Strawberry Pretzel Salad – a nostalgic dessert that’s required at all family parties. This recipe is a perfect combo of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy! This updated recipe is loaded with fresh, ripe strawberries!
I think most people have one of those recipes that’s in the family DNA, you know what I mean?
One of those recipes that are requested at every family gathering, that cousins and grandmothers and uncles look forward to each time they come together.
In my family, it’s strawberry pretzel salad.Now, to be fair, I don’t have any clue why this is called a salad.
Really this strawberry pretzel salad recipe should be renamed, “strawberry pretzel dessert”—but, hey, naming things isn’t my specialty. I do the cooking part.
My family loves this recipe. I sometimes think of strawberry dishes as a summer thing, but this dessert gets requested for every family event regardless of the time of year. Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, birthdays—you name it, this strawberry pretzel salad with fresh strawberries is always a hit.
The other things that make this recipe a great holiday dish is that you can make it ahead of time.
I don’t know about you, but my kitchen schedule around the holidays gets pretty insane. There are pies and hams and cookies and all sorts of things to bake just before a holiday meal.
But this dessert can be made in advance. In fact, the strawberry layer and the cream cheese layer get even better with the extra chill time. I really don’t even notice a difference in the crust texture if I make it a day or two before.
Earlier than that, well, I have no idea. I can’t keep the stuff in my fridge more than a day or two without it being devoured by sneaky forks and fingers. (Frankly, the kids are the least of my worries. ~LOL!)
SAVE THIS STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD
TO YOUR DESSERT BOARD FOR LATER
LET’S BE FRIENDS ON PINTEREST! WE’RE ALWAYS PINNING TASTY RECIPES!
Plus, the final dish is just darn beautiful. The top layer is a rich red color, so it makes a nice addition to any buffet. I like making it in a 9×13 glass baking dish to show off all the layers.
I’m always on the lookout for great “no bake” recipes. And while this delicious dessert isn’t technically a “no bake” dish, it’s pretty darn close. The only thing you need an oven for is to cook the crust 8-10 minutes. If it’s going to be a hot day, I recommend making the crust earlier in the morning.
What makes this recipe really work is the sweet/salty contrast. When you make strawberry pretzel salad, you’ll notice it calls for some serious sweetness: Jell-O, sugar, and, of course, fresh strawberries. All of these delicious sweet elements are balanced really nicely with the salty pretzels.
But this strawberry pretzel Jell-O salad gets even better. A layer of rich cream cheese is the perfect complement to the sweet/salty mixture.
If you’re worried about the strawberry pretzel salad calories, a really easy variation can help to ease your anxiety. Just ditch the extra sugar and use sugar-free gelatin. Sometimes I make this sugar free strawberry pretzel salad for my older relatives—usually, I can’t even tell the difference!
- The recipe comes out best if you make it a day before serving. This gives each layer enough time to thoroughly cool before the next layer is added. And it allows the whole dish the needed amount of time to set up well.
- Follow the step-by-step instructions, cooling each layer down to room temperature. Then, refrigerate the baking dish 30-60 minutes (or longer) before adding the next layer.
- This is a crucial tip to avoid that yummy, buttery pretzel crust becoming soggy and soft: really make sure to spread the cream cheese layer all the way to the edge. Do not leave any gaps at all—even little ones. Otherwise, the Jell-O mixture will seep down into the pretzel.
- Really make sure the Jell-O is completely dissolved. You want it to be pretty and clear. You need to stir the Jell-O mixture for the full two minutes. Watch the timer and don’t skimp.
- Then, add the strawberries to the Jell-O and allow it to sit in the fridge for 20 minutes, stirring every so often so it starts to set (like a soft jelly) but doesn’t become too thick or set in large chunks. At this point the Jell-O should become slightly thick; that thickness will help ensure it doesn’t sink below the cream cheese layer.
- You can make this recipe with either fresh or frozen strawberries. I used to make this dessert the old fashioned way with frozen strawberries. It seems like lately, when I buy the sweetened frozen sliced strawberries, all I get is a block of red sugar water with a few chunks of strawberries. It’s very disappointing. Now, I make the recipe with fresh strawberries. For heaven sakes, I want some nice strawberries in this dish, not a few mangled pieces!
- Because this recipe calls for fresh strawberries, rather than the frozen ones, I add them to the Jell-O mixture after it’s been mixed, cooled and is partially set. I add the cold water to the Jell-O mixture and refrigerate until the Jell-O sets like soft jelly, usually 1-2 hours. Then add the strawberries and stir them in until they’ve been evenly mixed throughout. Pour this mixture over the cream cheese layer.
- Those who follow this blog know that I am a big advocate for homemade, fresh whipped cream. 9 times out of 10, I prefer it to Cool Whip. But strawberry pretzel salad is that rare time I suggest using Cool Whip instead. Here’s why: though I love the flavor of fresh whipped cream, using it means the salad simply won’t set as firmly, cut as nicely, or last as long. Cool Whip is just a more stable ingredient for this dessert. The whipped cream also tends to make the crust lose its chewy texture.
- Traditionally, the crust is a fairly thin layer. The crust just doesn’t need to be all that thick to balance out the rich filling. I think it’s just the right crunchy, salty balance.
- It’s important to remember that the 2 cup measurement is of pretzel crumbs, not whole pretzels.
- With strawberry pretzel salad, Kraft Jell-O is the most popular brand of gelatin. Typically, that’s what I use because it’s predictable, I know how it is going to mix and dissolve. I know how thick it will be. But, as long as you’re willing to do some experimenting, any brand of gelatin will do.
- Sometimes, when I feel like switching it up a bit, I’ll make a pineapple pretzel dessert instead. It’s super easy, just substitute canned and well-drained pineapple for strawberries. Don’t try to do this with fresh pineapple because fresh pineapple has an enzyme that doesn’t allow the Jell-O to stay set!
- I like to make this in a glass 3-quart baking dish so you can see all the pretty layers. Heres my the dish I always use.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Strawberry Pretzel Salad - a nostalgic dessert that's required at all family parties. This recipe is a perfect combo of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy!
- 2 Cups Crushed Pretzels
- 3/4 Cup 1 1/2 Sticks Butter, Melted
- 3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
- 1 8 Ounce Block Cream Cheese, Softened to Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 8 Ounce Carton Cool Whip, Thawed
- 1 6 Ounce Box Strawberry Flavored Jell-O
- 2 Cups Boiling Water
- 1 Cup Cold Water
- 4 Cups Sliced Fresh Strawberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar until evenly combined. Evenly press mixture into a 9 X 13-inch glass baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, then allow cooling completely.
In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar on medium speed, until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gently fold in the Cool Whip. Spread mixture evenly over the completely cooled pretzel crust. Cool in the fridge for at least 60 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, add Jell-O and pour boiling water over it. Stir until the Jell-O is completely dissolved, at least 2 full minutes. Mix in the cold water. Refrigerate for 90 minutes or until the mixture has slightly thickened. Mix in the sliced strawberries, then pour into the baking dish, over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until firmly set, 4-6 hours, or better overnight.
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How about some more STRAWBERRY recipes?
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!
Strawberry Pie-Just like Grandma used to make. Thick, delicious, Jello glaze intensifies the yummy strawberry flavor and makes an easy to cut pie!
Strawberry Cobbler – A delicious cobbler made with fresh strawberries crowned with a cakey topping that has a lovely hint of lemon flavor. Easy and quick to put together. This is a delicious and unique change from the standard berry cobblers usually served. Once you try it you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of making Strawberry Cobbler sooner!
Strawberry Shortcake Cake – Our Strawberry Shortcake Cake is an inspired twist on strawberry shortcake and layers berries between layers of a tender, delicate buttermilk-infused cake!
Strawberry Salad – With baby arugula, crumbled blue cheese, halved fresh strawberries, and a homemade vinaigrette, Strawberry Salad is light and so berry delicious!
More Dessert Salads…
Cranberry Jello Salad – Our Cranberry Jello Salad Is Sweet And Tart With An Amazing Creamy Topping. This Perfect Holiday Treat Might Create A Stampede To The Table!
Need another Potluck dish?
Classic Macaroni Salad-Just like Mom used to make! Delicious pasta with all the right goodies tossed in an extra creamy dressing! I LOVE this Macaroni Salad.
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This recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Salad was originally published on Spend with Pennies