Start by making the sugared pecans and pretzels for the salad. Mix together chopped pretzels, chopped pecans, brown sugar and melted butter. Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet (I used my jelly roll pan). Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool. Break into small pieces and set aside.
Put cranberries, granulated sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat for 12-15 minutes, until the cranberries start to break down. In a small bowl, mix together cold water and cornstarch. Add the mixture to the cranberry sauce while stirring. Stir and cook for 20-30 seconds, until thickened. Set aside to cool.
Cranberry Pecan Pretzel Salad
Beat together softened cream cheese, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Fold in whipped topping. Add cranberry sauce and the sugared pecans and pretzels. Stir to combine.
Garnish with sugared cranberries, if desired.
The sugared pecans and pretzels can start to get soggy over time so if you want to prepare this salad ahead of time, leave the sugared pecans and pretzel separate and stir them in before serving.