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Cranberry Pretzel Salad

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Layers of sweet and salty, crunchy, and creamy all come together in this fun twist on a classic Jello salad. Cranberry pretzel salad is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just because.

Piece of cranberry jello salad served on small plate in front of pan of remaining jello salad.

If you are looking for a way to change up your cranberry salads this year, you are in the right place. This fun pretzel salad has the perfect mix of the fall berries, jello, cream cheese, and pretzels.

Pretzel salads are always fun during the summer. They make a great refreshing side dish or simple dessert.

This version has cranberries and pineapple to make it perfect for fall, too. It would be a great way to change up your cranberry offerings this Thanksgiving, or make a batch to serve with your leftover turkey sandwiches.

Ingredients including pretzels, sugar, butter, cream cheese, cool whip, crushed pineapple, whole berry cranberry sauce, and Jello ready to be made into pretzel salad.

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!

Pretzel Salad

Did you grow up eating strawberry pretzel salad? We sure did.

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 cranberry jello salad that was an instant hit. So I thought it would be fun to turn that recipe into my next twist on pretzel salad.

The tart cranberries pair so well with pineapple. I just knew they would be great with some creamy filling and a sweet and salty pretzel crust.

It all comes together to make quite the treat. And it may just be the best we’ve made yet.

Getting the Filling Perfectly Creamy

Beat the softened cream cheese and sugar together until the mixture is smooth. This is your chance to get all of the lumps out.

Of course, this is easiest to do if the cream cheese is good and softened. The sugar will help to break up the cream cheese, though, so don’t despair if it isn’t all the way to room temperature.

Once the mixture is smooth, fold in the Cool Whip. I like to add about half and mix it in to lighten the mixture.

Then, I add the rest and fold it in to keep it nice and fluffy. You can use whatever method you like best.

If you prefer to use heavy cream instead of Cool Whip, that works too. You can use a cup of cream and a dash of vanilla.

Just add the cream to the cream cheese and sugar mixture and mix until combined. Then turn up the mixer and beat until fluffy.

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!

Served square of cranberry pretzel salad served on dessert plate with pan in background.

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.

Piece of cranberry jello salad served on small plate in front of pan of remaining jello salad.

Cranberry Pretzel Salad

Servings: 16 Servings
Author: Carlee
Layers of sweet and salty, crunchy, and creamy all come together in this fun twist on a classic Jello salad. Cranberry pretzel salad is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just because.
5 from 8 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients
 

Pretzel Crust

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter melted

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip or similar

Cranberry Jello

  • 6 ounces cranberry Jell-O or raspberry
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 20 ounces crushed pineapple undrained
  • 14 ounce canned whole cranberry sauce

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place crushed pretzels and sugar in the bottom of a 9×13 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.
    2 cups crushed pretzels, 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, ½ cup butter
  • In a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until super smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
    8 ounces cream cheese, 1 cup granulated sugar, 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • Spread over the cooled pretzel crust. Be sure to spread it all the way to the edges to create a seal that will keep the Jello from seeping into the crust.
  • Place in the refrigerator to set.
  • Stir Jello powder into boiling water until it is completely dissolved.
    6 ounces cranberry Jell-O, 2 cups boiling water
  • Add can of pineapple and cranberry sauce, stirring until combined.
    20 ounces crushed pineapple, 14 ounce canned whole cranberry sauce
  • Cool to room temperature. Then gently pour over the chilled cream cheese mixture.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set.
  • Serve cold.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 4gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 276mgPotassium: 110mgFiber: 1gSugar: 40gVitamin A: 421IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating




Andrea

Friday 13th of October 2023

I make this was just a pineapple, but I never thought to do cranberry. It will be so perfect for the holidays!

Carlee

Friday 13th of October 2023

I thought so too! Thanks, Andrea.