If you’ve ever had strawberry jello pretzel salad, then you’ll love this tropical orange pretzel salad version which is perfect for summer. It’s like an orange dreamsicle with a twist! Three layers of pretzels, cream cheese and jello make up this potluck favorite.
Tropical Orange Pretzel Salad
If you’ve never had jello pretzel salad before, then you’re in for a real treat! If you’re thinking this is something like Tuna Salad then I should explain that it’s not really a salad, it’s more like a dessert…a very distant cousin to fruit salad, we’ll say.
First, a salty crust made from pretzels. Yes, pretzels! Totally surprising, but the crunchy, toasty flavor is so good. I like to crush mine finely in the food processor. If the pretzels are too chunky, the crust will fall apart when you try to serve it.
The crust is baked for 10 minutes, so it’s almost-but-not-quite a no-bake dessert. You can skip the toasting part if you want.
Next we have a tangy cream cheese layer. It’s almost like cheesecake, but light and tart to balance the other flavors. The cream cheese is blended with whipped topping, but if you prefer to use homemade whipped cream it’s an easy substitute.
Topping it all off is an orange and pineapple gelatin layer. Now the strawberry version is good, but just wait until you taste a bite of mandarin. It’s a little citrus explosion that will make you smile as you eat.
You can even substitute all mandarin oranges instead of the pineapple if you’re team orange. Instead of tropical orange pretzel salad you’ll have mandarin orange pretzel salad.
Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits so I love the combination. Note: do not substitute fresh pineapple for the canned fruit or the jello will not set.
You’ll need to plan ahead when making this dessert since it needs time to chill and set. After I’ve made the crust and spread the cream cheese layer, I like to pop it in the fridge while I prepare the jello.
Additionally, the jello will need to chill slightly before pouring or you’ll have a hot, melty mess. It may seem time consuming, but it’s not really much work.
If you’re making it for a potluck, there’s plenty of time in between layers to prepare other dishes or clean up as you go (my kitchen constantly needs cleaning!).
If you want to get extra special, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and a pretzel twist before serving. They are so cute!
Pin this to your dessert recipes board!
- 2 cups finely crushed pretzels
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 box (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups whipped topping
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large can (16 oz) crushed pineapple with juice
- 1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
- 2 boxes (3.4 oz) orange gelatin
- 1 cup boiling water
- Crush pretzels in a food processor or in a resealable bag with a rolling pin. In a large bowl, mix together crushed pretzels, melted butter and butter. Pour into a 13x9 pan and press firmly into an even layer; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in whipped topping with a spatula and spread into an even layer over the crust. Cover and refrigerate.
- Meanwhile, in a clean, large bowl mix the boiling water and gelatin for two minutes until dissolved. Add the pineapple with its juice and mandarin oranges, stirring to combine. Cover and refrigerate until no longer hot or slightly set, about 30-60 minutes.
- When gelatin has cooled, carefully pour over cream cheese layer and spread the fruit into an even layer. Cover and chill until completely set, about 2-4 hours. Before serving, cut into squares, garnish with extra whipped topping and a pretzel, if desired.
Time given does not include time needed for chilling.
This recipe first appeared on Amanda’s Cookin’ as a guest contribution by Kitchen Gidget.