Strawberry Pretzel Salad Recipe

The classic summer dessert! This Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe is the perfect combination of salty and sweet. It’s a favorite at picnics and potlucks.

I know, I know….this is not a salad. But listen…I’m a midwesterner at heart, and when a recipe calls for Jello and fruit, it somehow got the name “salad”. If I can eat this Strawberry Pretzel Salad as a side dish, I’m not complaining. But it definitely fits the “dessert” category a little better.

Salty and sweet, cool and refreshing, this is the one recipe you need for summer!

a piece of strawberry pretzel jello salad on a plate

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • A classic recipe that has stood the test of time.
  • 3 distinct layers with different textures and flavors.
  • Pretzels & strawberries give a sweet & salty combination.
  • Refreshing and cool for summer.

History

So where in the world did the strawberry pretzel dessert come from? The Farmer’s Almanac dates this recipe back to the 1960’s from a Jello recipe book called Joys of Jello. Jello dates back to the year 1900 and Jello salads were “America’s Most Famous Dessert” by the mid 1900’s (Source: The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets).

How to Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Leave yourself at least 4 ½ hours to make this recipe and give it time to chill. It’s best if it sits overnight so it makes a great make-ahead dessert. Spray the 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray so that it comes out cleanly.

Pretzel Crust:

  • Use a food processor to crush the pretzels. You need 2 ¼ cups of crushed pretzels. You can also put the pretzels into a zippered bag and roll it with a rolling pin to crush. Just be sure the pretzels get crushed finely.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the crushed pretzels, melted butter and ¼ cup sugar . Mix well.
  • Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish.
  • Bake at 350º Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool. The crush should be completely cooled before you add any toppings.

Cream Cheese Layer:

  • In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the cream cheese, vanilla and ¾ cup sugar. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whipped topping.
  • Spread mixture onto cooled crust all the way to the edges of the pan. You want the white mixture to completely cover the crust and seal the edges so the jello doesn’t seep down and make the pretzels soggy.
  • Refrigerate the layered dessert for at least 30 minutes.

Strawberry Layer:

  • Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water. Mix carefully with a whisk for 2 minutes until the Jell-O is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
  • Hull and slice the fresh strawberries into slices.
  • Arrange the sliced strawberries over the top of the cream cheese layer.
  • Once the Jell-O mixture is at room temperature, pour it evenly overtop the strawberries.

*Tip: Some like to allow the Jello to set slightly so that it isn’t as runny and doesn’t seep down to the crust. You can do this if you like, but I tend to be forgetful and allow the Jello to sit too long. If you choose to let it sit and slightly thicken, set yourself a timer.*

Then allow the dessert to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

strawberry pretzel dessert in a pan

Can you make it the night before?

Yes! This desserts can be made a day in advance.

a slice of strawberry pretzel dessert on a spatula
a slice of strawberry pretzel dessert on a spatula

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

4.67 from 3 votes
Servings 15
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups finely crushed salted pretzels
  • ¾ cup butter melted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

For the Jell-O layer:

  • 1 large box strawberry Jell-O 6 ounces
  • 2 cups boiling water

For the creamy layer:

  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping thawed
  • 16 ounces fresh strawberries

Instructions
 

  • Plan ahead so that each layer can cool and set.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Use a food processor to crush the pretzels. You need 2 ¼ cups of crushed pretzels. You can also put the pretzels into a zippered bag and roll it with a rolling pin to crush. Just be sure the pretzels get crushed finely.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the crushed pretzels, melted butter and ¼ cup sugar . Mix well.
  • Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool. The crush should be completely cooled before you add any toppings.
  • Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water. Mix carefully with a whisk for 2 minutes until the Jell-O is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
  • In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the cream cheese, vanilla and ¾ cup sugar. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whipped topping.
  • Spread mixture onto cooled crust all the way to the edges of the pan. You want the white mixture to completely cover the crust and seal the edges so the jello doesn’t seep down and make the pretzels soggy.
  • Refrigerate the layered dessert for at least 30 minutes.
  • Hull and slice the fresh strawberries into slices.
  • Arrange the sliced strawberries over the top of the cream cheese layer.
  • Once the Jell-O mixture is at room temperature, pour it evenly overtop the strawberries.
  • Refrigerate for about 4 hours to set.
  • Seal with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze this salad?

I do not recommend freezing this salad. Strawberries can get watery after they are frozen and dairy can separate. The pretzel crust may get soggy if you freeze it.

How long will it last?

This is best eaten within 3 days. Always store it in the refrigerator.

Can you use graham crackers instead of pretzels for the crust?

Yes. Add a dash of salt so you still get the sweet and salty taste. You could even use the cinnamon graham crackers.

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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