Strawberry Pretzel Salad


Berries, Brunch, Desserts, Easter, Sides, Southern / Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Salad isn’t the kind of salad that makes you healthier.

It’s the kind of salad that makes your TONGUE feel like it’s made out of GOLD!

A sweet-and-salty, crunchy pretzel crust filled with a mixture of Cool Whip and cream cheese and topped with a layer of strawberries and pineapple suspended in strawberry Jell-O.

It’s trashtastic!

The combination tastes a lot like a no-bake cheesecake, but this is technically a salad, a dessert salad, which is any sweet dish made with gelatin and whipped topping that’s meant to be served as a side rather than a dessert. The sort of thing you might find at a church potluck or family reunion picnic sitting between the fried chicken and potato salad.

But you know when this dish really shines? Brunch.

I can’t imagine a family holiday brunch without it.

On Easter morning, Mama always fills up the table with Eggs Benedict, sausage grits casserole, coffee cake and Strawberry Pretzel Salad. Because you have to have something fruity. And, yes, even when every square inch of your table is packed to capacity, there’s always room for Jell-O.

I especially love this salad in the springtime, when I’m craving strawberries, but strawberry season is weeks away. The strawberry gelatin and frozen berries work together to give you a topping that retains the best qualities of both – the concentrated strawberry flavor of the gelatin and the more appealing texture of the berries.

Strawberry pretzel salad recipes are nearly identical, but Paula Deen’s is my favorite, because she’s added something inspired to the strawberry topping: a small can of crushed pineapple. That little bit of tang livens up the fruit layer and keeps the salad from being too sweet.

Of course, if you don’t like pineapple (or strawberries, for that matter), play around with the fruit topping. Try cherry gelatin with frozen cherries, orange gelatin with mandarin oranges and strawberries, or raspberry gelatin with frozen raspberries and blueberries. Or, go retro with lime gelatin, pineapple, mini marshmallows and pecans.

Whatever makes your tongue feel like it’s made out of gold!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Adapted from Paula Deen (via “Paula’s Home Cooking,” Food Network)

    Crust:

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels (You want small pieces, but don’t pulverize them in a food processor.)
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
    Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping
    Topping:

  • 2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin dessert mix
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen strawberries
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • Whipped topping or whipped cream, to garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. For the Crust: Grab a medium bowl, add the pretzels, butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar, and mix them together. Press this mixture into a 9 by 13-inch pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. For the Filling: In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. Fold in the whipped topping, and spread over the cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until well chilled.
  4. For the Topping: In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water, and allow to cool slightly. Add the strawberries and pineapple, and pour over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until serving time.
  5. Serve slices with a dollop of whipped topping.

36 thoughts on “Strawberry Pretzel Salad

    1. I made this yesterday, and I did NOT drain the pineapple. I think the liquid in the crushed pineapple replaces some of the liquid you would normally use to make just plain jello. It was yummy.

      Donna
      whatthedogate.blogspot.com

  1. This is beautiful. I have never seen this before. At first glance, it looks like strawberry cheesecake to me. It's no surprise to see how this can be a real crowd-pleaser. Thanks for the awesome inspiration.

  2. I SOO love Pretel Jello! That stuff is like crack..and I have to say that while it's sort of a pain to make it, is completely and utterly delicious!!
    I love the addition of pineapple..I'm gonna have to give that a go next time I'm feeling like I need a little 70's i my life! Love it!

  3. This is such a Southern dish! We used to have it for every holiday at my family's house in Tennessee. I need to introduce this into my California cooking!

  4. Looks great, but how is this even remotely a salad?? meaning, how can i actually trick my wife into thinking that this is healthy?

  5. Yes!!! This looks so good to me right now… and easy, which I always love. I've totally been in a pretzel mood lately so this hits the spot. I'm bookmarking this recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Rebecca, I'm all for anything "trashtastic" – great word you used here…fun post and intriguing "salad".

    Thanks,

    Dan

  7. *gasp!* We used to make this for special occasions growing up! I don't remember what we called it though, "jello pretzel thingy" I think is what I used to call it because my mom never knew the name for it.

    And yes, I totally agree; "trashtastic" is probably the best word for this stuff!

    Thanks for posting this!

  8. WOW! I love you for reminding me of this dessert, I haven't had it since I was a kid. It sounds like I am not the only one, so this is a true public service! I loved this stuff! I bet my own kids have never tasted this, but they will soon. I am alone with my two youngest tonight, looks like a great project.

    You are awesome!

  9. Strawberry Pretzel Salad is all well and good, but what about that sausage grits casserole? That's what I'm talking about!

  10. My boyfriend's mom made something like this, and I was amazed at how the combination of it all is so tasty! You hear pretzels, strawberries, and jello and it sounds a little odd at first, but I loved it! Yours looks especially yummy.

  11. Wow, this takes me back! The one and only time I had this dish, my then-boyfriend cooked me dinner and had made this…and I was completely bowled over (well, by him *and* this dessert salad). Twenty years later we still love each other…and I'm sure I will still love this! I'll have to make it this weekend, for old times sake! :-)

  12. I love this stuff. My only suggestion is brown sugar in the crust–it kind of gives it a toffee crunchy layer. use it instead of the regular sugar

  13. I don't like Jell-o at all… it's a texture thing; however, I LOVE Paula Deen. :) I stumbled on your blog today, and spent waaaay too much time reading through your posts. Great blog!

  14. LOVE this salad. Definitely takes me back to family gatherings…also perfect for springtime! Thanks for sharing!!

  15. This. Looks. Awesome. Just have to get to the specialty store to get some gelatin free jello and then I am so making this.

  16. I made this recipe for a party yesterday. It was well liked. Thanks for sharing!

    Donna
    whatthedogate.blogspot.com

  17. I used to make this all the time! It's a favorite of mine and the saltier the pretzels the better as the salt contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the cream cheese mixture and the strawberries. We just used to call this Pretzel salad which always made folks look sideways at us until they saw and tasted it. At that point their eyes were rolling back in their heads so we really couldn't tell how they were looking then…LOL This one is definitely a winner!

  18. […] first saw this crazy pretzel/jell-o concoction on some blogs here and there. Then I thought I remembered that my bff said she made something similar. Wait. Am I […]

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