Sweet, salty and creamy, this Strawberry Pretzel Salad is an easy 3-layer dessert that’s perfect for summer! This old-fashioned favorite is a classic for a reason!
An Easy Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
Strawberries and pretzels…in a salad?
For those who haven’t tried Strawberry Pretzel Salad before, it seems like a unique combination. To be fair, it is. But it’s also so amazingly good. It’s also not technically a salad either but rather a 3 layer dessert. How and why it became called a “pretzel salad” is unknown, though the recipe has origins with JELLO itself and has long been a popular treat in the South. It seems that JELLO has tried to change the name to the more accurate dessert bars but, well, pretzel salad has stuck!
Whether you want to call it Strawberry Pretzel Salad or Strawberry Pretzel Dessert Bars is up to you. Regardless, this is an easy strawberry dessert that is FULL of flavor and everyone will love.
The combination of the cream layer with the strawberry layer is always a hit, but add in the salty pretzel crust and it becomes next-level good. The perfect combination of sweet and salty.
If you take this to a party or potluck, don’t plan on bringing any leftovers home! My husband was pretty much ready to guard the whole pan and fight off any takers, just to make sure he got an extra slice. It was so good, I’d gladly have put up a fight.
It’s truly addicting and also very easy to make. Because it needs time to set, it’s also perfect for making ahead. You just don’t want to make it too far in advance, since the strawberries won’t hold up forever. You can make it the morning of the day you need it, or even the night before. That makes it perfect for days when you don’t have any time to cook but still need a dessert – just prep the night before and you’re ready to go!
What You’ll Need
I’ve split the ingredients into what you need for each layer of this strawberry dessert. Luckily, there are only 3-5 ingredients needed for each layer!
For the Strawberry Layer
- Strawberry JELLO – When preparing, follow the recipe instructions, not the instructions on the box.
- Boiling water – To dissolve the jello powder.
- Strawberries – Thinly sliced to add to the jello mixture.
For the Crust
- Pretzels – I grind mine up a good bit, which makes more crumbs, so you need more pretzels. The crust holds together a little better this way.
- Sugar – Adds a little sweetness to the crust.
- Butter – Melted butter holds it all together.
For the Cream Layer
- Cream cheese – Allow to come to room temperature first.
- Sugar – Gets combined with the cream cheese.
- Heavy whipping cream – Make sure to use heavy whipping cream, so it whips properly.
- Powdered sugar – To help stabilize the whipped cream.
- Vanilla extract – For flavor.
How To Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad
This strawberry dessert is super easy to make! Just remember to prepare it well in advance, as it does need several hours to chill before serving.
- Preheat oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare strawberry jello. Combine strawberry Jello with boiling water and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Bake the crust. Combine the crust ingredients and spread evenly into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Press lightly to help form the crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- Make the cream layer. Combine the cream cheese and sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Set aside. In another large mixing bowl, combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two parts until fully combined.
- Assemble the dessert. Spread the cream mixture evenly over the cooled crust. Stir the sliced strawberries into the cooled Jello mixture, then pour evenly over the cream mixture.
- Refrigerate and serve. Refrigerate until set, 2-4 hours, then serve.
Tips for Success
I’ve been making Strawberry Pretzel Salad every summer for years now. Over that time I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to make this dessert even better.
- Use fresh strawberries. Frozen ones are soft and kind of mushy when thawed and won’t work well for slicing.
- Make sure the cream cheese layer goes to the edge of the pan. Otherwise, the jello will find it’s way down to the pretzel crust and make it soggy.
- Wait until the jello mixture is room temperature. Allow the jello mixture to cool before pouring it over the cream cheese mixture. If it’s too hot, it will melt the cream cheese.
- Use thin, salted pretzels. Pretzel sticks, twists or regular pretzels all work but the thin ones crush best. Make sure they’re salted for the best flavor.
There are no fancy serving suggestions for this recipe! I just cut it into squares and serve directly from the baking dish.
If you’re taking this to a potluck, just take care that it doesn’t warm up too much. Keep it as chilled as possible, to prevent the layers from warming up and being a bit too soft.
How to Store Leftovers
Strawberry Pretzel Salad will last in the fridge for several days. I would say 4 days is about the maximum for the best flavor and texture.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container or in the baking dish covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Can I Freeze Strawberry Pretzel Salad?
This strawberry dessert is not one I recommend freezing. The crust will become soggy and the cream cheese filling will lose its creamy texture. The texture of the jello mixture will also change.Print
Sweet, salty and creamy, this Strawberry Pretzel Salad is an easy 3-layer dessert bar that’s perfect for summer. An old-fashioned favorite, it will be a hit with generations young and old!
- 6 oz strawberry JELLO
- 2 cups (480ml) boiling water
- 1 lb strawberries, thinly sliced
- 3 cups (97g) pretzels, crushed
- 1/4 cup (52g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, melted
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (207g) sugar
- 1 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (58g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine strawberry Jello with the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool to about room temperature.
- Combine the crust ingredients and spread evenly into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Press lightly to help form the crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl, combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two parts until fully combined.
- Spread the cream mixture evenly over the cooled crust, going all the way to the edges of the pan.
- Gently stir the slices strawberries into the cooled Jello mixture, then pour evenly over the cream mixture.
- Refrigerate until set, 2-4 hours, then serve.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 362
- Sugar: 49.1 g
- Sodium: 273.3 mg
- Fat: 14.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 56.3 g
- Protein: 4.5 g
- Cholesterol: 40.2 mg
Keywords: easy strawberry dessert, strawberry pretzel dessert bars, pretzel jello salad