Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a classic family favorite dessert. This easy make ahead recipe is the most delicious combo of sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy! Great any time of the year and the perfect way to serve a crowd!
When my family comes together for the holidays, the sheer volume of food is overwhelming. Pies, cookies, brownies, hams, potatoes—the buffet table is always jammed full of delicious goodies. My family loves food, and our big potlucks show off just how much.
And every holiday, without fail, there’s a dish that is universally requested: my homemade strawberry pretzel salad.
This is a great holiday recipe because it can be made ahead of time. Instead of trying to fit in another dessert between your already crazy holiday cooking schedule, make this dish a day or two before you need to serve it. In fact, the strawberry layer and the cream cheese layer are even better with the extra chill time. Each gets the time needed to thoroughly cool before the next layer is added. And of course who doesn’t love desserts with strawberries?!
- Follow the step-by-step instructions, cooling each layer down to room temperature. Then, refrigerate the dish about an hour (or longer) before adding the next layer.
- We all want to avoid that buttery pretzel crust becoming soggy and soft. To do this, really make sure to spread the cream cheese layer all the way to the edge. Leaving any gaps at all—even little ones—will allow the Jell-O mixture to seep down into the pretzel.
- I used to make this dessert the old fashioned way with frozen strawberries. But it seems to me that these days, the frozen sliced strawberries that are available at the supermarket, are mostly just a block of sugary, red water with virtually no strawberries in them. So I’ve switched the recipe a little and use fresh sliced berries. It’s not quite as sweet as the original, but I’m okay with that. You can always add a few tablespoons of granulated sugar when you dissolve the Jell-O if you want to enjoy a more nostalgic version.
- If you want to make the original recipe, omit the 1 cup of cold water and the 4 cups of fresh, sliced strawberries. In place of both of those add 2-(10 Ounce) bags of sliced sweetened strawberries.
- To make sure the Jell-O is completely dissolved, stir the Jell-O mixture for the full two minutes. Watch the timer and don’t skimp. When it’s completely dissolved, add the cold water.
- Allow the Jell-O to cool down a bit and come to room temperature before adding the fresh strawberries so the heat doesn’t wilt them.
- Use Cool Whip not fresh whipped cream. I almost always prefer it to Cool Whip. But strawberry pretzel salad is that rare time I suggest using Cool Whip instead. Here’s why: the Cool Whip is a more stable ingredient so it lasts better in this recipe and sets more firmly, allowing the dessert to be cut nicely. Whipped cream can make the crust lose its chewy texture.
- It’s important to remember that the 2 cup measurement is of pretzel crumbs, not whole pretzels.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 2 Cups Crushed Pretzels
- 3/4 Cup (1 1/2 Sticks) Butter, Melted
- 3 Tablespoons Sugar
- Creamy Filling:
- 1 (8 Ounce) Block Cream Cheese, Softened to Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 (8 Ounce) Carton Cool Whip, Thawed
- Strawberry Topping:
- 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 9X13 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cool completely.
- In a large mixing bowl, using a hand held 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 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.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)