Strawberry Pretzel Salad

More dessert than salad, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is sweet, salty, made with Jell-O, and topped with cool whip.  If you’re still reading, it loves to be made ahead and is an absolute winner at potlucks and parties!

A serving of strawberry pretzel salad on a white plate with a fork.

I love what passes for “salad” in the Midwest!  People have even developed other names so they don’t confuse the folks from out of town.

Here are some aliases:

  • Jello Pretzel Salad
  • Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
  • Pretzel Torte
  • Strawberry Jello Delight
  • Strawberry Pretzel Cream Cake
  • Judy’s Strawberry Salad (or Helen’s, or Paula’s…you get the idea)

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you call it, just as long as you make it. Because the one thing that everybody can agree on is that this creamy, crunchy, and divinely easy dessert is just plain wonderful.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled strawberry pretzel jello salad ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Pretzels: 12 thin (stick) pretzels will yield about 1/2 cup crushed pretzels, so you’ll want around 50 stick pretzels to get 2 cups (about 8 ounces). To crush pretzels, place in a zipper-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or mallet. Or, place in a food processor and pulse until crushed.
  • Whipped topping: One 8-ounce container of whipped topping contains about 3 cups. This recipe calls for 2 cups whipped topping. You can use the last cup for garnish, if desired. Whipped topping is a little more stable than fresh whipped cream (it sets better and lasts longer in the refrigerator).

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Mix together the butter, crushed pretzels, and sugar. Then press the mixture into the bottom of a baking dish. Bake the pretzel crust for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let cool.
    Smashed pretzel crust in the bottom of a tan baking pan.
  2. To make the cream cheese layer, beat the cream cheese and the sugar until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping. Spread the cream cheese layer over the cooled crust, from edge to edge of the casserole, and refrigerate until chilled—at least 30 minutes. This will keep the pretzels crispy.
    White filling in a tan baking pan.
  3. To make the Jello layer, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water. Stir in the thawed strawberries and chill until just beginning to set up. Pour the fruit and Jello mixture over the cream cheese layer and smooth the top.
    Strawberries being poured onto the white filling into a tan baking pan.
  4. Finally, chill the dessert until firm, about 4 to 6 hours. If you like, use any extra whipped topping to make a fourth layer, garnishing with more crushed pretzels.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Protect the pretzels: Make sure you spread the cream cheese layer all the way to the edges of the baking dish. This will prevent the Jell-O from reaching the pretzels and making them soggy. Also, left out at room temperature, the pretzels will start to soften. But they will stay crunchy in the refrigerator, so serve this at the last minute.
  • Chill: Chill between every step, and try not to rush. Also, allow the Jell-o to cool down to room temperature before pouring on the strawberries so the warmth doesn’t soak in.
  • Make ahead: Strawberry Pretzel Salad is best when made about half a day in advance. It will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.
  • Raspberry: Substitute frozen raspberries and raspberry Jell-O (or mix and match) for a new berry flavor.
  • Pineapple juice: Some families swear by making the gelatin layer with hot pineapple juice. Use only 1 cup hot pineapple juice with the frozen berries, or it might not set correctly!
  • Pecans: Some cooks love adding a handful or two of chopped pecans to the crushed pretzels.

An overhead shot with multiple servings of strawberry pretzel salad on a white serving tray and one serving on a white plate with a silver fork.

More desserts salads:

A serving of strawberry pretzel salad on a white plate with a fork.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

More dessert than salad, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is sweet, salty, made with Jell-O, and topped with cool whip.  If you're still reading, it loves to be made ahead and is an absolute winner at potlucks and parties!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, Salad
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 400kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the pretzels:

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels (about 8 ounces, see note 1)
  • 3/4 cup butter melted (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups whipped topping thawed (from one 8-ounce container, see note 2)

For the topping:

  • 2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 32 ounces frozen sweetened strawberries thawed
  • Whipped topping for garnish, optional
  • Pretzels Uncrushed, for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, add crushed pretzels, butter, and sugar. Toss well to combine.
  • Press into an un-greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Stir in whipped topping until combined.
  • Spread over pretzel crust and refrigerate until chilled (at least 30 minutes).
  • In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in strawberries and chill until partially set. Carefully spoon over filling. Chill until firm, 4 to 6 hours.
  • Garnish with additional whipped topping and pretzels if desired.

Notes

  1. Pretzels: 12 thin (stick) pretzels will yield about 1/2 cup crushed pretzels, so you'll want around 50 stick pretzels to get 2 cups (about 8 ounces). To crush pretzels, place in a zipper-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or mallet. Or, place in a food processor and pulse until crushed.
  2. Whipped topping: One 8-ounce container of whipped topping contains about 3 cups. This recipe calls for 2 cups whipped topping. You can use the last cup for garnish, if desired. Whipped topping is a little more stable than fresh whipped cream (it sets better and lasts longer in the refrigerator).
  3. Protect the pretzels: Make sure you spread the cream cheese layer all the way to the edges of the baking dish. This will prevent the Jell-O from reaching the pretzels and making them soggy. Also, left out at room temperature, the pretzels will start to soften. But they will stay crunchy in the refrigerator, so serve this at the last minute.
  4. Chill: Chill between every step, and try not to rush. Also, allow the Jell-o to cool down to room temperature before pouring on the strawberries so the warmth doesn’t soak in.
  5. Make ahead: Strawberry Pretzel Salad is best when made about half a day in advance. It will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.
  6. Raspberry: Substitute frozen raspberries and raspberry Jell-O (or mix and match) for a new berry flavor.
  7. Pineapple juice: Some families swear by making the gelatin layer with hot pineapple juice. Use only 1 cup hot pineapple juice with the frozen berries, or it might not set correctly!
  8. Pecans: Some cooks love adding a handful or two of chopped pecans to the crushed pretzels. 

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 439mg | Potassium: 178mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 780IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. Jane Luciene

    Rather than whipped topping can you use whipped cream?

    1. meggan

      Hi Jane, yes! Whipped cream is a much tastier substitute for the whipped topping. Whipped topping is just traditional in my family. Yours is going to be better! Thanks. :) -Meggan

  2. Judy

    WOW. This is amazing. I made it yesterday for a sweet treat and the family loved it. Love the sweet and salty taste. Will make over and over!5 stars

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