Orange Pretzel Salad is just like the strawberry pretzel salad that everyone goes nuts for but is made with orange Jell-O and sweet mandarin oranges.
It’s tangy, sweet, salty, and creamy all at the same time, which makes this the perfect dessert for any occasion.
If you’ve had strawberry pretzel salad or orange pretzel salad before, you know that it’s an old-fashioned dessert “salad” that everyone loves.
This salad is really more of a dessert bar, with a sweet and salty pretzel crust, a cream cheese filling, and a top layer made from orange Jell-O and canned mandarin oranges.
What is a Pretzel Salad?
If you’re looking for lettuce and tomatoes, you’re in the wrong place! This recipe is clearly not for an actual salad, so why is this dessert called a pretzel salad?
In the 1960s, Jell-O published cookbooks with many different recipes that featured their sweetened gelatin. Many “salads” were included, some with veggies, others with fruits. Some were just too strange to even talk about!
The dessert salad has been a staple at barbecues, brunches, and potlucks in America ever since. And while the original recipe was for a strawberry pretzel salad, I like this version with orange Jell-O just as much.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Super Simple Recipe – I won’t call this a no-bake recipe, because the crust does require a few minutes in the oven, but once that’s done, this dessert is the kind that you just throw together and pop in the fridge to set!
- A Fun Twist – You’re most likely to see this dessert made with strawberry or raspberry Jell-O, so making pretzel salad with oranges is a bit out of the ordinary. This means that everyone will want to try it.
- Versatile Recipe – You can adjust this recipe to work with other flavors of Jello and different fruits.
Looking for another way to use Orange Jell-O? Make a creamy Orange Jello Salad instead. It’s also super simple to make and a total crowd-pleaser.
Ingredients In Orange Pretzel Salad
Here’s what you need to make this sweet and salty treat:
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Orange Jell-O: You’ll need 6 ounces of Jell-O mix in total to make pretzel salad, so 2 regular-sized boxes will be perfect. You can also use one of the big boxes instead.
- Pretzels: Measure out your mini pretzel twists, then crush them into small pieces for the crust.
- Sugar: We’ll add sugar to the pretzel crust, and we’ll add more sugar to the cream cheese to make a tasty, cheesecake-style filling.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter because the pretzels are already salty enough.
- Cream Cheese: Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature before mixing.
- Cool Whip: Make sure you give the whipped topping a bit of time to thaw so that it’s fluffy and ready to add to the filling.
- Mandarin Oranges – These soft, sweet, canned oranges are the perfect thing to include in the top layer of our Jello salad. You don’t need the juice in this recipe, so you can discard it. Or mix the juice up with some soda for a tasty treat!
How To Make Pretzel Salad with Oranges
- Mix Jell-O: Combine the powdered Jell-O with two cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Set aside until it comes to room temperature.
- Make Pretzel Crust: Crush the pretzels, then melt butter in a small saucepan. Add the pretzels and sugar to the melted butter, then remove from heat and press into a 9×13 inch pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes, and allow to cool completely.
- Mix Cream Cheese Filling: In a bowl, combine cream cheese with sugar and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Then gently fold in the Cool Whip.
- Assemble: Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled pretzel layer, going all the way to the edges of the pan. Add the mandarin oranges to the jello, then very carefully pour the jello over the cream cheese mixture, being careful not to disturb it too much.
- Chill: Cover the orange pretzel salad and place in the fridge to set for 3-4 hours.
When pouring on the Jello and oranges, you want to be sure not to mess up the layers below. Pour the mix over the back of a large spoon to slow it down, or instead of pouring, you can spoon on the fruit and Jell-O instead!
- Don’t skip baking the crust. I know that it seems like you could just chill the pretzel crust, similarly to how you might for a no-bake Jell-O pie with a graham cracker crust, but baking is critical here. Heating up the pretzels makes them extra crunchy and will create a crust that won’t get soggy.
- Switch up the fruit. You can use any flavor of Jello that you want in this recipe. Try strawberry, raspberry, or lemon. You can leave the mandarin oranges in, leave them out, or replace them with another fresh or canned fruit instead.
- Keep it Cold. Leave pretzel salad in the refrigerator until just before you serve it. Leaving Jello out for too long may cause it to melt.
Store leftover orange pretzel salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If you plan to make this dessert ahead of time, don’t try to swap out the cool whip for fresh whipped cream. The cream will soften the pretzels and make them soggy, while whipped topping will.
Delicious Orange Recipes to Make
If you’re a fan of oranges, you have to try more of my recipes featuring them!
Is it dinner time? Orange Chicken is a Panda Express Copycat recipe and everyone loves it.
Enjoy a refreshing sip on a hot day with this recipe for homemade Orangeade.
Fresh homemade whipped cream can be used in place of cool whip in this recipe. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks. Add ½ cup of powdered sugar to the cream, or ½ cup of extra sugar to the cream cheese to replace the sugar that is in cool whip. If you do decide to use fresh whipped cream, it’s best to eat this dessert right away. The cream can make the pretzels soggy, while the cool whip will not.
there are a few different layers to create and some waiting time involved when it comes to making this dessert. It’s not hard recipe, but you should set aside a bit of time to complete it. There are only about 20 minutes of hands-on time in the recipe, but you will need to wait at least three hours before you can eat!
I’ve seen some recipes where the juice is added to the jello mixture, but it didn’t work well for me. The Jell-o made with the extra mandarin orange juice didn’t set as firmly as I wanted it to, so I left it out.
Enjoy this recipe for the best ever Orange Jello Pretzel Salad! Stock up on Jell-o and cream cheese so that you can make this dessert for all of those upcoming occasions. Don’t forget to Pin the recipe to save it.
- 6 ounces Orange Jell-O powder
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 ½ cups small twist pretzels
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 8 ounces whipped topping (Cool Whip) thawed, see note 1
- 10 ounces canned mandarin oranges drained
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Combine the jello with hot water and stir to fully dissolve Set aside until it comes to room temp.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan, and crush the pretzels into small pieces. Add ¼ cup of sugar to the melted butter, and mix in the crushed pretzels. Remove from heat and press evenly into to a 9×13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated oven. Allow the pretzel layer to cool completely.
- In a bowl, combine cream cheese with sugar and beat with a mixer until fluffy. Then gently fold in the cool whip.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture over cooled pretzel layer, making sure to spread all the way to the edges of the pan to seal in the pretzels.
- Stir the mandarin oranges into the cooled Jell-O mixture. Very carefully pour or spoon the jello over the cream cheese layer. You don't want to disturb the creamy layer very much at all, so go slowly.
- Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until set.
- Fresh homemade whipped cream can be used in place of cool whip in this recipe. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks. Add ½ cup of powdered sugar to the cream, or ½ cup of extra sugar to the cream cheese to replace the sugar that is in cool whip. If you do use fresh whipped cream, it’s best to eat this dessert right away. The cream can make the pretzels soggy, while Cool Whip will not.
- You can use any flavor of Jello that you want in this recipe. Try strawberry, raspberry, or lemon. You can leave the mandarin oranges in, leave them out, or replace them with another fresh or canned fruit instead.
- When pouring on the Jello and oranges, you want to be sure not to mess up the layers below. Pour the mix over the back of a large spoon to slow it down, or instead of pouring, you can spoon on the fruit and Jell-O instead!
- Store leftover orange pretzel salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Leave pretzel salad in the refrigerator until just before you serve it. Leaving Jello out for too long may cause it to melt.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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