Classic Strawberry Pretzel Salad is perfect for potlucks, BBQs and other gatherings! The combination of the salty pretzel crust, sweet cheesecake filling and fresh strawberries with jello is perfection.
Also it’s a dessert that’s called salad so that gives it 5 stars in my book!
Table of Contents
- What is a Strawberry Pretzel Salad?
- How to make Strawberry Pretzel Salad Video
- Why we love Pretzel Salad:
- Ingredients in dessert salad casserole
- How to make Strawberry Jello Salad
- Making the Pretzel Crust – how to crush pretzels
- Fresh vs Frozen Berries
- Make the dish ahead of time
- How to store Pretzel Salad
- Tips for Pretzel Salad
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad
What is a Strawberry Pretzel Salad?
I know, I know… it’s called a “salad” but it looks more like dessert! Strawberry pretzel salad is a classic jello salad that has been around for years because it feeds a crowd, tastes amazing and it’s always the best conversation starter when I make it!
Remember the crazy jello molds people used to make when back when? You know, with the fruit mixed in? Those were often called “salads”, too and I think that’s how this pretzel jello salad came to be! It’s also a popular dish in the Midwest where potlucks always have some kind of jello or whipped cream “salad” that is often served as a side dish.
Because it’s so sweet I love to serve it as a dessert, but I’m sticking with the name! You definitely don’t want to mess with the classics.
How to make Strawberry Pretzel Salad Video
Why we love Pretzel Salad:
- The crunchy salty pretzels make a fantastic crust
- The no-bake cheesecake filling is so creamy
- Strawberries pair well with that cheesecake
- The salty/sweet combination is to die for!
Ingredients in dessert salad casserole
There’s basically three parts to this recipe: the crust, the strawberry jello with fresh strawberries, and the cheesecake filling. All of it’s easy to do and, once it’s set, you just slice and serve it.
Here’s what you need:
- A box of strawberry jello (be sure to get the correct size)
- Boiling water
- Crushed pretzels (we prefer using mini twists, see below)
- Granulated sugar
- Melted unsalted butter
- Cream cheese
- Cool Whip (use any kind of whipped topping, not fresh whipped cream)
- Sliced fresh strawberries (you can also use frozen)
How to make Strawberry Jello Salad
This recipe can be a little involved because it has three parts that need to be done separately.
Make the jello: Pour the jello mix into a bowl and pour the boiling water over the top. Stir until the powder is dissolved and then leave it to sit at room temperature until it’s cooled. I like to do this step first because it has to cool.
Make the crust: Combine the crushed pretzels with sugar and butter. Press the mixture into a 9×13” baking dish. Chill the crust for at least 30 minutes.
Making the Pretzel Crust – how to crush pretzels
For this recipe, you will need about 5 cups of mini twist pretzels. That amount will yield two cups of crushed pretzels.
I like to use my food processor to crush them because it’s really easy. Plus, it chops them evenly. You don’t want a lot of big pretzel pieces otherwise your crust won’t hold together well when you slice it.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can place the pretzels in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin. It will take longer to break them down, but it will work.
Make the cheesecake: Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and then fold in the Cool Whip. Spread the mixture over the top of the chilled crust.
Make sure you spread it all the way to the edges and into the corners. You don’t want any spaces or holes in this layer otherwise the jello will seep through when you add it.
Chill the cheesecake filling for one hour.
Assemble the dish: Place the sliced strawberries in an even layer on top of the cheesecake. Pour the cooled jello mixture over the top of the strawberries. Carefully transfer the baking dish back to the refrigerator and chill it until the jello is set, about three hours.
Fresh vs Frozen Berries
You can substitute frozen ones for fresh strawberries! I use two 32-ounce bags of frozen strawberries when fresh strawberries aren’t available. Just be sure to thaw the strawberries before you add them to the dish.
Make the dish ahead of time
This is actually a requirement of this dish. Because there are several steps with waiting time in between I usually make it up to 24 hours ahead of time. That way, I know it will be perfectly set and ready to serve when I need it.
How to store Pretzel Salad
Any leftover jello salad can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days, too!
Tips for Pretzel Salad
- Cooling: Make sure to cool the jello to room temperature so that it doesn’t melt the cheesecake or cause the strawberries to weep.
- Chilling: Make sure to chill the crust, then the cheesecake as noted in the recipe. This is to ensure it sets up properly.
- Cheesecake Layer: make sure to spread it all the way to the edges of the pan and seal it with the pan, so the jello doesn’t soak through.
- Make it ahead: you can make strawberry pretzel salad the night before, as it needs time to set.
- Fresh or Frozen Strawberries: to use frozen strawberries, let them thaw then drain them very well.
- Storing: store leftovers covered with plastic in the refrigerator.
- Variations: you can use any fruit/jello combo. I’ve seen this done with mandarin oranges and orange jello too!
Yes – it’s almost better that way! It takes awhile for each layer to set and then the whole thing has to chill for the jello to set, so it’s actually better to make it ahead.
Yes, to use frozen berries just make sure you thaw and drain them.
Yes – any fruit and any kind of jello works for this recipe.
This is a great potluck recipe for picnics or parties because it makes a lot. Serve on plates with a fork.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 2 days.
I don’t suggest that. The dish needs the stability of whipped topping to set up and hold the berries, plus whipped cream cheesecake tends to weep after a day or so.
If want a delicious make-ahead dessert for summer this strawberry jello pretzel salad is for you! It’s cold, creamy and summery with fresh strawberry flavor. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Other summer strawberry recipes:
Have you made this recipe?
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Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 1 6-ounce box strawberry Jell-o
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups crushed pretzels about 5 cups of twists, see note
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 ounces Cool Whip
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries hulled and sliced
- Place Jello powder in a medium sized bowl. Carefully pour boiling water over the powder, stir until it’s all dissolved. Let sit at room temperature until it is completely cool.
- While the Jello is cooling, make the crust. Stir together the crushed pretzels with sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the cheesecake: Beat the cream cheese and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth, then mix in the whipped topping.
- Spread cheesecake mixture on top of the crust. Make sure that the cheesecake completely touches all edges of the pan – leave no holes or areas where it’s open, otherwise the jello will soak through when you pour it on. Chill 1 hour.
- Assemble the dessert: place the strawberries in a single layer on top of the cheesecake mixture. Carefully pour the cooled jello mixture evenly over the berries and cheesecake. Chill until set, at least 3 hours.
- Dessert can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Enjoy within 3 days.
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
This Classic Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a no bake cheesecake with fresh strawberries covered in jello. Did I mention the pretzel crust? It’s an easy recipe and perfect for summer get togethers!
Last Updated on May 20, 2022
All text and images © DOROTHY KERN for Crazy for Crust. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be accurate.
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Published on: June 11, 2020