Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Let me start off by saying that I rarely use recipes that come from Kraft Foods, mostly because it seems that almost all of them use the same bottled or prepackaged ingredients, and I really have come to respect and enjoy things that are truly homemade and from scratch. That being said, I LOVE THIS DESSERT. I started eating this sometime in high school when my aunt would bring it to any family gathering that occurred in the summer. I immediately fell in the love with the combination of salty and sweet and would have to restrain myself from eating the whole pan. In all the time that has passed, this is the first time that I have ever made this myself and having leftovers in the house = pure heaven!

The ingredients to this dessert are really simple and this doesn’t take much time to throw together, and can be made a day in advance and left to set in the refrigerator (I actually think it’s better this way). The crust consists of crushed pretzels, sugar, and melted butter. On top of that sits a combination of whipped cream cheese and sugar, with Cool Whip folded in. And on top of that, a layer of strawberry jello with fresh sliced strawberries floating throughout. The result is a dessert that tastes light and refreshing, and is also something that can be modified to suit individual tastes. Switch up the Jello flavor and berries, or the crumbs that are used as a base. Whatever you do, TRY THIS! It’s definitely one of my all-time favorite summertime desserts.

More fabulous summer desserts:
Strawberry Mirror Cake
Perfect Party Cake
Ambrosia Cupcakes (award-winning!)
Fresh Orange Cream Tart
Apple Hand Pies
Fresh Blueberry Pie
Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


2 cups finely crushed pretzels
½ cup sugar, divided
2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1½ pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. milk
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP
2 cups boiling water
1 pkg. (8-serving size) Strawberry Jell-O
1½ cups cold water
1 qt. (4 cups) strawberries, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix pretzel crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the butter. Press onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake 10 min. Cool.

2. Beat cream cheese, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the milk until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spread over crust. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Meanwhile, stir boiling water into dry gelatin mix in large bowl at least 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate 1½ hours or until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves definite impression). Stir in strawberries. Spoon over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Cut into squares to serve. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

(Source: Kraft Foods)

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105 Responses to “Strawberry Pretzel Salad”

  1. Erin on August 27, 2008 at 7:11 pm! I love this recipe! It reminds me of all the family gatherings back in the day! I miss it so much. I need to make this for sure!


  2. Sarah on August 27, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    This is like salty sweet crack! My mom has been making this for years (she got the recipe from a Mennonite cookbook though) and I have been known to eat at least half a pan of it when she makes it and I’m around. I recently tried my hand at it for one of my book club gatherings, and everyone loved it. It’s so easy too!


  3. Crafty Baker on August 27, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    This looks great. I’ve got some extra strawberries to use up. I might make this.


  4. Ashley on August 27, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    I read the title of this post and thought what?? I have to find out more. I used to think it was really strange to combine pretzels with sweet things but now I love it (like a chocolate and caramel covered pretzel mmm). So I can see how this would be delicious. And it looks really good!


  5. Annie on August 27, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I’m totally with you on the Kraft recipes, but this one sounds too good not to try! Plus if you rave about it, I know it must be good :)


  6. Kate on August 27, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    I usually feel the same way about Kraft as you do – but I also love one of their strawberry desserts. Maybe because it’s hard to mess up strawberries?


  7. Annie Jones on August 27, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I have made this with raspberries and raspberry Jell-O. It was amazing!


  8. Lindsey on August 28, 2008 at 6:12 am

    I know what you mean about Kraft, but this does looks super light and refreshing for summer. I love the sweet/salty combination…I bet my husband would really enjoy this too!


  9. Maria on August 28, 2008 at 9:11 am

    I haven’t had this in years! I love the sweet/salty combo!!

    I made your knock-off oreos!! They were SO good! I posted them on my blog today!! Thanks again! I love your blog!


  10. Stephanie on August 28, 2008 at 10:54 am

    This reminds me of growing up! My mom and her friends would make this all the time, especially for summer parties and the fourth of july! It’s so good.


  11. grace on August 28, 2008 at 11:15 am

    yeah, this is incredible. sometimes, every once in awhile, companies get recipes using their products right. :)


  12. heather on August 28, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    that’s so cute! i would never have thought of it!! pretzels are so delicious!!


  13. Tiffany on August 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    this looks beautiful! i saw your post on joythebaker and that you want to be a published author. that’s my dream job too–best of luck!


  14. Amber on August 29, 2008 at 9:20 am

    I love these things too, my grandma has a recipe for them. I love the sweet and salty combination along with the creaminess and crunchiness too. Delicious!


  15. jenny on August 29, 2008 at 10:08 am

    everyone in my family fights over strawberry pretzel salad on holidays. and i mean, pushing and shoving to get a second piece! we’ve gotten to the point where we need two trays of this (and my family isn’t that big!), so there isn’t any arguing! mmmmm, i might make this when i go home now…


  16. Robin on August 29, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    I haven’t used a kraft foods recipe in years, but I think you’ve found a great one. Pretzels and strawberries? How interesting!!


  17. Bunny on August 29, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I’ve never had this dessert, I’ve seen recipes for it and always wanted to make it. I love the sweet and salty thing!! I dip chips in ice cream!! I love the picture, this is the first picture I’ve ever seen of it. This would be great to make for the holiday !


  18. Chou on August 31, 2008 at 6:39 am

    You’ve made a recipe developer somewhere in Glenview very very happy.


  19. Jaime on August 31, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    i can see how the sweet and salty would be great here! i am ok w/prepackaged food every now and then but I still have trouble eating cool whip, though…now that i know it’s all vegetable oil!


  20. JacqueOH on August 31, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    It looks out of this world. mmmmm, very nice!


  21. My Sweet & Saucy on September 2, 2008 at 11:16 am

    This does sound amazing! I love the pretzel crust!


  22. Caitlin on September 4, 2008 at 5:45 am

    I love this dessert! I live in England and we can’t get Cool Whip here. Do you think it would work without it?


    • Jamie on June 5th, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      We use sour cream in place of the cool whip… Like the fact that it is less sweet.


  23. Chelle on September 4, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Caitlin–

    I think you could absolutely use the same amount of freshly whipped cream. If you do so, I’d love to know how you liked it and how it worked for you!


  24. Caitlin on September 5, 2008 at 3:38 am

    I am going to try this – I will definitely let you know. I hate that we don’t get Cool Whip here! Oh well – will have to make fattening fresh whipped cream :)


  25. Erin on September 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I am the same way as you, and usually avoid recipes that are from sources like Kraft. Things with a can of soup are the worst example of this type of ‘cooking’. That being said, I’ve had this strawberry dessert before, and agree that it’s freaking delish! Perfect for summer cookouts especially. Yup, now I’m craving some :)


  26. jen on September 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    This is a great recipe I’ve made it lots of times. It works really well if you buy frozen strawberries and add them to your hot gelatin mixture, they cool it down pretty quick, so you can get to the eating part faster.


  27. Deborah Dowd on October 15, 2008 at 6:08 am

    I am old enough to remember the Kraft theater on TV and the commercials always included Kraft recipes. This sounds really delicious and something I could even enjoy on my diet!


  28. Michael T. on November 28, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog and saw this recipe. I haven’t had this dessert since I was a kid and it brought back a lot of great memories. I never comment on blogs but I think I am going to come back to your recipes again and again. Thanks. : )


  29. Brandie on February 12, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I just stumbled on this page and I have to say, I love this recipe. I have made it with pineapple juice instead of water and using frozen strawberries. It gives it a stronger strawberry taste and you can’t taste the pineapple at all!


  30. Ish on June 2, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    This is one of my go-to dishes… I have been making this dish for over 10 years… I make it for any family function, party and it is highly requested by friends and family… I don’t dare show up without it!

    My only suggestion is that if bake the pretzel crust for more than requested (10 min), it sticks to the bottom of the pan and is very hard to serve.
    other than that…. yummy!! enjoy!!!


  31. michelle on June 24, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I’m going to make this for the 4th of July! Swing by my blog when you get a chance, I left you an award!


  32. Michelle on June 25, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Michelle – This is a great picnic dessert, I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think. And thank you for the award! :)


  33. Jon on July 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    My Mom makes this stuff whenever I go back to Pittsburgh to visit. I could honestly eat the Strawberry Pretzel Dessert until I literally turned into it. Absolutely amazing.


  34. Michelle on July 26, 2009 at 1:20 am

    Jon – May very well be a Pittsburgh thing, as that’s where I’m from!


  35. Mathilde's Cuisine on July 28, 2009 at 6:56 am

    I think that just like you, I LOVE THIS DESSERT… I usually don’t bake a lot but I will try this one out soon!


    • Jane on June 29th, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      I don’t know why every recipe calls for regular sugar with the cream cheese and cool whip mixture. It is much better with confectioners sugar. 1 8oz cream cheese, 1 cup confectioners sugar and a large cool whip. Try this and you’ll see why.


  36. Kara on July 28, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    This is a favorite dessert from my childhood, but I haven’t had it in ages! Time to make it again I’d say.


  37. Erika on August 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I feel the same way about semi-homemade/prepackaged foods. But some are a guilty pleasure and I have always loved this dish, but haven’t had it in years. Thanks for the reminder!


  38. Mary on October 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Try this with raspberries, awesome.


  39. Tanya on October 30, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    WOW! I am speechless. These look so good. I love pretzels and I love strawberries. Can’t wait to try these. I’ll have to try it with raspberries too because that does sound pretty good.


  40. JT on December 12, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Yum. I’ve had this occasionally through the years. So good. I’m going to do it with blueberries!


  41. ivoryhut on June 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I love the sweet-salty combination too, and with the current popularity of salted chocolate and caramels, I think this oldie definitely needs some promotion. Sounds delicious!


  42. Jen @ How To: Simplify on June 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Oh. my. goodness. These look delicious! I’ll have to try this recipe!


  43. Maggy@ThreeManyCooks on June 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    These are so beautiful! And Summery! Love the salt/sweet combo. And your new blog design looks AMAZING!


  44. Katie H on June 1, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    This is definitely an oldie but a goodie! I love this recipe, such a great combo. I may have to make it for 4th of July :) – thanks for the reminder! Love the oldie but goodie idea and love your site, EVERYTHING you make appeals to me. Although I am a first time poster I visit you daily and make your mini italian meatloaves weekly!


  45. Michele on June 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I love this recipe..the combination of flavors is unique. There is no other combo like it!! I too have been making it for years. Whenever I take it to work, I always take a few copies of the recipe, because I know several people will ask for it.


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  49. Tykisha Pulliam on September 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I just finished making this recipe for the 3rd time in a week. The first two attempts were unsuccessful. I just couldn’t get the crust right. One was too hard and I guess that I didn’t crush the pretzels up fine enough because the other crust wouldn’t come together. I decided to make this recipe again but this time I placed the ingredients into a store-bought shortbread crust. I began with a layer of the pretzel crust, followed by a cream cheese layer, then more pretzels, and finished with the strawberry jello. I think that I may have it this time around (fingers crossed, lol)!


  50. Erin R on September 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Just had a fall dinner party last night and did a Chili Bar with all the fixins and to end things off I made this dessert and it was a hit … it was refreshing and wonderful !!!


    • Michelle on September 13th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

      Erin, your dinner party sounds fabulous! Glad this was the perfect topper!


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  52. jan on November 21, 2010 at 11:11 am

    My sister and I have been making a similar dessert for thanksgiving since the 80’s when we ventured out on our own. Ours has a vanilla wafer crust and raspberries, and a crushed walnut layer that makes it extra yummy! love it!


    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Oooh love the combo of vanilla wafers, raspberries and walnuts! Will definitely need to try that next summer!


  53. Heather on December 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I have made this recipe in the past. It is delicious and so easy to make allergy-free and also vegetarian. For the “jello” I use Natural Desserts Jel Dessert (which is vegan, kosher, parve).


  54. Dallas on December 24, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I made this dessert and took some to work my, co-workers went crazy over this seimple but yummy dessert. Thanks


  55. Mary on January 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I made this dessert years ago using either strawberries or raspberries, but ever since I started making it with cranberry Jell-o mixed with a can of whole berry cranberry sauce, that’s the only way I make it now – especially for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s been a big hit at potluck dinners.


  56. SweetSugarBelle on January 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I just found you, and the fact that you posted my church fellowship dinner fave maes you a hero!!! YUMMY!!! Glad to find your blog! =)


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  58. Hannah at FleurDeLicious on February 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    i made these the other day and sent them with my boyfriend to work…he said they were devoured in a matter of minutes!
    thanks for the recipe! another hit from brown eyed baker :)


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  62. pami on June 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    This is like a Pittsburgh staple, I swear! I have a few old church cookbooks with this recipe too, and I just love this stuff! Perfect Kennywood picnic dessert


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  64. Kari on July 5, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Yum! I remember this from childhood and was so excited to find this recipe! The one thing I messed up was that I bought a 4 oz. package of Jello instead of one 8 oz. box (or two 4 oz. boxes). My Jello wouldn’t set well and was watery, but it was still good! Next time I’ll make it right – I think this is now a summer staple in my household!


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  67. Susan on August 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

    We call it pretzel salad and instead of the jello and fruit layer we use canned pie filling (home canned or store bought). It’s a sweet salty crunchy creamy fruity combination that I love. I even requested it at my gift opening brunch following my wedding!


  68. Tressa on September 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I just made this over labor day weekend. A friend gave me a very similar recipe (pretzel salad) and it is awesome. I make mine using sugar free and sugar substitute and it is still delicious. I did a blueberry version using blue jello. This one was not sugar free but again a great hit and the sugar free version was raspberries. My next one is going to be sf peach jello with frozen peaches. Just see what jello flavors you like and go for it


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  71. Stacee on February 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Well I made according to the directions but when I poured the jello in the rest floated to the top… Wondering if I didn’t let it cool long enough?


    • Michelle on February 19th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      Oh wow, that’s crazy! My guess is that it definitely wasn’t cool enough. The Jello mixture just sits right on top of the cream cheese/Cool Whip layer.


  72. Meg on February 25, 2012 at 8:12 am

    hey there!
    This is one of my favorite American deserts of all time but I live in Europe and I get to eat this only when I go to the US for the 4th of July and that makes me really sad!

    I found the recipe in you in your blog and it made me so happy but that to do since we don’t have COOL WHIP here? Is the normal whipped cream going to hold the jell-o and the berries?


    • Michelle on February 25th, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Hi Meg, Yes, Just whip the cream to stiff peaks and use like you would Cool Whip in the recipe.


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  74. Jen on April 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I have had this dessert before and it’s one of my favorites, but today was my first time making it…unfortunately, my jello set completely in under an hour, so I had to break it up to stir the strawberries in. It doesn’t look nearly as pretty as yours, but hopefully it still tastes good! :)


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  77. Brenda on July 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    This recipe is also wonderful with crushed pineapple! It’s the item I’m always requested to bring to pitch-ins, etc. Instead of Jell-o you cook the heavy syrup with corn starch and sugar, let it cool and mix with the pineapple to spread on top. It gives it a little tang, as well as salty and sweet.


  78. Sharlene on October 2, 2012 at 1:25 am

    Could I get your recipe for the crushed pineapple version? Thanks !
    I love the original recipe and would like to venture out with some a little different..and the pineapple one sounds delish.


    • Brenda on November 16th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Sure! Sorry for the delay in responding.

      2 #2 Size Can of Crushed Pineapple
      1/2 Cup of Sugar
      4 Tablespoons of Corn Starch

      Drain juice from pineapple into bowl and set pineapple aside. Mix corn starch and sugar into juice. Cook juice mixture until it becomes thick and more clear in color and everything is completely blended. When cool, mix with pineapple and spread over middle layer.

      Refrigerate long enough for everything to set up. Overnight is best.


  79. Jacqui G on December 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I was so surprised to see this recipe and learn that it is from Kraft Foods. I have an Aunt who would bring it to our family reunions and I got the recipe from her. This is a favorite of my friends and family, but I don’t think anyone likes it more than I do!!


  80. LeaAnn on December 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    This is a great dessert! My mom always made this at Christmas and instead of using fresh strawberries she used sliced bananas and crushed pineapple, drained. Thanks for reminding me of this recipe, I will be adding this to my Christmas menu!!


    • Michelle on December 19th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Oh I love the idea of using bananas and crushed pineapple instead of the strawberries – that’s perfect! A great way to enjoy it year-round :)


  81. Stacy on February 7, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Is the butter, melted to at 2/3 or its 2/3 hard then melt it?


    • Michelle on February 10th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Hi Stacy, 2/3 cup “hard”, then melt it.


  82. Catherine on March 27, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Please don’t skimp on the strawberries. I’ve had this a couple of times lately where the cook used fresh sliced strawberries – very noble, but there just weren’t enough berries! My recipe uses frozen strawberries. I think you could use that with fresh…or even use lots of fresh, take a small portion of them, mash them and return them to the mix…just use LOTS of strawberries. It’s SO much better!


  83. Catherine on March 27, 2013 at 12:51 am

    And…I have made this with the low-calorie versions of Cool Whip, cream cheese, and Jello. It still tasted great.


  84. Ericka on April 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Ahhh… Sunny Fourth of July gatherings in Minnesota. Every single year :)


  85. Rali Conrow on May 7, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I love this recipe, but after I joined Weight Watchers I tried to make this with fat free cheese and cool whip and it did not turn out right (actually a huge mess), stick to original recipe and it’s always fantastic!


  86. Natalie on July 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Many of my family members are allergic to strawberries, so we make this with peaches and peach jello. It is divine. I like it way better than the strawberry version. There’s just something fresh and unique about it made with peaches.


  87. Renee on July 5, 2013 at 8:40 am

    DISAPPOINTED. I made this for the 4th. It seemed to be a “lightened” version of a recipe I have, in that it used less butter in the crust, less cream cheese (1 1/2 packs instead of 2) and less sugar in the cream cheese as well. The crust looked fine but when I served it the crust had not come together, it was mainly crumbs. This required me to scoop out the crumbs and just serve the pretzel part over the top. In researching other recipes most of them call for at least 3/4 cup of butter in the crust. I think that’s what happened here. There was just not enough butter to bind the crumbs to make a crust.


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  92. Sarah on August 8, 2014 at 6:48 am

    My Aunt Dorothy gave me her recipe for this when I was about 12. She uses pineapple juice instead of the cold water in the strawberry jello part. I accidentally used water instead of the juice once, and it was just not the same. The Juice makes it sweeter and tangier and it goes perfectly with the buttery saltiness of the pretzels. Give it a try. :)


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  94. Wendy on October 15, 2014 at 6:56 am

    I’m trying to work out how this could be a salad? Looks more like a dessert to me…and Cool Whip??? Almost all totally unnatural ingredients. Yuk.


    • Michelle on October 15th, 2014 at 11:02 am

      It’s just the name, it’s obviously not an actual salad. It’s very old, so no idea where the name came from.


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