Back when I was a junior in college, a friend invited a group of us over to his parents’ house for dinner and a movie. This was awesome for many reasons, but the best being that his parents were providing all the food. (When you’re a poor college student, home cooked meals are like gold.) When it came time to eat, we formed a line and starting filling up our plates. I came across a dish that looked like a layered-jello salad but it had pretzels in it. Um…what? My friend, whose parents’ house it was, saw me looking at it and said with a smile “Just try it. It’s amazing!” I took his word for it and scooped a medium sized portion onto my plate. I sat down at the table and took a tentative bite and…oh my heavens! It was seriously one of the best first bites of anything I’ve ever had in my life! The pretzels provided a little texture and saltiness while the jello and fruit added sweetness and the middle layer of cream cheese provided a lighter texture to balance everything out. Needless to say, I went back for seconds…and thirds.
A few days later, I was still thinking about how good it was so I asked my friend for his mom’s number so I could call her for the recipe. After a slightly awkward introduction on my part, she was kind enough to pull the recipe out and read it to me over the phone while I happily wrote it down on a spare piece of paper. Since then, I’ve made this recipe any time I want to add a little “wow” factor to a lunch or dinner I’m invited to. Some people have the same reaction I did when I saw it the first time. Others know what it is and scoop themselves a heaping portion. But without fail, the dish is all but licked clean (not literally, thank goodness) by the end of the gathering and I have people asking for the recipe.
While not a complicated recipe, it does take a little time to prepare, mostly due to the time it needs to cool/set in the refrigerator. (I always make it the night before the event to ensure it sets properly.)
So let’s get started:
First, melt the butter and the break the stick pretzels in half, spreading them in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. This creates a “base” for the rest of the jello to sit on. I just kind of pat them down using my fingers or a spatula until it is mostly covered and there aren’t any pretzels sitting on top of each other. Then you stick it in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. The pretzels will have absorbed the butter and this will help soften them up. Put the pan in the fridge to cool, about 30 minutes.
Next, mix together the cream cheese, whipped topping and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix until the ingredients are well incorporated, especially the cream cheese. (As good as this stuff is, no one likes biting into a chunk of cream cheese.)
Once the pretzels are cool, spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the pretzels. I find it easiest to scoop large spoonfuls all over and then spread it around using a rubber spatula. Do your best not to disturb the pretzels. Put it back in the fridge for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, pour 2 cups of boiling water into the jello and stir until dissolved. Do NOT add cold water. Put the jello in the fridge to cool. When cool, pour in raspberries and pineapple, then stir. Pour the jello/fruit mixture over the cream cheese mixture. Keep in the fridge overnight and keep chilled until ready to serve.
Raspberry Pretzel Salad
- 1/2 c. butter, melted
- 2 1/2 c. stick pretzels
- 1 8-oz tub of whipped topping, thawed
- 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 6-oz pkg raspberry jello
- 2 c. hot water
- 1 14-oz can crushed pineapple
- 1 12-oz bag frozen raspberries
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter. Pour in bottom of 9×13 pan. Break pretzels in half and cover bottom of pan. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Put in fridge to cool.
- In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, whipped topping and sugar until well blended. Spread over pretzels using a rubber spatula. Put in fridge for 1 hour to cool.
- Boil 2 cups of water and add to jello until dissolved. Do NOT add cold water. Put jello in fridge to cool.
- When jello is cool, pour in raspberries and pineapple, then stir. Pour over cream cheese mixture. Keep refrigerated overnight.
- Chill until ready to serve.
This jello salad is perfect to take to any gathering, during any time of the year. It’s that good and that versatile. I hope you like as much as I do!
What is your favorite jello salad?