Here are a few festive ideas you can use to dress up your favorite Thanksgiving dessert.

By Betty Gold
Updated October 27, 2020

Like turkey, gravy, and stuffing, pumpkin pie has a permanent spot on the Thanksgiving table. But that doesn’t mean you have to make the same old pumpkin pie recipe every year. A lightly spiced pumpkin pie filling pairs well with so many other flavors and ingredients, like salted caramel sauce, candied nuts, streusel, coconut, and more. Read on for our best ideas and recipes.

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Credit: Johnny Miller


A buttery, crumbled streusel topping makes a nice contrast with the pie’s smooth, creamy filling. Our simple pecan streusel topping comes together in one bowl and works with almost any pumpkin pie, crisp, bread, or muffin recipe. You can also make our Cocoa Pumpkin Crumble recipe.

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Love your go-to pie recipe but want to make it look a little prettier? Break out the cookie cutters and decorate your pie with piecrust cut-outs. Arrange small circles around the edge of the crust, or top the center of the pie with overlapping fall leaves. It’s a smart way to make good use of any extra piecrust—and no one will complain about having extra crust to eat.

Credit: Brie Passano


Coconut pairs wonderfully with warm spices in pumpkin pie such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Swap out the vanilla for coconut extract in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe, add shredded sweetened coconut to a graham cracker pie crust, top the pie with dollops of whipped cream topped with coconut, or try this delicious recipe for Pumpkin Caramel Pie Bars With Toasted Coconut. Or all of the above!

Credit: Antonis Achilleos


One of the easiest ways to upgrade a pumpkin pie is to give each slice a generous drizzle of sweet, buttery caramel sauce. There are many good-quality jarred caramel or salted caramel sauces but making caramel sauce from scratch is a fun project that you can make with pantry staples you probably have on hand.

Credit: Greg DuPree


A swirl of cream cheese in pumpkin pie filling creates a striking marbled look—and tastes great, too. For a truly showstopping dessert, try this recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie.

Credit: Greg DuPree


Everyone will ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ when they see that there’s a layer of hidden goodness at the bottom of their slice of pie. Before you bake the pie crust, top it with a mixture of crushed gingersnaps and pecans.

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Candied nuts are great pre-dinner snacks, but they also make a pretty pie topper too. Try sugared pecans, walnuts, or even peanuts.

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Pumpkin and chocolate are a match made in dessert heaven. Top the pie with piles of dark chocolate shavings, drizzle with fudge sauce, or make this Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Dump Cake.

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A billowy, burnished meringue topping is an elegant way to top a classic pumpkin pie. Take it even one step further with meringue made with clover honey, then serve them pint-sized like our Mini Pumpkin Pies With Speculoos Crust and Whipped Cream.

Credit: Mikkel Vang


Instead of the usual pumpkin pie, why not try an old-fashioned Southern favorite—the sweet potato pie—instead? We love this version made with candied nut cream.