Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This post was originally published on August 27, 2008. It’s one of my favorite family recipes, showing up at summer gatherings for as long as I can remember, and it was in desperate need of a facelift! 

Strawberry Pretzel Salad - The absolutely wonderful nostalgic dessert that showed up at every summer family picnic growing up! |

Strawberry pretzel salad is one of the first desserts that I became totally obsessed with. As a kid, desserts were fine – a piece of cake here, some pie there, a cookie once in a while… no big deal. However, when this dessert made an appearance, I probably looked a whole lot like Einstein when he’s waiting for his bowl of food. Drool overcomes him. He can barely sit still. Then he proceeds to inhale his entire meal in a matter of seconds.

My great aunt and my grandma would take turns bringing this to any family get together that occurred during the spring or summer, and it often made an appearance at Easter. I love the combination of salty pretzels, sweetened cream cheese and fresh strawberries… if you’ve never had the dessert before, it can sound (and look) a little strange, but after one bite, you’ll be totally hooked.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad - The absolutely wonderful nostalgic dessert that showed up at every summer family picnic growing up! |

The original recipe that I got from my family includes frozen strawberries, and while that’s how I made it for a very long time, I think the fresh strawberries make a world of difference.

Strawberry pretzel salad is definitely not a salad (I don’t know how it got that name!), but it is one of my all-time favorite summer desserts!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad - The absolutely wonderful nostalgic dessert that showed up at every summer family picnic growing up! |

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

The classic Strawberry Pretzel "Salad" - a crushed pretzel crust, sweetened cream cheese filling and a strawberry Jello topping with fresh strawberries.


For the Crust:

2 cups finely crushed pretzels
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ cup salted butter, melted

For the Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces Cool Whip

For the Strawberry Topping:
2 cups boiling water
1 (6-ounce package) Strawberry Jell-O
1½ cups cold water
4 cups sliced strawberries


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the pretzel crumbs and sugar. Pour the melted butter over top and stir with a fork until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 min, then cool completely.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the Cool Whip. Spread evenly over the crust and refrigerate while you prepare the topping.

3. Place the dry Jello in a large bowl and add the boiling water. Stir for at least 2 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the cold water. Refrigerate for 1½ hours or until slightly thickened (will the consistency of egg whites). Stir in the strawberries and pour over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until the Jello layer is set. Cut into squares to serve. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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132 Responses to “Strawberry Pretzel Salad”

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  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!


    • Navar Steed on August 17th, 2015 at 8:57 am

      That’s great to know– I’ve never liked cool whip. It just tastes like whipped chemicals to me…


  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!!!


    • Peggy on August 17th, 2015 at 2:07 am

      I learned that lesson the hard way. Try this… spray the dish first with non-stick cooking spray and bake the pretzel crust an extra one or two minutes. This makes a very sturdy crust that won’t crumble, releases very easily from the pan, and will not get soggy, even after several days! It never lasts that long in our house, though.


  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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