Memorial Day Pretzel Jell-O

When I found out I got American holidays at my new job, I put a call out on Twitter asking what sort of traditions surrounded Memorial Day. I assumed it would be all ballpark franks and Budweiser because well, that’s how I stereotype Americans (as if you don’t stereotype Canadians!!).

But blog friends Leah and Brie told me about this thing called pretzel jell-o. I at first imagined a block of jell-o with pretzels floating around inside. Weird. But Leah sent me a link to a recipe and I immediately knew it was a must-make for the long weekend!


A pretzel crust, whipped middle layer, and fruity jell-o on top. Never in my life have I heard of anything like this. Probably because my mom never let us eat products with food dyes in it growing up, Jell-O included. She’s a microbiologist and gets weirded out by the chemicals in food dyes. Rightfully so!

But I’m an adult now, and can occasionally choose to poison myself if I so choose.

IMG_7352I started with the pretzel crust. Much like a graham cracker crust – but with pretzels. I don’t know how I’ve never thought of this, such a yummy crust idea!


I pulverized about 3/4 of the bag in a blender to make 2 cups crushed pretzels. Then mixed with 3 tbsp sugar and 3/4 cup melted butter.


Pressed firmly into a 9×13 pan and baked at 325F for 8 minutes.

While that was going on, I got started on the middle layer.


The measurements for this recipe are all in ounces, but I’m Canadianizing it by using metric. So for this you need a 250g package of cream cheese and 1L tub of cool whip. I used the light versions because it’s nice to save calories where you can when making dessert. Plus, it’s already a chemical gold mine with the jell-o.


Check it out – even the Cool Whip has a version of this recipe on the lid. At this point, I am feeling both deprived and isolated for never having heard of it.


For this layer, start by mixing your block of cream cheese with 1 cup sugar. If you have an electric mixer, use it. I don’t (yet) and doing this step with a fork sucks.

Once that’s all combined, fold in your container of cool whip and spread on top of the pretzel crust, assuming it’s out of the oven by now.


Don’t forget to lick the bowl after this! I call it “Baker’s Rights.” As the person doing the baking, you have the right to lick all bowls and utensils when finished.


I also never knew a strawberry banana flavour of Jell-O even existed. I was surprised to find it at my grocery store! You’ll need two packages.


For this step, mix the packets with 2 cups boiling water and throw in 600g semi-frozen sliced strawberries (I just let them sit on the counter for a little bit to slightly thaw first).


For those of you wondering, 600g is also 20 oz, which is also the same size as a President’s Choice or Europe’s Best bag of frozen strawberries.

Let that chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, no longer. You want it just slightly molded but still able to pour on top for the final layer.


Once that’s all done, put it in the fridge so the jell-o can finish and serve cold.


Tada! My first ever batch of Pretzel Jell-O! I feel so American! No Budweiser needed ;)


The pretzel crust did not turn out as salty as I was expecting. Just slightly less cookie-like than a graham crust.


The fruity jell-o layer with the whipped cream cheese is of course a winning combo.

I brought this dessert over to my step-dad’s birthday party, and it provided the perfect light dessert on a warm pre-summer day.


Thanks America, you’ve got some great ideas sometimes!

Now, off the topic of jell-o, I’m wondering – what stereotypes do you have about Canadians? I figure everyone thinks we’re like Robin from How I Met Your Mother (which, really, isn’t far from the truth).

Posted on May 30, 2011, in Baking, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. The Teenage Taste

    I have to admit most American holidays are celebrated with hot dogs and beer. I prefer celebrating with desserts… ;]

  2. I love the strawberry pretzel salad. It is delicious. Perfect way to celebrate the holidays.

  3. I watched the episode of HIMYM the other day where Robin goes to the Hoser Hut and to check if it’s really Canadian, pushes a guy who apologizes for bumping into her and offers her a donut, and I laughed so hard because that really is soooo Canadian ;) I don’t understand her love of guns though…

  4. Ok, let’s put aside the fact that I really hate jello of all sorts. I am very American, and I have NEVER heard of pretzel jell-o! I feel deprived now, for some reason! LOL


  5. My family makes this constantly – but it’s better if you don’t pulverize the pretzels to dust (leave spome delicious, salty pieces to crunch as you eat), and we also use a sweetened cream cheese instead of the cool whip. With those modifications it’s to die for :)

  6. So smart using pretzels. Knowing me and my penchant for all things sweet, I’d stick some sweetener in the crust for that salty/sweet combo. mmm. I’m not sure we have that jello flavor in the US?

    • I didn’t know that flavor existed either! But to be honest, the only time I buy jello is for jello shots anyways :P

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. Susan, I’ve made that recipe for the past 3 years of Canada Day celebrations, found it on the cool whip container. Every time I make it, people always compliment it, I love it.

  8. awesomeness!!! i just got nostalgic reading this and i’ve never even eaten it!

  9. I never ever knew there was such a thing until I was at my friends bbq a couple weekend ago. I was like…there’s pretzels…in this jello? What’s going on? haha

  10. This is totally a Midwestern thing. It’s not a holiday in my family without some kind of red jell-o creation!

    True story: one Thanksgiving, we were in the middle of moving, and all our kitchen supplies were packed away in a truck somewhere. My aunt insisted my mom STILL make red jell-o, and she worked at a doctor’s office, so to be spiteful, she made it in sterile (CLEAN) urine sample cups and passed it out. I’m not even kidding.

  11. Yay! You made it!

  12. I feel a little deprived too– I’ve never heard of this before! I don’t know how that’s possible. Looks delish though :)

  13. nancyrunswild

    I’m American, from the east cost to be specific, and I never heard of this dessert.

    • From the sounds of it, I gather the whole jello phenomenon is primarily a midwestern thing. But I am too far removed to start categorizing American things by region :P

  14. I’ve never heard of this! It sounds delicious. I need to try this one of these days!

  15. My Dad makes this recipes for family get togethers too. Although, my family somehow thinks it’s a jello “salad” and serves it with the meal! It’s totally dessert though. But who am I to argue with getting 2 desserts! :)

    • “Jell-o salad” is a totally new concept to me too!! I just had my first version of it not too long ago alongside a big meal. Aaaahhh, the many wonders of jello ;)

  16. My mom used to make cheesecake this way as a child and I loved it!

  17. Yeah, I’ve definitely never heard of that dessert! I actually don’t think it’s really a regional/national thing at all- just something some people’s families made and others don’t! I’d bet you’ve got some Canadian friends who know about it, too! :) And trust me, Memorial Day is definitely more about grilled meat, beer, baseball and beaches. I can proudly say that I took advantage of all 4 of those things this weekend!

  18. This is something so strange, yet so appealing. I need to try it.

  19. Never had this particular Jell-o creation. My family only made two Jell-o salads…they were refered to as either the green or the orange barf. They were served at all holiday meals. Sadly I was really old before I found out those weren’t actually the name of the recipes. The green is legitimately called Watergate salad and is delicious. The orange I am still clueless on so I’m sticking with orange barf…

    • I had a green “jello salad” for the first time the other day! It was more custardy with gelatin. Wonder if it’s the same thing? Also, I wonder why “Watergate” for the name? ;)

  20. I’d never heard of that pretzel/Jello dish until now so maybe I’m not the typical American? I’m an only child of Colorado hippie parents so I think I’m a little sheltered than most…

    I can’t think of any Memorial Day traditions though. I will admit that my fridge is ALWAYS stocked with Bud Light for my husband though!

    I don’t have many thoughts about “typical” Canadians…I’m jealous of the healthcare system though! Mostly I just sort of forget Canada is there. I know, I’m horrible.

    • Bahahaha, it’s okay, I think we’re easily forgettable :P I always thought I knew a lot about the States, but now that I read so many American blogs, I realize I don’t know much!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: