Strawberry Pretzel Salad is the perfect light dessert for Spring! The sweet and savory combination of flavors in this dish pleases everyone and is large enough to feed a crowd.
It is strawberry season and I am so excited! Our family loves to pop whole strawberries in our breakfast smoothies, slice them on a lunchtime salad, as well as eat them plain for an after-dinner sweet fix. The abundance of strawberries at this time of year also calls for incorporating them into the occasional dessert, which in our house always includes Strawberry Pretzel Salad!
Traditional desserts are typically saved for holidays and special occasions in our household, however after finally recuperating from weeks of illness, I thought our family deserved a special treat. I actually made the dessert this year without anyone having to ask!
Strawberry Pretzel Salad is my mother’s recipe and the dish my husband always requests when we visit my family in the spring or summer. It is unlike anything else I make, so my kids have come to love it as well.
Although the word salad is in the recipe title, it is actually more of a dessert. Back in my grandmother’s day in the South, gelatin “salads” were a thing and often made in a mold with fruit floating throughout a gelatin mixture. I think this is where the “salad” designation is derived from, but there is nothing salad about this dish other than the fruit in my opinion.
Crowd Pleasing Dish
Strawberry Pretzel Salad is one of my favorite dishes to take to a potluck because it travels well and is usually very different than any other food on the table. I will never forget the time I made this recipe for a work event many years ago.
My husband begged for me to cut him a piece before I took the dish to work. I explained to him that I could not take a dessert with a piece already cut out of it, but I would definitely save him a piece for that evening. Well, as luck would have it, my colleagues ate every last bite (good sign, right?). You should have seen my husband’s face when I told him they ate the entire dessert. He was so sad!
So, let’s dig in to the recipe prep, shall we? This is seriously one of the easiest desserts you will ever make!
I begin the Strawberry Pretzel Salad prep by boiling the water for the gelatin. I use an electric kettle for boiling, but use whatever method works best for you. While the water is boiling, I recommend slicing the strawberries to set aside until you are ready to use them.
Pour the gelatin into a large bowl and once the water reaches boiling temperature, pour two cups over gelatin. It will then take approximately 10-15 minutes for the gelatin to partially congeal.
Next, chop your pretzels into crumbled pieces for the crust layer. I have tried chopping the pretzels using a food processor, as well as a hand chopper and I prefer the latter method.
It is difficult for me to get the preferred pretzel consistency using a food processor, as it tends to chop the pretzels too fine for my taste. I chop them using a hand chopper so I can control the size better and then I further crush them using a fork when mixing with the sugar and butter.
Once the pretzel mixture is ready, spread in a thin layer to cover the bottom of the dish. You will need to use your fingers to press the crumbs together and across the dish before baking.
While the crust is baking, beat the sugar and cheese together using a hand mixer. Once well blended, add in the whipped topping and mix again. Set aside until ready to use.
Remove the crust from the oven to cool after baking.
After the crust has cooled for approximately ten minutes, fold the strawberries into the partially congealed gelatin. Spread the cream cheese/whipped topping mixture onto the cooled crust.
Next, pour the strawberry gelatin mixture over the cream cheese layer and carefully distribute the strawberries across the dish in an even layer.
Cover the dish and chill in the refrigerator to set the salad for at least one hour. I really like this Pyrex dish for storage and travel!
Once you are ready to serve, slice the Strawberry Pretzel Salad into squares to serve and enjoy!
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil 2 cups of water and pour over 6 oz. of strawberry gelatin in medium bowl.
- Mix together pretzels, 3 T. of sugar and butter and press into a thin layer in 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake pretzel crust at 400 degrees for six minutes and set aside to cool for ten minutes.
- Mix together cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Mix in whipped topping.
- Fold strawberries into partially congealed gelatin.
- Once crust has cooled, spread whipped topping mixture over crust. Pour strawberry gelatin mixture over whipped topping layer and evenly distribute strawberries. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.