Thanksgiving Day menus are hugely important. The stuffing recipe, turkey technique, the debates over making or buying the cranberry sauce. But arguably the most critical question? What are we having for dessert? Get fresh ideas, make ahead recipes and showstopping desserts in this roundup of 30+ Delicious Thanksgiving Desserts Your Guests Will Love.
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If you’ve been tasked with bringing dessert to this year’s Thanksgiving Day gathering, first of all, lucky you! To me there is nothing more fun than hunting through dessert recipes to find an option that is classic (yet inventive) and of course, totally indulgent.
While classic dessert options are generally pie (Pumpkin, Apple, Pecan, and even French Silk or Strawberry Rhubarb) the sky is truly the limit when it comes to dessert.
A pumpkin cheesecake? Yes! Swap that apple pie for a more do-able galette? Absolutely! And what about cakes, pumpkin brownies, and even cream puffs? Sounds perfect!
Looking for the Classics?
I’m a purist at heart and my Thanksgiving always has to include at least one pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream to feel complete. So I hear you! What if you want a classic recipe? If you are looking for a basic Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, or Pecan Pie recipe, I always use the America’s Test Kitchen Recipes (I have the Family Baking Book and The Perfect Pie). They are incredibly well-written, great for beginners or the advanced, and they WORK.
The rest of this list contains desserts that are a slight (or major) change from the popular standbys. Change things up with some fresh dessert options this year!
Things to Know About Thanksgiving Desserts
What is the most popular Thanksgiving Dessert?
Pumpkin Pie of course! Apple Pie and Pecan Pie are high on the list too. If you want to keep things traditional, but switch it up, choose one of these classic flavors, but change up the presentation. Maybe a pumpkin tart or cheesecake. Perhaps pecan pie cupcakes or an apple and pear pie. Even layer cakes can make an appearance!
What Desserts Are Good for Thanksgiving?
I personally think make-ahead desserts are essential for Thanksgiving. Most pies can be prepared ahead at least a day (check your recipe), but there are also options like Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert or No Bake Cheesecakes which can be prepared well in advance. This leaves you plenty of time to prep other recipes (and keep that all-important oven cleared too!).
What Are Thanksgiving Desserts You Can Make Ahead?
Both pies and cheesecakes are often able to be prepared ahead. Other ideas include layered desserts, cakes, cupcakes, ice cream desserts and more. Check your recipe for details and be sure you have plenty of fridge space if the recipe requires refrigeration.
What Are Thanksgiving Desserts That Are Not Pie?
Not everyone likes pie (and certainly not everyone enjoys baking the finicky things!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a showstopping dessert. My top recommendation is to go the cheesecake route. Most recipes can be prepared in advance, they can be decorated as fancifully as you wish, and they are rich enough and special enough to make a lasting memory for all of your guests! Try the Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake or the No-Bake Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake on the list below.
Which Thanksgiving Desserts Will Impress My Guests?
30+ Delicious Thanksgiving Desserts Your Guests Will Love
Why stop with pumpkin pie? This list of 30+ Delicious Thanksgiving Desserts Your Guests Will Love is packed with unique and mouth-watering dessert options like Pumpkin Tiramisu, Caramel Apple Crumb Bars, Pecan Pie Cupcakes, Pumpkin Cheesecake and so much more. Make a memorable holiday and add some of these showstopping sweet treats to your Thanksgiving menu!
This beautiful No Bake Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake from Emma Duckworth Bakes kicks off with a Biscoff cookie crust and tops the super creamy pumpkin filling with a luscious flood of homemade caramel. If you are looking for a make-ahead dessert, bookmark this recipe!
These No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Mason Jars from Bellewood Cottage are the sweetest individual pumpkin cheesecakes. Save your oven space with a no bake recipe, prepare them ahead of time, and skip the stress of cutting pies and cheesecakes. These mini desserts will be ready to serve! These desserts use 4 ounce mason jars, but any 4 ounce ramekin or jar will work!
Switch things up by turning that classic pumpkin pie into Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes from Homemade in the Kitchen! Topped with cream cheese frosting, these cupcakes are sure to be a hit. This is a small batch recipe that makes 6 cupcakes so it's ideal for smaller gatherings.
Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient, sometimes it's a lot of fun to switch things up from the classic pumpkin pie recipe and do something different. This beautiful Pumpkin Tiramisu from Coley Cooks will be a hit on your Thanksgiving dessert table. Plus, it's easier to make than a pie and can be prepared and refrigerated up to three days in advance.
You'll love these Pecan Pie Cupcakes from Life Love and Sugar. The brown sugar cupcakes are filled with a pecan pie filling and topped with a smooth pecan pie buttercream. A twist on classic pecan pie that is sure to be a hit!
If you are looking for a great vegan Thanksgiving dessert, try these gorgeous Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Brownies from My Vegan Minimalist. You'll need to prepare a separate chocolate and pumpkin batter so be sure to set aside a bit of extra time to mix these up!
This decadent Pecan Praline Cheesecake from Life Love and Sugar features a cheesecake filling packed with pecan flavor and a gooey pecan praline sauce on top. This one is on my short list to try out for Thanksgiving this year--yum!
A beautiful Pumpkin Roll like this one from I Heart Eating is such a beautiful statement for a dessert table (whether at Thanksgiving dinner or another event). This roll is prepared with a pumpkin spice cake and fluffy cream cheese frosting.
What is Pumpkin Lush? This easy dessert from Little Sunny Kitchen is a completely no bake and make ahead dessert. It is comprised of layers of graham cracker crust, a cheesecake layer, pumpkin layer, and then plenty of whipped topping, caramel sauce and chopped pecans.
A galette is bit easier to approach than a pie, so it's a great choice if you are new to baking. This Salted Caramel Apple Galette from Sally's Baking Addiction is festive and perfectly delicious served with a scoop of homemade whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Pumpkin Streusel Dessert Bars from Savvy Mama Lifestyle are prepared in a 9"x9" pan, but the recipe can be easily doubled for a larger quantity. These bars include a thick oat crust, pumpkin filling, and sweet crumble on top!
Another easy pumpkin bar recipe these Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars from Lemon Blossoms are made with a layer of cheesecake, pumpkin butter, and a brown sugar oat streusel. The crust and the streusel are the same mixture which will save you time in the kitchen!
This Pumpkin Layer Cake from Lemon Blossoms is topped and filled with a salted caramel cream cheese frosting and candied pecans too. A great choice if you are looking to opt for a pumpkin cake instead of a pumpkin pie this year!
Pumpkin Fudge like this recipe from Sugar Spun Run is a fun rendition of a holiday classic. My family makes fudge every year as a fun tradition and I think this pumpkin fudge recipe may just be added to the selection this year!
Cheesecake in the Instant Pot? Yes! This Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake from Cardamom and Coconut is a bit smaller than a traditional cheesecake (you'll use a 7"x3" pan), but the entire thing can be cooked right in your Instant Pot!
Strawberries aren't usually seen at a fall Thanksgiving Day spread, but since this easy dessert recipe can be prepared with frozen strawberries as well it might just be one you want to consider adding in! Sometimes we need a little something different from all the apples, pecans, and pumpkins and this make ahead dessert is a popular classic recipe!
My husband's family grew up with this classic Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert and it is a fun one. I like to make mine with Biscoff cookies (they are so good!) and I love that it's a totally no bake and make ahead dessert option.
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