For the record, I’m sitting here typing out this blog post and EATING my strawberry pretzel salad as we speak, so Lord knows it’s a good one folks. It’s a good one. 😉 First off…did you know that JELL-O used to be called “salad” back in the day? Rather, when Great Aunt Gertrude showed up to a party and brought a dish of jiggly, shiny gelatin that was molded into some funky shape or another – it was a JELL-O salad. Bright cherry-red with fruit inside, or lime-green with nuts or marshmallows – heck, even jellied tuna salad was a thing. I KID YOU NOT.
Now, I don’t have a Great Aunt Gertrude, but I DO have a Great Aunt Sophie. And apparently, Great Aunt Sophie made a mean strawberry pretzel salad back in the day. Granted, I forgot allllll about that and was re-introduced to this dessert around Thanksgiving, when I saw an old Bachelor contestant making one on Instagram. I was intrigued, given that she was making a “salad” that lacked lettuce – or anything green, for that matter. It’s a fruity, light dessert comprised of three layers: a pretel crust, a whipped topping/cream cheese filling, and a gelatinous strawberry topping.
So I looked up a recipe, as one does, and gave it a go.
My first strawberry pretzel salad attempt was…not great. I followed the first recipe I found online but in my opinion, it left much to be desired. In the end, the strawberries were too big, the JELL-O wasn’t totally set, the crust wasn’t really packed, and it was just too sweet in general.
My second attempt was much, much better. It had all three necessary layers, and I learned from many mistakes, made my own tweaks, and adjusted a few steps AND ingredients to make it more to our collective liking.
Now? Just call me a strawberry pretzel salad pro. 😉
SO, after experimenting with about 32 different variations, I’ve finally ~mastered~ my strawberry pretzel salad recipe and have it included below for your printing pleasure.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
A light, fruity, crowdpleasing treat!
- 1 bag thin pretzels, crushed
- 1 16 oz container whipped topping (or two 8 oz containers)
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 8 oz packages cream cheese I use light!
- 1 6 oz package strawberry JELL-O (or two 3 oz. packages)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 10 oz package frozen sliced strawberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Stir together crushed pretzels and melted butter; mix well, then press to the bottom of a 9x13 inch Pyrex baking dish
Bake 8 to 10 minutes (I do 9!). Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Fold in whipped topping, and beat again until fluffy. Spread mixture onto cooled crust.
Dissolve JELL-O in boiling water. Once fully dissolved, remove from heat.
Cut frozen sliced strawberries in halves, then stir into JELL-O to help set briefly.
When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread evenly onto the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until fully set!
Beyond the quick, printable recipe above, I’ve got photos of the step-by-step strawberry pretzel salad process below with accompanying quick tips of what I’ve found to work best after having a few up my sleeve! 😉
TIP: Thin pretzels work best for crushing. I use my NutriBullet to pulse to near-crumbs, since that helps the crushed pretzels pack better when mixed with butter for a more solid crust. I pulse approximately half of the pretzel bag in the NutriBullet, and then crush the rest with a meat tenderizer.
TIP: Beat your cream cheese first to fluffiness before folding in your whipped topping! Then, beat again until your final mixture is as fluffy and clump-free as possible.
TIP: Once your gelatin is fully dissolved in the boiling water, remove from heat! Put the frozen berries in AFTER the JELL-O has been removed from heat (their purpose is to help set the JELL-O, the way that ice might otherwise in making plain gelatin, so make sure heat is turned off when it’s time to add the strawberries!).
TIP: Add the whipped cream cheese layer once the pretzel crust is cooled – you don’t want it to melt at all! I use a bigger spatula to evenly plop down the mixture before using the back of a spoon to lightly spread the layer.
TIP: Make sure your mixture has begun to set before pouring onto the cream cheese layer. It should be similar to the consistency of egg whites!
If you liked this recipe, you’ll also lovelovelove this one for the best pound cake recipe ever!
Have you ever had (or made) strawberry pretzel salad yourself?
Would lovelovelove to hear your thoughts if so – and, of course, your thoughts if you give my recipe a go!