No-Bake Orange Cream Pie With a Pretzel Crust

May 18, 2022
7 Ratings
Photo by W.W. Norton
  • Prep time 4 hours 15 minutes
  • makes one 9-inch round pie
Author Notes

Who knew that an orange cream pie would end up being one of my most prized snackable bakes? Not me, that’s for darn sure. I mean, I loved the idea of a creamy orange pie filling, reminiscent of a Good Humor Creamsicle bar, with a salty crust made from pretzels, but I wasn’t sure what to expect when developing the recipe. And I am thus so pleased to share that it is all that, and then some. The sweet citrus Creamsicle-esque filling is marvelous with the salty pretzel crust (and if you’ve never made a pretzel crust before, wow, are you in for a treat). The secret ingredient here is orange juice concentrate, as it provides just the right amount of orange flavor without loosening the filling. Please make yourself some OJ with the extra concentrate. Also, you will need a food processor here for the luscious citrus filling—sometimes a girl’s just gotta process—but I’m betting you could use a stand mixer on low speed in a pinch.
Jessie Sheehan

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
No-Bake Orange Cream Pie With a Pretzel Crust
  • For the Crust:
  • Cooking spray or softened butter, for greasing
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) finely ground pretzel crumbs (from about 3 cups whole pretzels)
  • 1/4 cup packed (50 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup (237 milileters) heavy cream
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (118 milliliters) defrosted orange juice concentrate
  • Extremely Special Whipped Cream, for serving (
  1. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray or softened butter.
  2. To make the crust, process the pretzels, brown sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a food processor until the pretzels are finely ground. Some small pretzel bits are fine, as you don’t want just pretzel dust. Pour in the melted butter and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Alternatively, you may place the dry ingredients in a resealable plastic bag, seal and cover it with a tea towel, and crush the pretzels with a rolling pin, then transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and stir in the melted butter. Scrape the crust mixture into the prepared pie plate, firmly press it into the bottom and up the sides with your fingers or the bottom of a 1-cup dry measuring cup, and freeze while you make the filling.
  3. To make the filling, give the processor bowl and blade a quick rinse or wipe down, then process the cream until thick—it won’t exactly have peaks, the way it does when you whisk it in a stand mixer, but it will stand upright if encouraged to do so. Transfer the thickened cream to a large bowl. If your kitchen is warm, place it in the refrigerator.
  4. Without cleaning the bowl, process the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, zest, vanilla, and lemon juice until thick and smooth. Add the concentrate and process until incorporated. Gently fold the orange mixture into the whipped cream in two installments with a flexible spatula. Don’t overmix.
  5. Scrape the filling into the crust, smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight. If the crust sticks to the pie plate when you attempt to cut your first slice, rub the bottom and sides of the plate with a wet tea towel dampened with hot water. Serve slices with a dollop of Extremely Special Whipped Cream. Keep the pie, wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • McCall Fadeley
    McCall Fadeley
  • Smaug
  • Jessie Sheehan
    Jessie Sheehan
  • Akané
Bio: Jessie Sheehan is the author of The Vintage Baker and Icebox Cakes. Her new easy-peasy baking book, Snackable Bakes, hits shelves in spring 2022. She contributes to the Washington Post, Bon Appétit, Food Network, and the Kitchn, among others.

20 Reviews

Akané December 24, 2023
I have a solution for the runny filling problem.
I had the same issue as others last time I made it, it was too soft.
So this time I put 2 teaspoons of agar agar powder which is a vegan gelatine alternative made of seaweed and it worked! I’m very happy with the result, this is a perfect dessert for the hot Aussie Christmas lunch. 😋
P.S I’ve made it with mango instead of orange juice. This recipe is so versatile!
Sarie June 18, 2022
The flavor was out of this world but sadly mine never set at all. Even overnight! I was so excited for a slice of pie this morning… instead I had a cup of pudding. Which was still good. Maybe my apartment was too warm!
Sarie June 18, 2022
Too warm while assembling the pie, I mean. Clearly I let it sit in the fridge overnight!
Jessie S. June 18, 2022
Oh no! I am so sorry. That is so disappointing. The two things I can think of is one, that the whipped cream was not stiff enough? And two that the cream cheese mixture was over processed - which would mean that the cream cheese had lost all structure and so couldn’t help contribute to a firm pie. I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor but feel so bad that you had pudding rather than pie!!
Jessica T. June 14, 2022
I made this and really enjoyed the flavor. I wish filling were a bit firmer, and I was hoping someone might have some insight on the best method. Would Gelatin work with the acidity of the orange? Can I use cornstarch successfully with cream base? Any other options? TIA
Also, I used Butter Snap Pretzels so you don't have to. Ha! We were all shocked it was too much butter flavor.
Jessie S. June 14, 2022
I’m sorry that it never firmed up for you. How long did you let it rest in the fridge before slicing into it?
Smaug June 14, 2022
Gelatin should work- I suppose you're thinking of the effect pineapple can have on gelatin, but that's from an enzyme, not acidity- in fact it's a good way to stabilize whipped cream and should be helpful there. Cornstarch (or any starch thickener) needs to be cooked.
Jessica T. June 14, 2022
I let it set over night. It isn't runny by any means, but I would prefer it a little more like a firmer pudding texture, just for mouth feel. It is delicious, and I will be making it many times.
Jessica T. June 14, 2022
Thank you for the enzyme specific information! I was thinking of making a stabilized whipped cream with gelatin, and now I will. Thx :)
Jessie S. June 14, 2022
Thanks for weighing in on this!!
Jessie S. June 14, 2022
Understood. I was after a softer set and because it is from my book Snackable Bakes, and all
of the recipes are super easy and unfussy, I chose not to use gelatin or to cook cornstarch. I wanted it to be set via the chilled cream cheese and whipped cream instead.
Jessie S. June 14, 2022
Just so you know in my book Snackable Bakes (and the recipe is on Food52) I have a recipe for stabilized whipped cream that is stabilized with a melted marshmallow doing the work of the gelatin or a tablespoon of marshmallow fluf. It’s called “extremely special whipped cream.” And it is meant to be served with the pie!
Jessica T. June 14, 2022
I did make that whipped cream to serve with the pie! Unfortunately, I accidentally poured in too much vanilla.
I am looking forward to making more of your recipes. Thank you
Jessie S. June 14, 2022
Ahh, gotcha and thank you.
McCall F. June 9, 2022
I really wanted to love this but it just didn't have enough orange flavor in the filling for my crew! I was tempted to swap the lemon zest and juice with orange, but wanted to stick with the instructions the first go. The texture of the filling was fantastic and I love the trick of marshmallow fluff in the whipped cream- genius!
Jessie S. June 9, 2022
I am so sorry to hear that it did not have enough orange flavor for you! and i am also so sorry to say that there is a mistake in the recipe that you just alerted me to! the original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of orange zest in the filling and there is no lemon zest in the filling!! have no idea how that mistake was made as i just checked the recipe that i sent to Food52 and it included the 2 tablespoons of orange zest and no lemon zest - i wonder if that is why the flavor was off for you? or at least i wonder if that contributed to it? anyway, i am so glad you left this comment so that i can make sure the recipe is fixed!
McCall F. June 9, 2022
Oh good! I’m glad I did too! I’m sure swapping orange for lemon would be just the fix!
Jessie S. June 9, 2022
right?! feel so bad you made it with a mistake in the recipe! but i've written to the powers that be and hopefully it'll get fixed stat.
Smaug May 23, 2022
Someday when I have time... The problem with making a standard curd with fruits other than lemon and lime is that the juice just doesn't have the punch- flavor or acidity. I've had some success with reductions, including the ever elusive pineapple curd (a 4/1 reduction), and I think that a good curd could be made with OJ concentrate, haven't tried it yet.
Jessie S. May 23, 2022
Yes. The concentrate really helps with the bright orange flavor.