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 busy kitchen to yours.
Cranberry Pretzel Salad
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 Jello-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.
Tip for Making Pretzel Salads
Making pretzel salad isn’t difficult, it just takes a few steps to get it right.
- Adding chopped pecans to the pretzels adds a fantastic nuttiness to the base. You can use all pretzels, if preferred. 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 jello from seeping down the sides.
- To keep the layers separated when assembling, allow each one ample time to set-up. Meaning, allow time for the cream cheese layer to set-up as well as chill time for the cranberry jello, before adding it to the top.
- The cranberry jello 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 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.
- Chill thoroughly before cutting.
Other Ways to Enjoy Cranberries
Cranberries can be a delicious addition to both savory and sweet dishes. Dried cranberries provide a yummy texture in this cranberry almond chicken salad. For the holidays, cranberry fruit chutney or cranberry fluff can be served as a tasty alternative to cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Cranberry Pretzel Salad
- 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 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 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.