Strawberry Pretzel Salad

July 26, 2021
The perfect combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a classic favorite. Layers of pretzel crust, creamy filling, and strawberry-studded Jell-o make this one very tasty treat, for sure. Enjoy it as a side dish or dessert -- the choice is yours!

Square of Strawberry Pretzel Salad Image

Classic Strawberry Pretzel Salad is one of those funky dishes that always brings up the debate -- "Is it a salad or a dessert?"

My position in said debate is, who cares? It's an amazingly delicious dish, so let's just move on from the debate and enjoy the glory that is Strawberry Pretzel Salad's sweet-and-salty goodness.

But to be a bit more technical about it, if you take the "leafy greens" definition of salad most of us imagine when we hear the word, then no, Strawberry Pretzel Salad decidedly does not qualify as a salad. 

Classic Strawberry Pretzel Salad is one of those funky dishes that always brings up the debate -- "Is it a salad or a dessert?"

But historically, there's also a much more liberal, broad definition of salad -- One that defines salad as a dish made of cut up mixed bits of food, often with a dressing, typically served at room temperature or chilled. And to take that one step further, there's historically also such a salad category as "bound salads" -- those that have some form of binding dressing holding everything together, like a potato salad or coleslaw bound together by mayonnaise. Or, in the case of Jell-o salads, fruit or other elements bound together by gelatin.

It's safe to say, it's this broader and more liberal definition that landed Jell-o salads squarely in the "salad" category when first coming onto the mainstream scene in the 1930s through 1950s.

And nowadays? Nowadays, Jell-o salads are generally considered to fall into the newer, more aptly-named category of "dessert salads," described as dishes made with jellos, whipped toppings, fruits, mayonnaise, and various other ingredients on the sweeter side. And these salads have the freedom of being served as either a side dish along with the main meal, or as an end-of-meal dessert.

My position on the "salad vs. dessert" debate will always remain one of not caring a single bit in which category Strawberry Pretzel Salad and other sweet treats like it are placed. Because the fact remains -- No matter when you choose to enjoy it, this stuff is just plain good.

The perfect combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a classic favorite, for sure. Enjoy it as a side dish or dessert -- the choice is entirely yours!

Bite of Strawberry Pretzel Salad Image

Strawberry Pretzel Salad Ingredients:

Classic Strawberry Pretzel Salad is made of three distinct layers -- 1. A pretzel crust, 2. a fluffy cream cheese layer, and 3. a strawberry Jell-o layer.

For the pretzel crust, you'll need:
  • Pretzel sticks or small twists
  • Granulated sugar
  • Butter

For the cream cheese layer, you'll need:
  • Cream cheese
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cool Whip non-dairy whipped topping

For the strawberry layer, you'll need:
  • Frozen sliced strawberries
  • Strawberry Jell-o
  • Boiling water

Strawberry Pretzel Salad Ingredients Image

How to Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad:

Strawberry Pretzel Salad is not difficult to make, however it does take a bit of time. The recipe is several steps that cannot be done in one sitting due to chilling and setting time for each of the layers. so bear the preparation timeframe in mind before starting to prepare this dish.

The first step in whipping this up is to make the pretzel crust.

Start by coarsely crushing 3 cups of pretzels. Place the pretzels in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Then use a meat mallet, a rolling pin, or the bottom of a sturdy drinking glass to crush the pretzels into course crumbs.

Crushed Pretzels to Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad Image

Combine the crushed pretzels with a little bit of granulated sugar and melted butter. Then press the mixture into the bottom of a 9x13-inch dish, and pop it in the oven to bake for just a few minutes. Allow the crust to cool completely.

Once the crust is cooled, spread on a layer of cream cheese mixed with some sugar and Cool Whip non-dairy whipped topping. Be sure to spread this creamy mixture all the way to the edges, ensuring it even touches the baking dish all the way around every edge. This creates a "seal" with the cream cheese layer and helps prevent the strawberry layer from seeping into the pretzel crust.

Pop the dish in the refrigerator until this creamy layer is set.

How to Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad Image

It wouldn't be Strawberry Pretzel Salad without strawberries, right?

To make the strawberry layer, mix strawberry Jell-o powder with boiling water and whisk until the powder is fully dissolved. Then stir in some partially-thawed frozen sliced strawberries, juice and all.

If sliced frozen strawberries aren't available, use whole frozen berries. Just run a knife through the whole berries once they're partially thawed to cut them into smaller pieces.

Making Strawberry Mixture for Strawberry Pretzel Salad Image

Put the strawberry mixture in the refrigerator and let it cool until it's almost set, which will take about 1 & 1/2 hours.

Once it's thickened up and almost set, spread the strawberry mixture evenly over the cream cheese layer. Then refrigerate everything until the strawberry Jell-o layer is fully set, which will be at least 4-6 hours.

At serving time, cut the salad into squares and top each square with a dollop of Cool Whip, if you'd like. Then you're ready to dive into the sweet-and-salty Strawberry Pretzel Salad deliciousness.

Pan of Strawberry Pretzel Salad Image

So, is it a salad or a dessert?

My position remains -- who cares? Let's just enjoy the glory that is Strawberry Pretzel Salad's sweet-and-salty goodness.

With its layers of pretzel crust, creamy filling, and strawberry-studded Jell-o, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is one very tasty treat, for sure. Enjoy it as a side dish or dessert, the choice is yours. Because no matter when you choose to enjoy it, this stuff is just plain good.

Enjoy it as a side dish or dessert, the choice is yours. Because no matter when you choose to enjoy it, this stuff is just plain good.
 

Tips for Making Strawberry Pretzel Salad:

  • Mind the prep time - Keep in mind when preparing Strawberry Pretzel Salad, the recipe is several steps that cannot be done in one sitting due to chilling and setting time for each of the layers. Plan accordingly. If you need to speed up the process and minimize down-time, prepare the Jell-o and strawberry mixture first, allowing it to set up while you prepare the crust and cream cheese layers.
  • Measure the pretzels "pre-crush" - It's 3 cups of pretzels, measured out when the pretzels are still whole. If you measure after crushing, the crust will be too thick.
  • Create a cream cheese "seal" - When spreading the fluffy cream cheese layer on top of the pretzel crust, be sure to spread it all the way to the edges, ensuring it even touches the baking dish all the way around every edge. This creates a "seal" with the cream cheese layer and helps prevent the strawberry layer from seeping into the pretzel crust.
  • Chill the layers - Allow each layer to thoroughly chill in the refrigerator before adding the next layer. This keeps the layers distinct and prevents them from inadvertently seeping and/or mixing together.
  • Set the berries - In the same vein as chilling the layers, be sure the strawberry Jell-o mixture is almost fully set before spreading it over the cream cheese layer. The mixture should be quite thick, which prevents it from mingling with the cream cheese and/or seeping along the edges into the pretzels.
Love this salad? The flavor combo is also fabulous as Strawberry Pretzel Salad Dip!

Check out these other sweet dessert "salads:"
Slice of Strawberry Pretzel Salad Image
Thank you for stopping by The Kitchen is My Playground. We'd love to have you back soon!

strawberry pretzel salad, strawberry pretzel salad recipe, strawberry pretzel dessert
Salads
American
Yield: about 12 - 16 servings
Author: Tracey | The Kitchen is My Playground
Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

The perfect combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a classic favorite. Layers of pretzel crust, creamy filling, and strawberry-studded Jell-o make this one very tasty treat, for sure. Enjoy it as a side dish or dessert -- the choice is yours!
Prep time: 45 MinCook time: 8 MinInactive time: 7 HourTotal time: 7 H & 53 M

Ingredients

Layer 1 - Pretzel Crust:
  • 3 c. pretzel sticks or small twists
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 T. granulated sugar
Layer 2 - Cream Cheese Layer:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 c. non-dairy whipped topping (Cool Whip)
Layer 3 - Strawberry Layer:
  • 2 (3 oz.) packages strawberry Jell-o
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 2 (10 oz.) packages OR 1 (16 oz.) package frozen sliced strawberries, at least partially thawed (use the juice and all)

Instructions

Prepare Layer 1 - Pretzel Crust:
  1. Place pretzels in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Use a meat mallet, a rolling pin, or the bottom of a sturdy drinking glass to crush pretzels into course crumbs.
  2. Combine pretzel crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter.
  3. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread pretzel mixture evenly in bottom of prepared pan, pressing the mixture down lightly with the palm of your hand.
  4. Bake at 350℉ for 8 minutes (do not overcook).
  5. Cool, and chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set completely. 
Prepare Layer 2 - Cream Cheese Layer:
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar with an electric mixer until well combined. Fold in whipped topping.
  2. Spread evenly over cooled pretzel crust, spreading all the way to the edges.
  3. Refrigerate to set.
Prepare Layer 3 - Strawberry Layer:
  1. Mix both packages of Jell-o powder with the 2 cups boiling water, whisking until completely dissolved. Stir in partially-thawed strawberries.
  2. Place strawberry mixture in refrigerator and let cool until almost set, about 1 & 1/2 hours.
  3. Once almost set, spread strawberry mixture evenly over cream cheese layer.
  4. Chill until fully set, at least 4-6 hours.
  5. At serving time, cut into squares. Top with dollops of Cool Whip, if desired.
TRACEY'S NOTES:
  1. Keep in mind when preparing Strawberry Pretzel Salad, the recipe is several steps that cannot be done in one sitting due to chilling and setting time for each of the layers. If you need to speed up the process and minimize down-time, prepare the Jell-o and strawberry mixture first, allowing it to set while you prepare the crust and cream cheese layers.
  2. Measure out the 3 cups of pretzels BEFORE crushing them, not after.
  3. Be sure to chill the pretzel crust prior to spreading the cream cheese mixture on top. This helps prevent the crust from "lifting" as you spread on the cream cheese layer.
  4. When spreading the cream cheese mixture over the pretzel crust, be sure to spread it all the way to the edges, ensuring it even touches the baking dish all the way around every edge. This creates a "seal" with the cream cheese layer and helps prevent the strawberry layer from seeping into the pretzel crust.
  5. If sliced frozen strawberries aren't available, use whole frozen berries. Run a knife through the whole berries once they're partially thawed to cut them into smaller pieces.
  6. There's no need to fully thaw the frozen berries. Having them partially frozen actually helps cool and set the strawberry Jell-o mixture more quickly, reducing the amount of time needed to finish preparing the dish.
  7. Fresh strawberries can be substituted for frozen. Use about 2-3 cups sliced fresh berries.



Strawberry Pretzel Salad ~ The perfect combination of sweet & salty, crunchy & creamy, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a classic favorite. Layers of pretzel crust, creamy filling, and strawberry-studded Jell-o make this one very tasty treat, for sure. Enjoy it as a side dish or dessert - the choice is yours! www.thekitchenismyplayground.com


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2 comments

  1. Its both - a salad and a dessert. So have to servings and call it good!! It's dinner! Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party. Hope your week is amazing!

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