The senator, played by Aidy Bryant, said his beard was like the insurrection on 6 January – “shocking at first, but sadly it’s been normalized”.
The fictional Ms Ingraham then commented on Mr Cruz’s recent appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, during which he apologised for having called the Capitol rioters terrorists.
On 5 January, Mr Cruz called the riot “a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol,” and promptly drew strong rebukes from conservative pundits aiming to downplay the insurrection.
“Of all the things that January 6 was, it was definitely not a violent terrorist attack,” Mr Carlson said. “It wasn’t an insurrection. Was it a riot? Sure. It was not a violent terrorist attack — sorry!”
Mr Cruz then backed down from his previous remarks, saying that his choice of words had been “sloppy” and “dumb”.
Portraying Mr Cruz on Saturday night, Ms Bryant ridiculed the senator for backtracking.
“I never should have called them terrorists,” she said while portraying Mr Cruz. “The truth is they are big, burly men with big D energy. I like them a lot. They’re my cool friends.”
“Donald, if you’re watching, I love you, baby. You are the king. Honestly, hit me,” she added.
Ms McKinnon as Ms Ingraham asked if Mr Cruz actually wanted the former president to punch him.
“Oh, I don’t know. Hit me, choke me, spit in my face,” Mr Cruz said in the skit. “I just want to stay in the mix.”
“I’d like to remind all my fellow Texans watching at home that February is going to be a cold one, so you might want to book your vacay to Cancun now,” Ms Bryant said. “Live más, everybody.”
Mr Cruz was heavily criticised for flying to Cancun in February of last year as his home state was hit with freezing temperatures leading to many Texans losing power.
Mr Trump, portrayed by James Austin Johnson, also appeared in the SNL cold open.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” he said. “I’m back just like Tiger King 2. You had fun the first time, and now you’re like, ‘How are more people from this not in jail yet?’”