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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Our favorite Strawberry Pretzel Salad comes complete with a buttery pretzel crust, creamy cheesecake-esque filling, and a strawberry-packed gelatin topping.
Course Dessert, Salad
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword strawberry pretzel salad, strawberry pretzel salad recipe
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 45 minutes
Servings 40 servings
Calories 120kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.46


Pretzel Crust

  • 2 full cups crushed pretzels (~3-1/2 cups full pretzels)
  • 3/4 cup (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar

Cheesecake Layer

  • 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, full-fat brick-style, softened to room temperature (Note 1)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 container (8 oz) whipped topping thawed, full-fat (such as Cool Whip) (Note 2)

Strawberry Jell-o Layer

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 pkg (6 oz) strawberry gelatin (such as Jell-o)
  • 2 cups fresh sliced strawberries (Note 3)


  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add pretzels to a large plastic bag. Seal without air in it and crush pretzels using a rolling pin. Crush to coarse crumbs; we don't want the crumbs too fine. Measure to be sure you have 2 full cups (160g) of pretzel crumbs. Melt butter then set aside to cool to room temperature (don't add hot butter; it will make the crust greasy).
  • PRETZEL CRUST: In a large bowl, mix together the crushed pretzels, melted butter, and sugar until combined. Press this mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan (no need to go up the sides, just the base). Use the bottom of a flat 1-cup measuring cup to press down crumbs into a firm crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let fully cool before adding the filling.
  • FILLING: Meanwhile, beat the softened cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until combined, 1 more minute. Use a spatula to gently fold in the completely thawed whipped topping into the mixture until no streaks remain.
  • FILLING CONTINUED: Spread this mixture onto the completely cooled pretzel crust. Smooth it evenly so that none of the crust is exposed (otherwise the Jell-O will seep through). Take your time to really seal the edges here with the filling. Chill for one hour.
  • JELL-O TOPPING: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the gelatin to a large bowl and pour the boiling water on top. Mix well. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice the strawberries. Remove the gelatin from the fridge and gently stir in strawberries. Make sure the gelatin mixture is at room temperature, not hot. If it is still hot, chill for another 5-10 minutes. Hot Jell-O is going to break up the cream cheese layer! Once at room temperature, use a slotted spoon to gently transfer strawberries atop the cream cheese layer in an even layer. Then gently pour the gelatin over the strawberries in one even layer.
  • CHILL: Cover the pan tightly and refrigerate until completely set, about 2-4 hours. Once fully chilled, use a very sharp and hot knife (run under hot water then dry) to make cuts. The first couple of bars don't come out super well, but after that, it gets a lot easier! Be sure to cut all the way through the pretzel crust before removing bars.
  • STORAGE: These bars are best within 1-2 days of making. After that the bars begin to get watery/seep out liquid. These bars do not freeze and thaw well.



Note 1: Cream cheese: For best results, use full-fat brick-style cream cheese(reduced-fat cream cheese doesn’t taste as rich and isn’t as thick). I also recommend a good quality brand; We love Philadelphia Cream Cheese® best.
  • To soften cream cheese: Place the completely unwrapped package of cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 10-15 seconds, check, flip to the other side then microwave for an additional 10-15 seconds as needed. You don't want it at all melted, just softened to room temperature.
Note 2: Whipped topping: This is not a dessert that works well with lower fat products. Stick to the original full-fat whipped topping and cream cheese to avoid a watery filling or filling that doesn't set up properly. We need the fat for firmness in this layer!
Note 3: Strawberries: We tested this recipe with frozen sliced and fresh sliced strawberries and much preferred fresh ripe strawberries! Use small strawberries if possible, and slice them very thinly. If you're set on using frozen berries, add them to the gelatin and don't chill in the fridge, just stir for 2-3 minutes, and then gently spoon on top of cream cheese layer.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.3g | Protein: 1.3g | Fat: 6.3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 91.9mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 11.6g