Homemade Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Prep Time 30minutes minutes
Cook Time 25minutes minutes
Freeze/chill time (inactive): 4hours hours
Total Time 4hours hours 55minutes minutes
For the crust:
- 8 ounces salted pretzels, small twists or sticks ((about 2.5 cups))
- 3/4 cup vegan butter, melted
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
Cream cheese layer:
- 16 ounces vegan cream cheese, room temperature (I recommend Miyoko’s.)
- 1 cup coconut cream (Coconut cream can be found in some stores; or chill a (14 oz) can of full-fat coconut milk overnight; use ONLY the thick cream portion. Reserve liquid for another use.)
- 1 1/4 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
Strawberry vegan “jell-o” layer:
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries OR 1 lb. fresh and 1 lb. frozen, divided, ends trimmed
- 3 1/4 cups water, divided
- scant 1 cup organic cane sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon agar powder
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and clear space in both the freezer and refrigerator for a 9×13 dish.
- Pulse the pretzels in a food processor until crumbled. Add melted butter and sugar, and pulse again to combine. Press into a 9×13-inch casserole dish, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden. Set aside to cool.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and coconut cream until smooth. Add sifted sugar, and beat until fully incorporated. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the cooled pretzel crust, making sure to spread it ALL the way to the edges, so the pretzel layer is completely sealed.
- Place the dish in the freezer for 1.5 to 2 hours or until the cream cheese is firm to the touch.
- After 1 hour, it’s time to prepare the strawberry layer. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 pound frozen (or fresh) strawberries with 2 ¾ cups water and ¼ cup sugar. Bring to a simmer, and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until the strawberries have lost their color.
- Pour the strawberry water through a fine mesh sieve, capturing the liquid in a clean bowl. Rinse the sieve and strain the strawberry water one more time so it’s clear and free from particles. (Those strawberries can be eaten or discarded.) You should have about 2 ¾ cups (22 ounces) of strawberry juice. Set aside.
- Slice the remaining pound of strawberries, and arrange them on top of the cold cream cheese layer. Return the dish to freezer.
- Rinse the saucepan so it’s clean. Combine ½ cup water and the agar powder in the pan. Whisk to dissolve the agar. Whisk in ⅔ cup sugar, and bring to a boil. Whisking frequently, simmer for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then remove from heat. Immediately whisk the strawberry juice into the agar mixture. This will cool it down slightly. Continue whisking occasionally, and let it cool until warm but not hot, about 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on it! If the agar begins to set, immediately pour it over the strawberries.)
- When the agar feels lukewarm, remove the dish from freezer and carefully pour the strawberry “jell-o” over the strawberries. It will begin to set almost instantly upon contact with the cold berries and cream cheese. Keep in mind, where you pour the agar is where it will stay, so move around the dish as you pour so the gel layer is even.
- Refrigerate until fully chilled, about 2 hours. Serve with vegan whipped cream.
Tips and Storage Notes:
On day 2 the pretzel crust won’t be quite as crunchy. So it’s best to make pretzel salad early on the same day you plan to serve it, or late the night before. Be sure to allow at least 5 hours total for prep and chilling.
If you prefer a thicker pretzel crust, increase the crust ingredients by 50%.
Don’t reduce the amount of butter in the pretzel crust. It holds the crust together and keeps it crisp!
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.