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Cranberry Pretzel Salad

This seasonal Cranberry Pretzel Salad will make a delightful addition to your holiday side dish menu. It’s not a salad at all, but a sweet and salty dessert that has delighted party goers for ages. Enjoy a taste of holiday nostalgia straight from my Southern kitchen to yours.

Cranberry Pretzel Salad

Easy Cranberry Pretzel Salad Recipe

This seasonal pretzel salad is a spin off of the summer version that features strawberries. Strawberry pretzel salad like this one from Natasha’s Kitchen, have been the belle of picnic and potluck tables for eons. I couldn’t resist a seasonal variation using whole berry cranberry sauce. That’s right, this is a perfect reason to buy cranberry sauce in a can. It’s believed pretzel salads originated with the publishing of The Joys of Jell-O cookbook in the 1960’s. The intention of Brand cookbooks is often to give the home cook ideas for making dishes that feature their products. This is one such example, and all I can say is, regardless of how it originated, I’m so glad that it did. How to make simple Cranberry Pretzel Salad –

  • Crust – Crushed salted pretzels, chopped pecan pieces, granulated sugar and melted butter.
  • Cream Cheese Layer – Plain cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream and pure vanilla extract.
  • Whipped Cream – Frozen whipped topping,  thawed. Part is used for the cream cheese layer and the rest is used on top.
  • Jell-O – Two boxes of cranberry or black cherry Jell-O mix.
  • Liquid – Cranberry cocktail juice or water.
  • Cranberries – Two cans whole berry cranberry sauce.
pretzel crust cream cheese and cranberry jell-o in a dish

How to Make the Best Cranberry Pretzel Salad Recipe

Making pretzel salad isn’t difficult, it just takes a few steps to get it right.

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Cranberry Pretzel Salad: Cranberry flavored Jell-O or dark cherry flavored Jell-O, whole berry cranberry sauce, cranberry cocktail juice (or water), softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, heavy cream, pretzels, chopped pecans, melted butter, granulated sugar and whipped topping, either Cool Whip or your favorite brand.
  • Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A 13 x 9 inch baking dish, measuring cups and spoons, nut chopper or food processor, mixing bowls. a hand mixer or a stand mixer and a large rubber spatula.
  • Adding chopped pecans to the pretzels in the crust adds a fantastic nutty flavor to the base. You can omit the nuts and use all pretzels, if preferred.
  • It’s important to press the crust firmly onto the dish before baking so it will hold together.
  • When spreading the cream cheese layer, make sure you take it completely to the sides of the dish to prevent the Jell-O from seeping down the sides.
  • To keep the layers separated when assembling, allow each one ample time to fully set-up. Meaning, allow time for the cream cheese layer to set-up as well as chill time for the cranberry Jell-O, before adding it to the top.
  • The cranberry Jell-O won’t be completely congealed before pouring on top, but it should be cool. Pour it gently so as to avoid disturbing the cream cheese layer. Use a spoon to arrange and separate the berries so they’ll be in each piece before it sets.
  • It’s not unusual for the pretzel crust to crumble a bit when cutting. This is normal, and part of the charm of this Cranberry Pretzel Salad.
  • Just like any Jell-O salad it’s important to allow ample time for it to chill before cutting into pieces for serving.
  • Store Cranberry Pretzel Salad chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Cranberry Pretzel Salad

More Cranberry Recipes to Make

Cranberries can be a delicious addition to both savory and sweet dishes. More recipes featuring cranberries you may also like to try:

Cranberry Pretzel Salad

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Helpful Kitchen Items:

Cranberry Pretzel Salad

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Chilling time8 hours
Total Time8 hours 37 minutes
Course: Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry-pretzel-salad, fruit-salad, jello-desserts, pretzel-salad
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 344kcal


  • 2 1/2 cups crushed salted pretzels
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecan pieces, plus 2 Tbsp divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter melted
  • 1 8 oz block cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 8 oz frozen whipped topping thawed and divided
  • 2 3 oz boxes cranberry or black cherry Jell-O mix
  • 2 cups boiling cranberry cocktail juice or water
  • 2 14 oz cans whole berry cranberry sauce


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl toss together pretzels, 1/4 cup pecans and sugar with melted butter. Mix until fully moistened. Press firmly onto bottom of dish. Bake for 12 minutes or just until set. Cool completely.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl using an electric mixer, whip together cream cheese and powered sugar until combined. Add cream and vanilla, whipping until smooth. Fold in one 8 oz whipped topping by hand. Spread over cooled crust. Chill while making jello topping.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together Jell-O mix and boiling cranberry juice OR water. Stir until completely dissolved. Add cranberry sauce. Stir until combined and cranberry sauce has melted. Chill for 30 minutes.
  • Pour cranberry Jell-O topping evenly over cream cheese. Use a spoon to arrange cranberries evenly on top before it sets. Chill overnight to allow it to set.
  • Frost the top with remaining whipped topping and sprinkle with reserved 2 Tbsp pecans. Store leftovers chilled.


  • If you’d like to toast the pecans for garnishing, place them on a separate pan and into the oven while the crust bakes. Bake for 5 minutes or until fragrant, then cool.
  • You can also serve this pretzel salad plain without whipped cream and pecans on  top. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 344kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 379IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
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