25 Fall Desserts That Don't Include Pumpkin

Fall approaches, and the air is filled with the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee and home-baked treats ... which almost always feature pumpkin. This humble fruit has stolen the spotlight to become the official theme of the post-summer cool-down. But there are so many other soothing tastes that make the change of season a time to celebrate. How many opportunities for maple donuts, cranberry bars, apple cakes, and butter pecan cookies are missed due to the ever-present pumpkin and the familiar spices that often accompany it? Wouldn't it be sweet to have options when it comes to fun flavors for your fall desserts? We think so.

We've gathered a bounty of bakes meant to warm up your autumn without a hint of pumpkin in the whole patch. You'll find gems that make use of lesser-used ingredients like pecan and sweet potato sharing space on the pastry tray with timeless temptations filled with cinnamon, brown butter, and caramel. It's a festival of flavors that honors the spicy, the buttery, the nutty, and the tangy. Give these goodies a spin through the mixer and a little oven time and see how quickly you forget the orange gourd that usually gets all the autumn glory.

1. Frosted Maple Cookies

With maple in both the cookies and the frosting, this recipe delivers a double dose of this autumnal sweetener in one beautiful bite. Be sure to give these tender cookies a generous dollop of topping to make them extra indulgent.

Looking for ways to make your frosted maple masterpieces even more special? Frost only half the batch, then whip up an order of cream cheese frosting and slather it between two cookies for makeshift whoopie pies.

Recipe: Frosted Maple Cookies

2. Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is one of the most nostalgic flavors around — a vintage dessert that always has a place at the table. Filled with juicy, sweet apples and plenty of crispy brown sugar crumble, it's the perfect bake for apple-picking season.

While a tart apple like Granny Smith is usually called for in a traditional apple pie, you can opt for a sweeter apple in this recipe to maximize the sugary comfort if you prefer.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

3. Cinnamon Muffins

The simplicity of these cinnamon muffins makes them a great bake for brunch spreads or as an after-dinner delight with coffee or tea. The crumble topping adds a coffee cake-like element that's perfect for a single-serving snack or dessert.

To make your recipe go even further, use mini-muffin pans and make bite-size treats. You can freeze half to keep them fresh until cool autumn nights call for a spicy nibble.

Recipe: Cinnamon Muffins

4. Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan fans are always in heaven when the mellow earthiness of their favorite nuts shows up on the dessert cart. The idea for reinventing a pecan pie as a bar cookie came in a moment of brilliance that calls for a celebration.

Add a not-so-sweet flavor contrast to these satisfying bars by creating crème fraîche as an alternative to whipped cream. Drop a dollop on top, sit back, and watch the leaves change color.

Recipe: Pecan Pie Bars

5. Sweet Potato Brownies

The not-so-secret ingredient in these super-moist brownies is revealed in the name: sweet potatoes. The natural sweetness and creamy texture lend lushness to a familiar favorite, bringing out new dimensions that chocolate fans will adore.

The trick to turning sweet potatoes into a bake-worthy addition to this recipe is microwaving them to tender perfection before adding them to the mixing bowl. You might be inspired to find other bakes with sweet potato as the star.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Brownies

6. Baked Maple and Chocolate Bar Donuts

Skip the trip to the donut shop and bake up your own maple and chocolate bars at home instead. This clever recipe lets you leave the deep fryer in the cupboard in favor of a lighter, oven-baked version of the classic Long John.

Despite the change in cooking method, you won't be disappointed by the authentic feel of these dunkable classics. Be sure not to over-knead your dough to prevent toughness in your bars.

Recipe: Baked Maple and Chocolate Bar Donuts

7. Easy Cranberry Fluff

No need to bake all the autumn desserts when you have cranberry fluff as a creamy, chilled-out option. The combination of tangy cranberries and sweet whipped cream captures all the flavor sensation you need in a fall dish.

For as fancy as this sweet salad looks when garnished in pretty bowls, it only takes five simple ingredients and less than 10 minutes to complete the recipe.

Recipe: Easy Cranberry Fluff

8. Sweet Potato Pie

A favorite at holiday spreads, sweet potato pie is an equal replacement for a pumpkin pie that lends its own joyous personality to the occasion. There's no reason to wait for a special occasion to create one; you can start a new fall tradition by baking a sweet potato pie before the holiday.

Top this pie with a crown of homemade whipped cream and give it a blast of glamor.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie

9. Mini Apple Crumbles

Bake a batch of personal size apple crumbles for your friends and family to enjoy, and you'll be tipping your hat to one of the best flavors of the season. Each diner gets one of their own, but with a dessert like this, one may not be enough.

Though prep time is only 10 minutes, you'll need 30 minutes more cooking time for these beauties to be complete.

Recipe: Mini Apple Crumbles

10. No Bake Cranberry Orange Cheesecake

Fall desserts get a touch of decadence in this no-bake cheesecake that partners the tangy tastes of cranberry and orange for a marriage made in dessert heaven. The interplay of flavor notes is confirmation that sweet and tart are an ideal autumn match-up.

Twenty-five minutes will get you through this recipe from start to finish, all without turning on the stove. Serve with tea for an elegant extra touch.

Recipe: No Bake Cranberry Orange Cheesecake

11. Chocolate Pecan Pie

If there were ever a way to take an already-delicious pecan pie to the next level, adding chocolate should be a top choice. It's like a cookie baked in a pie crust — in other words, a dream come true for lovers of super sweet desserts.

A dose of bold coffee as a beverage pairing may be just what the chef ordered to keep the gooey goodness from becoming too much. Try a simple cinnamon coffee that's sure to fit the bill.

Recipe: Chocolate Pecan Pie

12. Baklava

Introduce a bit of international flare to your dessert selections with easy-to-make baklava. This beloved Mediterranean pastry is rich with natural flavors like honey, pecans, and cinnamon that are sure to warm your brisk evenings.

There's a bit of a process involved in getting your layers just right in this flaky wonder. Keep your phyllo in the fridge until you're ready to work to make sure it has the proper consistency and be patient as the bake comes together. Once it's finished, you'll be glad you kept at it.

Recipe: Baklava

13. 3-Ingredient Apple Cake

With only three ingredients on the shopping list, there's no excuse for skipping this sweet and simple apple cake. A boxed white cake mix, a can of apple pie filling, and a single egg are all items you can keep on hand for a quick toss-together when a fall dessert opportunity arises.

It only takes five minutes to make the batter and 45 minutes for baking to complete. Be sure to plan accordingly.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Apple Cake

14. Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

These crisp and spicy biscuits fall somewhere between a gingersnap and a snickerdoodle, capturing the vintage charm of both. If your sweet tooth tends toward the spicier side of the spectrum, you'll have no trouble enjoying this inspired blend.

Because cookies can get lonely on an otherwise empty dessert table, consider making your own Irish coffee to dip them in. It's an alcoholic version, you can assemble separate mugs to customize each guest's drink if necessary.

Recipe: Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

15. Chilled Cranberry Pineapple Marshmallow Salad

A whipped salad-style dessert should be a welcome part of your autumn dessert selection, especially when it carries the zesty spirit of cranberries. The happy zing of pineapples and the fun mush of marshmallows ensure a bounty of flavorful excitement in every bite.

This simple-to-create no-bake dessert takes six ingredients and 10 minutes to complete. Refrigeration is necessary, so allow a little extra time to let your dish set up.

Recipe: Chilled Cranberry Pineapple Marshmallow Salad

16. Pecan Pie

Why wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas to enjoy a pecan pie when you can make one as soon as autumn arrives? Whether you use farmstand or store-bought pecans, there's no topping the chewy satisfaction of these classic nuts surrounded by caramel-like filling.

Speaking of topping ... how about spooning a bit of chocolate gravy on top of your slices? This heavenly sauce is a cross between hot fudge and ganache.

Recipe: Pecan Pie

17. Classic Apple Crumble

There's something soothing about an apple crumble that makes fall moments even more memorable. Whether it's the crispy oatmeal, chewy brown sugar, tender apples, or a mix of all three, few flavor and texture blends have ever been so nostalgic. Prep time and cooking combine to right around the hour mark for this beloved bake.

Looking for an easy topping to bring the magic to an all-time high? This 3-ingredient no-churn vanilla ice cream should do nicely.

Recipe: Classic Apple Crumble

18. Snickerdoodle Cookies

These timeless cookies are as fun to eat as they are to pronounce. Snickerdoodles are a step beyond sugar cookies, easier to make than rollouts, but with a familiar buttery flavor made even better with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.

To get this dozen delicious goodies from mixer to table, expect around 20 minutes, including 10 minutes to prepare your dough, eight minutes in the oven, and a few minutes to cool before serving.

Recipe: Snickerdoodles

19. Easy Snickerdoodle Mug Cake

If the butter-cinnamon-sugar temptation of snickerdoodles makes for spectacular cookies, imagine how incredible the combination is in a mug cake. This fun mashup is a quick and easy fall treat that lets you get in on a warm dessert without going to the trouble of baking for a full house.

Don't be daunted by the list of 10 ingredients required to make this solo sweet. It only takes five minutes to whip up and bake before it's ready to enjoy.

Recipe: Easy Snickerdoodle Mug Cake

20. Cranberry Crumble Bars

The chewy, zesty goodness of these cranberry crumble bars are a sneaky way to get your family to eat one of nature's healthiest fruits. The spread in the center is jam-like, lending a gooey decadence that makes every bite feel like autumn is your spiciest season yet.

Because you can cut your bars to the right size for your diners, think about slicing some as single-bite squares and others as larger pieces. This will give every guest a treat that suits their appetite.

Recipe: Cranberry Crumble Bars

21. Cinnamon Blondies

The lighter-hued cousin of a chocolate brownie, the blondie holds its own distinctive space in the dessert world, made even more unique with cinnamon tossed into the recipe. With rich butter and brown sugar sharing the pan, there's no chance this autumn dessert will leave you out in the cold.

Brew up your own warm and spicy chai tea to give your cinnamon blondies an equal partner in the dessert game. It's a thoughtful sip that balances out the flavors of the bar with a spicy kick of its own.

Recipe: Cinnamon Blondies

22. Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter pecan isn't just a flavor for ice cream, as these sumptuous cookies attest. Loaded with pecan pieces and flavored with brown sugar and vanilla, your kitchen is bound to smell like a professional bakery.

The trick to capturing the ultimate flavor in your biscuits is roasting your pecans with butter beforehand. Reserve some extra pecan halves so you can add a few to the top as a tasteful garnish on each cookie.

Recipe: Butter Pecan Cookies

23. Mini Caramel Apple Streusel Cheesecake

Who could resist gobbling up their own bite-sized cheesecakes, especially when they come with layers of caramel, apple, and streusel? The size of these diminutive desserts is deliciously deceptive; having sweet strata of each element means a burst of bold fall flavor is coming your way no matter how many bites it takes to finish.

Building the layers in your cheesecake cups will take a bit of skill. Work with a steady hand and the patience of a chef ... the end result is worth the effort. 

Recipe: Mini Caramel Apple Streusel Cheesecake

24. Gourmet S'mores Bars

Skip the campfire and snuggle up in the living room to enjoy a batch of gourmet s'mores bars. Each nibble provides a bite of the best bits in classic s'mores: a little chocolate, a touch of marshmallow, and a taste of graham crackers all swirled about in a bar that makes fall feel so much cozier.

If you're feeling ambitious, bake an extra batch and wrap them up to give to friends and neighbors to enjoy. You can extend the fun of baking while sharing the sweetness of an autumn treat.

Recipe: Gourmet S'mores Bars

25. Brown Butter Apple Tart

The complexity that browned butter adds to this apple tart transforms an already fantastic bake into a triumph of taste. And the look of this simple yet elegant creation adorning your table will give the impression of a fine French bakery serving its finest recipe.

Take things even further into the realm of phenomenal flavor with a homemade caramel sauce to drizzle over your tart.

Recipe: Brown Butter Apple Tart