Strawberry Cheesecake Salad-this super delicious salad is absolutely loaded with strawberries tossed in a thick, rich and creamy cheesecake mixture ,then topped off with a yummy graham cracker crust crumble!
The thermometer and the fridge and the laundry basket agree—summer is officially here.
School is nearly out, and that means picnics, barbeques, potlucks, and family get-togethers are almost upon us.
There are a series of questions I have to ask myself before any of these occasions: What should I bring? What will people like? What is quick to make and still super delicious? And, more importantly, what will be easy?
This strawberry cheesecake salad recipe is my perfect summer companion. From the very first time I made it, I knew it was destined to become a family favorite.
This strawberry cheesecake salad with cream cheese is, at its core, not a salad at all. (I mean, come on. It has cheesecake as a central ingredient.)
I suppose it sort of is in that it has fruit in it and is a mixture of several different kinds of things. But in reality it’s really more of a dessert. And that’s how I serve it.
At potlucks and picnics I set this delicious strawberry cheesecake salad with bananas and marshmallows down near the end of the table, next to the pies and cookies.
That doesn’t mean it’s incredibly unhealthy, however! In terms of calories, this strawberry cheesecake salad is still a much healthier option than a pan of brownies or frosted sugar cookies. And honestly, it’s just as popular!
After a potluck, I hardly ever take any of this dish home. It’s scraped clean.
Likely you’ve seen other versions of this recipe circulating Facebook or Pinterest.
One of the main differences between my recipe and other variations on a strawberry cheesecake salad (using a no bake cheesecake mix) is the fruit to cheesecake ratio.
My recipe uses a lot of fruit.
Listen, the cheesecake mixture is delicious. No doubt. But what we really want is for that wonderful cheesecake to be a succulent dressing for the fruit, rather than having a few pieces of strawberry swimming in a cheesecake soup.
Another difference in my recipe is I use strawberry Greek yogurt. It’s an easy way to increase the nutritional value of this dish by adding a little more protein.
The other difference in these recipes for strawberry cheesecake salad is the graham cracker crust crumble I add as a delicious crunchy topping to the recipe. We all know that cheesecake is more delicious with the crust, so I looked for a way to include a bite of graham cracker in every serving. Since the dish is scooped into individual servings, my recipe calls for a graham cracker crust crumble topping that can be sprinkled onto every serving.
Homemade whipped cream is awesome. We all know it. I recommend it in nearly every recipe I put out.
But this is one of those recipes where the stability of Cool Whip is important. Go store-bought this time.
Remember that Cool Whip takes a while to defrost. Place it in your refrigerator for 4 hours before putting together the recipe. (The manufacturer does not recommend thawing Cool Whip at room temperature.)
Graham Cracker Crust Crumble~
I recommend making the graham cracker crust crumble the day before serving for a few reasons.
First, it cuts your day-of prep time in half. Any recipe where you can make things ahead of time is a blessing.
Second, the extra day of cooling gives the crust plenty of time to fully chill. This helps the butter to solidify and hold the crumble together a bit.
Don’t worry if part of the crust doesn’t hold together. It’s totally fine. In fact, I actually like having different sized pieces of crumble sprinkled over the top.
After you rinse your strawberries, give them plenty of time to dry off. This recipe doesn’t need the extra moisture from the water. I lay them out on a dish towel in a single layer, then flip them over once.
The instant pudding mix and the dry mix are used in two different steps in this recipe. You will not make the actual pudding. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the separate pieces of the pudding are vital to their different steps. The instant pudding mix is used as an ingredient. The dry mix, on the other hand, is added to the Cool Whip and the yogurt.
Once you’ve mixed together the cheesecake part of the salad, allow it to sit in the fridge for an extra hour or so. This will give the dry pudding mix the time it needs to dissolve and incorporate into the other ingredients.
Be aware that the color of the cheesecake mix will depend on the type of yogurt you use. Some yogurts have a pretty pink hue—that’s what I like to use—and some yogurts are plain white. As long as you’ve correctly purchased strawberry yogurt (I’ve made the mistake of buying something else once) then the cheesecake will taste the same. So pick whatever color you want.
I strongly recommend not adding the sliced bananas until just before serving the salad. Putting the bananas in too early will allow them to brown and compromise the look of your salad.
When buying bananas for this recipe, look for ones that are ripe and firm, but haven’t yet begun to develop brown spots. If the bananas get too ripe before serving they get mushy and break down when you fold everything together.
Try serving this strawberry cheesecake salad with marshmallows. They’re a fun addition that kids of all ages (even the really big ones who own a house and pay taxes) seem to enjoy. I add 2 cups of marshmallows to my salad, but you can really pick any amount. Whatever you prefer.
Sometimes I like to add a little extra crunch to this yummy dessert. 1 and ½ cups of chopped nuts can be mixed into the salad or sprinkled over the top with the graham cracker crust crumble. My favorite nut additions are sliced almonds, pistachios, or pecans.
This salad can also be made as an awesome combination of strawberries and blueberries. Both of these berries are generally hardy enough to stand up to the pressure of folding them in with a thick filling. If you want to use other summer berries, like raspberries or blackberries, make sure they’re not overly ripe. Also, be very gentle when folding them in. Have the cheesecake filling at room temperature instead of chilled so it’s a little looser. This will help the fragile berries mix in easier.
Occasionally I’ll add a can of well-drained crushed pineapple to the salad. The acidic flavor of the pineapple mixes well with any berry or mixture of berries you’d like to use.
Another delicious alternative is to turn this into a piña colada cheesecake salad. Use well-drained tidbits of pineapple along with the strawberries and bananas and add shredded coconut to the dish.
If you’re taking this dish to a potluck or picnic, remember that you can’t leave milk-based products—like this cheesecake mixture—out of the fridge for too long. It will spoil. Check out this article for more food safety information.
Source: Adapted from Time For Supper
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- Yield: 6-8
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
Strawberry Cheesecake Salad
- Graham Cracker Crust Crumble:
- Coarsely Crushed Graham Grackers - 2 1/2 Cups
- Butter, Melted - 3/4 Cup
- Sugar - 1/4 Cup
- Cheesecake Mix:
- Cool Whip, Thawed - 12 Ounce
- Instant Cheesecake Pudding Mix - 1 (3.4 Ounce) Box
- Strawberry Yogurt - 3 (6 Ounce) Containers
- Vanilla Extract - 1 Teaspoon
- Fruit and Marshmallows:
- Sliced Strawberries - 8 Cups (About 4 Pounds)
- Bananas, Sliced - 3
- Miniature Marshmallow (Optional) - 2 Cups
Make the Graham Cracker Crust Crumble:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar and mix until combined. Press crumb mixture firmly into prepared baking dish. Using a long knife, score the crumb mixture into a 1 inch grid pattern, pressing the knife almost to the bottom of the crumbs to pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled completely and mixture is firm, preferably overnight.
Make the Cheesecake mixture:
In a large mixing bowl, add cool whip, pudding mix, yogurts and vanilla and mix until evenly combined. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
When ready to serve, slice strawberries and bananas. Add the fruit and marshmallows to cheesecake mixture and gently fold the ingredients until combined.
Sprinkle with graham cracker crust crumble and serve immediately. If there's any extra crumble pass it in a separate bowl and let everyone add extra as desired.