Elaborate Jell-Os. “Salads” made with Cool Whip. Dessert recipes that call for a whole package of cream cheese. This is the song of my people. You either grew up eating Strawberry Pretzel Salad at family get-togethers, or you clicked this out of morbid curiosity and aren’t sure if you’re about to be dazzled or horrified. Either way, you’re here, and I’m glad to have you.
This, of course, is just a veganization of a recipe that has been around for ages. But, I am offering a few tips and suggestions if for no other reason than to make myself feel better about posting this. Let’s get started.
Gelatin is made from animal collagen, which is why vegans (and most vegetarians) don’t eat it. Although most people think of gelatin and Jell-O as being one and the same, it actually shows up in lots of foods, like marshmallows and gummy candies. But, just like their are vegan marshmallows and gummies these days, there is also vegan Jell-O. You can order it online from sites like Vegan Essentials, iHerb, and Vitacost. (Shout out to Vegan Essentials, though, for being vegan-owned.)
If you aren’t a fan, or don’t want to wait to mail order it to make this recipe, Tony and I both agreed that this dessert would be perfectly delicious topped instead with sliced fruit. Strawberries, if they’re in season, but really anything you like.
These are so many delicious vegan cream cheeses on the market right now. My personal favorite is Kite Hill’s chive cream cheese, which you absolutely do not want to use in this recipe. In fact, leave all of the fancy, new-fangled cream cheese behind and reach instead for good ‘ol Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. Why? Because most of the fancy ones are super tangy (and hard to find without savory mix-ins) and in this case, you want something on the blander side to mimic Philadelphia Cream Cheese. (I know that sounds shady, but where is the lie?)
Tub of Whipped Stuff
The OG Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe calls for a tub of Cool Whip, and we’re lucky to live in a time when most well-stocked grocery stores carry a vegan alternative from So Delicious in the freezer section. If you can’t find it, though, you can definitely make coconut whipped cream yourself, it’s just going to take a bit of work and a couple cans of full fat coconut milk. Plus, you’ll want to add a stabilizer so it doesn’t go weepy on you in the fridge.
Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- hand mixer
- 2 cups crushed pretzels
- 3/4 cups vegan margarine, melted
- 3 Tbs sugar
- 1 tub Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 container So Delicious CocoWhip, thawed or 8oz homemade coconut whipped cream
- 2 packages strawberry vegan gel see post for source, or skip this step & top with freshly sliced fruit
- 20 oz sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Stir together crushed pretzels, melted margarine and 3 tablespoons sugar; mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Bake 8-10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool completely.
- Use a hand mixer to beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in the whipped coconut topping.
- Spread evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. Cover, and store in the freezer while you prefer the last layer.
- If you are not using a gel layer, simply top your dessert with sliced fruit, and chill at least 4 hours before serving.
- Prepare the gel as directed on the package. While the water is boiling, get the sliced fruit ready. Vegan gel sets up quickly.
- Once you've mixed the gel and boiling water, add the fruit. If you're using frozen, there's no need to thaw it first.
- Allow the gel and fruit to set only until it's about the texture of egg whites – still loose, but a bit firm. With frozen fruit, this step only took me about 3 minutes.
- Use a large spoon or ladle to scoop the gel mixture evenly on top of the chilled whipped cream layer.
- Cover, and refrigerate at least 4 hours before slicing and serving.