Mixed Berry Pretzel Salad~ No Jello or Cool Whip!
This mixed berry pretzel salad is a delightful new spin on the classic strawberry pretzel salad, except this time, you don’t need any jello or cool whip! This upgraded pretzel salad features a sweet ‘n’ salty crust, an ultra creamy filling and a tart berry jam to top it all off. And even better, the bright reddish-blue jam and white cream filling makes this dessert perfect for serving at your Independence Day cookout!
When I was first introduced to strawberry pretzel salad, I immediately fell in love with the crunchy, sweet yet salty, pretzel crust and the silky cream cheese filling. However, the one thing that I didn’t love was the strawberry jello layer on top. Now that I’m older, I don’t appreciate all the artificial flavors and colors in gelatin desserts. But, even when I was little, I still didn’t like jello because it was just, well weird. To little me, jello was jiggly, a bit slimy, and just not appetizing in general. So, whenever I’ve eaten strawberry pretzel salad, I’ve always just scraped the jello off and eaten the bottom two layers.
So, for those of you who agree with me about gelatin desserts, I have created a strawberry pretzel salad recipe that completely skips over the jello. Instead of jello, this pretzel salad features a blueberry and strawberry jam (although you could just use strawberries if you wanted to!). Also, for those of you who are a little skeptical of eating frozen whipped topping and all its preservatives and chemicals, I’ve also omitted that ingredient from the cream cheese filling, replacing it with homemade whipped cream instead. Strawberry pretzel salad has definitely had a makeover and been transformed into this delicious mixed berry pretzel salad; perfect for celebrating the fourth of July!
Ingredients You Need
Pretzels~ For the crust you will need pretzels. You can use pretzel twists or sticks, but I would avoid using the large, thick pretzel sticks.
Butter~ In this recipe, unsalted or salted butter will work great. If you need a dairy free option, plant based butter sticks work well too.
Brown Sugar~ I prefer brown sugar in the crust, but you could use white sugar instead if you prefer.
Strawberries and Blueberries~ I opted to use frozen strawberries and blueberries, but you can definitely use fresh berries instead. You can also use just strawberries or just blueberries if you don’t want a mixed berry pretzel salad.
White Sugar~ Because this is used in the cream filling and the jam topping, I don’t recommend making any substitutions. Liquid sweeteners will not work in this recipe.
Lemon Juice~ This ingredient brightens the flavor of the berry jam, so I don’t recommend omitting it. Fresh juice is always best, but bottled will work in a pinch.
Cornstarch~ Cornstarch is important for thickening the berry jam.
Heavy Cream~ Instead of frozen whipped topping, you will whip heavy cream to make whipped cream. I have seen plant based heavy whipping cream alternatives, however I haven’t tried them so I cannot vouch for how using an alternative would turn out.
Cream Cheese~ For this recipe, it’s best to use full fat cream cheese for the smoothest, creamiest results. Dairy free cream cheese would probably also work as well if needed.
Powdered Sugar~ This ingredient helps stabilize the whipped cream and thickens the cream filling a bit. For these reasons, please do not make substitutions!
Vanilla Extract~ Vanilla adds flavor to the cream filling that compliments the tart berry jam wonderfully.
This recipe has three main steps: make the crust, make the cream filling, make the berry jam topping. At first, it can seem a bit overwhelming to have several things to do, but to make things sooo much easier, I highly recommend making the jam and crust ahead of time, as explained below.
The day before you are planning to serve the mixed berry pretzel salad, I recommend making the berry jam and then placing it in the refrigerator overnight. You can also make the pretzel crust and then allow it to sit covered at room temperature overnight. Because both of these layers need several hours of cooling time, allowing them to just cool overnight makes everything easier.
The day you plan to serve this dessert, make the cream filling. Layer the filling over the cooled crust and then spoon the cold jam on top. Make sure to allot a few hours for the pretzel salad to chill before slicing into squares and serving. View the video below for a recipe visual:
Whether you serve this mixed berry pretzel salad for your fourth of July cookout, some other time this summer, or in the dead of winter, you will fall in love at first bite 😉
I love that this layered dessert embodies the bright flavors of summer, as well as pays homage to the classic strawberry pretzel salad. And, although I’m a bit biased, I’ll have to say that this might just be my new favorite summertime dessert! It’s fresh, it’s colorful, and it says goodbye to artificial flavors and preservatives. What’s not to love?
Hope you enjoy 😀
Looking for more Independence Day inspiration? Check out these recipes below:
Mixed Berry Pretzel Salad
For the Pretzel Crust
- 3 cups pretzels (measured before crushing)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter salted or unsalted
For the Mixed Berry Jam
- 3 cups blueberries fresh or frozen
- 3 cups whole strawberries fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice about 1 large lemon
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
For the Cream Filling
- 8 oz full-fat cream cheese
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F. Add your pretzels to a gallon size resealable plastic bag (make sure to close the bag!). Use a rolling pin or back of a large spoon to crush the pretzels into small pieces.
- Add the pretzel pieces to a medium size bowl. To the pretzels, add the brown sugar and melted butter and stir to combine. Press the pretzel mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Allow the pretzel crust to cool completely at room temperature.
- Next, make the berry jam by combining the blueberries, strawberries, white sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Cook the mixture on the stove over medium heat until it begins to bubble and thicken (about 10 minutes if using frozen berries). Pour the jam into a heat-safe bowl and place in the fridge to completely cool for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- To make the cream filling, in a large bowl beat together the cream cheese, white sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth (about 1-2 minutes). Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar together using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until the cream has developed stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and gently fold together with a spatula until the two mixtures are completely incorporated.
- Spread the cream filling over the cooled pretzel crust, then pour the cold berry jam on top and spread evenly. Chill the layered dessert for 2-3 hours before slicing and serving. Top with extra fresh berries if desired and enjoy!