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Orange Pretzel Salad

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If you are looking for a sweet and salty refreshing treat, you are in the right place. This orange pretzel salad is a fun citrusy twist on a summer classic. Make one to see how good it is for yourself.

Close piece of orange pretzel salad showing crumb crust, creamy vanilla center and topping made from orange jello and mandarin oranges.

A perfect mashup of two old school favorites, this mandarin orange pretzel salad will remind you a little bit of those orange dreamsicle popsicles mashed up with another summertime treat, strawberry pretzel salad. The result is a perfect mix of sweet and salty, orange, and vanilla.

Let me start by telling you whoever decided that a layer of pretzel crust followed by sweetened cream cheese and topped with jello a salad was an absolute genius! Mostly because whoever made that decision somehow made what might normally seem like a dessert be an acceptable side dish at gatherings my whole childhood.

Strawberry pretzel salad was a fixture at gatherings during my childhood. It makes an appearance at most family reunions, potlucks, and BBQs in the Midwest.

It was always one of my favorites, and it seemed to make regular appearances during the spring and summer months.  I was always disappointed when we went to a gathering and it wasn’t served.

Piece of mandarin orange pretzel salad served on small plate with remaining pan in the background.

I couldn’t let the summer get away without having some. To be honest, that is still the case even all of these years later.

But you know me, I can’t leave well enough alone.  So I went to tinkering.

If you have been hanging around here lately, you know I am going through my creamsicle phase lately.  I want everything to have that mix of bright orange citrus and creamy vanilla.

There was the orange cheesecake ice cream, orange creamsicle jello salad, and the orange creamsicle no bake cheesecake. So, of course, I had to put an orange creamsicle twist on that pretzel salad I loved so much growing up.

I did make a few changes besides the basic flavor of the top layer.  This recipe makes orange pretzel salad without Cool Whip.

I mimicked my favorite no bake cheesecake filling, which is fluffy and delicious and made of just cream cheese, cream, sugar, and vanilla.

The little mandarin orange slices are always a hit at our house as well, so I loaded it up with them.  No smattering of oranges for us.

We wanted orange in every bite!  I delivered the finished “salad” to my parents’ house.

My brother made char siu (the real pork on a stick kind, not our chicken version) and fried rice.  This kick of citrus was the perfect little sweet something to go alongside all of that goodness.

Everyone was a fan, and now I don’t know which version is my favorite, the strawberry or orange. I guess we’ll just have to keep making both until we can make up our minds!

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.

Spatula lifting piece of mandarin orange jello salad out of pan, showing layers.

Luckily, the leftovers never last that long around here. This pretzel salad gets gobbled up in the first day or two every time!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a 3 oz box of Jello?

Yes. If you don’t want as much jello on top, a 3 oz. box will be enough to coat the orange slices and give a sliceable layer. Just cut the water in half along with the Jello. It is great either way, and less Jello allows the flavor of the cream cheese filling to shine through even more.

Can I use Cool Whip instead of heavy cream?

Yes, if you don’t want to use cream you can beat together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Once the cream cheese is smooth, fold in 8 oz. of whipped topping and spread over the pretzel crust.

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

Close piece of orange pretzel salad showing crumb crust, creamy vanilla center and topping made from orange jello and mandarin oranges.

Orange Pretzel Salad

Servings: 16 Servings
Author: Carlee
Salty pretzel crust, vanilla cream cheese center, and plenty of mandarin oranges on top, this orange creamsicle pretzel salad has it all. The only question is do you serve it as a side or a dessert?
4.91 from 11 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes


Pretzel Crust

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup butter

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 16 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Orange Jello Topping

  • 6 oz box orange gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • cups ice water
  • 20 oz mandarin oranges (2 cans)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place crushed pretzels and white 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, ¾ cup butter
  • In a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese until super smooth.
    16 ounces cream cheese
  • Add sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
    1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Slowly drizzle in the cream while the mixer is running and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture 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.
  • Drain the oranges and arrange slices over the cream cheese. Place in the refrigerator to set.
    20 oz mandarin oranges
  • Stir the gelatin powder into the hot water until it is dissolved. Add the ice water and stir until cooled. Allow the Jello to sit until it reaches room temperature.
    6 oz box orange gelatin, 2 cups boiling water, 1½ cups ice water
  • Slowly pour cooled Jello over orange slices and cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until set, at least a couple of hours.


You can use 8 oz. of Cool Whip instead of the heavy cream. Just fold it into the cream cheese and sugar mixture.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 335kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 4gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 243mgFiber: 1gSugar: 21g

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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4.91 from 11 votes (11 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Sunday 20th of March 2022

Thank you for this recipe! I didn't have strawberry jello so I was looking for something and this is perfect! I haven't tried it yet but I'm hoping that the 1 cup of sugar went into the pretzel mixture. It would be helpful if you specified that but other than that it looks like a really awesome recipe!!


Sunday 20th of March 2022

I am sorry the instructions weren't very clear. I reworded them a bit, hopefully that helps in the future. I hope you enjoyed the jello salad!


Wednesday 29th of August 2018

Carlee, this recipe is perfect for our Labor Day Weekend! It looks so yummy! I featured it at Whimsical Wednesdays Link Party in the Labor Day Recipe section. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies

Thursday 23rd of August 2018

I am making this for our next family get together! Looks so delicious!


Sunday 26th of August 2018

Yay! I hope you love it!


Monday 13th of August 2018

Thank you!


Monday 13th of August 2018

I sincerely hope you do! Thank you!