29 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts
Make this holiday season more manageable with these make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert recipes. You can easily make these pies, cookies and more in advance to save yourself the time and hassle of baking on Thursday. Plus, you can also use premade dough to make things even faster. Recipes like Chai-Spiced Apple Pie and Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies are seasonal, delicious and the perfect end to a food-filled day.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Classic chocolate chip cookies get a fall update by mixing in pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice. Not only are these pumpkin cookies even more flavorful than regular chocolate chip cookies, they're also oh-so-soft and cakelike. Use chocolate chunks for big gooey bites of chocolate or opt for mini chocolate chips to ensure a bit of chocolate in each bite.
Orange Chocolate Tart
This healthy chocolate tart recipe is topped with homemade candied orange peel infused with cinnamon. You then add the cinnamon simple syrup to the chocolate filling. You can use store-bought candied orange peel and plain simple syrup in the filling to streamline the recipe.
Cranberry Cheesecake Bars
A great dessert option for your next holiday party, these sweet cheesecake bars have an oat crust and a cranberry-orange sauce that's swirled on top and baked right in.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
This dairy-free pumpkin pie gets its structure from aquafaba (the leftover water from a can of chickpeas) whipped up into a meringue-like foam. When it's combined with pumpkin and poured into a gluten-free pecan crust, you would never know beans had anything to do with this easy dessert recipe.
Chai-Spiced Apple Pie
Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves give this apple pie recipe a bold punch of flavor, and the apple filling is sweetened with honey instead of sugar.
Caramel Apple Cookies
Kids and adults alike will love these fall caramel apple cookies. They are crisp on the bottom and chewy in the center with bits of apple and just a hint of spice. The caramel glaze takes them over the top!
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookies
Indulge your PSL obsession with these pumpkin spice cookies. Instant espresso powder gives these soft, cakey cookies a subtle yet recognizable coffee flavor. Spread with cream cheese frosting (with more pumpkin pie spice flavors) and sprinkle with cinnamon to finish. And, go ahead, drink a pumpkin spice latte while you eat them for the full PSL experience. After all, it's only fall for so long (though we'd eat these cookies year-round). To make these cookies kid-friendly, simply omit the espresso powder.
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potatoes make a mouthwatering, creamy custard for the filling in this lightened-up pie with an easy gluten-free cookie crust. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert.
No-Bake Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
This luscious swirled cheesecake dessert is a no bake, mix-and-chill recipe. Plus, each slice is under 200 calories!
Pecan Pie Bars
These delectable bar cookies are great for holiday cookie trays, to bring out at casual gatherings, or just to enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Purple Sweet Potato Pie
This purple version of classic sweet potato pie has a shot of brandy, which adds another layer of seasonal flavor. Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Spiced Pumpkin Walnut Cookies
These spiced cookies are a wonderful treat in the fall or winter. Each bite offers delicious pumpkin flavor with chewy raisins and crunchy walnuts. Make and freeze an extra batch to keep on hand for up to a month.
Chocolate-Sweet Potato Parfait
This healthy chocolate mousse recipe gets its body from sweet potato rather than eggs. Both the mousse and the meringue cookies can be made ahead of time, so all you have to do is assemble the parfaits when you're ready for dessert.
This luscious vegan cheesecake nixes the dairy in favor of a filling made with coconut cream, tofu and cashews or macadamia nuts instead of the traditional eggs and cream. Coconut oil and nuts make for a rich-tasting and crunchy crust, so nobody will miss the butter.
Cranberry Crumble Bars
These cranberry-orange bars freeze well. Make a batch on a free afternoon and pop them in the freezer so you'll always have a healthy dessert on hand when company calls.
Pear Almond Crostata
This flaky crostata recipe relies on fruit for its sweetness instead of a lot of added sugar, so be sure to use only ripe pears. If they're rock-hard, put them in a paper bag with an apple or banana on the kitchen counter for a few days.
Spiced Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies
Renowned author and spice aficionado Lior Lev Sercarz loves these French sablé-style cookies so much, he sells a collection of five different flavors twice a year. In this variation, he uses tart amchoor (ground dried green mango) to give them a citrusy brightness. These healthy cookies will get you in the holiday spirit.
Nutty Carrot Cake Bars
Loaded with carrot, nuts, and pumpkin pie spice and slathered with a velvety cream cheese frosting, these diabetic-friendly bars are sure to become a favorite dessert.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Cream Cake
This healthy cake recipe is like a pumpkin-flavored version of Boston cream pie. Rather than the traditional round shape, we use a 9-by-13 pan to make a four-layer rectangular cake that looks fun and provides more layers of creamy goodness.
Sticky Toffee Pudding with Maple Sauce
This is a healthier version of the gooey-rich sticky toffee pudding recipe served in the winter at Joanne Chang's Asian restaurant Myers+Chang in Boston. Lightly sweetened with maple syrup, the cake is chock-full of rich, naturally sweet dates. Adapted from Baking with Less Sugar by Joanne Chang (Chronicle Books, 2015).
Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Marshmallow Frosting
Shredded apple replaces some of the oil and keeps the cake moist in these cinnamon-spiked cupcakes. There is a generous amount of fluffy marshmallow frosting to mound or pipe on top for a festive look. Be sure to frost them right after you make the frosting--it stiffens as it stands and becomes more difficult to spread.
These tender pumpkin-oatmeal cookies have the perfect amount of sweetness from brown sugar and raisins and a slightly nutty flavor from almond butter. Enjoy them as an after-school snack or a healthy dessert. Several testers also said they'd love to eat them with a cup of coffee in the morning.
This easy everyday apple-pie bread makes a great breakfast-on-the-go with a cup of coffee. The fragrant spices typical of apple pie and the tender bits of baked apple inside also make it worthy as a healthy after-dinner dessert. Enjoy it warm from the oven with a pat of butter or cream cheese or keep it on your counter for a tasty treat during the week.
Pumpkin Spice Pudding
The key to making this healthy, smooth pudding is constant slow whisking. A staff favorite, this recipe is one you'll want to pin for an easy make-ahead dessert.
One bite of this light and airy cranberry-lime cheesecake recipe and it will become your go-to recipe for dessert. Part-skim ricotta cheese adds a delicate texture and stands in for some of the higher-fat cream cheese. Be sure to use a large, wide piece of heavy-duty foil to wrap the pan--the foil helps prevent water from seeping into the cake as it bakes.
Lemon Cardamom Meringue Cookies
Bite into one of these cookies and you'll discover the subtle flavor of spice kissed with a hint of citrus. And the best part? Just 9 calories each!
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
These pumpkin sugar cookies are soft and moist with just the right amount of spice and a delicate pumpkin flavor topped off with a nice lightly spiced glaze. They're perfect for a fall after-school snack or light dessert.
Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie
While pumpkin pie deserves respect as a Thanksgiving icon, it's fun to shake up tradition. Surprise your family and friends with a frozen pie this year--it just might become one of their holiday favorites. No need to let them know how easy it is.
Maple-Ginger Apple Pie
In this healthy apple pie recipe, a touch of maple syrup spiked with lemon zest, cinnamon and ground ginger coats the apples while they bake. Serve this amazing homemade pie with lightly sweetened whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.