Healthy Holiday Desserts

Desserts are not off-limits when you make these lightened versions of holiday favorites.

  • Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

    Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

    Indulge in this lightened take on traditional pecan pie. The crust is thin and flakey leaving more room for the sweeneted pecans and rich chocolate drizzle.
  • Chocolate Walnut Tart
    Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Deborah Williams

    Chocolate Walnut Tart

    A riff on the classic pecan pie, this dessert is rich, chocolaty, and a little fancier with its freestanding fluted sides. Of course, you can use a 9-inch pie plate if you don't have a tart pan with a removable bottom.

  • Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream
    Photo: Oxmoor House

    Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream

    This is the pie you remember from many Thanksgivings, made better for you. Instead of using a can of regular evaporated milk, we swapped in a fat-free version.
  • Pumpkin Pie Cake

    Pumpkin Pie Cake

    If you like pumpkin pie, you'll love this cake's subtle spice flavors and velvety cream cheese frosting.
  • Red Velvet Cupcakes
    Oxmoor House

    Red Velvet Cupcakes

    For friends or family, a gift of Red Velvet Cupcakes is always a welcomed treat. Don't pass on the signature red food coloring  to attain that unmistakable red cake color of this classic dessert.

  • Caramel Apple Pie
    Photo: Ellen Silverman; Styling: Toni Brogan

    Caramel Apple Pie

    Make an old-fashioned apple pie special for the holidays by topping it with a streusel topping and drizzling with a fat- free caramel sauce.
  • Pumpkin Pound Cake with Buttermilk Glaze
    Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Pumpkin Pound Cake with Buttermilk Glaze

    Make pound cake both seasonal and healthier by adding mashed pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice to the batter and topping with a buttermilk glaze.
  • Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake
    Photo: Gentl & Hyers; Styling: Cindy DiPrima

    Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

    Impress your guests with a stunning cranberry cheesecake. The secret of the rich but reduced-fat filling is the combination of reduced-fat and fat-free cream cheese and Greek yogurt.
  • Double-Coconut Cake
    Photo: Oxmoor House

    Double-Coconut Cake

    This classic holiday cake is lower in fat than a traditional coconut cake because the frosting is made with egg whites instead of cream cheese and butter. And although real butter is used in the cake batter, it's only 1/3 cup because light coconut milk is added to help make the dessert rich and moist.
  • Light 'n' Creamy Chocolate Cake Roll
    Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke

    Light 'n' Creamy Chocolate Cake Roll

    Impress your holiday guests with rolled chocolate cake filled with a fluffy chocolate-cream cheese filling. This recipe features the convenience of an angel food cake mix, and because the filling calls for 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and fat-free whipped topping, you won't have to feel guilty about having a slice.
  • Cranberry-Orange Trifle
    Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Cranberry-Orange Trifle

    This classic holiday dessert is traditionally made with sponge cake or ladyfingers brushed with sherry and layered with jam, custard, and whipped cream. Our lightened version uses pound cake and a lower-fat pastry cream made with reduced-fat milk, eggs, sugar, and cornstarch. For the fruit mixture, fresh cranberries are cooked with a small amount of sugar and orange juice. It's a great dessert for the holidays because you can make it a day ahead.
  • Tropical Gingerbread Cake
    Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke

    Tropical Gingerbread Cake

    Gingerbread is always welcome during the holidays, and here it's spruced up with light coconut milk and fresh ginger. The tropical theme is also maintained in the creamy frosting with range marmalade and toasted coconut. Don't worry about splurging because each slice of this two-layer cake has only 253 calories.
  • Cinnamon-Orange Crème Brûlée
    Randy Mayor; Jan Gautro

    Cinnamon-Orange Crème Brûlée

    Nothing is more elegant and impressive to serve during the holidays than a créme brûlée, especially one that boasts favorite holiday flavors like cinnamon and orange. Because the custard is made with reduced-fat milk, nonfat dry milk, and fewer eggs, it has about two-thirds less fat than a traditional brûlée.
  • Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping
    Photo: Oxmoor House

    Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

    Using fat-free cream cheese and fat-free sour cream in the batter and decreasing the amount of butter in the crust helps keep the fat content down in this holiday cheesecake. The rich flavor comes from fresh vanilla bean seeds and red wine-simmered cherries.
  • Classic Pumpkin Pie
    Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

    Classic Pumpkin Pie

    With less than 250 calories per slice and antioxidant-rich pumpkin, this pie is a must for your holiday menu. Even with a refrigerated pie crust and real whipping cream, the fat content is still only 7.4 grams per serving.
  • Peppermint Brownie à la Mode
    Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Peppermint Brownie à la Mode

    This is a fun way to use all the candy canes that come your way this time of year. If you really like mint, substitute mint chocolate chip ice cream.

  • Oatmeal Pecan Pie
    Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Oatmeal Pecan Pie

    Using oats in the filling allows you to keep crunchy nuttiness but use fewer pecans than you would use in a traditional pie. The pecans do add heart-health monounsaturated fat, and the oats help increase the fiber.
  • Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
    Photo: Johnny Miller; Styling: Sarah Smart

    Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

    A few easy additions to store-bought ice cream create a custom flavor that simply tastes like Thanksgiving.
  • Ginger Pumpkin Cheesecake
    Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Jan Gautro

    Ginger Pumpkin Cheesecake

    Make this cake a day ahead, and refrigerate. Large crystals of raw brown Demerara sugar look and taste lovely, but the cake is still delicious without it.
  • Buttermilk Bundt Cakes
    Photo: Romulo Yanes; Styling: Sarah Smart

    Buttermilk Bundt Cakes

    Here we offer three garnishing options for these adorable, delicious cakes: Simply dust with powdered sugar, pipe a bit of glaze over the top, or completely dunk the cakes for a heavier coating.
  • Lemon Rosemary Button Shortbreads
    Photo: Leigh Beisch; Styling: Dan Becker

    Lemon Rosemary Button Shortbreads

    Rich, buttery shortbread gets a subtle, savory twist from the rosemary.
  • Easy Almond Cakes
    Photo: Annabelle Breakey

    Easy Almond Cakes

    This recipe is perfect for a large crowd since it's so easy and makes two cakes.
  • Frosted Ginger Cookies
    Leigh Beisch

    Frosted Ginger Cookies

    We love these 100 calorie frosted ginger cookies' soft texture and bright spice flavor. Frosted ginger cookies are perfect for gifts and Christmas cookie swaps.
  • Magic Cookie Bars
    Photo: Oxmoor House

    Magic Cookie Bars

    These are also known as seven-layer or Hello Dolly bars. They take 30 minutes of hands-on prep and call for just eight ingredients, making them the perfect dessert for taking, well, just about anywhere!
  • Gingerbread People
    Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

    Gingerbread People

    These adorable gingerbread people are only 124 calories per cookie! If you want to dress up the cookies, use red hot candies for buttons and currants for eyes; press those into the dough cut-outs before they're baked
  • Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringues
    Photo: Oxmoor House

    Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringues

    Make up to two days ahead, and store in an airtight container at room temperature. The chocolate and hazelnut coating adds textural interest to these airy, sweet treats.
  • Pistachio and Pine Nut Brittle
    Photo: Marcus Nilsson; Styling: Robyn Glaser

    Pistachio and Pine Nut Brittle

    Pistachio and Pine Nut Brittle is a sweet spin on the traditional peanut brittle. This nut candy also includes dried cranberries, giving the brittle a festive color of red and green (from the pistachios) for the holidays.
  • Anise-Flavored "Doughnuts"
    Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

    Anise-Flavored "Doughnuts"

    At only 97 calories per serving, you can absolutely enjoy more than one of these delicious doughnuts, but if you want, save room because they are often washed down with small glasses of Alicante Muscat or another sweet white wine.
  • <p>Holiday Fruit and Nut Bark</p>

    Holiday Fruit and Nut Bark

    This excellent, healthy bark should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge or a cool room. It will keep for up to 3 weeks.
  • whole-wheat-sugar-cookies
    Yunhee Kim

    Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies

    Get a healthy dose of whole grains while enjoying the sweet simplicity of these festive sugar cookies.
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