This mandarin orange pretzel parfait is my new favorite no-bake dessert! They have the perfect combination of sweet and salty with a cheesecake filling in the middle. It doesn’t get better than that.
These were inspired by the raspberry pretzel “salad” my mom makes every year for Christmas, which is one of my favorites! I thought it would be fun to try something different and make a version with mandarin oranges. Especially since my kids eat mandarin oranges like they are going out of style!
I also thought it would be fun to make a pretzel salad in individual size portions because everything is cuter in little cups and it makes it easier to set out the day of. I loved adding the mandarin oranges on top for a decorative (and delicious) touch. You could even do little mason jars, but less dishes is always a good idea in my book.
3 delicious layers!
Pretzel layer. The bottom layer is the pretzel crust. It’s a simple mixture of crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar. Then all you do is press 2 Tablespoons of the mixture into the bottom of each cup or jar.
Cheesecake layer. The second layer is a delicious cheesecake filling. You’ll simply mix together softened cream cheese, whipped topping and sugar until smooth. Next add about 1/4 cup of the mixture on top of the pretzel crust and smooth the top with the back of a spoon so that it touches all edges of the cup. Then place in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Jello layer. The final layer is a delicious mandarin gelatin. All you need to do to make it is place the flavored gelatin into boiling water and stir for one minute. Then you’ll stir cold ice water into the hot gelatin mixture and continue stirring until it starts to thicken. Let the mixture refrigerate for about 5 minutes, then pour it on top of the cheesecake layer and add in a few mandarin oranges. Then place back in the refrigerator until the gelatin has fully set.
Decorations and modifications
- You could leave these cups plain or add whipped cream on top! But who are we kidding… whipped cream is always a good idea!
- If you’re really feeling fancy, you could add an extra orange and mint leaf on top (like the picture below).
- Feel free to use a different type of fresh fruit and gelatin flavor, such as raspberry or strawberry.
- You could layer the ingredients in a baking dish instead of the individual cups if preferred.
These mandarin orange pretzel parfait cups will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Just make sure to cover the tops with plastic wrap before storing.
More easy no-bake desserts:
No-Bake Mandarin Orange Pretzel Parfait
- 1 cup crushed pretzels
- 1/2 cup salted butter , melted
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 8 ounce package cream cheese , softened
- 1 1/2 cups whipped topping
- 6 Tablespoons sugar
- 6 ounce package orange flavored gelatin
- 11 ounce can mandarin oranges
- Combine the pretzels, butter and sugar for layer 1 in a small bowl. Then press 2 Tablespoons into a small 8-ounce cup or jar.
- For the second layer, mix the cream cheese, whipped topping and sugar. Then add about 1/4 cup of the mixture onto the pretzel layer and smooth the layer with the back of a spoon, so it is touching all edges of the cup. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- For the third layer, get 3/4 cup boiling hot water. Then place the flavored gelatin into the water and stir for 1 minute, or until it has dissolved. Then add ice to 1/2 cup cold water, until it makes 1 1/2 cups. Stir cold water into the hot water and keep stirring until it starts to thicken. Add more ice if needed. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes. Then pour onto top of the cream layer and top with mandarin oranges. Place back in the refrigerator until it has set.
- Enjoy with whipped cream on top if desired.