Whether you’re looking for quick and easy Thanksgiving dessert ideas or something more impressive, these Thanksgiving pies, seasonal fall crisps, luxurious ice creams and custards, autumn cakes and pies are the perfect ending to your holiday meal. Many of these holiday desserts can be made a day or two ahead of time, freeing up time for other food preparations for your special Thanksgiving.
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Let's start with the most obvious... Thanksgiving pies. These pie recipes are perfect for fall with harvest flavors and colors that will add a sweet end to any meal, particularly this one. You can use homemade pie dough if you've got time or a storebought crust if you don't. Most of these holiday pies can be made a day ahead of time.
Pumpkin Pie is arguably the most popular dessert for Thanksgiving, but this one goes beyond the can of Libby's, with a homemade gingersnap crust, snappy pine nut brittle and bourbon spiked whipped cream. This is the ultimate pumpkin pie recipe.
This apple cranberry walnut tart is a mouthful! The filling is made with toasted walnuts, diced apples and whole cranberries nestled in a simple sweet custard. It's rubbly, lightly sweet, cinnamon spiced and irresistible. Try this seasonal fall apple tart with a scoop of good vanilla.
My family loves nutty pecan pies for Thanksgiving, but we live in the tropics, so our pecan pie recipe gets a tropical twist with tender flaked coconut and orange zest. This holiday pie is ultra rich and indulgent, the way it should be for the holidays.
This lovely Thanksgiving apple tart has poached apples nestled in a frangipane (almond) custard. The rich pate sucrée crust is enriched with egg and the pastry can be made in the food processor. Each of the components for this tart recipe can be made a day or two before assembling and baking. This holiday dessert isn't overly sweet and is delicious with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or puff of whipped cream.
A twist on classic apple pie, this sweet tart apple cranberry pie is oozy and spiced with a flaky vodka crust. This is one of my husband's favorite Thanskgiving pies. It has just the right balance of crust to oozy fall fruit and there's never any leftovers.
This is a perfect dessert for beginner bakers. You simply coat half of a pear with cinnamon and sugar (and a little lemon juice), wrap it in pastry(homemade or storebought) and bake. We love these pear "pies" because they're easy to make and everyone gets their own personal Thanksgiving dessert.
Finally, if you want just a little sliver of dessert, these mini pumpkin pies are the perfect bite sized treats after a big Thanksgiving meal. This recipe is perfect for large crowds and holiday parties too.
Thanksgiving Crisps & Crumbles
Fall fruit crisps and crumbles are a perfect alternative for beginner cooks who don't want to fiddle with making or rolling out pie pastry. They have the same familiar flavors you'll find in your favorite Thanksgiving pies, but fruit crisps are simpler to make and much more forgiving. Plus, they're served warm, perfect to garnish with a scoop of vanilla.
Sweet, ripe pears and tart cranberries make a heavenly fruit filling for this easy Thanksgiving crisp recipe. Fresh thyme in the oatmeal streusel topping elevates this simple dessert. Especially good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Old Fashioned apple brown betty is a humble, but delicious baked apple dessert. Made with stale breadcrumbs, generous spice and sliced apples, this easy Thanksgiving dessert is perfect for holidays. We use rye bread for a more interesting flavor, but you can use Italian, wheat or even cinnamon raisin for this fall favorite.
Apple crisp is a quintessential American dessert and this one is augmented with a handful of chewy dried cranberries, and a sweet and savory cheddar cheese pecan crisp topping. It's delicious with a scoop of ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
Ginger and pear is a classic combination and they come together beautifully in this easy crumble recipe. Ginger gives this fall dessert a spicy bite and the sweet almond crumble topping balances out the flavors. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Ice Creams for Thanksgiving
Ice cream is a universal crowd pleaser for any occasion and these deliciously different ice cream flavors are perfect for your special Thanksgiving dessert to enjoy on their own or to pair with other sweets. Make the ice creams at least a day or two before serving, so they have time to fully chill.
This pralines and cream ice cream is so good, I should open an ice cream shop and serve only this. The bourbon does double duty in this recipe, adding flavor as well as preventing the ice cream from freezing solid, making it easier to scoop straight from the freezer. Sweet brown sugar coated pecans (a.k.a pralines) are delicious mix-ins to this Thanksgiving dessert recipe.
If you're a coffee ice cream afficionado, this espresso version with dark chocolate magic shell swirls and a shot of Kahlua is for you. Though the flavor combo may not be traditional for Thanksgiving, it's absolutely swoon-worthy.
I've loved rum raisin since I was a kid and this sultry recipe soaks golden raisins in good rum for a lightly boozy, sweet, creamy dessert. This would be especially good with one of those warm crisps or the autumn baked pear recipe, above.
Creamy, lush dulce de leche is swirled throughout this rum spiked ice cream for a totally decadent Thanksgiving dessert. You can serve this on its own, but pairing it with apple pie or crisp will take your holiday menu to a whole new level.
Puddings & Custards for Thanksgiving Dessert
Puddings and custards are unexpected Thanksgiving desserts, but they deserve a spot at the table. We love them because you can make them in advance and everyone gets their own personal dessert. Garnish with whipped cream, toasted nuts or other sprinkles for a simple but elegant end to your holiday meal.
If you don't want to deal with making pie, why not bake your pumpkin pie filling in little custard cups and add a bit of flair with a caramelized sugar brûlée topping. We love breaking through the crackly shell with a spoon and this easy Thanksgiving dessert delivers those traditional holiday flavors.
For a lighter holiday dessert, try this simple panna cotta? This one is dairy free (made with almond milk) and flavored with amaretto and Kahlua. Sprinkle your gelatin custards with toasted sliced almonds and seasonal berries or even with a spoonful of leftover cranberry sauce.
Chocolate Mousse is simply the most luxurious way to eat chocolate and this recipe is spiked with amaretto. No one will miss pumpkin pie when you bring these individual desserts to the Thanksgiving table.
Bittersweet chocolate espresso custards baked in a water bath and garnished with Kahlua spiked whipped cream is a sophisticated, elegant, holiday-worthy dessert idea. Garnish with an espresso bean or shaved chocolate. This Thanksgiving dessert is perfect for the adults at the table.
No one can resist a parfait and these are like mini trifles layered with sweet sponge, Cointreau spiked, sweetened berries and chantilly cream. A festive, mouthwatering dessert idea for Thanksgiving.
Easy Cakes for Thanksgiving
Cakes don't come to mind as the usual Thanksgiving dessert idea, but that's an oversight. These harvest-style beauties deserve a spot at the table.
This fruity, moist, tender upside down cake has a beautiful caramelized pear topping that's a real showstopper. It's studded with jammy cranberries nestled in a ginger and cardamom spiced cake batter. This is one cake that's perfect for Thanksgiving dessert. No fancy decorating required.
A little more rustic than most Thanksgiving desserts, this easy apple bundt cake is super moist, studded with crunchy toasted walnuts and topped with a sweet glaze. Bonus, this one makes a great coffee cake the next morning.
You'll be amazed at how much flavor is packed in this simple bundt cake. It's got a moist, tender crumb because it's soaked in an orange whiskey syrup. Make this cake the day before Thanksgiving as it needs to rest overnight before removing it from the cake tin (special instructions on how to do that are included).
It may not look like much, but this simple single layer cake is filled with fall spices and flavors making it a perfect finishing touch to your holiday meal. This cake is loaded with apples, golden raisins and walnuts. It's dense, moist and fragrant. Serve with a glass of Reisling or Gewürztraminer.
Cookies perfect for Thanksgiving
If you're doing a Thanksgiving buffet instead of a sit down dinner, why not include a cookie platter? Guests can grab their favorites and nibble away with a cup of coffee or cider (maybe spiked with brandy or cognac). Here are some of our favorite cookie ideas for Thanksgiving dessert.
The cinnamon and brown sugar in these soft, cake-like cookies make them a holiday favorite. Naturally gluten-free, these Thanksgiving cookies use plaintain flour instead of all purpose flour and they're loaded with crystallized pineapple and coconut for a tropical twist.
The closest thing to apple pie you can get in cookie bar form. These layered apple bars have a whole wheat crust and tempting powdered sugar glaze, perfect for a Thanksgiving dessert platter.
If you like chocolate chip cookies (and who doesn't?) these buttery tahini cookies with chunks of good quality dark chocolate and sea salt are our favorite. You can't help but sneak one or two from the cookie tray.
These spiced cookies are studded with dried cherries and crunchy toasted pecans. The flavors are pure fall and this simple cookie recipe goes great with a glass of milk.
These are the easiest no-bake cookies out there, two Ritz crackers filled with peanut butter and marshmallow cream, coated in melted white chocolate. Decorate with your favorite harvest sprinkles. These are great for the kids to help make and fancy enough for your Thanksgiving table.
Speaking of peanut butter, these soft, chewy peanut butter chunk cookies are all dressed up for your Thanksgiving dessert tray. Filled with white chocolate chips and a festive sparkling sugar topping! Irresistible.
These pumpkin blondies are loaded with brickle chips and topped with toasted pecans. They're soft, chewy and redolently spiced. They're great just cut into squares for out of hand eating, but if. you heat them up and serve with ice cream, they're even better.
I could skip the whole Thanksgiving meal and sequester myself in the corner with these salted coconut pecan bars -- and be very happy. They are chewy, crunchy, salty and sweet. In other words, perfect. If you don't make them for the holiday, make them on Black Friday. You need the energy for your online shopping.
My cousin, Katrina calls these "pecan pie cookies". I call them delicious. These classic Thanksgiving cookies are filled with a blend of pecans, brown sugar and heavy cream with a sprinkle of sea salt. You'll love the easy bourbon glaze.
Pumpkin spice snickerdoodles are crispy, chewy and spiced with traditional fall blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. These cookies are a delicious sweet treat with a cup of coffee or glass of milk.
Brown sugar, toasted pecans, tender flaked coconut and a sprinkle of sea salt give these blondies a rich flavor and toothsome chew. Cut into squares and serve on a Thanksgiving dessert buffet or warm them up to serve with a scoop of that Bourbon Pecan Praline ice cream above.
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