Traditional pretzel salad often served at holidays made with FRESH strawberries instead of frozen. Delicious salty pretzel crust, fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream are the stars of this make ahead strawberry pretzel salad.
what is a make ahead strawberry pretzel salad?
This strawberry pretzel salad is a traditional American dish often served at Sunday lunch or at holidays. It has a delicious buttery, salted pretzel crust, and several layers of strawberry and cream cheese blended with whipped cream. Typically, it is made with a bag of frozen strawberries and a few cartons of cool whip, but I opted for a healthier, fresher version with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream!
The beauty of this recipe is that you prepare it a day ahead and just pull it out of the fridge when ready to serve!
Ingredients for strawberry pretzel salad
- 2 Cups of Chopped Pretzels, plus 1/4 cup of finely chopped pretzels for topping
- 16 oz carton of Fresh Strawberries
- 1- 8 oz package of Cream Cheese
- 1 Cup of Table Sugar + 2 Tbsp for the crust
- 1 1/4 Stick of Salted Butter
- 2 small packages of strawberry jello
Ingredients for the homemade whipped cream
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar (to stabilize the whipped cream topping)
How to Make the strawberry pretzel salad
The first step to this easy and delicious make ahead pretzel salad is to crush the pretzels for the crust. I use a wooden mallet to press down on the pretzels and crush them. But if you don’t have one you can get the same results by using a jar, rolling pin, or soup can. To avoid making a mess, you can put the pretzels into a Ziploc before crushing so that they are contained. Separate out 1/4 cup of the pretzels and crush them even more finely. Store them in a small airtight container or Ziploc to reserve them for the topping.
Once all the pretzels are crushed, put them into a 9 x 13 baking dish and add the 2 Tbsp of sugar and melted butter. Mix together well and press it smoothly into the bottom of the dish. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and set it aside to cool. Then, dissolve the Jello in 2 Cups of hot water. Set it aside to cool completely to room temp- it should be cool but not set!
Next, you need to make the homemade whipped cream. To do this, simply pour the heavy cream into a bowl and using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix on medium speed until soft peaks form. Then, add in the maple syrup and whip for another minute or two so that the consistency is a firm whipped cream. Then, in a separate bowl, blend together 1 cup of sugar and the cream cheese. Gently fold in half of the homemade whipped cream.
assembling the pretzel salad
To assemble the strawberry pretzel salad, first, pour the cream cheese-sugar mixture onto the pretzel crust and spread evenly. Then, add the chopped strawberries evenly on top. Then pour the cooled- but- not- set strawberry Jello mixture on top of the strawberries. Refrigerate for one hour. While the strawberry layer is setting in the fridge, add one Tbsp of confectioners sugar to the remaining whipped cream to stabilize it. Whip it until it is all incorporated. Once the pretzel salad has chilled for one hour, take it out and top with the remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle the finely crushed pretzels on top. Then, cover it and refrigerate it for at least six hours or for even best results, overnight.
FAQ & substitutions
Can I substitute the Pure Maple Syrup in the Whipped Cream? If you don’t have pure Maple syrup, you can use 1/2 Cup of Confectioners sugar instead.
Do I have to refrigerate overnight? I have done a “quick” throw together of this the day of and stuck it in the freezer for an hour or two to accelerate the setting process. It did work. But ideally, for the best results, make it a day ahead and refrigerate it overnight.
Can I make this GLUTEN FREE? To make this salad gluten free, simply substitute the crushed pretzels for pecans or walnuts. Or if you can find them, use gluten free pretzels.
tips for making strawberry pretzel salad
- To avoid making a mess, put the pretzels inside of a Ziploc bag when crushing them. And if you don’t have a kitchen mallet like I did, you can use a mason jar or soup can.
- Allow the strawberry Jello mixture to cool but not congeal. Stir it every ten minutes to cool it quickly and make sure it is still “pourable”. (If it sits for a long time and congeals, you will not have a nice even consistency in the strawberry layer.)
- When making the homemade Whipped Cream, mix it to the point that it is firm so that when you blend it with the melted cream cheese it holds together.
- Don’t forget to add in 1 Tbsp of confectioners sugar to the whipped topping so that it stabilizes for refrigeration. If you skip this step, the whipped cream could soften and become watery overnight.
Did you make it? Let me know by leaving a review below or tagging me with a pic on instagram @good.to.gather
Make Ahead Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 2 Cups Crushed pretzels
- 1 1/4 Cups salted butter melted
- 2 Tbsp Table sugar
- 1 8 oz cream cheese
- 4 Cups homemade whipped cream halved
- 1 Cup table sugar
- 16 oz carton of fresh strawberries chopped
- 2 6 oz packages strawberry jello
- 2 Cups hot water
- 1/4 Cup finely crushed pretzels for topping
Homemade Whipped Cream
- 2 Cups heavy cream
- 1/4 Cup pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar
- The first step is to crush the pretzels for the crust. Use a wooden mallet, jar, rolling pin, or soup can to press down on the pretzels. To avoid making a mess, you can put the pretzels into a Ziploc before crushing so that they are contained. Separate out 1/4 cup of the pretzels and crush them even more finely. Store in a small airtight container or Ziploc for the topping.2 Cups Crushed pretzels
- Once all the pretzels are crushed, put them into a 9 x 13 baking dish and add the 2 Tbsp of sugar and melted butter. Mix together well and press it smoothly into the bottom of the dish. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.2 Tbsp Table sugar, 1 1/4 Cups salted butter
- Then, dissolve the Jello in 2 Cups of hot water. Set the mixture aside to cool completely to room temp- it should be cool but not set!2 6 oz packages strawberry jello, 2 Cups hot water
- In a separate bowl, blend together 1 cup of sugar and the cream cheese.1 8 oz cream cheese, 1 Cup table sugar
- Prepare the homemade whipped cream and gently fold in half of the whipped cream to the cream cheese – sugar mixture. Once mixed, spread it evenly over the cooled pretzel crust.4 Cups homemade whipped cream
- Next, chop the strawberries and add them over the cream cheese layer.16 oz carton of fresh strawberries
- When the Jello mixture is cooled but not set, pour it over the chopped strawberries and refrigerate for one hour.2 6 oz packages strawberry jello
- Add 1 Tbsp of Confectioners sugar to the remaining whipped cream to stabilize it, and spread it evenly over the chilled strawberry layer. Top with the finely crushed pretzels and cover tightly with foil or Saran Wrap. Refrigerate overnight for best results. Cut into square and serve cold.4 Cups homemade whipped cream, 1/4 Cup finely crushed pretzels
Homemade Whipped Cream
- Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix on medium speed until soft peaks form. Then, add in the maple syrup and whip for another minute or two so that the consistency is a firm whipped cream.2 Cups heavy cream, 1/4 Cup pure maple syrup, 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar