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 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.
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
Yield: 12 to 16 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 45 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.