A classic summer treat, this old fashioned Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe is a blast from my past. A staple at every summer gathering, this easy creamy Strawberry Pretzel Dessert recipe is super simple to throw together for all your favorite parties.

Strawberry pretzel salad on a white plate with a floral napkin.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

When the summer weather heats up, I totally crave a few summer staples…..like fresh squeezed Lemonade, a frosty glass of sweet tea, juicy watermelon and THIS Strawberry Pretzel Salad……which isn’t even really a salad.

It’s just a very unlikely combination of flavors and it sounds, well, kinda gross. But it’s really a dreamy dessert if you dare to take a bite and so dreamy, in fact, that I even fancied it up a bit in this easy cheesecake recipe.

I remember Strawberry Pretzel Salad being at every family gathering, especially during the warmer parts of the year and it was, by far, my favorite dessert ever. I always love the salty/sweet combos in desserts like this and the gelatin topping with fresh strawberries just made it that much better. 

overhead shot of two slices of strawberry pretzel salad and a baking dish.

What is Strawberry Pretzel Salad?

Strawberry Pretzel Salad, or strawberry pretzel dessert, is really not a salad at all. But I want to call it a salad because salad is healthy and I could eat this salad all day long.

It’s a light dessert that has a salty pretzel layer with a creamy cheesecake layer that’s topped with a sweet jell-o topping loaded with strawberries. The recipe is said to have originated in a 1960s cookbook called The Joys of Jell-O™. From there, it later took off and became an iconic southern tradition, but it’s becoming increasingly popular in all parts of the country.

Strawberry Pretzel Dessert with a bite taken out of it.

How to Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad

  1. Place the pretzels in a food processor and process into a fine crumb. 
  2. Toss the pretzel crumbs with melted butter and brown sugar.
  3. Press the pretzel mixture into the bottom of a 13×9 in baking dish and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Allow the crust to cool completely while you make the cheesecake layer.
  5. In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until fluffy.
  6. Fold in the whipped cream.
  7. Spread the mixture, edge to edge, over the cooled pretzel crust being sure it’s evenly coated and no holes are visible.
  8. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
  9. Add the Jell-o to boiling water and stir to dissolve.
  10. Allow the Jell-o to cool to room temperature. Stir in the strawberries. 
  11. Slowly pour the gelatin mixture over the cheesecake layer and transfer to the refrigerator to set for 4 hours or overnight.
  12. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

What Pretzels are Best for Pretzel Salad

I like to use smaller size pretzels like twists or pretzel sticks because they’re easier to process into a fine crumb. If your pretzel pieces are too big, your pretzel crust will fall apart when you cut into it. 

Can I use Cool Whip in place of whipped cream?

You can certainly replace the same amount of Cool Whip for the homemade whipped cream, if you wish, but the results will be a little sweeter and less creamy than if you use the homemade whipped cream called for in the recipe.

Tips for Making the BEST Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

  • Process your pretzels into a fine crumb, similar to graham cracker crumbs, to help the crust hold together when you cut it.
  • Do NOT follow the package directions for the Jell-O. Be sure to follow the recipe directions for best results.
  • Be sure to use room temperature cream cheese when starting. This will help the sugar blend together more easily and allow you to fold in the whipped cream swiftly.
  • Spread the cream cheese layer completely over the pretzel layer covering the entire surface and creating a seal around the edges so the Jell-O layer doesn’t bleed into the pretzel mixture.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad in a baking dish.

Can I use frozen strawberries in this Pretzel Salad recipe?

You can TOTALLY use frozen strawberries in place of the fresh strawberries called for in this recipe. I recommend thawing them just a bit before adding to the Jell-O mixture and be sure to work quickly because the frozen strawberries will cause the gelatin to set up more quickly making it difficult to pour over the cheesecake layer evenly.

See how easy it is to make Strawberry Pretzel Salad? It’s, by far, my favorite summer dessert and I could easily eat the whole pan all by myself. It’s so great to serve at parties because guests absolutely LOVE it! Just don’t tell them it’s a salad or they may think you’re weird.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad on a white plate.

More Easy Strawberry Recipes

If you’re a strawberry lover like I am, you’ll love all the recipes I listed above but don’t forget to try this easy Strawberry Jam or my favorite homemade Strawberry Ice Cream!

Want to see what else we’re stuffing our faces with? Follow us over on Instagram!

Strawberry Pretzel Dessert with a bite taken out of it.

Get the Recipe: Strawberry Pretzel Salad Recipe

A summer classic, this easy Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe is super simple to make!
5 from 3 votes


  • 2 1/4 cups finely crushed pretzels
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade whipped cream or frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 6 ounces strawberry flavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced


  • baking dish


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • In a medium bowl, combine the crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons brown sugar.
  • Press the pretzel mixture firmly into the bottom of a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
  • Bake the pretzel crust for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  • Carefully fold in the whipped cream and spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled crust covering completely.
  • Dissolve the gelatin in boiling water and stir in the strawberries.
  • Allow the gelatin to set slightly.
  • When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour the gelatin mixture over the cream cheese and spread to cover evenly.
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.


YouTube video


For best results, make the night before.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Calories: 321kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 362mg, Potassium: 99mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 35g, Vitamin A: 412IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 24mg, Iron: 1mg