Make-Ahead Christmas Dessert Recipes

When it comes to Christmas dinner, there is so much going on it's nice to have some things already prepped. And since dessert is *one* of the most important parts of any holiday meal, we have a variety of easy Christmas treats that can be made ahead of time. From decadent pies to delicious cookies, these make-ahead easy Christmas desserts will have you spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones. Talk about a holiday treat!

Staff Picks

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Rating: Unrated
4
These flourless cookies get their volume from whipped egg whites (like a meringue) instead of grains, making them gluten-free and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. A chocolate chip in each bite adds to the rich chocolate flavor.

Peppermint-Chocolate Greek Yogurt Bark

Rating: Unrated
4
This eye-catching frozen peppermint-chocolate bark was inspired by Williams Sonoma's Original Peppermint Bark--our loose interpretation of the treat is frozen and made with Greek yogurt, chocolate and crushed candy canes. For the creamiest bark, be sure to use full-fat yogurt, as fat-free yogurt can get icy when frozen. Serve this healthy dessert when you want all those festive holiday flavors in a lightened-up--and totally delicious--package. Just don't stuff your Christmas stockings with this bark because it melts quickly.

Chocolate Nut Bark

Rating: Unrated
11
Use your favorite combination of nuts to make this quick and easy chocolate nut bark.

Mini Gingerbread House Cookies

Rating: Unrated
1
Holiday cookies don't get any cuter than these mini gingerbread houses that kids and adults alike will love. Use a mini gingerbread house cookie cutter to cut out all the parts (the kids will love helping with this part), then build the houses and let the kids go to town decorating. Line up your finished creations to make a gingerbread house village, eat them up or prop them up on mugs of cocoa for dipping and munching.

Cranberry Crumble Bars

Rating: Unrated
1
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.

Meringues

Rating: Unrated
5
Perfect meringues depend on totally yolk-free whites. The seemingly fussy step of separating each egg into a small bowl before combining them guarantees yolk-free whites for bakeshop-quality meringues every time. These crispy little morsels travel well and make great gifts too.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Rating: Unrated
2
Looking for a fun cooking project to do with kids? Make chocolate truffles! In this easy vegan dessert recipe, we make a chocolate ganache filling with peanut butter and coconut milk instead of heavy cream. Make chocolate bark with the leftover chocolate and wrap it up together with a few truffles for a beautiful edible gift.

Chocolate Snowcap Cookies

Rating: Unrated
2
This fudgy chocolate crinkle cookie recipe is a hit with chocolate lovers. Bake the cookies right after rolling them in confectioners' sugar: if they sit, the sugar absorbs into the dough and the rich chocolaty cookies lose their snowcapped look.

Peppermint Mocha Chocolate Bark

With just a few simple steps, you can transform plain chocolate into a divine treat with this chocolate bark recipe. We stir chopped peppermint candies and chocolate-covered espresso beans into this chocolate bark, which is perfect for a gift.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Rating: Unrated
11
Here's a simple recipe for low-fat vanilla ice cream. Our version has all the richness you'll need but about 90 fewer calories than store-bought premium ice cream and a whopping 15 grams less total fat and 10 grams less saturated fat per serving.

Yummy Molasses Crackles

Rating: Unrated
24
Nancy Caverly gave her grandmother's recipe for ginger molasses cookies a little makeover--reducing the butter and adding crystallized ginger for a spicy jolt.

Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Rating: Unrated
24
Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld, a hypnotherapist and writer, started improving the nutritional profile of a friend's mother's ginger cookie recipe by substituting whole-wheat pastry flour for all-purpose flour and canola oil for shortening. “Experiment with these cookies,” she advises, “as they taste great either slightly underdone or crispy.” She calls them “the quickest cookies you'll ever bake.”

Inspiration and Ideas

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Coconut oil stands in for butter in this dairy-free, eggless cookie recipe for completely mouthwatering gingerbread cut-outs. Decorate cookies with a simple vegan icing or sanding sugar.

Cinnamon Swirl Apple Pie

Instead of topping your apple pie with a full crust, cover the dough in cinnamon sugar, roll it up and slice it like cinnamon rolls to make beautiful cinnamon swirls to top the pie. The fragrant cinnamon bun-like topping makes homemade apple pie even more special!

Christmas Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

This healthy strawberry jam thumbprint cookie recipe is festive for the holidays with a red center and a green sugar coating. If you want to skip making your own naturally dyed sugar, look for green sparkling or decorating sugar prepared with botanical ingredients. For sources for natural dyes and sugars, see Tips.