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Mandarin Orange Pretzel Salad

a close up shot of a slice of Mandarin Orange Pretzel Salad on a plate
The perfect mix of sweet and salty, this mandarin orange pretzel salad is a refreshing dessert to add to your menu.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Chill Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 593 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 5 cups pretzels, crushed (2½ cups once crushed)
  • cups granulated sugar, divided
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • 12 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces Cool Whip
  • 6 ounce orange gelatin
  • 2 cups water, boiling
  • 47.25 ounces mandarin oranges in fruit juice
  • 2 cups mandarin orange juice, reserved from the cans of mandarins

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan with nonstick baking spray.
  • Place the pretzels in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the pretzels are crushed into small pieces but not pulverized. Add ¾ cups sugar and the melted butter and pulse a few more times to combine the ingredients without breaking down the pretzel pieces too small. Press the mixture into the bottom of the 9×13 pan.
  • Bake the pretzel base for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, the remaining ¾ cup of sugar, and the vanilla until well combined. Fold in the Cool Whip until the mixture is evenly combined.
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the cooled pretzel crust. When adding the cream cheese mixture to the pan, make sure that it goes all the way to the edges. This creates a barrier to prevent the jello from seeping down into the pretzel base and making it soggy.
  • Drain the mandarin oranges, reserving 2 cups of juice. If your mandarin oranges are in syrup, use 2 cups of water instead. Add ice cubes to the juice or refrigerate it.
  • In a medium bowl, dissolve the gelatin/jello in two cups of boiling water. Once it is completely dissolved, add the chilled mandarin juice (or water.) Add the mandarin oranges to the mixture and stir to combine. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the jello is just starting to thicken but has not yet set.
  • Carefully pour the mandarins and jello over the cream cheese layer. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or until the jello is set. Slice into squares to serve.

Notes

  • Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to keep a close eye on your crust as the suggested baking time approaches.
  • Make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature, so you don't have lumps in your cream cheese filling.
  • Be sure to really seal the cream cheese mixture all the way to the edges over the pretzels. I like to use an offset icing spatula and really press down the cream cheese mixture.
  • Cool the gelatin and mandarin mixture just until it starts to thicken. That way, it will still pour easily into the pan and form a smooth top.
  • You may have a little extra gelatin depending on the depth of the pan. Be sure to cover the mandarin oranges and fill to the top of the baking dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 593kcalCarbohydrates: 90gProtein: 8gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 687mgPotassium: 344mgFiber: 2gSugar: 58gVitamin A: 869IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 2mg