Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

No matter how big the spread is at Thanksgiving dinner (and we’re willing to bet it’s pretty impressive!), everyone always manages to save room for dessert. That’s because Thanksgiving desserts are some of the best baked goods you’ll eat all year, from quintessential pumpkin pie to a variety of fall-inspired (and pumpkin spice-flavored!) cakes, cookies, crumbles, and more. Cooks of all skill levels and ages can contribute to the offerings, thanks to quick and easy dishes such as broiled apples a la mode, and more advanced creations like our Gingersnap-Pear Cheesecake. We also love that the dessert table can be made up of a mix of classic recipes and new ones, so grandma’s sweet potato pie can be plated up next to a sliver of Chocolate-Whiskey Pecan Pie. And if you’re still craving pumpkin long after the pies are gone, we’ve got 12 pumpkin-pie inspired recipes (think pancakes and puppy chow) to enjoy all season long.

Sweet Potato Pie Bars

Our friend Dorie Greenspan was kind enough to share her recipe for Sweet Potato Pie Bars with us. They’re just one of several Thanksgiving-inspired bar cookies featured in her new book Dorie’s Cookies. We were lucky to chat with Dorie as part of our Real Simple Thanksgiving podcast series. She offered some great tips and tricks for getting dessert on the table without starting a fire.

Pumpkin Bread in a Pumpkin Can

Warmly spiced pumpkin bread is a fall-baking must: it’s easy to whip up, it’s crowd-pleasing, and it makes your kitchen smell incredible. This recipe uses the entire can of pumpkin, which acts as an adorable baking vessel for our pumpkin bread batter. The bread rises up over the top of the can, creating a puffy muffin top sprinkled with a nutty brown sugar streusel. To serve, slide the loaf out of the can, cut into round slices, and enjoy while still warm. Alternatively, wrap a ribbon around the can and give it as a hostess gift. You’ll have some extra batter but you won’t need extra cans: bake the overflow in a loaf pan, or divided in a muffin tin. All of Libby’s cans are BPA-free.

10 Ways to Upgrade a Pumpkin Pie

From filling to crust, dress up this famous Thanksgiving dessert.

Apple Cider Donuts

The quintessential fall treat may be a mainstay at farmer’s markets, but it’s twice as tasty when you eat it straight from the fryer—still warm. This recipe is a breeze to mix up, and makes tender, airy donuts. The dough is sticky, so be sure to liberally dust your hands and work surface with flour. If you don’t have a donut cutter, you can punch out donuts using an upside down water glass and a bottle cap (for the hole). The cinnamon sugar mixture can clump after a couple batches of hot donuts. To keep it from clumping, divide the mixture in half between two pie plates.

No-Churn Pumpkin Ice Cream With Cranberry-Raspberry Compote

This semifreddo-style frozen custard provides all the satisfaction of your favorite slow-churned pint without the need for a bulky ice cream machine. The only special equipment you’ll need is a candy thermometer (about $10 and great for frying too, so go ahead and invest in one). Serve this creamy treat with caramel sauce or hot fudge but we think it’s especially pretty with the cranberry raspberry compote. Make them both ahead of time and a lovely seasonal dessert will be ready and waiting for you when guests come calling. And here you thought you couldn’t make ice cream at home.

6 Pumpkin Desserts When You’re Tired of Pie

Why should the pie always be the star of the show? We whipped up 6 pumpkin-laced desserts that might just give Grandma’s pumpkin pie a run for its money.

Pumpkin Pecan Crisps

Alright, alright, we know some of you still need your pumpkin pie fix. So we dreamed up this inverted pie-like dessert just for you: A creamy warmly-spiced custard hides beneath a nutty crunchy streusel topping. It’s like an individually made pumpkin pie with the crust on top. You can substitute any nut you like for the pecans—walnuts or almonds would be nice—and feel free to have some fun with the whipped cream. Crème fraiche would be an unexpected twist but we might even serve these with a dollop of Greek yogurt and call it breakfast.

Pumpkin Pavlova With Roasted Apples

Pavlovas usually make their way to the dessert table in high summer, with fresh berries and whipped cream piled on top. For the rest of the year, we dreamed up an autumnal version you can make now and all the way through winter. Meringues are pretty easy to make, they just need enough time to dry out in your oven, so just give yourself a head start. Pumpkin whipped cream and broiled sweet-tart apples get layered with the meringues for a dramatic layer cake-like presentation. It’s a great idea for Thanksgiving but we think it makes a great birthday cake too.

Pumpkin Cream Puffs

These cream puffs are guaranteed to stop traffic on the way to the pies this Thanksgiving. Classic choux pastry (they bake up like little cabbages or “choux” in French) get filled with a brown sugar and pumpkin pastry cream for a dreamy contrast in textures. When the little guys come out of the oven you’ll want to flip them over and pierce them with the tip of a sharp knife. This allows the steam inside the hollow center to escape to keep the puffs crisp. You can make the filling ahead of time and keep it chilled until ready to assemble. And don’t worry if it looks too thick: a little bit of whipped cream folded into the pudding base makes for an extra light filling.

Pumpkin, Chocolate, and Toffee Skillet Cookie

It’s the giant chocolate chip cookie you always dreamed of, now with the addition of warm spices, pumpkin and toffee bits. Oh, and chocolate of course. The pumpkin puree keeps the cookie soft and chewy in the center while the cast-iron skillet gives it irresistible crispy edges. Don’t worry if you don’t have the right skillet, though, this cookie works in a cake pan too. We recommend serving this straight from the skillet or pan with ice cream scooped right on top of the warm cookie. Just make sure everybody gets his or her own spoon.