Best Strawberry Pretzel Salad
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Strawberry Pretzel Dessert Salad – This sweet “salad” features layers of strawberry jello, fresh berries, cream cheese fluff, and crunchy pretzels. It’s a classic southern treat that’s perfect for potlucks and dinner parties!
Have you ever heard of strawberry pretzel salad? I hadn’t until a few years ago, and my life has not been the same since.
This is a retro recipe my sister-in-law introduced me to. She first described it to me as a salad, but then served it as dessert… Mind. Blown.
Only true southerners can call recipes made with jello and cool whip a “salad.” And I am here for it!
The Best Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad
The weird and wonderful combination of fresh strawberries, jello, and cream cheese fluff all layered on a salty pretzel crust is hard to resist. It’s classic to serve as an after-dinner treat or a potluck or holiday side dish – so, yeah, this dessert salad really is fabulous with any course.
While old-school jello desserts have been around for a while, we decided to doctor the recipe a bit to make it, well, even better. Here we add pecans to the crust and prepare the fresh strawberries in a way that fills in all the jello-y cracks. That way, the jello holds the berries together, without taking over as the main component.
We are sure you’ll agree that this version is a real winner. Make the strawberry pretzel salad a day ahead in less than 45 minutes, and serve it chilled for a deliciously fun whenever dish!
What Ingredients You Will Need
- Strawberry Jello mix – or preferred brand of strawberry gelatin
- Water – boiling
- Pretzels – crushed into pieces
- Pecans – finely chopped
- Butter – melted
- Sugar – white granulated
- Cream cheese – softened
- Whipped topping – like Cool Whip
- Fresh strawberries – hulled and sliced thin
How to Make Strawberry Jello Salad with Pretzels
First, preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and a mixing medium bowl. Grease the baking dish and set it aside.
In the bowl, mix the strawberry jello with 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
Set the jello mixture aside to cool to room temperature. (If it’s too warm it will melt the cream cheese fluff layer!)
Meanwhile, crush enough pretzels to fill 2 cups. You can chop them, place them in a zip bag and beat them with a rolling pin, or quickly pulse them in a food processor. Then chop the pecans.
Place the crushed pretzels, chopped pecans, ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar in the baking dish. Pour the melted butter over the top, then toss well to coat the pretzels.
Press the pretzel mixture into a tight even layer and bake for 10 minutes.
Next, set out a clean mixing bowl. Use an electric hand mixer to beat the cream cheese with the remaining ½ cup sugar, until light and fluffy.
Gently fold in whipped topping until completely smooth and even. Set aside.
Then prepare the fresh strawberries: Trim off the tops, then thinly slice. Separate out one-third of the strawberry slices and finely dice (to fill in the cracks.)
Get the Complete (Printable) Strawberry Pretzel Salad Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!
Mix all the different sized cut berries together on the cutting board or in a bowl.
Once the pretzel layer has cooled to room temperature, add the cream cheese filling. Spread it in an even layer over the pretzels.
Now spoon the fresh sliced (and diced) strawberries evenly over the cream layer.
Pour the cooled strawberry jello mixture over the fresh strawberry layer. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE IT ALL.
I usually pour about three-quarters of the liquid jello over the berries, so they are all completely coated in jello, but not floating in it. This creates a better berry-to-jello ratio, in my humble opinion. (It’s a matter of personal preference, so use as much of the jello as you like.)
Refrigerate until the jello is set, usually 2-3 hours.
Cut and serve the strawberry pretzel dessert cold.
Recipe Variations and Tips
- Don’t use all of the jello, unless you want a really thick top layer. I prefer to use only 3/4 of the strawberry jello mixture for an even layer. Otherwise the strawberries sort of “float” in the layer.
- Skip pecans if you prefer. I love the nutty flavor and extra crunchy texture they add to the strawberry pretzel dessert, but they are certainly optional.
- This is a great recipe to make ahead! Prepare a day or so before you plan to serve, and it will be perfectly chilled and ready to slice.
- Use low-fat cream cheese and whipped topping for a slightly more healthy(ish) dessert.
- For an extra festive touch at holiday parties, make this recipe in individual servings! Instead of one pan of strawberry pretzel jell-o salad, prepare each serving in a ramekin… Grease 12 ramekins, and place them on a baking sheet to bake with the pretzel layer. Then simply layer the remaining ingredients and chill per the original recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can this dessert be made gluten-free?
Certainly! Just use your favorite gluten-free pretzels and this is instantly a GF-friendly dessert.
What other fruits can I use to make jello pretzel salad?
This recipe is fabulous to make cherry, raspberry, or mixed berries, and even pineapple dessert salad! Simply use whatever flavored jello you like and corresponding fresh fruits in place of strawberries.
How long do leftovers keep?
Cover the pan with plastic wrap or transfer leftovers to a container with a lid, and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Looking for More Classic Dessert Recipes?
- Homemade Strawberry Cake From Scratch
- Layered Jello Mousse Cake Recipe
- Caramel Apple Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
- Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad
- Magic Chocolate Eclair Cake (No Bake!)
Check the printable recipe card below for the nutritional information including calories, carbohydrates, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, fiber, vitamin c, and calcium percentages.
Best Strawberry Pretzel Salad (Dessert!)
- 6 ounces strawberry jello mix
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups crushed pretzel pieces any shape
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans
- ½ cup melted butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar + 1 tb, divided
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 8 ounces whipped topping like Cool Whip
- 1 ½ pounds fresh strawberries hulled and sliced thin
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Set out a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and a mixing bowl. Grease the baking dish and set aside. In the bowl, mix the strawberry jello with 2 cups boiling water, stirring until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, crush enough pretzels to fill 2 cups. You can chop them, place them in a zip bag and beat them with a rolling pin, to quickly pulse them in a food processor. Then chop the pecans.
- Place the crushed pretzels, chopped pecans, ¼ cup + 1 tb sugar in the baking dish. Pour the melted butter over the top, then toss well to coat the pretzels. Press the pretzel mixture into a tight even layer and bake for 10 minutes.
- Set out a clean mixing bowl. Use an electric hand mixer to beat the cream cheese with the remaining ½ cup sugar, until light and fluffy. Gently fold in whipped topping until completely smooth and even. Set aside.
- Trim the tops off the strawberries, then thinly slice. Separate out one-third of the strawberry slices and finely dice (to fill in the cracks.) Then mix all the berries together.
- Once the pretzel layer has cooled to room temperature, spread the cream cheese filling over it, in an even layer. Spoon the fresh sliced (and diced) strawberries evenly over the cream layer.
- Pour the cooled strawberry jello mixture over the fresh strawberry layer. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE IT ALL. I usually pour about three-quarters of the liquid jello over the berries, so they are all completely coated in jello, but not floating in it. This creates a better berry-to-jello ratio, in my humble opinion. (It’s a matter of personal preference, so use as much of the jello as you like.)
- Refrigerate until the jello is set, usually 2-3 hours. Cut and serve cold.
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Really helpful. Much to learn from the post. Thanks a lot for sharing an amazing content
Oh this recipe is not difficult, thank you for sharing with us how to make it very detailed and easy to understand. I will take some time to cook this dish for my family, hope it will be delicious.
Can you use sugar free jello for this recipe?
Hi Pat, sure you can! :)
Fairly certain the calling anything with hello and cool whip a salad is not just a southern thing. Been happening for decades with us midwestern yanks.
I’ve never been a fan of jello, so when I make this I use the strawberry glaze available in the produce section. Cuts out a step, don’t have to wait until the jello cool.
So easy !!!! Tks!
This is a wonderful dessert! I used to use frozen strawberries because that’s what I have on hand but I’m sure fresh is so much better but it still tasted fabulous!
This is one of my favorite desserts! It’s soooo good, sweet and creamy, a touch of saltiness and I love the different textures.
We loved this salad so much. The perfect sweet and salty combination!
I mashed my strawberries up.poured the box of jello and mashed berry inna pot and brought it to a boil. No water needed. Let it come to a complete cool stage before putting on cream cheese. I liked this version better 😊
I made this recipe, but the jello leaked to the bottom, what did I do wrong?
Hmmm… Is it possible the pretzel crust was packed down or the cream filling wasn’t spread to the edges? That might have caused the issue. How did it taste?
If u don’t have a hand mixer, dont try this recipe. A stick blender, regular blender or husband beating stick won’t fluff the cream cheese. (I really don’t have a husband beating stick. :)…)
This Recipe is amazing which also looks so deliciouse in you post images and I have set mind to keep share it with my wife to make it tonight and I am very thankful to you for sharing this such a nice post about this recipes.
So easy to make, and SO delicious!
We make this every Christmas. It’s our favorite thing! Perfect side that tastes just like dessert!
this jello dessert is just one of the best desserts! I love this for all the thanksgiving and Friendsgiving events I am going to this year!