50+ Cozy and Comforting Desserts for Fall
Autumnal offerings like apples, pears, pecans, cranberries, maple, and, of course, pumpkin, make up some of the best desserts around—think apple butter and fritters, pear cobbler, pecan streusel and pumpkin pie. We’ve rounded up the best dessert recipes to enjoy this fall, including both what’s in season and favorites that just go with fall, like cinnamon rolls, chai cheesecake bars, and the ever-reliable sheet cake.
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.
Mixing low-fat Greek yogurt with crème fraîche yields a decadent-tasting topping with less saturated fat.
Brown Butter-Maple-Pecan Blondies
Know someone who doesn’t love chocolate? Make them these Blondies instead of brownies. Choose use high-quality 100% pure maple syrup for these bar cookies; the fake stuff doesn’t have the same richness and aroma. The darker the syrup, the stronger the flavor.
Arkansas Black Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce
The heirloom apple that makes this apple pie so tasty hails from Benton County, Arkansas. What makes it so special? The fragrant, tart, and tasty apple ripens to a deep red while still on the tree, but it continues to ripen after it is picked and transforms to a nearly black hue. Keep an eye out for these beautiful apples for your Thanksgiving pie. The Arkansas Black Apple Pie just needs a drizzle of Caramel Sauce and a scoop of ice cream to make your night perfect.
Cranberry Cookies With Orange Glaze
Oh, so festive! These cakey cranberry cookies are a perfect Christmastime snack, dessert, or even breakfast.
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.
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.
Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Bundt
Carrot-Apple Muffins With Orange Glaze
These tender, lightly sweetened whole-grain muffins have a special can’t-put-your-finger-on-it flavor thanks to garam masala. Look for garam masala in the spice aisle; large spice brands make it. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, you can substitute an equal amount of cinnamon.
Caramel Apple Cake
Spiced Pear Cobbler with Ricotta-Thyme Biscuits
There are all kinds of tricks for light, fluffy biscuits, but adding ricotta might not have been one you've heard of before. The cheese adds a richness to the top of this cobbler, as well as being an excellent way to soak up all that delicious juice released from the pears as they cook. The result is a cobbler with a crispy brown top, a flavorful biscuit middle, and a stew of perfectly spiced brandy-stewed pears at the bottom.
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.
Caramel Apple Blondie Pie
Buttery rich layers of tender cake and caramelized apples add up to one sweet combo. The secret to the crisp, flaky crust? Baking in a cast-iron skillet on a lower oven rack.
The maple syrup in this pumpkin butter recipe really darkens up the spread and adds some good depth of flavor. This easy recipe makes a lot, but you can easily cut the recipe in half for a small yield.
Miso Walnut Sticky Buns
Incorporating instant mashed potato flakes into this foolproof sticky bun dough is the secret behind their incredibly moist, tender texture. Meanwhile, using a bit of bread flour, in addition to all-purpose, helps provide structure and height. White miso paste, also known as sweet miso, adds a dynamic element of salt-sweet depth to both the filling and caramel topping—making these a most impressive addition to any brunch spread. Pro-tip: Don’t let the buns rest in the pan for too long after baking as the sticky topping will begin to solidify as it cools, making it difficult to turn them out.
Pumpkin-Orange Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
If you're a fan of pumpkin desserts, look no further than these festive cookies. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and orange zest give these naturally colored pumpkin cookies a bright and crisp edge to compliment the deep fall flavors found in pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The milled flaxseed in this recipe provides a binder in place of using eggs and also provides some healthy omega-3's. These cookies are gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and can easily be made vegan by using vegan chocolate chips, and just as well can also be made nut-free by subbing the almond milk for water or regular milk.
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 Salted Caramel-Pecan Cheesecake
Rich, creamy, and smooth, this cheesecake "bakes" surprisingly well right in the Instant Pot. Drizzle your remaining caramel sauce on top after the dessert cools to make this showstopping cake look as amazing as it tastes.
Apple Streusel Muffins with Maple Drizzle
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.
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Refrigerated pie dough makes this classic pumpkin pie recipe simple to prepare. Bake the pie on a baking sheet in the lower third of the oven to encourage a crisp crust.
Sheet Pan Oatmeal Toffee-Orange Cream Bars
These toasty-sweet, sheet pan sandwich cookies are fantastic for potlucks or tailgates—heck, whip a batch up on the weekend and enjoy for after-school snacks or dessert throughout the week. Toffee bits and cinnamon kick up the flavor of a traditional oatmeal cookie, while adding fresh orange zest to the filling adds a special touch or bright flavor to these tasty bars. Be sure the cookie is completely cool (out of the pan) before cutting it, or it will crumble. And to ensure a smooth cut, you’ll want to chill the filled cookie really well before slicing into bars.
Almond Joy Cookies
Perfect Pumpkin Roll
A classic pumpkin roll is a work of art. Rich buttercream perfectly complements the earthy-sweet pumpkin in this ideal autumnal treat—add a PSL and you're set.
Fried Apple Pies
There's enough filling to make a second batch of these delicious pies, or you can freeze it for later. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Thai Tea Pie
Warmly spiced Thai tea mix—which you can purchase at an Asian market or online—stars in this show-stopping, no-bake pie. The tea is steeped in sweetened condensed milk which is then used to make a stovetop custard; after straining out the tea leaves (definitely use cheesecloth), you’ll simply pour the vibrantly colored custard into a peanutty, no-oven-necessary crust and refrigerate until set. If you’re looking for a pie that’s sure to impress, trust us, the sweet Thai tea against the salty, toasty flavor of the peanuts is a combo you won’t be able to get enough of.
Shortcut Carrot Sheet Cake
This moist, delicious carrot cake has traditional ingredients like carrot, pineapple, and walnuts, with the addition of toasted coconut flakes to dress up cream cheese icing. The ease of assembly is the kicker here: a box mix enhanced with fresh ingredients comes together in minutes and is sure to impress guests.
Spiced Pecan Pie Bars
Two pantry staples—ground cinnamon and ginger—give the traditional pecan pie filling an unexpected and flavorful twist. For an impressive dessert, serve each bar on a plate with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Or just enjoy them right out of the pan!
These sweet little pumpkin fudge squares feature canned pumpkin, white chocolate, and marshmallow creme.
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.
Apple-Pear Pie with Cookie Butter Caramel
If you’re looking to go next-level for you next holiday pie, this speculoos infused apple and pear pie is exactly what you’re looking for. Featuring finely ground speculoos cookies (we used Biscoff brand) in the crust, larger crumbles in the pecan streusel topping, and a decadent salted cookie butter caramel sauce both in the filling and drizzled over top, this fruit pie is anything but boring. While it may seem like a hassle, don’t skip giving your fruit the little pre-cook described in step 5. This method of par-cooking the slice apples and pears will help your fruit achieve a delightfully tender, but not-too-mushy texture through the baking process.
Persimmon Pie with Pecan Streusel
If you find fine domesticated persimmons at your local grocery store or farmers' market, they should be easy enough to puree. Hachya and Fuyu are great varieties to make this flavorful pie filling. But don't feel bad if you want to skip the messy work of processing your own persimmon puree and order it frozen online.
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 Bundt with Brown Sugar Icing and Candied Pecans
Candied pecans and a rich, buttery icing turn a simple pumpkin Bundt cake into a grand finale dessert. For the smoothest texture and most impressive presentation, make sure the icing is still warm when you spoon it over the cake.
Biscuit Cinnamon Sweet Rolls
Make sure the butter you spread over the tender dough is very soft; otherwise, the dough will tear.
Salted Caramel Apple Pie
Grated apple is the secret to a syrupy pie filling--it releases more pectin (a natural thickener) than the sliced apples alone. A quick salted caramel intensifies the apple flavor without making the dessert too sweet.
Cappuccino Swirl Bars
Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Pumpkins aren't just for carving! You choose—Make Pumpkin Streusel Muffins or loaves. For loaves, spoon batter into 2 greased 8- x 4-inch loaf pans, and bake 55 minutes.
German Chocolate Brownies
This recipe is a combination of my nana’s greatest hits—brownies and German chocolate cake. The fudgy brownies allow the frosting’s coconut flavor to shine and are decadent without overwhelming the palate. We used a 9x13” baking pan, which yielded thinner brownies and a more even distribution of both the brownies and the frosting’s flavor. It’s definitely possible in an 8” or 9” square pan, which will give you thicker brownies and globs of frosting. In that case, you’ll need to use a fork.
Oxbow Bakery Pecan Pie
The kitchen at Palestine, Texas’s Oxbow Bakery may be small, but mother-and-son team Becky and David Wolfe make about 400 pies around Thanksgiving alone. David estimates that 60% of their business comes from out of town–and even from outside of Texas. “A lady from Houston just grabbed me and hugged me with tears in her eyes,” says Becky. “She said she hadn’t had pie like this since her mother passed.” This pecan pie is one of their—and our Test Kitchens’—favorites. Whether you're setting up a buffet table of multiple pies this Thanksgiving or looking for the best pecan pie to be the showstopper, this recipe is perfect.
Frosted Brown Butter Blondies
Easy Apple Cobbler
Usher in the fall season with a warm pan of (almost too) easy apple cobbler. For this simple and delicious apple dessert, peeling and slicing the fruit will be the bulk of your workload. The combination of brown sugar and apples yields an exceptionally gooey-rich filling that was made to team up with a buttery, golden crust and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. While we preferred hearty Granny Smith apples for the filling, you can certainly use a different variety if that's what you have on hand. Regardless of the type of apple you pick, this warm and comforting cobbler is easy enough to make at the last minute, and is always a welcome addition to the holiday dessert spread.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie with Coffee Liqueur Whipped Cream
Whether or not you’re a fan of the infamous, seasonal Starbuck’s beverage, we’re willing to bet you won’t have any regrets about swapping your typical pumpkin pie for this caffeinated uptake this Thanksgiving. We were surprised by just how amazing a hint of coffee sets off creamy, spiced pumpkin pie filling, but the depth of rich flavor speaks for itself—this PSL-inspired pie is in a league of it’s own. Served with a coffee liqueur-spiked whipped cream, this fall dessert reaches a level of decadence a basic pumpkin pie could only dream of. Note: If you opt to create a decorative lattice effect as we did here, be very careful when placing your dough strips atop the pie—the pie’s surface will be very hot and not fully set.
Sticky Toffee Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon rolls were in regular rotation when I was growing up. There was no clearer sign of Sunday morning than the hollow clink of the cake tin hitting the stove and the assertive pop of a vacuum-packed canister of cinnamon rolls being split open. Arranged casually in a baking dish, they would swell and snuggle in the oven, their giraffe-like pattern of flaky cinnamon topping melting to cover the rolls in a layer of perfectly-engineered sweet spice. They were really more like biscuits than “rolls”—with a questionable ingredient list and wartime-appropriate expiration date—but these were the cinnamon rolls of my youth. And I loved them.
I’ll admit I dabbled with the ‘Bons, their irresistible scent luring my tween posse toward a random alcove of the mall next to the Mrs. Fields. While most of my pals preferred the cinnamon-soaked interior, I liked the drier outer layers drizzled with gooey frosting. But as I grew older I started to find these industrialized rolls unappealing, the icing too sweet, the size intimidating. But that aroma, even after all these years, is still wholly intoxicating.
I wanted to create a more sophisticated cinnamon roll, something more reasonable, appropriately-sized, dare I say, adult. A sweet treat that would still make the house smell like a food court without sending me into an extended sugar coma.
But where’s the fun in that?
So I split the difference. Yes, I came up with cinnamon rolls of a more manageable size and I swapped some of the sugar for maple syrup and sticky sweet dates which offer a complexity that none of the big-box brands can offer. I lost the icing but went instead with a layer of nutty upside-down-cake-inspired brown sugar and butter topping. Make no mistake, these cinnamon rolls are indulgent, but they’re homemade so it’s cool, right? These aren’t necessarily good for you, but they’re good for you.
Note: For extra credit you can make your own dough for these, but a couple of balls of prepared pizza dough work just fine.
Sticky Toffee Cinnamon Rolls
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.
Baileys Pecan Pie
Pecan pie’s classic custardy texture gets a boozy punch thanks to the addition of Baileys. The dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup make for a dark custard, but you could certainly use light brown sugar and light corn syrup if you prefer. For the ultimate boost in flavor, brush the finished warm pie with the remaining teaspoon of Baileys. Finish everything up with whipped cream or ice cream, or serve it for post-Thanksgiving breakfast with a cup of coffee.
Maple-Caramel Apple Clafoutis
This tender, fluffy apple clafoutis is the simple, and simply impressive, dessert you’ll make again and again. And with a maple caramel sauce, it fully delivers on toasty fall energy. You’ll have extra caramel sauce leftover, which can be refrigerated in an airtight container and spooned over everything from ice cream and pound cakes to waffles or baked apples.
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie
Browning the butter with spices lends a deep, nutty flavor to this Southern classic.
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.
Almond Praline Cheesecake
Pecan, Apple, and Pumpkin Pie
This pecan, apple, and pumpkin—pepumpkle, if you will—pie combines the best of three worlds. The tartness of the apple helps balance out the sweetness of the other two fillings while adding a caramel taste to the mix. However, the pecan and pumpkin keep their distinctive flavors. Cook the apples first to reduce the amount of liquid that gets released into the pie; reserve that liquid for a buttery caramel to drizzle on at the end. If it makes it to the next day, any leftover pie would be great with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or blended into a milkshake.