Fresh, sweet, and tangy peaches sit suspended in peach gelatin, contrasting beautifully with the velvet cream cheese middle layer and salty butter pretzel crust. This Peach Pretzel Salad provides a delightful twist on that classic fruit and jello pretzel salad that usually does the rounds during Summer.
Serve your sweet and salty peach pretzel salad as is or with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. It’s perfect as a midweek family treat or for hosting special occasions. I like to serve this light dessert with some of our favorite grilled recipes like my marinated, grilled tri-tip or some tasty grilled shrimp.
Of course, if peaches don’t do it for you, simply use another fruit of your choice – this dessert is incredibly easy to modify with simple ingredient swaps and is one of my favorite sweet salad treats next to this Pistachio Pineapple Watergate Salad!
Table of contents
What IS Peach Pretzel Salad?
Contrary to its name, this 1960’s summer dish is actually a dessert! A Peach Pretzel salad will take you back in time to the summer of 69, with its retro looks and juicy taste, so much so you can almost hear The Beatles’ biggest hit playing in the background.
But what’s in this ‘salad ’/dessert? First, you get the salty pretzel base which pairs amazingly with the thick sweetened cream cheese layer that sits below the jello – after all…everyone’s a sucker for sweet and salty dishes!
Next comes that vibrant jello topping which is where you’ll find those sweet and tangy peaches. As you can imagine, combining all these flavors and textures in one dessert is nothing short of mouth-watering!
What Ingredients do I Need for Peach Pretzel Salad?
- crushed pretzels 🥨 – chop them up in the food processor or toss in a Ziploc bag and roll over them with a rolling pin
- melted butter
- granulated sugar – this sweetens the pretzel base for the perfect combination of sweet and salty
- cream cheese
- Cool Whip – this makes it so simple, but you can do a 1:1 swap with real whipped cream, if you like
- vanilla extract
- fresh peaches – you can also use frozen peaches (thaw and drain) or even canned peaches (drain the juices)
- peach Jell-O (and water to mix up the gelatin)
Let’s Make This!
Prepare Crust: Crush the pretzels and combine them with sugar and melted butter. Then, press the pretzel crust into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake the pretzel crust and allow it to cool.
Prepare Cream Filling Layer: Beat together cream cheese, more sugar, and vanilla. Fold in the Cool Whip and then spread the cream cheese layer over the cooled pretzel layer. SEAL the cream cheese all the way to the edges. Then chill while the jello layer is prepared.
Prepare the Peach Jello Layer: Prepare the peach jello as you would with any jello, then stir in fresh, diced peaches. Once the jello begins to thicken, pour it over the cream cheese layer and chill the “salad” until the jello layer is firm.
Variations and Substitutions
- If you don’t have any fresh peaches available, you can always use canned peaches instead.
- Having such a basic crust and creamy middle layer allows you to experiment with all kinds of fruit! The sky’s the limit, so experiment away!
- Many people love to use strawberries, pineapples, blackberries, blueberries, limes, lemons, apples, or pomegranates (to name a few). In fact, almost any fruit will work in this dessert.
It’s best to keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or better yet, share the dessert with friends and family until there’s not a single piece of this sweet treat left.
In case you do have leftovers, you’ll be happy to know that this peach pretzel salad will last up to 2-3 days in the fridge. If you’d like to be extra prepared for your guests, you can always make this dessert the day or night before, and it will still be amazing!
No. Unfortunately, freezing this dessert will ruin it.
Jello on its own doesn’t freeze well, and freezing jello that’s on top of cream? I shudder to think of the state of those leftovers, mainly because when you defrost jello, chemical bonds are destroyed, and the jello will become runny.
Goodbye gem-like jelly and hello gross sludge.
This peach pretzel salad is a great dessert to enjoy as is but if you’re in the mood for a more indulgent treat then consider serving it alongside some freshly whipped cream or creamy vanilla ice cream!
Tips For Making Peach Pretzel Salad
- When spreading the cream cheese layer, make sure to cover everything. If the gelatin touches the pretzel crust, it will become soggy.
- To maintain the color of the fruit, add them into the gelatin while it’s hot and immediately after the peaches have been diced.
- If you can’t find pretzels, consider using Ritz crackers instead. A Graham cracker crust could even work although then you won’t get that contrasting sweet and salty taste.
- Make sure to cool the gelatin fruit mixture just until it starts to thicken. This will allow you to pour the mixture into the pan with ease, creating a smooth top layer. You’ll be able to tell when the mixture is starting to thicken and ready to transfer to the casserole dish by the fruit staying suspended more evenly in the gelatin.
Peach Pretzel Salad
- 2 1/2 cups pretzels crushed
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar divided
- 3/4 cup butter melted
- 12 ounces cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 12 ounces Cool Whip
- 6 ounce package peach gelatin
- 2 cups water boiling
- 2 cups ice water
- 4 cups peeled and diced fresh peaches about 4-5 large peaches
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine crushed pretzels, ¾ cup sugar, and the melted butter. Press into the bottom of the 9×13 pan. (You can crush pretzels by putting them in a ziploc bag and using a rolling pin, wooden spoon, or your hands to crush them.)
- 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 3/4 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.
- In a medium bowl, dissolve the jello in two cups of boiling water. Once it is completely dissolved, add two cups of ice water and stir. Stir in the diced peaches. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until the jello is just starting to thicken but has not yet set.
- Carefully pour the peaches and jello over the cream cheese layer. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or until the jello is set. Slice into squares to serve.
- Be sure to really seal the cream cheese mixture all the way to the edges over the pretzels so that when the gelatin is added, it doesn’t seep into the pretzel crust and make it soggy.
- Cool the gelatin and peach mixture just until it starts to thicken – that way it will still pour easily into the pan and form a smooth top.
- Place the peach pieces into the gelatin while it is hot and as soon as you dice them to prevent discoloration of the fruit. Also, you can tell when the mixture is ready to transfer to the casserole dish because the fruit will stay suspended more evenly in the gelatin when it is just starting to thicken.