Strawberry pretzel salad is an easy dessert with a buttery pretzel crust and a no-bake cheesecake layer topped with fresh strawberries and Jell-O. A delicious make-ahead dessert!
We love strawberry dessert recipes, especially during strawberry season. But, this strawberry pretzel dessert can be enjoyed year round with either fresh or frozen strawberries. We've been making this for years and its such a classic recipe.
What is Strawberry Pretzel Salad
I was first introduced to strawberry pretzel salad years ago during dessert at a friend's house. It blew me away. A pretzel crust with a strawberry Jell-O topping and a rich cream cheese layer? Ben talked about it for days so I knew I had to get the recipe. It may be an old-fashioned recipe, but we've been enjoying it ever since.
(full printable recipe at end of this post)
You can easily find everything you need for strawberry pretzel salad at your local grocery store. Below is a photo and the list of ingredients.
What You Need:
- Crushed pretzels -- I buy a bag of twisted pretzels and finely crush them in my blender. If you do not have a blender, you can crush them in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin or back of wooden spoon. (Pro tip: Use any leftover pretzels for this yummy snack recipe.)
- Granulated sugar -- You'll need a few tablespoons sugar to add sweetness to the pretzel crust and for the cream cheese mixture.
- Unsalted butter -- The melted butter helps keep the crust together.
- Cream cheese -- Take this out of the refrigerator an hour before you need it so it can come to room temperature.
- Milk -- Just a couple of tablespoons to mix into the cream cheese layer.
- Cool Whip -- You can use a homemade whipped cream, but the store-bought whipped topping creates a more stable cheesecake layer.
- Strawberry gelatin -- Use the larger 6 oz. box (or two 3 oz. boxes), like the Jell-O brand.
- Boiling water and ice cold water -- You'll mix these into the strawberry jello. Do not follow instructions on the box to make the jello mixture, instead use the instructions in the recipe card below.
- Sliced strawberries -- We use 1 lb fresh strawberries, but you can use frozen. Just thaw and drain them first.
How to Make Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
Follow these general steps and helpful step-by-step images for how to make this easy strawberry dessert recipe.
You need a 9x13-inch baking dish for this recipe, along with an electric mixer, large mixing bowl, spoon or rubber spatula, oven and refrigerator.
Pretzel Crust Layer:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine pretzel crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom of baking dish. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Strawberry Jello Layer:
In a large bowl, stir the boiling water into the dry jello mix until dissolved. Add cold water and refrigerate 1 hour. Layer sliced strawberries over cream cheese layer and pour cooled jello evenly over top. Refrigerate completed layered dessert for 4 to 6 hours before serving.
- Measure pretzels after they are crushed.
- It can be tricky to transfer the baking dish to the refrigerator once the jello is poured in. I recommend only pouring the jello until it reaches just below the top of the baking dish. Sometimes this means not using all the jello mixture.
- Alternatively, you can chill the jello until thickened and then stir the sliced strawberries into the jello bowl. Carefully spoon the strawberry jello mixture evenly over the cream cheese layer.
- Wait to cover with plastic wrap or foil until the top layer is hardened in the fridge.
Can I make strawberry jello salad ahead of time?
This dessert needs to be made in advance, but is best consumed within 2 days. It may seem like this can be quickly thrown together, but it actually does take some time because of multiple waiting steps. You need to wait for the crust to cool, wait for the Jell-O to set, let the finished dessert set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, etc. So plan to make this recipe the night before you serve it.
Can I freeze this?
No, I do not recommend freezing any jello recipe, including this one. It will change the texture of the jello which will give disappointing results.
Make this same dessert using raspberries and raspberry jello, or blackberries, peaches, etc.
More Strawberry Dessert Recipes
- Frozen Strawberry Dessert
- Strawberry Jell-O Fluff
- Strawberry Marshmallow Cake
- Strawberry Cupcakes
- Strawberry Cream Donuts
Eat It, Rate It, and Share It!
Made it and liked it? Leave a star rating, take a photo and tag me on social media @seededtable so I can share it!
This recipe was originally published March 2013 and updated June 2022 with new recipe tips, photos and enhanced directions and measurements.
Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
For the crust:
- 2 cups finely crushed pretzels (measure after crushed)
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter , melted
For the filling:
- 12 ounces cream cheese , at room temperature
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 8 oz. Cool Whip
For the topping:
- 6 oz. strawberry Jell-O
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 ½ cups cold water
- 1 lb fresh strawberries , sliced
- In a large bowl, stir together the boiling water and gelatin mix. Stir for 2 minutes, or until completely melted and the gelatin is completely dissolved. Immediately add the cold water and stir. Set aside to come to room temperature while making the crust and filling layers.
For the crust:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Position the rack to the middle of the oven.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the pretzel crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool completely.
For the filling:
- Once the crust is cooled to room temperature, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar and milk until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, then spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate 1 hour.
For the topping:
- After 1 hour, place the sliced strawberries evenly over top the cream cheese layer. Pour cooled jello mixture over the strawberries. Do not fill to the top or it can spill when transferring to fridge in next step. It is possible you may not use all of the jello liquid.
- Very carefully transfer dish to refrigerator and chill 4 to 6 hours before serving. (Wait to cover with plastic wrap or foil until the jello is somewhat set.)
- Do not fill jello to the top of pan as this can cause spillage when transferring to fridge. You may not use all of the jello liquid, and that is fine.
- Do not cover dessert until jello layer has hardened.
- This recipe can be halved and made in a 9x9-inch pan.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only.