22 Easy Make-Ahead Christmas Desserts You Can Prep in 30 Minutes or Less
Plan in advance with these easy, make-ahead Christmas dessert recipes. Whether it’s cookies, cakes or other tasty treats, you can make these desserts a few days in advance of the holiday. Plus, these desserts only require 30 minutes of prep time, so you can focus on preparing the rest of the meal. Desserts like Cranberry Cheesecake Bars and Peppermint-Chocolate Greek Yogurt Bark are healthy, seasonal and delicious.
Peppermint-Chocolate Greek Yogurt Bark
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.
Flourless Chocolate Cookies
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.
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.
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.
It's time to break out your spritz cookie press for these festive Christmas spritz cookies! These easy Christmas cookies can be decorated with sprinkles or flavored with citrus, spices or sweet sugar glaze. And if you're looking for healthy cookies, these fit the bill thanks to whole-wheat pastry flour that keeps their texture soft while giving them a boost of fiber. For ideas on how to dress up these spritz cookies even more with different flavorings or a glaze, see Tips below.
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.
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.
Fresh Fig Tart
This fresh fig tart looks stunning, and it's super-simple to make. Sweet fresh figs pair naturally with almond, but if fresh figs are scarce, topping with other fresh, in-season fruit like peaches or strawberries will work well too.
Mint Chocolate Cake
This mint chocolate cake is an homage to Andes Crème de Menthe Thins. It's rich and quite easy to whip up. Add a touch of food coloring to make the mint buttercream filling pale green if you'd like.
Venetian Spice Cookies (Bicciolani)
The intense blend of spices in these cookies is a tip of the hat to Venice's history as a conduit for the spice trade between Europe and the Far East.
One-Bowl Irish Stout Cake
This Irish stout cake can't get any easier: everything is mixed in one bowl, poured into the cake pan and is in the oven in 15 minutes flat. Lining the cake pan with parchment paper makes removing the cake easy and helps with cleanup. After this rich chocolate cake has cooled, enjoy it with the espresso- and Irish whiskey-laced whipped cream topping.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kids and adults alike will love this easy peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe, which--unlike most cookie recipes--doesn't call for flour. These gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are soft and chewy and, with only five simple ingredients, they can easily be whipped up by young chefs and enjoyed as an after-school treat. They're also perfect for a holiday party or for a cookie swap.
Hasselback Pear Cake
This stunning pear cake uses almond flour in place of some all-purpose flour, reducing carbs and adding protein and fiber. But its real appeal is its presentation: display this pretty dessert on a cake stand for guests to admire before you slice and serve it.
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.
Vegan Meringue Cookies
Magical aquafaba--the liquid from canned chickpeas that often gets poured down the drain--mimics egg whites in these airy vegan meringue cookies. The other magical thing? These cookies require just three ingredients! Save the chickpeas themselves for hummus, stew or any one of our other recipes that call for canned chickpeas.
Cranberry Poached Pears
Cranberry juice and fresh cranberries add a double dose of zing to this sweet poached pear dessert. Served with a low-fat blend of yogurt and honey, it's a dessert you can make a day ahead of serving.
Walnut-Nutmeg Pumpkin Custards
Planning any parties for fall? Don't overlook this custard recipe--it's easy to assemble and will have your guests doling out the compliments! They'll love how the creamy pumpkin custard contrasts with the crunchy walnut, brown sugar and oat topping.
Chocolate Polvorones (Mexican Wedding Cookies)
These melt-in-your-mouth polvorones (Mexican wedding cookies) get a chocolate makeover by replacing all the nuts in the traditional version with ground chocolate. Addictive just as they are, you can also grate a little cinnamon stick over them before serving.
Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Orange-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Reminiscent of carrot cake, this healthy treat features grated sweet potato baked into a spiced batter and topped with cream-cheese frosting. The whole-wheat pastry flour gives the cake a very light texture. If you can't find it, substitute half all-purpose flour and half white whole-wheat flour.
Gluten-Free Fudgy Teff Brownies
Whole-grain teff flour (made from a tiny ancient grain) has a nuance of cocoa flavor to start with, making it a natural choice for brownies. These gluten-free brownies are moist and satisfying, intensely chocolaty and have a tender texture.
Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
These peanut butter cookies are delicious on their own, but we make them even better by pressing a piece of dark chocolate candy into each hot cookie right after the cookies come out of the oven.
Carob Molasses Cake (Sfouf b' Debs)
With all due respect to baklava, we've found a new favorite Lebanese dessert. This rich, moist cake is sweetened with carob molasses and has a hit of anise. We may or may not have fought over it in the Test Kitchen.