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Strawberry Pretzel Salad | Brown Eyed Baker

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Strawberry Pretzel Salad is the perfect blend of sweet, salty, creamy, and crunchy! It’s made with a buttery pretzel crust that is topped with a light yet tangy cream cheese filling and finished off with a sweet strawberry Jell-O topping. This layered dessert is a classic recipe perfect for potlucks, summer BBQs, and more!

A glass baking dish with strawberry pretzel salad showing the layers in the salad.

Strawberry pretzel salad is one of the first desserts that I became totally obsessed with.

My great aunt and my grandma would take turns bringing this to any family get together that occurred during the spring or summer, and it often made an appearance at Easter. I love the combination of salty pretzels, sweetened cream cheese and fresh strawberries… if you’ve never had the dessert before, it can sound (and look) a little strange, but after one bite, you’ll be totally hooked.

Top down photo of a glass baking dish with strawberry pretzel salad and a plate with forks in the bottom right and a plate with a slice of strawberry pretzel salad in the top right.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a nostalgic, classic potluck recipe. More dessert than salad, this recipe comes from a category of desserts called “dessert salads”. Other recipes in this category include Grandma’s Ambrosia Salad, Watergate Salad, and Strawberry Delight.

These sweet salads are made from layers and mixes of Jell-Os, whipped toppings, fresh fruit, and on occasion vegetables and mayonnaise. Nobody really knows why these layered desserts were dubbed “salad” but they have become known as the go-to recipes for summer gatherings, potlucks, and BBQs.

Why We LOVE This Recipe

  • The Flavors! It contains sweet, salt, and a little tart all in one bite!
  • Minimal bake time. Keep your kitchen cool with a quick 10 minute bake for the pretzel crust.
  • Easily adaptable. Swap out the fruit and Jell-O for different flavors to keep this recipe fresh all summer long! See below for some variations.
  • Great for making ahead. It’s the perfect dessert to make in advance since it needs a decent amount of chill time.

The Ingredients

This simple summer dessert comes together with three unique layers that each offer a different taste and texture; the buttery crushed pretzel crust, a light and tangy cream cheese filling, and the sweet strawberry Jell-O topping.

Ingredients for strawberry pretzel salad crust labeled with purple ingredients.
  • Crushed Pretzel Crust– Made from a mixture of finely crushed pretzels, sugar, and melted butter.
  • Cream Cheese Filling– Room temperature cream cheese mixed with sugar and Cool Whip.
  • Strawberry Jell-O Topping– A bright strawberry Jell-O mix with boiling water, cold water, and sliced strawberries.
Strawberry jello filling ingredients labeled with purple labels showing the ingredients.

Step-By-Step Directions

Now that you have your ingredients, let’s break this recipe down into the three distinct layers; crust, filling, and strawberry topping.

Step 1: Make the Crushed Pretzel Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F
  • Mix dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, stir together pretzel crumbs and sugar.
  • Add the butter: Pour the melted butter over top and stir with a fork until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened.
  • Form the crust: Press into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Cool completely.
Side by side photos of how to make and press the pretzel crust in a glass baking dish.

Step 2: Make the Cream Cheese Filling

  • Beat cream cheese and sugar: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Side by side photos of a mixing bowl showing how to make the cream cheese layer.
  • Fold in Cool Whip: With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the Cool Whip.
  • Spread and chill: Spread evenly over the crust and refrigerate while you prepare the topping.
Side by side photos of how to pour and spread the cream cheese layer over the pretzel crust.

Step 3: Prepare the Strawberry Jell-O Topping

  • Dissolve Jell-O: Place the dry Jell-O in a large bowl and add the boiling water. Stir for at least 2 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  • Add cold water and chill: Stir in the cold water and refrigerate for 1½ hours or until slightly thickened (will have the consistency of egg whites).
Side by side photos of how to make strawberry jello in a bowl.
  • Mix in strawberries: Stir in the strawberries and pour over the cream cheese layer.
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until the Jell-O layer has set.
  • Serve: Cut into squares to serve.
Three side by side photos of how to mix the strawberries into the jello, spreading it over the cream cheese layer, and filling the top with the strawberry layer.

Success Tips

After making this recipe for more than half of my life, here are a few helpful tips to ensure your strawberry pretzel salad turns out perfectly.

  • Pretzels: For this recipe, I suggest using small pretzel twists or sticks. They will be easier to measure and crush.
  • Crushing Pretzels: You can crush the pretzels two different ways. Place them in a ziplock bag and roll them with a rolling pin (or pound with a meat mallet) until well crushed. Or, pulse in a food processor until finely crushed.
  • Chill Your Layers: Be sure you let the layers chill before adding the next layer on top. Warm pretzels will cause the cream cheese mixture to melt and a soft cream cheese layer will allow the strawberry Jell-O to flow through.
  • Spread the cream cheese layer to the edges: This will prevent any gaps for the strawberry Jell-O to seep through and keep the salad with three distinct layers, as well as keeping the pretzel crust from getting soggy.
A dark grey plate with a slice of strawberry pretzel salad with a fork on the front left of the plate.

Serving, Storing, and Making Ahead

  • Serving: Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream!
  • Storing: Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Make-ahead: This recipe is the ideal make-ahead dessert. Since it requires a minimum of 3 hours to set I would recommend making it the day before you plan to serve it.

Recipe Variations

If you have made this strawberry pretzel salad recipe and are looking for some fun ways to switch it up, here are a few creative options for your next potluck dinner.

  • Peach: Replace the fresh strawberry with peach slices and use peach Jell-O in place of the strawberry Jell-O.
  • Pineapple: Swap the fresh strawberry slices with fresh pineapple and keep the strawberry Jell-O.
  • Orange: Use mandarin orange slices and an orange Jell-O mix in place of the strawberry.
  • Raspberry: Use fresh raspberries and a raspberry Jell-O in place of the strawberry ingredients.
From the side photo of strawberry pretzel salad with squares cut out to show the different layers.

Recipe FAQs

Can you use homemade whipped cream?

I would not recommend using homemade whipped cream in place of the Cool Whip. The Cool Whip is more stable and will hold its shape better when mixed with the cream cheese.

Is it okay to use frozen fruit?

Yes, the original recipe I got from my family used frozen strawberries. I think the fresh sliced strawberries take the recipe to another level but if you plan to use frozen be sure to thaw and drain them before using.

Summer Dessert Recipes to Try Next

Top down photo of strawberry pretzel salad slice with a fork topped with a bite of the salad.

Summer is calling with this sweet and salty Strawberry Pretzel Salad! This nostalgic dessert salad is an easy recipe you can take to all your summer gatherings.

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

Salty, sweet, creamy, and crunchy this Strawberry Pretzel Salad has it all! With three unique layers this easy dessert makes the perfect potluck recipe.

For the Crust:

  • 2

    cups

    finely crushed pretzels

  • 3

    tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • ¾

    cup

    salted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 8

    ounces

    cream cheese

    (at room temperature)

  • 1

    cup

    granulated sugar

  • 8

    ounces

    Cool Whip

For the Strawberry Topping:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the pretzel crumbs and sugar. Pour the melted butter over top and stir with a fork until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 min, then cool completely.

  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the Cool Whip. Spread evenly over the crust and refrigerate while you prepare the topping.

  3. Place the dry Jello in a large bowl and add the boiling water. Stir for at least 2 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the cold water. Refrigerate for 1½ hours or until slightly thickened (will the consistency of egg whites). Stir in the strawberries and pour over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until the Jello layer is set. Cut into squares to serve. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

  • Pretzels: For this recipe, I suggest using small pretzel twists or sticks. They will be easier to measure and crush.
  • Cool Whip: I do not recommend substituting fresh whipped cream, as it’s not as stable and can cause the filling to weep and create a soggy crust.
  • Recipe Variations: See the post above for ideas on different fruit/Jello combinations.
  • Serving: Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream!
  • Storing: Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Make-ahead: This recipe is the ideal make-ahead dessert. Since it requires a minimum of 3 hours to set I would recommend making it the day before you plan to serve it.

Nutritional values are based on one serving

Calories: 293kcal

Fat: 15g

Saturated fat: 9g

Trans fat: 1g

Polyunsaturated fat: 1g

Monounsaturated fat: 4g

Cholesterol: 41mg

Sodium: 311mg

Potassium: 107mg

Carbohydrates: 39g

Fiber: 1g

Sugar: 29g

Protein: 3g

Vitamin A: 485%

Vitamin C: 21%

Calcium: 41%

Iron: 1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Dee Frances.



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