The ONE recipe that screams summer? This Healthy Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe of course! It's made with a salty pretzel crust, then it's topped with a cream cheese-yogurt-whipped topping and homemade strawberry jello. Seriously delicious, and easy to prepare!
Did anyone else grow up eating pretzel salad at family gatherings? If you've never tried it, you're probably thinking, "what's the big deal?". Well, let me tell you!
See, as much as I love making my lemon orzo salad throughout the summer, sometimes you want (ok, NEED) something sweet, and this dessert recipe is just the thing to make. It's made with three layers, each distinctly different and equally delicious.
Oh and let me add: though this recipe is healthier, it's definitely not that healthy. If you want a healthy dessert recipe, I suggest checking out my birthday cake brownies or my dairy-free fudge instead 🙂
- Uses pretzels as a crust, and is topped with a creamy cheesecake layer, and of course jello -- the ultimate salty-sweet dessert
- This recipe in particular uses less sugar than most, and is made with HOMEMADE strawberry jell-o (don't worry, it's easier than you think)
- Healthy strawberry pretzel salad has many textures and flavors and they all pair so well together!
- Pretzels: I recommend using mini pretzels, as they're easier to blend in your food processor.
- Butter: Regular or dairy free. You can use coconut oil, but it will create a slight coconut-y flavor, so be aware of that.
- Strawberries: A combination of frozen strawberries and fresh strawberries works best. The frozen will be used for the homemade jello, and the fresh will get mixed into the jello once it's done.
- Sugar: You can use your sweetener of choice for this recipe. I ended up using cane sugar, but coconut sugar or monkfruit will both work well if you want it to be less sweet. I don't recommend using honey or maple syrup.
- Gelatin: No substitutions -- you need it for the jello layer.
- Cream cheese: Opt for low fat cream cheese, or use vegan cream cheese to keep it dairy-free.
- Yogurt: Greek yogurt, or plain whole milk or even dairy-free yogurt will work.
- Cool whip: I used TruWhip and it worked great. Any kind of whipped cream should work!
Step 1: Make the pretzel layer. Start by adding the pretzels, almond flour and sugar to your food processor and pulse for 10 seconds or so. Then, pour the melted butter in through the top and mix until everything is combined.
Press the crushed pretzels into a 9x13 baking dish and bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and wait a few minutes, then transfer it to your freezer to allow the pretzels to cool.
Step 2: Make the strawberry jell-o. While the pretzels are cooling, make the jell-o. Add water, frozen strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break down the strawberries.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium bowl, then stir in the gelatin until it's dissolved.
Step 3: Whisk the cream cheese. While the jell-o sets aside, make the middle layer. Whisk the cream cheese, yogurt, and sugar together in a large bowl with a hand mixer, then fold in the cool whip with a rubber spatula. Do a quick taste test and add more sugar if you'd like.
Step 4: Assemble. Remove the pretzels from the freezer, then spread the cream cheese mixture overtop, smoothing it out as best you can. Sprinkle the sliced strawberries over top. Pour the strawberry jello over the strawberries, then place the entire baking pan into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Slice and enjoy!
Tips and tricks
- To make nut-free: The recipe is nut free, minus the almond flour. To make it completely without nuts, simply substitute all purpose flour or any flour for that matter. The recipe only needs ¼ cup to help hold the pretzels together, so any kind of flour should be ok.
- Feel free to play around with the cheesecake layer: I used cream cheese, yogurt and cool whip, but if you want to lighten it up even more, use more yogurt and less cream cheese.
- Sometimes, the gelatin doesn't completely dissolve; if this happens, you'll notice a few clumps on top, so be sure to scrape them off before pouring the jello over the strawberries.
Can this be made vegan?
Unfortunately no because gelatin isn't vegan-friendly. However, this healthy strawberry pretzel salad can be made dairy-free. To do so, use dairy free butter, cream cheese, yogurt, and cool whip. Also, this recipe is naturally gluten free, as long as you use gluten free pretzels!
Why homemade jell-o?
Honestly, because many pre-made jello's have a ton of artificial sweeteners and food dye in them, and because making your own is SO easy. Seriously, takes maybe 5 minutes longer and tastes even better.
- Refrigerator: This dessert should be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezer: To freeze, simply cover the baking dish with a lid or tightly with plastic wrap and freezer for up to 3 months.
More summer desserts
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Healthy Strawberry Pretzel Salad
for the crust:
- 2 cups mini pretzels
- ¼ cup almond flour or flour of choice
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup butter melted
for the strawberry jello:
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 oz. gelatin (4 packets total, .25 oz. each)
- 1 pint fresh strawberries sliced
for the cheesecake layer:
- 4 oz. cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup yogurt plain or Greek
- ½ cup sugar
- 8 oz. frozen cool whip thawed
for the pretzel crust:
- Preheat oven to 400° and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
- Add pretzels, almond flour and sugar to your food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. With the motor still running, pour the butter in through the top and pulse until combined.
- Transfer mixture to your prepared baking dish and use your hands to press the crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes. Remove it from the oven then wait a few minutes, then transfer it to your freezer and allow it to cool.
for the strawberry jello:
- Add water, frozen strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break down the strawberries.
- Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium bowl, discarding any leftover strawberries. Stir in the gelatin, whisking until it's fully dissolved; set aside.
for the cheesecake layer:
- Add cream cheese, yogurt and sugar to a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to mix until smooth. Fold in the cool whip by hand with a rubber spatula.
- Remove the baking dish from the freezer and spread the cheesecake layer over top, using the back of a spoon to smooth it out. Next, sprinkle the fresh sliced strawberries overtop, then pour the strawberry jell-o over the strawberries. Place the dish in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. Slice and enjoy!