as well)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Additional flour for cutting surface when making nuggets
  1. Put the ingredients into your bread maker following your manufactures directions. (For mine, I place the beer and water in first, then the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in that order. The butter is cut into 4 pieces and placed in each corner)
  2. Let your bread machine run on the dough setting. (This is almost 2 hours for mine)
  3. Once the bread machine is complete, remove the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface
  4. Preheat a fryer to 350 degrees
  5. Pull off a section of the dough and roll out to a snake-like shape. Using a sharp knife, cut the length of dough into 1 to 2 inch sections, placing each section on a floured plate. Repeat with the remainder of the dough
  6. Using a slotted spoon, drop a few nuggets in at a time and let cook until they are golden brown. stir and flip pieces to ensure they cook all around. Each batch cooks for about 1-3 minutes, depending on the size of your nuggets.
  7. Remove nuggets from grease and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Repeat with remaining dough
  9. Serve nuggets with your favorite dipping sauce.



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