35+ Bite-Sized Desserts to Enjoy This Fall
There’s something about fall that really sets off our sweet tooth. Maybe it’s the flavors that fit the season, like pumpkin, apple, maple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chai, or maybe it’s knowing that dessert-filled occasions, namely Halloween and Thanksgiving, are on the horizon. Now that the temperatures are lowering and running the oven is no longer unbearable, the time has never been more right to make these delicious fall desserts like seasonal cookies, breads, cupcakes, and brownies. We’ve also taken classic fall desserts like apple and pumpkin pie and incorporated their flavors into more manageable treats, like squares, tarts, and bars.
Apple Fritters with Salted Caramel Sauce
Filled with a spiced apple compote, dipped in a vanilla glaze, and topped with a homemade caramel sauce, these over-the-top fritters take a bit of time to prepare but are well worth the wait.
Vegan Mini Pumpkin Spice Bites
For a guilt-free, vegan dessert that's sure to get you in the fall spirit, there's no better option than these adorable mini pumpkin spice bites. Encased in a simple walnut-pecan-date crust, the key to this autumnal treat lies in the silken tofu filling. Providing a creamy consistency without affecting flavor, silken tofu is the best kept vegan dessert secret.
Instant Pot Peanut Brittle
This Instant Pot candy recipe delivers a classic candy shop treat with no intimidation factor. In fact, you don’t even need a candy thermometer to make this perfectly porous and crisp brittle. While it makes a scrumptious treat any time of year, our Instant Pot Peanut Brittle is especially awesome to make during the holiday season. Being that the recipe produces a generous yield of candy, it’s an excellent goody for gifting. A key factor in candy cooking is making sure you sugar granules are completely dissolved. If you want to give your brittle a little test as it cooks, take your wooden spoon or rubber spatula (whatever you’re using to stir the mixture) to scoop a small amount of the melted sugar mixture and spread a thin layer onto a paper plate. This allows you to see any sugar crystals that may still be in the mixture, as well as observe how the mixture hardens as it cools. If the mixture hardens like glass and cracks easily, you know it’s ready.
Easy Individual Apple Crisps with Oatmeal Crumble
You can also peel and coarsely chop the apples, if you prefer. For more tender apples, decrease the heat to 400° and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer.
Cranberry Cookies With Orange Glaze
Oh, so festive! These cakey cranberry cookies are a perfect Christmastime snack, dessert, or even breakfast.
Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
Skip the drive-thru line and enjoy your favorite seasonal Starbucks baked good right in the comfort of your own kitchen. These copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones are the perfect companion to a hot cup of coffee and a brisk fall morning.
This quick and simple Snickerdoodle Bread is a lot like a warm, cinnamon-sugar wrapped hug—and we’re all about it. Sour cream lends moisture to the loaf, as well as the subtle signature tang snickerdoodle cookies are known for (typically from cream of tartar). Serve slices of this Snickerdoodle Bread warm with coffee for breakfast or as a sweet after-dinner treat.
A favorite treat at any magical feast, pumpkin pasties are surprisingly easy to make (even for muggles). We developed two pumpkin-based fillings—one sweet and one savory—for these buttery hand pies, so they’re perfect for serving (alongside a goblet of pumpkin juice!) at any point during a Harry Potter inspired party. If you’re looking to save a little time and effort, you can certainly opt for prepared, refrigerated pie dough.
Andes Mint Brownies
These decadent layered Andes mint brownies are the ultimate indulgence for any mint-chip lover. In order to create clean layers, it’s important that you’re working with cool ingredients—so be sure to allow the brownies to cool completely before spreading the icing on, and then chill before adding the chocolate ganache so that it will set quickly.
These incredibly tender, jelly-filled doughnuts are a perfect treat for breakfast/brunch, snack time, or dessert. Opting for using a store-bought hot roll mix (we particularly like Pillsbury brand’s) saves a little bit of labor, but keeps this traditional sweet treat feeling homemade. If you want an even faster route to doughnut satisfaction, you can also use prepared pizza dough, which you can usually find in the bakery section of the supermarket; however, know these doughnuts will have a slightly chewier mouthfeel (which you may like better!). We loved apple jelly for this sufganiyot recipe, as it’s a delicious compliment to the cinnamon-sugar coating, but feel free use whatever flavor of jam you prefer.
Pistachio Tahini Cinnamon Rolls
Delicious and not too sweet, the flavors of tahini, pistachios, and cardamom combine beautifully in a fluffy, light roll. These cinnamon rolls take a little extra time, but they’re so worth the effort—especially since most of the work is hands-off. Working with yeast is nothing to be afraid of. If you’re worried about your water being too warm or cool, use a thermometer to keep the temperature in check. These rolls would be fantastic at breakfast or brunch, but they’re also perfect for a snack or treat with a cup of coffee or hot tea.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter
Brown butter takes these rich, seasonal pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to the next level, adding a nutty, fragrant flavor that is absolutely perfect for fall. Canned pumpkin puree lends moisture to these fluffy, cake-like treats while warm chocolate chips fill every bite. Make these for a Halloween party or a fall dinner party, and be sure to store any leftovers in an airtight container.
Easy Pumpkin Pie Squares
Pumpkin pie, meet dump cake. These pumpkin bars taste like pumpkin pie with a sweeter, slightly crunchy crust. They’re slightly rich, so they’re perfect after a big meal, and make the perfect bite. Best of all, they’re way easier to make than pie and the perfect treat for a crowd.
Cranberry Shortbread Bars
Freeze the shortbread dough, and then grate it in a food processor to get the most tender crust.
Spiced Apple Two-Bite Tarts
The nutty pastry is absolutely delicious, like pecan shortbread. You can make the tart shells and filling the day before and assemble just before serving: Place the shells in an airtight container and chill the filling, bringing it to room temperature before placing it in the shells so it's not ice-cold. The crème fraîche dollop is more than just a pretty garnish; its rich, tangy flavor makes these sublime.
TIP: Let fresh-baked brownies chill, uncovered, overnight. For a perfect slice, cut while they're cold. Serve at room temperature.
Copycat Dulce De Leche Milano Cookies
For a cookie that’s sure to impress, look no further than our homemade take on Milano Cookies with a buttery-sweet dulce de leche filling. We tested using Nestle brand canned dulce de leche, but you can also make you own if you have a can of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry. For other favorite fillings, try our DIY take on classic Milanos as well as our Copycat Mint Chocolate Milano Cookies.
Butternut-Nut Butter Bars
If zucchini and pumpkin can make a name for themselves in the dessert realm—why not butternut squash? These gluten-free cookie bars pack an impressive level of toasty, fall flavor into every bite thanks to a combination of nutty brown butter, roasted butternut squash, nut butter, and a downright addictive creamy cashew butter-cream cheese icing (seriously, you’re gonna wanna spread this on everything—make a double batch) that’s elevated with a crunchy topper of toasted pepitas and cashews. We opt for rice flour over all-purpose because this gluten-free alternative can better absorb moisture from the squash to yield a delightfully tender—not wet or overtly cakey—texture. While roasting fresh squash contributes a depth of caramelized flavor you really don’t want to miss out on, you can find canned butternut squash in some supermarkets and online if you need a speedier swap; in fact, you could even use canned pumpkin in place of the pureed squash. In short, these brown butter butternut blondies will give every bit of convincing you may need need to believe that golden, sweet butternut squash deserves a spot on the holiday dessert table as much as any pumpkin-based treat.
Surprise your guests with these cute and delicious tartlets. Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used to make the tangy filling. If using frozen berries, don’t defrost them. Frozen cranberries act more like fresh cranberries than thawed ones do; the skins burst at a similar rate and they are less juicy.
This Pumpkin Mouse offers light texture and warm flavors, making it a perfect fall dessert.
Chai Swirl Cheesecake Bars
These eye-catching dessert bars taste like your favorite chai latte, reimagined in cheesecake form. Featuring flavorful swirls of chai-infused cream cheese filling, each bite offers richly aromatic, spiced flavor set against a cool and creamy vanilla cheesecake backdrop. They’re a simple dessert to make, but undeniably impressive.
Pumpkin Spice Fudge
We turned the classic pumpkin pie (and the trendiest of fall spice blends) into a tasty confection. Fudge doesn't require the tempering, rolling, and shaping of other made-from-scratch candies. If you don't have a candy thermometer, do the cold water test: Drop a small amount of the cooked sugar mixture in cold water. If it forms a soft ball, the mixture is ready for pouring into the prepared pan.
Autumn Maple Cutout Cookies
These adorable cutout cookies are flavored with maple syrup and classic fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Walnuts provide a delicious crunch.
Instant Pot Pumpkin Spice Candied Walnuts
Yet another way to enjoy pumpkin spice this season. Gift these to friends as a festive treat, or enjoy them yourself with an autumnal beer. Make sure to use pure maple syrup, as pancake syrup will taste artificial and will likely overwhelm the spiced flavor.
These pint-size desserts feature the best of Maple syrup, which is found in both the cupcake and the frosting. The frosting gets an extra dose of maple goodness thanks to the addition of maple flavoring. Top these cuties with a walnut or, for a sweet-and-salty twist, crumbled bacon.
Apple Cinnamon Bread
Besides being simple enough to whip up on a moments notice, as it bakes, this easy apple cinnamon bread puts off the kind of warming, buttery, spiced aromas that usher in all the fall feels. And given just how well a warm slice pairs with a cup of coffee, don’t be surprised if you find yourself making a loaf of apple cinnamon bread on a weekly basis throughout the season. The rich quick bread is incredibly moist, thanks to the apple and sour cream, but the key to ensuring it’s as tender as possible is to avoid over-mixing. In fact, once the final addition of dry ingredients has been added to the batter, it’s helpful to finish incorporating everything together by hand, using a rubber spatula, rather than continuing to whip the batter with an electric mixer. We used Granny Smith apple in testing the recipe, but you can really use any apple variety you have on hand. Feel free to substitute the pecans called for walnuts, or leave the nuts out entirely.
Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles
Perfectly crispy on the outside, while light and fluffy on the inside, these festive, fall treats are your new favorite cookie. Rolled in a chai-spiced sugar mixture, these cookies are basically all of your favorite latte flavors mixed up into one perfect cookie. Best served after a dunk in coffee, if we do say so ourselves.
Pecan-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
The distinctive flavor of pumpkin pie spice folded into a creamy cheesecake and baked into chewy brown-sugar bars makes for an extra-special autumnal treat. Using a combination of 1/3-less-fat and fat-free cream cheese helps keep the total fat low but still adds richness to these bars. Don't be tempted to use all fat-free cream cheese; the texture won't be nearly as luscious.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Few things deliver fall comfort quite like sweet apple cider doughnuts. Gaining their distinct apple flavor from four sources—apple cider, freshly grated apple, apple butter, and apple cider vinegar—these homemade doughnuts are anything but bland. And, because there’s no yeast involved, you don’t even have to wait for the dough to proof; meaning, there’s less standing between you and your hot, fresh apple cider doughnuts. For the most robust apple flavor, be sure to use cider, not juice—and always shake the cider jug before measuring. To give them a perfect finishing tough, either toss the warm doughnuts with Pumpkin-Cinnamon Spice or coat the cooled cider doughnuts with a Buttermilk Glaze or Maple-Vanilla Icing.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
Loaded with toasty fall flavors, a batch of these easy PSL cupcakes will have you in sweater weather mode faster than hitting the Starbucks drive-thru.
Instant Pot Tootsie Rolls
You use it for just about everything else, why not use the Instant Pot to make candy? These chewy, chocolatey DIY “Tootsie Rolls” make such a fun treat to share, especially during the holidays. Plus, this Instant Pot candy recipe provides for a fairly simple kitchen project kids can help with. While your chocolate mixture cools, you can have little helpers cut squares of wax paper, and then let them roll/wrap the individual candies. If you want to test the candy mixture for doneness along the way, take a small amount with a spoon and drop it onto a glass plate. Once it is cool enough to touch, take the mixture and put it between your thumb and index finger; if the mixture is tacky but firm, then it is ready to pour.
Copycat Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies
Is this recipe an exact replica of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies? No. These are better. Rather than thin cakes, we went for oatmeal cookies that pack an almost peanut-butter-like flavor without any nuts. The crème filling completely nails what we love about the prepackaged pies, but takes things further with an almost airy, marshmallow-based consistency. If that doesn’t convince you, preparing these at home is just as quick (if not faster) than a grocery run.