Layers of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy all come together in this fun treat. Cherry cheesecake pretzel salad is perfect for potlucks, bbqs, holidays and more.
This fun twist on the classic strawberry pretzel salad has the literal cherry on top! It has the perfect mix of flavors and textures.
It’s a great make ahead and easily portable treat that is perfect for so many occasions. In fact, you might want to go ahead and make two!
If you are like me, you grew up eating and loving strawberry pretzel salad. The layer of pretzel crust was the perfect base for a cream cheese filling and jello and fruit topping.
It was a staple at spring and summer gatherings. It was known for disappearing quickly, so you had to get your piece early.
I know some families serve it as a dessert, but my family always took the word salad in the title as an excuse to serve it as a side dish.
Maybe it was just because we couldn’t wait to dig in. Most probably it was so we could still have a dessert as well!
A couple of years ago I made a delicious orange creamsicle pretzel salad that was an instant hit. We are a sucker for all things orange and cream, so I wasn’t surprised.
This time I was inspired to put a new fruity spin on it. This the cherry pretzel salad was born!
It’s perfect really. It’s a lot like a no bake cheesecake with cherry topping.
But the salty pretzel base adds that extra layer of flavor. It lights up so many taste receptors!
Plus the addition of gelatin to the topping makes it set firmer. You can cut a slice and it will hold its shape.
That way if you are like us and serve it as a side, you don’t get cherry filling all over your other food! It just has so many things going for it.
Of course it is a great make ahead dish. In fact you have to make it at least a couple of hours in advance so it has plenty of time to set up.
Feel free to make it a full day ahead if that works better for your schedule. It will be tasty for several days after that, but eventually the pretzel crust will start to get soft.
Getting the filling perfectly creamy
I like making the filling with whipping cream instead of whipped topping. Don’t worry though, it is still made in one bowl.
Beat the softened cream cheese really well before adding anything else. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and the beaters a couple of times to make sure there are no lumps.
Add the sugar and vanilla and beat well. Make sure there are no cream cheese lumps before proceeding.
Once the mixture is smooth, slowly drizzle in the cream while beating it. Incorporating it slowly allows it to come together more easily.
When all of the cream is added, whip it until it is super fluffy. Then you are ready to spread it over the prepared pretzel crust.
Potential fruity topping additions
I was really tempted to add pineapple to the jello topping. We love it in Aunt Dori’s cherry pineapple jello salad.
Little Dude isn’t always a pineapple fan though, so I opted to leave it out. I really hope somebody tries making that salad recipe and spreading it over the pretzel and cream cheese base.
Please let me know how it goes and send .e pictures if you do!
As it is, this cherry pretzel salad was a huge hit with my family. My brothers helped eat a good chunk of it at family dinner.
My husband, Little Dude and I had to practically wrestle for the leftovers. Little Dude kept asking for more “salad” and giggling. I guess he’s a salad lover now! 😉
Have you ever made a fun variation of layered jello salad? I’d love to hear about your favorites!
Tips and Tricks
This recipe is super simple to make, but it does take a little time between each step. You may be tempted to rush it along, but for the best results you will want to give each layer the time it deserves.
Your pretzels don’t have to be ground completely into powder, but you do want them pretty well broken up to make serving and eating your salad more enjoyable. You can use plastic bags and a rolling pin to make that happen, but if you have a food processor it is the perfect tool for the job.
Allow the crust to cool completely before you add the cream cheese filling. Then make sure the cream cheese filling touches the pan the whole way around.
If your cream cheese filling isn’t making contact with the pan, the jello can leak underneath. Your dish will still be edible, but not nearly as pretty and the pretzels will be soft.
Allow the cream cheese filling to set in the refrigerator while the jello mixture cools at room temperature a bit. Then gently pour the jello over the cream cheese and put the whole thing back in the refrigerator until the jello is set.
It really is an easy recipe, but taking care between layers is the key to the best finished product!
Storing Pretzel Salad
It is a good idea to make this dish the night before you plan to serve it in order to give it plenty of time to set up. Just put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.
Leftovers should also be stored in the refrigerator. They are edible for up to a week, but the pretzels will start to get soft after a few days.
Luckily the leftovers never last that long around here. This pretzel salad gets gobbled up in the first day or two every time!
More jello treats
If you like jello recipes, we have more fun ideas for you! Check out some of these and see what catches your eye.
Creamy orange jello dotted with mandarin slices and topped with a fluffy vanilla topping makes for a perfectly refreshing and delicious orange creamsicle jello salad!
Green jello salad is creamy and filled with bits of pineapple. Of course lime jello holds it all together. Make it in a big dish and serve it by the spoonful or chill it in small molds for an extra fun presentation.
Stained glass jello is another fun treat. I shared a patriotic red, white and blue version but the colors and flavors can be switched up for any occasion.
Or whip up a fun 3 ingredient jello pie. It is perfect for summer gatherings or a nearly effortless dessert any old time.
Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!
- 2 cups crushed pretzels
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 cups butter
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 oz box cherry gelatin
- 1 cup boiling water
- 21 oz can cherry pie filling
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place crushed pretzels and sugar in the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Melt the butter and pour over the pretzels and sugar. Mix and spread over the bottom of the pan, pressing slightly. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove to cool.
- In a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese until super smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the cream while the mixer is running and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy. Spread over the pretzel crust. Be sure to spread it all the way to the edges. Put in the refrigerator to set up.
- Stir the gelatin powder into the hot water until it is dissolved. Add the cherry pie filling and stir. Allow to sit on the counter until it is room temperature. Slowly pour over cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until set, at least a couple of hours.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 357Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 247mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 3g
All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.