Sweet and Salty Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake

Sweet and Salty Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake – raspberry Jell-O cake layers with a whipped cream cheese frosting and a raspberry pretzel crunch filling.

Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake - inspired by our family's raspberry pretzel salad, this cake is filled with raspberry cake layers, cream cheese frosting and a raspberry pretzel crunch filling. #cakebycourtney #cake #raspberrypretzelcrunchcake #raspberrypretzelsalad

Raspberry Pretzel Salad

I love traditions! Whether it’s a simple one like family night on Mondays or big ones like yearly trips to San Diego for 4th of July, they all mean the same thing to me – happy memories! One of my favorite kind of traditions is when it’s about food. I can think of so many meals and desserts that my mom would make every year for our birthdays or holidays. And every time I think of a particular food related to a birthday or holiday, I feel so much joy because it always makes me think of the memories from those special days.

One my favorite Christmas Eve dinner desserts growing up was the Lion House Raspberry Pretzel Salad. I’m sure many of you have had this dessert in some form or another, and maybe even with strawberries instead of raspberries. For those who haven’t, it’s a simple pretzel crust, topped with a whipped cream cheese filling and then raspberry Jell-O with fresh raspberries in it.

From Christmas Dessert to Summertime Cake

I was thinking about this dessert the other day and even though it is a Christmastime special at my house, the flavors are perfect for summertime, and just felt so ideal for a cake flavor.

To create the flavors of the raspberry pretzel salad in a cake, I decided to do a raspberry cake with a whipped cream cheese frosting and a raspberry pretzel crunch filling.

Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake - inspired by our family's raspberry pretzel salad, this cake is filled with raspberry cake layers, cream cheese frosting and a raspberry pretzel crunch filling. #cakebycourtney #cake #raspberrypretzelcrunchcake #raspberrypretzelsalad

Also… can we just note that this is the first “salad” I’ve turned into a cake!!!

Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake

In order to keep the flavors pretty similar to the original dessert and not hide them too much with lots of buttercream, I decided to stack this cake “Milk Bar” style (i.e. as a naked cake). That means we’ll be baking the cake in a 9″x13″ pan, cutting out the cake layers with a cake ring, stacking it inside acetate strips, and chilling it before serving. I love using this method of stacking cakes when I’m not using a traditional buttercream to hold up and cover the layers.

Raspberry Cake

For the cake layers, we’ll be using my strawberry cake from my Strawberry Lemonade Cake, but with raspberry Jell-O (our flavoring) instead of strawberry. I also split the original recipe in half for my layers (recipe below), but if you want really thick layers (double this size), you can double the recipe below and bake for an extra 10 to 15 minutes.

Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake - inspired by our family's raspberry pretzel salad, this cake is filled with raspberry cake layers, cream cheese frosting and a raspberry pretzel crunch filling. #cakebycourtney #cake #raspberrypretzelcrunchcake #raspberrypretzelsalad

For some extra flavor and to ensure the cake retains moisture and doesn’t dry out since it doesn’t have frosting to lock in the moisture, we’ll use some of the extra Jell-O to create a soak for the layers.

Cream Cheese Frosting

The cream cheese filling is very similar to the original raspberry pretzel salad recipe I grew up with. We’ll be mixing cream cheese and sugar, and then folding in homemade whipped cream. One thing to note is that this filling doesn’t set up like buttercream, which is one of the reasons I decided to stack it in acetate strips. Even when we chill the cake, this frosting never hardens like buttercream. Just something to keep in mind.

Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake Filling

For the pretzel element of the cake, I adapted the Milk Bar pretzel crack recipe. I love that this recipe has a coating of white chocolate over it. The coating of white chocolate goes on after we bake the pretzel and butter mixture, which means the pretzels maintain their crunch even when covered with the cream cheese frosting!

Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake - inspired by our family's raspberry pretzel salad, this cake is filled with raspberry cake layers, cream cheese frosting and a raspberry pretzel crunch filling. #cakebycourtney #cake #raspberrypretzelcrunchcake #raspberrypretzelsalad


  • Preheat oven 20 to 30 minutes before baking.
  • Use room temperature ingredients.
  • Spray your pan. Line with parchment paper.
  • Beat butter and sugar on high for a few minutes.
  • Turn mixer to LOW once you add dry ingredients.
  • Don’t over bake your cake layer. When you insert a toothpick in the center of the cake it should come out with a few moist crumbs on it.
  • Use a 6-inch cake ring to cut your layers from the 9″x13″ pan.
  • Stack the cake with acetate paper around the layers. Use THIS video for a how-to.
  • Refrigerate the cake before serving.

I hope you enjoy this Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake as much as I do!

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Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake - inspired by our family's raspberry pretzel salad, this cake is filled with raspberry cake layers, cream cheese frosting and a raspberry pretzel crunch filling. #cakebycourtney #cake #raspberrypretzelcrunchcake #raspberrypretzelsalad

Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake

Raspberry cake layers with a whipped cream cheese frosting and a pretzel crunch filling.
4.6 from 15 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Servings 12



  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp. raspberry Jell-O
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter
  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. (4.2 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (170 g) cake flour
  • 3 tsp. (12 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (2.5 g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) buttermilk at room temperature


  • 4 tbsp raspberry Jell-O
  • 1/4 cup (122 g) milk


  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (346 g) heavy whipping cream

FOR THE PRETZEL CRUNCH (adapted from Milk Bar)

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 (62.5 g) cup milk powder
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) crushed pretzels you want these finely crushed, I used a food processor
  • 2 tbsp (16.9 g) cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) salt
  • 4 tbsp (56.5 g) unsalted butter melted
  • 1/4 cup (31.25 g) milk powder
  • 1/4 cup crushed freeze dried raspberries
  • 3 oz white chocolate



  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9"x13" baking pan with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and Jell-O. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the egg whites, in a few additions, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on low, just until flour is combined.
  • Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
  • Let cool completely before using.


  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat the milk for about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the Jell-O powder until dissolved.


  • In a cold metal bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Fold the heavy whipping cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


  • Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine ½ cup milk powder, pretzel crumbs, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Toss with your hands to mix. Add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula or spoon, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.
  • Spread the clusters on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. The crumbs should be sandy at that point. Cool the crumbs completely.
  • Crumble any clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter, and put the crumbs back in the medium bowl. Add the ¼ cup milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  • Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are covered. Add the freeze dried raspberries and toss to distribute. Continue tossing them every five minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.


  • Put a piece of parchment or a silpat on the counter. Invert the raspberry cake onto it and peel off the parchment from the bottom side of the cake. Use a 6-inch cake ring to stamp out 2 circles in each corner from the cake. With the remaining space, use the cake ring to stamp out two half circles.
  • Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. (This is essential, as it is going to support the cake as you layer all the amazing elements.)
  • Place one of the half circles in the cake ring and push up against the acetate. Place the other half circle in the cake ring and push up against the other side of the acetate. You'll have a gap between the two half circles. That's ok! Fill the gap with scraps from the cake. No one will see this layer and it will be covered with fillings, so don't stress about how it looks.
  • Once the cake layer is filled, use a pastry brush to generously soak the cake layer.
  • Spread ½ cup of the cream cheese filling over the cake layer using the back of a spoon.
  • Sprinkle about ½ cup of the pretzel crunch and gently tap into place.
  • Carefully spread another ½ cup of the cream cheese filling over the pretzels. This helps to secure the cake to the filling. (You'll notice I didn't do this – total mistake – and my cake layers didn't stick to my pretzel filling).
  • Repeat these steps with the next two layers.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Keyword Intermediate, Raspberry Pretzel Crunch Cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi! Love your cakes – I make so many of them! I love strawberry pretzel salad! Thinking about making this cake as a desert for Thanksgiving but I would probably want to use cake pans. Can I ice the cake? Could I keep the filling and everything the same and ice it with something? What I’m not sure – cream cheese frosting? Thinking outside the box a bit – haha! What do you think Courtney? Thanks!!

      1. Thank you!! Double everything? And fill 3 cake pans – what would you do? 1/2 full or 2/3 full? Filling and ice all around with cream cheese frosting? I am pretty sure I’m going to try this for Thanksgiving! Yum!

        1. One more thing – these were cut into 6” circles. Would doubling it like you said allow me to get three 8” cakes? What temp would you bake a true round cake at for this?

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Love this cake. A quick question – I don’t have a 6″ cake cutter and can’t seem to get one in New Zealand. If I cut them out with a knife they look messy – do you have any suggestions on how to cut them out neatly? Should I freeze the cake first? Thanks 🙂

  3. Would I mess up the cake if I used fresh raspberries instead of freeze dried? I’m having a really hard time finding them! I could try freeze drying them myself, but I’d rather just buy them if I can, or use fresh ones!

    1. It’s going to change the texture a bit, so reduce the liquid somewhere else in the recipe if you use fresh since they’re adding liquid

  4. Can this be left as a sheet cake and topped with all the toppings? Would y out still recommend putting the milk soak on the cake? Thanks!

  5. I am so excited to find a raspberry cake that does not have fresh raspberries in it or raspberry puree. It is nice to not have to worry about seeds. Would it work if I baked this in three 6 x 2 inch round cake pans? Thanks.

  6. 4 stars
    Help! I doubled the recipe and added 10 minutes cooking time. My cakes never did rise so I left them in the oven for 28 minutes, they weren’t done. Kept adding 2 minutes hoping the would cook and rise. They were in for a total of 34 minutes. The edges were a light brown but when I turning them out of the pans they completely collapsed. Any suggestions on how to fix this? I need them for a birthday party in 2 days and need some help before I start over. Thanks for any help you can send my way.

    1. Make sure your baking powder is fresh. If it’s not rising, there usually something off with the ingredients.

  7. Hello! Your recipe sounds great! Unfortunately, freeze dried anything here in Canada is terribly expensive! Freeze dried raspberries on Costco.ca are $126 for two small cans!!! I wondered if I could substitute the same amount of jello powder for the crushed freeze dried berries in the crumbles.

  8. 4 stars
    This cake was absolutely delicious! The saltiness from the pretzels balances out the sweetness in the frosting and cake. The soak helped keep the cake moist. I actually left mine in a 9×13 and just layered the frosting and topping for ease of serving, and it turned out great! Everyone loved it.
    My only issue is with the bake time. When I checked on it at 16 minutes it was complete liquid in the middle! I ended up needing to bake it closer to 24 minutes. Other than that had no issues with this recipe!

  9. 4 stars
    The flavor of the cake was delicious! The only thing that seemed off to me was the soak. My “soak” was very viscous and sat on top of the cake and became like a thin jello layer instead of a soak into the cake. I will try it again at some point, but may use water instead of whole milk (so it’s more like a jello poke cake). Full disclosure: I made this into a strawberry version, traditional cake using the strawberry pretzel recipe icing for the exterior. Again, delicious! The cake was a bit crumbly/like a shortcake without the soaked layers and everyone raved. Definitely a winner!

  10. 5 stars
    Love, love, love this cake! Everyone I make it for asks for it again! I challenge you to NOT eat all the crunch before you have to put it on the cake 😉

  11. 3 stars
    Not sure why my cakes collapsed. I baked them in 3 6-inch pans, used room temp ingredients and followed all to the half gram. I’m also in Utah, so same rough elevation. Also had fresh baking powder. Not enough mixing? Needed more structure? Not sure I’m willing to waste more ingredients on the cake part.

    1. Sorry to hear that. If you do end up trying it again, you could add a little more flour (about 3 tablespoons) and reduce the sugar by the same amount.

  12. 4 stars
    The soak recipe calls for 1/4c of milk but measures 1/2c in grams. Not sure which it should be. I went with 1/4. Hopefully it tastes ok! I love the color of this cake.

  13. How would the pretzel crunch pair with white cake and raspberry buttercream? Can I use it with the raspberry compote I was going to make between the layers, or wld it be too busy?