This classic Pretzel Salad Dessert features a crunchy pretzel crust, a creamy center, and silky top with mandarin oranges and orange flavored gelatin. A fun and delicious twist on traditional Strawberry Pretzel Salad. Perfect for a summer luncheon or anytime!
Paul saw me pull this pretzel salad dessert out of the fridge and sort of crinkled up his nose. “You sure about this one?” Such a critic!
And then he ate THREE servings.
Ya, I’m sure.
This dessert totally reminds me of something you would find at a midwestern luncheon, where it disappears before anything else. And then everyone is calling the hostess the next day for the recipe. And guess what? After a little research, I was pretty close!
What is Pretzel Salad?
Well, it’s clearly not a salad at all, but really a light dessert that resembles cheesecake with a mousse like texture. Also very similar to a Lush dessert that everyone loves.
It has a salty crust (made from crushed pretzels, sugar, and butter), a creamy middle, and a silky fruit topping. At first glance, it does sound weird, but it totally works! Plus, because of how rich it is, smaller servings are just fine, making it great for a crowd. Which is why it’s become a staple for so many people at holiday time, but mostly for BBQ potlucks and Sunday brunches all year long.
The recipe is believed to have originated in the 1960s when The Joys of Jell-O cookbook was published. And over the years there have been so many variations and a traditional southern (not midwestern!) dessert. All delicious!
The original Pretzel Salad Dessert calls for strawberries, but we go through those like rolls of toilet paper, thanks to Trevor, and I was actually out. So, I made mine with canned mandarin oranges because I always have those in the house. It was perfect and the kids loved it!
There’s a lot of thumb twiddling in between steps, which is rough for someone impatient like myself, BUT it’s super easy and totally worth the wait. The DOLE Canned Fruit made it even easier because there’s no slicing or chopping needed.
Paul already put in a request for crushed pineapple, which I also have stocked in my pantry. And I just noticed DOLE has canned fruit mango slices! They’re making my summer recipes so trouble-free.
Other No-Bake Lush Desserts you might like!
Watch the video for this Pretzel Salad
How To Make This Pretzel Salad Recipe
Mandarin Orange Pretzel Salad Dessert
- 2 1/2 cups finely crushed pretzels
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter , melted
- 8 ounces cream cheese , softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 ounces whipped topping , thawed
- 10 ounce can DOLE Mandarin Oranges, drained, juice reserved and chilled
- 3 ounce box orange gelatin
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the pretzels, sugar, and melted butter. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until mixture is lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with a handheld mixer. Fold in the whipped topping until thoroughly combined. Spread evenly over the cooled pretzel layer, making sure it goes completely to the edges so the jello layer doesn't leak through. Refrigerate until set, about 30-40 minutes.
- Combine the reserved cold mandarin orange juice with enough cold water to equal 1 cup.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange gelatin powder with 1 cup boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved. Then whisk in the reserved cold mandarin orange juice.
- Gently mix in the mandarin orange slices.
- Pour mixture over the cooled cream cheese layer.
- Refrigerate until completely chilled and set, at least 3 hours (or overnight).
- Slice and serve!