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

Fried Apple Pie Rolls

Rating: 4.55 stars
10
In this healthy take on apple pie, wonton wrappers stand in for pie crust, saving you calories and the headache of rolling out dough. We like to use Granny Smith apples because they hold their shape and provide tart balance to the sweet filling. Try dipping these handheld crispy treats in whipped cream.

Cranberry Crumble Bars

Rating: 3 stars
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.

Chilled Key Lime Mousse

Rating: 3.5 stars
2
This refreshing chilled Key lime mousse is a perfect union of cream and foam, tangy lime and soft sweet custard. The method is simple but a little unusual--you make a custard with fresh Key lime juice rather than milk or cream. Key limes, which are about the size of a Ping-Pong ball, are wonderfully fragrant and more acidic than regular limes. They are available all year at well-stocked supermarkets. If you can't find them, by all means use regular limes.

Dried-Fruit Bars

Rating: 5 stars
1
Make a batch of these easy homemade dried-fruit bars to tuck into your kid's lunchbox all week.

Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Frozen Mousse

For a rich, nutty dessert, try this triple-chocolate frozen mousse.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Rating: 4.27 stars
4
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.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Rating: 5 stars
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.

Pineapple Empanaditas

Rating: 3.57 stars
6
These miniature empanadas, tender pastry dough wrapped around pineapple filling, are just the right size for afternoon tea.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Rating: 4.5 stars
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.

S'mores Chocolate Bark

Rating: 3.33 stars
3
With just a few simple steps, you can transform plain chocolate into a divine treat with this chocolate bark recipe. We stir graham cracker pieces and mini marshmallows into this chocolate bark, which is perfect for a gift.

Upside-Down Cinnamon-Pecan Coffee Cake

Rating: 2 stars
2
Layering the ingredients in this coffee cake recipe right into the pan lets you skip the steps of making the batter and the nut topping separately. To make this healthy one-bowl dessert so it can be served like pull-apart rolls, dollop 16 equal portions of batter over the nuts. If you don't want to fuss with that, dollop the batter on top however you like.

Coconut Macaroon Thumbprints with Key Lime Curd

In this healthy coconut macaroon recipe, Key lime curd brightens the center of a lightly sweetened coconut cookie. If you can't find ripe Key limes, you can substitute bottled Key lime juice, which is widely available, or try another citrus flavor like more traditional Persian limes, lemons or even bright blood oranges that will produce a coral-colored curd.
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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!

Caramel Cream Cheese Custard (Flan de Queso)

Rating: 4.33 stars
3

Every panaderia (bakery) in Puerto Rico has many flavors of flan, from vanilla to guava. Reduced-fat cream cheese gives this version a rich, comforting texture.