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17 Must-Try Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

There’s something for every table on this list of 17 Must-Try Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes. With classic spiced fall flavors of pumpkin and apple, plus other great choices as well, these options are a delicious sweet feast. Includes no-bake, make-ahead, and freezer-friendly options!

a piece of double layer pumpkin cake on a plate

The Best Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Even when it feels like I can’t eat one more bite on Thanksgiving, I always find room for dessert. And I’m guessing you’re the same.

For delicious inspiration, here’s my 17 Must-Try Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes.

While pumpkin pie and apple pie seem to be the standard for Thanksgiving, there are so many other desserts that deserve a place on the Thanksgiving table. And I’m all about variety.

This list includes the classic fall flavors of pumpkin and apple and all things spiced, plus a good sprinkling of chocolate recipes. Some recipes are more involved, while others are super easy, to even include no-bake and make-ahead and freezer-friendly.

How about a creamy pumpkin cheesecake? A super moist Bundt cake stuffed with fresh apples? Irresistible fall-spiced cookies? An easy, crave worthy chocolate treat? It’s all right here!

Apple bundt cake with a slice taken out

What Makes a Dessert Perfect for Thanksgiving?

So how do you decide what dessert(s) to make for Thanksgiving?

If we’re hosting, I aim to have at least 2 different desserts – more if it’s an especially large gathering. And I always try to include some chocolate, even if it’s a super simple treat.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering Thanksgiving dessert recipes:

  • What’s your priority? This is VERY important to ponder. Preparing a Thanksgiving feast take lots of time and energy…and kitchen space. So think about what you want to prioritize overall. If you get all silly happy thinking about the main course and sides, then put more energy into those and plan for an easy dessert. If dessert is your priority, and you’d rather spend a day making pies and cheesecakes and cookies, then think about planning an easier meal.
  • Fall flavors and ingredients. While I’m all about breaking out of the traditional mold, I do usually end up with at least one pumpkin dessert on the table – and usually an apple dessert too. They’re just not necessarily pies!
  • CHOCOLATE. It’s just a fact. Everybody loves chocolate. And it’s a great fit at Thanksgiving, whether it’s a pie or simple no-bake treat.
  • Can be made ahead. The one exception to desserts that take more prep time? If I can easily make them a day in advance. If the recipe allows, I’m all for making a dessert ahead of time, just to save on time and oven/kitchen space.
  • Serves quite a few. Depending on how many people we’ll be hosting, I usually opt for desserts that serve at least 6 to 8 people. If there’s an even larger crowd, cakes that serve 12+ people become my go-to. Or I just make several different desserts!
  • Ask for help. This is key when hosting Thanksgiving, whether it’s a small or large group. Simply ask everyone to bring something, and/or ask family/guests to help with the preparation pre-meal. This is essential in my book!
Layered Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Tips for Making Desserts Ahead of Time

I adore make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts.

While you’ll want to check each individual recipe for specific make-ahead instructions, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Cakes and cupcakes can (usually) be baked in advance. This is especially helpful for layer cakes or other frosted cakes and cupcakes, when the cake needs to cool completely before adding the frosting. You can bake the cake in advance and then store at room temperature or in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
  • Frostings can (usually) be made in advance. Some frostings can be made in advance and even added to the cake/cupcake in advance, while others will need to be whipped again just before serving.
  • Add toppings just before serving. If a dessert calls for any type of topping, like whipped cream or fresh fruit, it’s always best to add it right before serving. But oftentimes the toppings can also be prepped in advance, so all you have to do is add it to the dessert right before serving.

Looking for sides for your Thanksgiving dinner? Check out my favorite Thanksgiving salad recipes here!

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17 Must-Try Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

There’s something for every table on this list of 17 Must-Try Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes. With classic spiced fall flavors of pumpkin and apple, plus other great choices as well, these options are a delicious sweet feast. Includes no-bake, make-ahead, and freezer-friendly options!

a spatula lifting a slice of cake out of the apple bundt cake
There's so much to love about this Apple Bundt Cake. It features a moist apple cake that's absolutely stuffed with apple flavor, then topped with an irresistible brown butter vanilla bean glaze.
Get the recipe
pumpkin pie cheesecake on a wooden cake stand
There's no cheesecake more perfect for Thanksgiving than this Perfectly Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake. It's rich and creamy, with a fabulous gingersnap crust! (Another great cheesecake option is my Turtle Pecan Cluster Cheesecake!)
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Close up of an apple almond galette
This buttery, flaky Apple Almond Galette is drizzled with a sweet almond toffee glaze. It’s full of fall flavors and easier to make than apple pie!
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a batch of ginger cookies with molasses
This Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies recipe is easy to make, with no need to chill the dough. The cookies are perfectly soft and chewy, with just the right amount of spices and molasses. (Another great cookie option is my recipe for Apple Peanut Butter Cookies!)
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a slice of french silk pie
This Chocolate French Silk Pie with Salted Pecan Crust features a delicious, silky chocolaty filling inside a buttery, nutty homemade pie crust. It’s easy to make and a perfect dessert recipe for special occasions. And if you'd like another recipe that's similar, yet different, check out my French Silk Pie Bars with Graham Toffee Crust!
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A slice of frosted apple cake on a plate
This Apple Cake with Fluffy Brown Sugar Buttercream is what dreams are made of. The light, moist cake is filled with fall flavors and the simple, rich brown sugar buttercream pulls it all together.
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S'mores Pie with a fork
Make all of your guests smile with this S'mores Pie! No one will be able to resist this easy dessert based on the classic summer treat. No bonfire needed!
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A hand holding a piece of Ritz toffee on a stack of other pieces
Super casual and so very easy to make (only 5 ingredients!), Ritz Cracker Toffee is a sweet & salty treat that always disappears fast. Stack a beautiful scattering of this gorgeous treat onto a pretty platter or pedestal tray, everybody's happy! (Another easy Ritz cracker recipe, perfect for Thanksgiving as well, is my Ritz Turtles!!)
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a pumpkin flavored double layer cake with creamy cinnamon whipped topping on a white cake stand
I'm not sure which part of this Pumpkin Layer Cake is better – the light, moist, and perfectly spiced cake layers or the creamy cinnamon whip frosting. But I do know the two together make a Thanksgiving dessert no one can resist.
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cinnamon apple puffs dessert in a round white baking dish
Featuring tender biscuits and a cinnamon sugar topping baked over sliced apples, this Cinnamon Apple Puffs recipe is an easy Thanksgiving dessert that everyone will love.
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two jars of layered pumpkin pie
This recipe for Layered Pumpkin Pie in a Jar is a favorite no-bake, make-ahead dessert that has all the warm spiced flavors of traditional pumpkin pie. The dessert is creamy, and oh-so-fun and pretty in jars. I LOVE that it can be made the day before serving!
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Snickerdoodle cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on a cooling
A twist on the classic cookie, these Snickerdoodle Cupcakes are moist and perfectly spiced, and topped with an irresistible, tangy cream cheese frosting! (Another great cupcake recipe is my Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream.)
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Closeup of Pumpkin Icebox Cake on plate with spoon
This No-Bake Pumpkin Icebox Cake features layers of ginger cookies and pumpkin ice cream folded with warm spices and crunchy pecans. With only a few ingredients and no baking, this is an easy and super fun Thanksgiving dessert!
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A slice of angel food cake with raspberry sauce and whipped cream
Most people I know would never turn down Angel Food Cake. It's light, fluffy, and moist – a perfect lighter cake to serve with a holiday meal. Go traditional and serve with berries and whipped cream. Or take a different direction, with whipped cream, easy homemade hot fudge sauce, and a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers!
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Homemade apple crisp in a white ramekin with a scoop of ice cream
This is my FAVORITE Apple Crisp recipe! It's easy to make, with toothsome apple bites and a crispy old-fashioned buttery oats topping that actually stays crisp. And if you love caramel apples, be sure to check out my Caramel Apple Crisp recipe!
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frosted pumpkin cookies on a cooling rack
These Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies are the perfect little bites for fall. They're light in texture, yet moist – and topped with a dollop of easy-to-make frosting, plus a sprinkling of toasted pecans and flaky sea salt. And yes – they DO practically melt in your mouth!
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Chocolate Caramels
These Chocolate Caramels make a lovely, bite-sized Thanksgiving treat. This is my grandma's recipe, absolutely divine. It's also fun to wrap the caramels individually and send some home with guests!
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collage with text of 17 Thanksgiving dessert recipes

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