Strawberry Pretzel Salad

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This is without a doubt, one of our most favorite side-dish salads of all time.

This salad has been a favorite for many generations. But, it’s easy to make a simple mistake or two that can throw the dish off.  We’re here to keep that from happening.  And this is one of those salad side dishes that can be made the day before serving. Perfect for Potluck Sunday, holiday feasts, or just a busy weeknight.  So good! 

Watch Us Make It!


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How To Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad

We love this salad for many reasons.

First and foremost is the taste. The combination of sweet and salty works perfectly.

And, though it takes a little time, the effort is minimal.

A square white casserole dish filled with strawberry pretzel salad with one piece missing in the corner.

Building the Classic Layers

The pretzel crust is such an important component of this salad, but it’s easy to not get it right.

It’s critical to get the correct ratio of crushed pretzels to butter and sugar.

You’ll need about 1¼ cup of crushed pretzels. This usually is about 3 cups of uncrushed pretzels.

EXPERT TIP: We like to use our food processor to pulverize the pretzels, but a freezer baggie and rolling pin work great, too. We find that the finer you get the crushed pretzels, the less crumbly your salad will be. We also use the bottom of a bottle, or a measuring cup to press the pretzel mixture into the base of your baking dish.

A crushed pretzel and butter mixture being poured out of a pan into a square white baking dish.

The next layer is the delicious cream cheese filling.

We use an electric hand mixer to cream the room temperature cream cheese with sugar.

Fold in the Cool Whip with a wooden spoon and gently mix until fully incorporated.

A large glass bowl filled with cream cheese filling being held over a white dish filled with a pretzel crust.

Tips For Making Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Pretzel CrustAs mentioned, make sure your pretzels are finely crushed. If there are large chunks of pretzels, the crust will be overly crumbly. Make sure the mixture is not too dry. You may need to add a little more melted butter if the mixture feels too dry.
Your Baking DishA 9″x13″ dish is traditional for this salad and will work just fine. However, we love using a 10″x10″ baking dish. This allows the layers to be a little thicker because it’s a slightly smaller dish
Make a Solid SealThis is probably the most important tip: Be sure your cream cheese filling is sealed to the side of the dish around all four sides. If not, the liquid from the un-set Jell-O mixture will seep down to the crust and make it very soggy.

Strawberry Jell-O and sliced strawberries being poured from a ceramic bowl into a white baking dish for strawberry pretzel salad.

We don’t cook with Jell-O that often, but when we do, it’s just a lot of fun.

And the results are beautiful and absolutely delicious.

You could also use raspberry Jell-O with fresh raspberries in place of the strawberries.

NOTE: Be sure to get the large 6 oz. package, or two 3 oz packages of Jell-O

A white plate filled with a slice of strawberry pretzel salad.

When to Serve Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This salad is so versatile and always a big hit when it’s served.

Because it can be made in advance, it’s perfect for a potluck feast. Other Potluck Classics include our King Ranch Casserole and our Best-Ever Broccoli Cheddar Casserole!

And, of course, it’s a perennial favorite during the holidays. But, it’s also wonderful for a busy weeknight dinner.

Just one bite and you’re reminded of why this is one of everyone’s favorite salads. Pure deliciousness.

A slice of strawberry pretzel salad with a bite taken out of it sitting on a white plate with a fork next to it.

Ready to make one of the most requested salads in the world? Perfectly? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A slice of strawberry pretzel salad with a bite taken out of it sitting on a white plate with a fork next to it.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad is one of those classic side dishes that just about everyone loves. It's the perfect combination of salty and sweet. And it can easily be prepared the day before serving!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: holiday salad recipe, Holiday side dish, how to make strawberry pretzel salad, potluck recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 581kcal

Equipment

  • 10"x10" or 9"x13" baking dish

Ingredients

  • 6 oz strawberry Jell-O
  • 2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups pineapple juice cold
  • 1 cup sugar divided
  • 3 cups pretzels salted, 1¼ cup crushed
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 8 oz cool whip thawed
  • 1 lb strawberries fresh, hulled and sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add the Jell-O mixture to the 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until Jell-O is completely dissolved. Pour in the chilled pineapple juice. Set aside to until completely cooled.
  • Pulverize pretzels in a food processor or in a freezer baggie with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in ½ cup of sugar to combine. Stir in the pretzels and cook for a minute or so. If the mixture is dry, add a little more butter.
  • Transfer the pretzel mixture to your baking dish and use the bottom of a bottle or measuring cup to press the mixture in the dish.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to completely cool.
  • Use a hand-mixer to cream (combine) the softened cream cheese with ½ cup of sugar. Use a wooden spoon to gently fold in the Cool Whip until fully incorporated.
  • Once the pretzel crust is completely cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture over the top, making sure that a seal is formed along the sides of the dish. (This is important...if a tight seal is not made, the Jell-O liquid will seep down the sides and make the crust soggy).
  • Add the sliced strawberries to the cooled Jell-O mixture. Gently pour (or ladle) the Jell-O mixture over the top of the cream cheese layer.
  • Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 4 hours until the Jell-O has completely set.

Notes

See our "How To" video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance.  If you liked the video, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel
We can't stress this enough: Be sure to make a solid seal along the side of the dish with the cream cheese mixture.  This will prevent the liquid from the Jell-O mixture from seeping down and making the crust soggy. 
The salad can be made up to 24 hours in advance.  Cover with foil or plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
The dish can be frozen for up to 2 months, but it is best served fresh. 

Nutrition

Calories: 581kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 594mg | Potassium: 279mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 58g | Vitamin A: 790IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 2mg
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