Just in time for the holidays, this Cranberry Pretzel Salad recipe has a festive tart flavor twist on the traditional sweet and salty dessert. Made with a buttery baked pretzel base, a sweet cream cheese mixture in the middle, and a tangy cranberry top.
Table of Contents
- Easy Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- Why We Love Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- Cranberry Pretzel Salad Ingredients
- Substitutions and Additions
- How to Make Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- Tips For Making Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- How to Store Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Easy Holiday Recipes
- Cranberry Pretzel Salad Recipe
Easy Cranberry Pretzel Salad
Our easy-to-make Cranberry Pretzel Salad is a 3 tiered treat, all dressed up as a Thanksgiving, Christmas, or holiday dessert with a seasonal fruit-flavored swap from a Strawberry Pretzel Salad.
This simple recipe for cranberry pretzel jello salad squares starts by baking the buttery pretzel crust, then it’s topped with a fluffy Cool Whip and cream cheese filling, and finished with a firm, fruity jello layer above.
Tart on the top, creamy in the middle, with a satisfying crunch below, this cranberry jello pretzel salad has the perfect combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and buttery in every delicious bite.
Why We Love Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- Quick and easy to make.
- Uses a handful of simple ingredients.
- Pieces of crushed pretzels are baked with plenty of butter and sugar so you get buttery, salty, and sweet in every single slice.
- Creamy, crunchy, fruity and tangy all at the same time!
- Great make ahead dessert with a delicious holiday makeover.
- Perfect ending to a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal and great to pass around at a potluck or a holiday party.
Cranberry Pretzel Salad Ingredients
- Pretzels: Salted pretzels work best for this recipe.
- Unsalted butter
- White granulated sugar
- Whipped topping: Feel free to use Cool Whip or homemade Whipped Cream.
- Cream cheese
- Cranberry jello
- Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
- Boiling water
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions and Additions
- Fruit Flavors: Feel free to try this recipe with a different fruit, like raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, or mandarin oranges, and then switch out the jello mix to match the fruit that you are using. Some other fun flavor ideas include:
- Raspberry: Keep the recipe the same, but swap out the cranberry jello for raspberry flavored jello and use fresh raspberries instead of cranberry sauce.
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad: Use strawberry jello instead of the cranberry jello and use fresh strawberries (check out my Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe for this fruit swap).
- Pineapple Pretzel Salad: Use pineapple jello instead of the cranberry jello and swap the cranberry sauce for crushed pineapple.
- Cranberry Orange Pretzel Salad: Swap the cranberry sauce for mandarin orange slices and mix it into the cranberry jello.
How to Make Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- Prepare Jello Mixture: Dissolve cranberry jello in boiling water, then mix in spreadable cranberry sauce. Set aside.
- Bake Pretzel Base: Combine crushed pretzels, sugar, and melted butter. Press into a baking dish and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then freeze for another 10 minutes.
- Make Cream Cheese Layer: Whip cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Fold in cool whip.
- Layer and Chill: Spread the cream cheese mixture over the pretzel base. Chill until set.
- Pour Jello Layer: Pour the cranberry jello mixture over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for 4 hours until set.
- Slice and enjoy!
Tips For Making Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- It’s important to make the third layer first so it has time to cool before it’s used.
- You can skip the cranberry sauce, if desired, it simply adds more of a cranberry kick to the entire dish.
- It’s vital that you don’t rush and pour the jello over the cream cheese layer until it’s fully chilled. You’ll simply cause the cream cheese layer to dissolve into the jello. I’ve done it. It still tastes delicious, but the layers don’t look great.
- It’s important that the jello is room temperature before being poured over the second layer or it will melt the second layer and it can be a bit of a mess.
- If you only have unsalted pretzels, simply swap the unsalted butter for salted butter.
How to Store Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- To Store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 5 days.
- To Freeze: Do not freeze this salad.
Other Easy Holiday Recipes
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Nutter Butter Trifle
- 2½ cups whole milk cold
- 5.1 ounces box of instant banana cream pudding
- 8 ounce container of whipped topping thawed, divided in half
- 32 cookies (16-ounce package) Nutter Butter brand cookies plus an additional 3-4 more cookies for crumbling on top for garnish
- 3½-4 cups fresh banana slices peel and slice the bananas into approximately ¼-inch thick pieces (from 3-4 large ripe bananas)
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter just barely warmed so that it can be drizzled
- In a large bowl, whisk together the whole milk and instant banana cream pudding for 3 minutes or until thickened. Fold in 4 ounces of the thawed whipped topping. Set aside.2½ cups whole milk, 5.1 ounces box of instant banana cream pudding, 8 ounce container of whipped topping
- Place 9-10 Nutter Butter cookies in a single layer into the bottom of a standard (3-quart) trifle bowl, followed by a single layer of the banana slices over the cookie layer.32 cookies (16-ounce package) Nutter Butter brand cookies, 3½-4 cups fresh banana slices
- Add half the banana cream pudding to the trifle bowl and gently spread it out into an even layer. Try to keep the edges clean so the layers of cookies and bananas can be seen on the sides of the bowl.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3, followed by a final layer of cookies then banana slices. Top the banana slices with the remaining 4 ounces of thawed whipped topping.8 ounce container of whipped topping
- Lightly cover the trifle bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the Nutter Butter trifle for a minimum of 4 hours or up to overnight. The longer this trifle is refrigerated, the softer the cookies will become.
- When ready to serve, crumble the additional nutter butter cookies onto the top of the trifle. Warm the peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl for 15-30 seconds or just until smooth and able to drizzle. Drizzle the peanut butter over the top of the crumbled cookies. Scoop with a large spoon and serve.¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- To Store: This Nutter Butter trifle is best served chilled. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze: I do not recommend freezing this trifle.
- A 16-ounce ‘Family Sized” package of Nutter Butter cookies has exactly 32 cookies (which was perfect for the three layers). You can either get a larger package of cookies so that you have extra to use as garnish, or you can just reserve a couple of cookies from the 16-ounce package and not place as many in your layers. You may need to break some of your cookies into smaller pieces to fit into a single, flat layer in your trifle dish.
- I prefer using a commercial brand of creamy peanut butter (Peter Pan, JIF, Skippy) for the drizzle topping. You just need to barely warm it, then stir until smooth before drizzling over the trifle. I find that natural peanut butter is too oily for this recipe.
- When choosing your bananas, I prefer ones that are a solid yellow color with little to no brown spots. I find that they are ripe enough to taste good but still firm enough to hold up to the moisture of the pudding.
- If you can not find the instant banana cream pudding, you can substitute instant vanilla pudding and add 1-1½ teaspoons of banana extract to it when mixed with the milk.
- Whole milk or 2% milk works best for this recipe. Milk alternatives do not work well as they affect how the pudding sets up.