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21 Thanksgiving Desserts Worth Saving Room For

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Slice of pumpkin cheesecake dripping with caramel sauce.

While Thanksgiving dinner is definitely about the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, no feast is complete without an impressive dessert spread. So even if you’ve overindulged a bit during dinner, make sure to save room for one of these decadent Thanksgiving desserts. From classic pumpkin pie to cheesecake, there is something for everyone on this list!

21 Thanksgiving Desserts Worth Saving Room For

1. Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Slice of pumpkin pie on a plate with a fork.

The most classic of the Thanksgiving desserts, pumpkin pie may seem like a simple dessert, but oftentimes the easiest recipes are the hardest to get right. This foolproof recipe begins with my tender, flaky, and buttery homemade pie crust. The rich pumpkin filling is gently spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper (trust me) — and, unlike many pumpkin pies, the filling won’t crack as it cools. GET THE RECIPE

2. Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp and ice cream in a bowl.
Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

This apple crisp with a crisp oat and pecan streusel is a lovely Thanksgiving dessert, and the best part is that it’s super easy to make. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream! GET THE RECIPE

3. Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust and Caramel Sauce

Slice of pumpkin cheesecake on a plate with caramel sauce.

Want to upgrade the traditional pumpkin pie? This decadent pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and homemade caramel sauce is the ticket! It is my all-time favorite Thanksgiving dessert, and I promise no one will miss the pie. GET THE RECIPE

4. Pecan Squares

Pecan squares on parchment paper.

If you love pecan pie but want to make something a little easier, or if you’re looking for a dessert for a holiday potluck, try these rich pecan squares. A press-in buttery shortbread crust and salted caramel pecan topping make them over-the-top delicious. GET THE RECIPE

5. Apple Cranberry Oat Crumble

apple cranberry oat crumble

This rustic apple and cranberry crumble with a crunchy streusel comes from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. The cranberries add a nice tartness and red festive color. Serve the dessert warm, topped with good-quality vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream. The recipe makes a lot, but you’ll be glad to have leftovers to enjoy with your morning coffee. GET THE RECIPE

6. Sticky Toffee Banana Cake

sticky toffee banana cake
Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

This Thanksgiving dessert is a twist on sticky toffee pudding — which is not really pudding, but rather a warm date cake covered in toffee sauce. It looks fancy topped with bananas and pecans, but it’s actually really easy to make. The cake itself is basically banana bread baked in a cake pan, and the sauce is made from cream, butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. GET THE RECIPE

7. Southern-Style Sweet Potato Pie

Slice of sweet potato pie on a plate with a fork.

This fluffy, autumn-spiced sweet potato pie recipe comes from Mable Smith, a family friend for over 30 years. Born and raised in South Carolina, Mable is famous for her Southern-style pies, which she bakes by the dozen to give away over the holiday season. Since the flavor of this sweet potato pie gets better over time, feel free to make it a day or two ahead. GET THE RECIPE

8. Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Torte

Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Torte

Another fabulous (and easy!) alternative to traditional pumpkin pie, this torte with a cake-like pecan crust, pumpkin pie filling, and streusel topping comes from Linda Grimes, one of my readers and a Lake Tahoe restaurateur. It’s your cake, pie, and crisp all in one amazing dessert. GET THE RECIPE

9. Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Partially-sliced carrot cake in a cake pan.

Spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, carrot cake fits right in with all the classic Thanksgiving desserts. While most carrot cakes are quite dense, this one has a light and fine texture. The secret is chopping the carrots in a food processor to the consistency of couscous instead of grating them – it makes all the difference. GET THE RECIPE

10. Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Slices of pumpkin cake on small plates.

If you have children coming to your Thanksgiving feast, or if you prefer cake to pie, may I suggest this easy pumpkin cake topped with rich cream cheese icing? It is the dessert version of my grandmother’s beloved pumpkin bread, and it’s loved by kids and adults alike. GET THE RECIPE

11. Perfect Apple Pie

Apple pie with a browned crust in a pan.

If you’ve ever baked an apple pie, you know the common apple pit pitfalls: a soggy pie crust and soupy filling. In this foolproof recipe, I blind-bake the crust to ensure it stays perfectly crisp, and I boil down and thicken the juices, which not only intensifies the apple flavor but also ensures the juices don’t pour out of the pie once cut. GET THE RECIPE

12. Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

how to make chocolate peanut butter pie

With a crisp chocolate wafer crust, creamy peanut butter filling, and rich chocolate ganache topping, this tart is basically a grown-up version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Unsurprisingly, it is always a huge crowd pleaser. GET THE RECIPE

13. Rustic French Apple Tart

rustic french apple tart

Whether you call it a tart, galette or crostada, this rustic apple dessert is basically a free-form apple pie without the pan. It is made with a layer of spiced apples enveloped in a buttery pie crust sprinkled with coarse sugar. Bonus: the tart dough is blissfully easy to both make and work with. GET THE RECIPE

14. Bourbon Brown Butter Pecan Pie

bourbon pecan pie

This recipe comes from my longtime reader Jeff Winett, an avid baker. Made with brown butter, or butter cooked until it is golden brown with a nutty aroma, and a shot of bourbon, Jeff’s pie has a rich and complex praline flavor. Browning the butter takes just five minutes, and the payoff in flavor is more than worth it! GET THE RECIPE

15. New York Cheesecake

Slice of cheesecake on a small plate.
Photo by Vladislav Noseek

This is the ultimate New York-style cheesecake, and the recipe is easy enough even for beginners. The key is to bake the cheesecake at a low temperature in a water bath, or bain marie. The water bath regulates the oven temperature, ensuring the cheesecake bakes at an even, gentle heat, and also creates steam in the oven, which protects the cheesecake from drying out or cracking. GET THE RECIPE

16. Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cake

Slices of chocolate chip ricotta cake on small plates.

Adapted from Melissa Weller’s cookbook A Good Bake, this is one of the easiest and most delicious cakes I know. Ricotta cheese gives the cake a super moist texture and rich flavor, and all those chocolate chips make it a favorite among kids and adults alike. GET THE RECIPE

17. Apple Cobbler

Apple cobbler with a piece missing.

A cozy Thanksgiving dessert, apple cobbler is super simple to make: slice the apples, mix them with sugar and spice, and top them with big spoonfuls of buttermilk biscuit batter. After baking, you’ve got a comforting dessert of warm apples beneath a golden, sweet biscuit crust that looks like a “cobbled” pathway. GET THE RECIPE

18. Marble Cake

Slices of marble cake with a butter knife.

With swirls of vanilla and rich chocolate cake, this marble looks impressive but tastes like old-fashioned comfort food. Happily, you don’t need to make two separate cake batters to make a marble cake. Instead, you take part of the vanilla batter and combine it with it with cocoa powder and melted chocolate, and that’s your chocolate batter. GET THE RECIPE

19. Lemon Chess Pie

sliced lemon chess pie in pie pan

This beloved Southern pie is known for its rich custard filling—a blend of eggs, sugar, butter, cornmeal, and a lemon—baked into a flaky and buttery crust. The flavor is reminiscent of lemon bars. GET THE RECIPE

20. Nantucket Cranberry Pie

nantucket cranberry pie on plates with whipped cream

This dessert is not actually a pie but rather a cross between a pie, a cobbler, and a cake. It’s the simplest dessert you can imagine—and, yet, remarkably delicious. It practically screams “holidays.” GET THE RECIPE

21. French Apple Cake

french apple cake

This simple cake with chunks of tart apples nestled in a buttery rum cake is a longtime favorite of mine—and one of the most popular recipes on the blog, too. Bonus: it’s a breeze to make! GET THE RECIPE

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  • All are mouth watering good! Are any gluten free?

    • — Kathy on November 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • At first glance, I don’t think any of them are completely gluten-free, but if you need any suggestions for how to tweak them to make them gluten-free, Also, you can browse through my gluten-free section of recipes as you’ll find a number of desserts in there.

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • I have a few friends and my son are all gluten free. Do you have any dessert recipes for gluten free people? Thank you. I love your cookbooks!

    • Hi Candy, I have a section of gluten-free adaptable recipes that includes a number of desserts. You can browse through them here. (And glad you like the cookbooks)! 🙂

  • Hi Jen,
    Happy Thanksgiving. Appreciate your recipes and own both the cookbooks. I know if I choose a receipt of yours, it will turn out and be fantastic. Had the chocolate banana muffins with streusel top today. Beyond yum.
    Thanks for your hard work. Your loyal followers, like myself really, love your take on food.
    Many thanks,

  • Always you have very Scrumptious recipes..very pleased to share most of them on all my social media accounts…wish you ever lasting happiness and success..Zouhair

    • — Zouhair""Fiorino"'
    • Reply
    • Thanks so much for spreading the word about the recipes! 🙂

  • Forgotten to mention that I plan on making the New York cheesecake also the pumpkin pecan streusel torte for Thanksgiving…Yummy!

    • — Anthony Stagles
    • Reply
  • Jenn thank you so much for all the effort and Love you bring us in your website and out of this world recipes!
    May you have continued success in all you do.
    I have been a news letter subscriber for several years after searching for a recipe and found this insightful, informative, inspiring site,I have prepared many of your recipes and ideas…you are a genius foodie and I applaud you 👏
    God’s blessings to you and yours,
    please stay safe out there.

    What are your meal menu plans for your
    (Thanksgiving &Christmas) this coming holiday season?
    Please share with us your loyal readers.
    Anthony Stagles

    • — Anthony Stagles
    • Reply
    • Anthony, thank you for your very kind words – so glad you like the blog and have had success with the recipes! I will be having a very small gathering for Thanksgiving this year and haven’t fully decided on the menu, but I know that I will be doing my stuffed turkey breast, potatoes au gratin, a green veggie, and the pumpkin cheesecake. I will probably add another dish or two but just haven’t decided what yet. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂

    • I love your recipes everyone I tried is so good thanks for sharing

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    I saw the picture of your pumpkin cheesecake and thought it was maybe a pumpkin flan. I have no idea how that would work but thought I would ask if you have a recipe for it. 😊

    • — Heather Dunton
    • Reply
    • Hi Heather, As of now I don’t, but I will add it to my list of recipes to potentially develop. 🙂

      • I rate your Apple Cake 5 Stars.

        I made it tonight. The only thing I did different was I put 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract, I didn’t have Rum. I also added 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon. We loved this fabulous Cake. We ate 1/2 tonight. It’s a recipe I will make again & add to my recipe box. Thanks so much.

        • — Barb G. on October 2, 2022
        • Reply
  • Hello Jenn
    A wonderful holiday season to you and family. Any chance you have a pumpkin mousse recipe? Woul love to serve it in mini glasses. Lost my recipe and what I find now use gelatin, box pudding mix or cool whip. Not a fan of those. Thanks so much. Love love all I have made from your site.

    • Hi Mary, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I don’t have a proven recipe for pumpkin mousse – I’m sorry! I’ll have to add that to my list of recipes to potentially develop. 🙂

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