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.