It seems like every family has it’s staple foods that are a must-have at every big family gathering, like Thanksgiving and Easter. For my family, that was always Strawberry Pretzel Salad. I’m not entirely sure why we call it a salad, because it doesn’t have any of the traditional characteristics of a salad, but we always called it a salad, and it never, ever found it’s place at the dessert table, despite it being oddly dessert-like. No, Strawberry Pretzel Salad’s place was on the main buffet of food, alongside potatoes and deviled eggs and ham.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen similar recipes float by. Some with pineapple, most with more or less cream cheese or Cool Whip, some with powdered sugar instead of granulated, but it seemed that I had no chance at finding THE Strawberry Pretzel Salad I grew up eating. However, after hours of searching through old church cookbooks, I finally found the Strawberry Pretzel Salad that I knew and loved. And now, I’m sharing it with you.
The ingredients are quite simple: Strawberry Jello, Strawberries, Pretzels, and a few others. I’ve found that Philadelphia cream cheese works better than store brands, but that’s a personal preference and you can use what you have on hand. It’s just my preferred brand. When buying the Strawberry Jell-O, make sure you’re buying the 8-serving large box, rather than the small box.
You’re going to start by making the pretzel crust. For those of you who love sweet and salty, this crust is made for you. Start with 3/4 Cup melted butter or margarine, and stir in 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar. Then, crush enough pretzels to make 2 cups (it took me 3-4 cups of whole pretzels to get 2 cups of crushed pretzels) and spread them into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Pour the butter mixture over the crust, making sure the pretzels are coated and packed into the pan.
Just like this!
Bake the crust for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Be sure to let it cool completely before moving on to the filling.
For the filling, you’ll take your package of Philadelphia (8 ounces) and a cup of sugar and cream them together until they’re well combined and a bit fluffy. You can use a beater if you’d like, but a fork will work just fine.
Add in an entire tub of Cool Whip and combine that very well, also.
Spread it over the cooled crust and refrigerate as you prepare the topping.
For step 3, start by boiling 2 cups of water. It will look like… uh… boiling water. In a separate bowl, go ahead and open the package of Strawberry Jell-O.
When your water boils, stir it into the Strawberry Jell-O until the gelatin is dissolved.
Add in 20 ounces of thawed frozen berries. I personally love the pre-sliced Dole strawberries, but they come in a 14 ounce package. You’ll use about 1 1/2 packages, so you’ll have half a package leftover for smoothies later. After adding the berries in, you’re going to stir and wait until the Jell-O mixture is cooled, but not fully set.
Carefully pour it over the cream cheese layer, then refrigerate for several hours until the Jell-O layer is firmly set.
This dessert is just perfect, especially for Easter, because it tastes light and fresh, not too heavy, and has a great sweet-salty consistency, and a bit of crunch from the pretzels. It’s a great choice. But if you serve it, don’t forget, it’s a salad, not a dessert, which means if you over-indulge on the desserts this Easter, well… at least you ate your salad, right?
What’s your must-have food for Easter? Let me know in the comments below!