50 Brilliant Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas
Our 50 favorite Thanksgiving desserts are sure to be showstoppers. Whether you choose a classic (like Pecan Pie and Pumpkin Pie), or something new and different (you'll absolutely love our Chai Swirl Cheesecake Bars), no holiday table is complete without something sweet. Hungry for more? Check out our very best fall pies here.
Our rendition of pecan pie features everything you love about the Southern classic: the deep flavor of roasted pecans, a gooey filling, and just enough sticky-sweetness enveloped in a buttery, flaky crust.
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.
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 Magic Cake
If you can't get enough pumpkin spice during fall, we have one more recipe you must try out. For our Pumpkin Spice Cake recipe, we combined silky flan with moist pumpkin spice cake and buttery caramel sauce in one incredible confection. We were inspired by a Mexican dessert called “impossible flan”. While it is not at all difficult to make, our Test Kitchen recommends using a light-colored Bundt pan for the best results. A dark-colored pan may get too hot and overbake the cake.
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.
Spiced Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
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.
Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake with Caramel Buttercream
If you're looking for an easy, decadent, and oh-so-yummy chocolate fudge cake, this is the perfect recipe. The key to this layer cake’s lusciously messy look? A short spell in the freezer, which allows the ganache to set over the cake layers so that the buttercream can be spread on top of it. Make sure there is enough space in your freezer before you assemble the cake. This recipe comes in handy for birthdays, holidays, and the odd Wednesday pick-me-up.
These sweet little pumpkin fudge squares feature canned pumpkin, white chocolate, and marshmallow creme.
Can't decide between pumpkin or pecan? This pie has a taste of both.
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.
Raspberry, Sumac, and Almond Pound Cake
The nuanced brightness of sumac matched with warming notes of almond and jammy raspberries takes a classic pound cake construct over the top and into pure wow-worthy territory. While it may seem like a lot between the batter and the pound cake’s raspberry-sumac glaze (especially if this is a new seasoning to you), sumac—which is the dried, powdered berries of the sumac bush—is a spice you need not be overly reserved with. Given sumac’s delicate tart flavor, a fair amount is needed here to shine within the context of the dense, buttery cake.
Everything you love about classic Italian tiramisu, layered into an impressive cake.
Mini Triple-Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cakes
If you want a whole pound cake to yourself, try these individually-portioned chocolaty pound cakes. You'll hardly be able to bake these little gems before they're devoured.
Pumpkin Dump Cake
Pumpkin pie and coffee cake's best features unite in this easy dump cake that's perfect for a crowd.
Sweet Potato Dump Cake
All the fall flavors you could possibly want in one simple dessert.
This 5-star cinnamon apple cake is one of our best-ever recipes and can be served as dessert or a breakfast coffee cake. The cream cheese in the batter gives the cake lots of moisture, while the cinnamon sugar topping is dense and crumbly. The cake is best warm out of the oven, and will keep for a week after you've baked it. Toss in walnuts or pecans to the batter for an added nutty crunch.
Sea Salt-Caramel Cake
While these tender cake layers taste divine, it’s the caramel frosting that really wows. It’s outrageously rich—and doesn’t require the use of a candy thermometer. Top the frosted cake with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt for a fancy finish.
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.
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.
Maple Pumpkin Pie with a Message
To use up the leftover pumpkin, try adding some to a breakfast smoothie, or stir into pancake batter. Or combine with a splash of half-and-half, season with sage, and toss with pasta.
Chocolate Cookie Cups with Caramel Filling
Holiday cookie baking can be impressive without being stressful. Make this easy cookie dough and store it in the fridge up to two days before you need to bake these fantastic filled cookies. What's great about this recipe is that you'll stand apart at the annual cookie exchange. Not only are your cookies a different shape, but they are filled with ooey-gooey caramel and topped with a crunchy pecan and a little sea salt for the perfect mix of sweet and salty.
Look for five-spice powder on the spice aisle or with the Asian foods in your grocery store. We love the sparkle of sanding sugar used to coat the outside of the cookies; you’ll find it in craft stores. Supermarket turbinado works well, too.
Apple Spice Bundt Cake with Cider Glaze
Don't be afraid to go 100% whole-grain with desserts; we use all spelt flour here with amazing results. The nutty flour boosts the taste of the butter, spices, and vanilla, unlike all-purpose flour, whose bland nature would dilute those flavors. Be sure to weigh the flour for accuracy; using too much will make the cake dry.
Almond-Currant Linzer Cookies
We like the more updated look of off-center cutouts, but you can go more traditional by keeping the cutouts centered.
Double-Crust Apple Pie
A double crust seals in the apples' natural juices as the pie bakes for full-on apple flavor. Tossing the apples with apple juice keeps them from browning as you peel and slice them, and it adds a boost of apple flavor.
Brown Velvet Cake
This decadently moist chocolate cake is similar to red velvet, but skips using an entire bottle of red food dye. Crumbling the cake trimmings for garnish is an easy and elegant way to decorate. Spread the crumbs out on a baking sheet and let them dry out for a while to make them easier to apply to your frosted cake.
Girl Scout cookies are great, but these cookies are better! Tip: for consistent measurements when rounding and shaping your dough, use a mini ice cream scoop for the perfect size every time.
Classic Chess Pie
If you've got baking staples in your kitchen, then you probably have everything you need for a classic chess pie. This old-fashioned pie typically has two distinctive ingredients, cornmeal and vinegar, plus other on-hand ingredients such as sugar, flour, eggs, milk and vanilla. This version is made easy with the use of refrigerated pie crusts.
Brown Butter Cake with Cocoa
A good bit of salt enhances all the flavors here.
Parsnip Spice Cake with Caramel Icing
Instead of boiling the parsnips, we roast them to concentrate their sweetness; this allows us to use less added sugar. We also switched from refined all-purpose flour to whole-wheat pastry flour, and simplified the format to a sheet cake.
Maple Peanut Pie
Some say peanut pie is a poor man's version of pecan pie. Others say its salty-sweet punch was inspired by a now-vanishing gas station treat created by pouring a five-cent packet of salted pea- nuts into a bottle of ice-cold Coca-Cola. Either way, it’s a crackerjack pie.
For this festive version of a pumpkin cake, we opted for a "spiced pumpkin" box cake mix, but any box mix will do. Adding powdered sugar to the prepared frosting helps make it thicker and less likely to melt off the cake or get too soft and drippy. It's helpful to use piping bags to get a nicel layer of frosting and then blend together on the pumpkin to get green vines and leaves.
Butter Pecan Layer Cake with Browned Butter Frosting
Nutty Browned Butter Frosting meets tender pecan cake in this showstopping three-layer dessert. When browning the butter for the frosting, pour the butter into a bowl as soon as it turns golden brown, or it will continue to cook and get too dark.
Parsnip Spice Cake with Caramel Icing
One of the Omaha supper club's favorite recipes is a parsnip layer cake we published in 2003. We took a look at the recipe and decided to update it with less sugar and more whole grains. A few tweaks later, we had a moist, tender, tastier spice cake capped with an indulgent caramel-flavored cream cheese icing.
Sweet Potato Pound Cake
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.
Apple Bundt Cake with Apple-Cream Cheese Glaze
This incredibly moist bundt cake gains its strong apple flavor from 4 cups of shredded Granny smith apples baked into the batter, as well as a concentrated apple liquid (made by reducing apple juice and apple liqueur) that is brushed over the warm cake after baking and used to create the cake’s sweet-tart apple and cream cheese glaze. Grating the apples, as opposed to chopping them into pieces, makes for more even distribution of moisture and apple flavor throughout this dense and delightful cake. While we opted to keep the spice factor simple here (to avoid overpowering the apple) with just a teaspoon of cinnamon, feel free to mix it up and add other favorite spices—such as cloves, ginger, nutmeg, or allspice. You can also swap the vanilla bean paste for 11/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. If you can’t find apple liqueur, simply substitute apple flavored brandy or 1/4 cup more apple juice.
Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Tahini Glaze
What better fall-inspired dessert to make than this tahini-glazed pumpkin bundt cake. A medley of fragrant, ground spices enhance the rich sweetness of this incredibly moist bundt cake. Topped with a toasty, perfectly bittersweet tahini glaze, this easy to make and comforting fall dessert is the perfect centerpiece for your next dinner party, Halloween gathering, or special occasion.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze
With a rich, gooey pumpkin spice filling, buttery pecan streusel topping, and maple glaze, this fluffy and moist pumpkin coffee cake is sure to impress. Perfect for any occasion, from your next fall brunch to a Halloween party, this coffee cake is easy to make and full of toasty fall flavors. You can prepare the brown sugar-pecan streusel, the filling, and even the maple glaze in advance to make pulling this cake together even more of a breeze once you’re ready to bake. Simply prepare each element in a bowl, tightly wrap each with plastic wrap, and stash them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Just be sure to take the glaze out of the refrigerator as soon as you’re ready to start making the pumpkin coffee cake so that it has enough time to return to room temperature, and give it a few stirs to loosen it back up if need be.
Kahlúa Cookie Dough Bites
If you're only going to have "a bite" of dessert, this is the bite to have.
Cranberry Cookies With Orange Glaze
Oh, so festive! These cakey cranberry cookies are a perfect Christmastime snack, dessert, or even breakfast.
Apple Pie Nachos
All of the flavors you crave from a gooey apple pie, but in an easy-to-make, highly shareable format.
Chocolate-Pecan Pie Ice Cream
Creating the coolest scoops is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
White Chocolate and Bourbon Pecan Slab Pie with Caramel Sauce
It doesn't get much better than this decadent version of a Southern classic. White chocolate, bourbon, and caramel give this pecan pie a flavor much more dynamic than the original.
Classic Boston Cream Pie
If you’re looking for the best Boston Cream Pie recipe out there, consider the search complete. Despite the name, this classic dessert lands among the most divine cake constructions we can imagine: Delicate pastry cream sandwiched between two fluffy vanilla cake layers, all topped with a decadent cap of chocolate ganache. Vanilla bean paste, which we call for in this recipe, saves bakers the hassle of scraping beans from the pod, while still delivering a similarly powerful depth of vanilla flavor. Not to mention, grabbing a jar of the paste (from supermarkets like Whole Foods or on Amazon) is a far better value than purchasing vanilla pods and definitely an ingredient we’d encourage home bakers to try. That said, if you already have vanilla extract in your pantry and are ready to start baking, the extract will work just fine!
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.
Red Velvet Cheesecake-Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Red velvet cake is a staple on holiday tables across the South, and this is our favorite take on it: two layers of creamy red velvet cheesecake with moist vanilla cake in the middle, all blanketed in a cream cheese frosting
"My mom never made one pie, so this recipe is for two," says Howard. You can also make this pie in a 13- x 9-inch baking pan and cut into bars.