This Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe is always a hit at any holiday or potluck! It starts with a crunchy pretzel crust, then is topped with a layer of sweet cream cheese and Cool Whip filling, and a strawberry Jell-O topping. It’s a comfort food recipe that can be called a salad or dessert, whichever you would like.
This salty, crunchy, creamy and sweet recipe is a staple at any Midwestern holiday dinner! Strawberry Pretzel Salad is delicious and so popular. It can be served as a side dish or easy dessert recipe in the summer at potlucks.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad or Strawberry Pretzel Dessert?
It really doesn’t matter what you call this, either way it’s delicious!
In the Midwest we often times call sweet dishes like this salads, but it’s probably a dessert.
I’ll eat it either way!
- Cool whip – We recommend not substituting this with homemade whipped cream because it will change the pretzel crust texture after it sits, plus it is sweetened more than whipped cream.
- Strawberries – Fresh strawberries are the best, but you can substitute frozen strawberries.
- Pretzels – Use the small stick pretzels or pretzel twists.
- Strawberry Jell-O – Change it up with orange flavored Jell-O and mandarin oranges instead of fresh strawberries!
- Sugar – Adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the cream layer.
- Butter – We recommend salted butter to balance out the sweetness in this recipe.
- Cream cheese – This will need to be room temperature to it mixes easily.
Steps to Prepare
- Prep – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the Jell-O as per package direction. Allow it to cool until soft set.
- Crust – Mix together crushed pretzels, butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Press into a 9” x 13” pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes cool completely
- Creamy Layer – Now beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled pretzel crust. Make sure to get it all the way over to the edge to prevent the strawberry layer from running into the other layers. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
- Strawberry Layer – Slice strawberries and arrange on top of cream cheese layer. SLOWLY pour the Jell-O mixture over strawberries. Refrigerate until set.
Can you crush pretzels in a blender?
Crushing the pretzels in a blender pulverizes them. Unless you’re super careful, it turns the pretzels into dust. If you’re really careful you can pulse the pretzels either in your food processor or blender.
Personally, I prefer to put the pretzels in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. That is the texture that is best for this recipe.
Why do you pour the Jell-O slowly?
If you pour it too quickly, the strawberries will not be distributed evenly, plus you don’t want the Jello-o layer to combine with the cream cheese layer. Just pour it slowly and you will be fine! You can even hold a wooden spoon between the cream cheese and you pouring to break up the fall!
Can I substitute real whipped cream for the cool whip?
No, I wouldn’t suggest it. Whipped cream changes the texture of the pretzel crust and will make the pretzels soggy if it sits to long. Stick with cool whip. It’s the best choice for this recipe.
Can I use Orange Jell-O?
Yes! This is a great way to mix this easy recipe up. It’s delicious either way!
Can I make this ahead of time?
This recipe is best made at least a half day in advance so it can set up. We think it’s best enjoyed within 24 hours of preparing so the crust doesn’t start to get soggy. Make sure to keep it refrigerated so it doesn’t separate.
What’s your favorite part of this strawberry salad? Personally, I love the salty crust and creamy combination. It’s just so tasty together! Plus, hands down I love strawberries!
I’ve also tried it with orange flavor and it’s delicious that way too! Just substitute orange for the strawberries and orange Jell-O for the strawberry Jell-O!
More Holiday Recipes!
- With mashed potatoes, cheese, bacon and sour cream this easy Twice Baked Potato Casserole is the perfect holiday side dish that’s make ahead friendly!
- Want traditional Mashed Potatoes? This recipe is the BEST. So light, creamy and delicious!
- You can’t go wrong with a delicious fluff salad especially when it’s this Strawberry Tapioca Salad!
- Another layered salad is this 7 Layer Salad with layers of chopped lettuce, peas, celery, onions, bacon, cheese and a dressing this is always a favorite recipe!
What do you think, is this a dessert or a salad? I’d love to hear from you, comment below with your vote!
Be sure and tag me on Instagram @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats – I can’t wait to see your tasty food photography, I know it’s going to be delicious!
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 6 oz strawberry Jell-O package
- 16 oz fresh strawberries sliced
- 2 c. boiling water
- 2 1/2 c. pretzels crushed
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. butter melted
Cream Cheese Layer
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 8 oz Cool Whip
- 3/4 c. sugar
- Combine Jell-O with boiling water in mixing bowl. Whisk until Jell-O is dissolved. Let cool until soft set.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Next prepare the pretzel crust by mixing together crushed pretzels, melted butter, and sugar in a mixing bowl until combined. Press into a 9'' x 13'' pan.
- Bake crust in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool.
- In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over cooled pretzel crust. Make sure to get it all the way over to the edge to prevent the strawberry layer from running into the other layers. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
- Place sliced strawberries on top of cream cheese layer. SLOWLY pour Jell-O mixture over strawberries. Refrigerate until set.
- Store leftovers in refrigerator.