The 39 Best Desserts For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner is probably the most epic meal of the year for many living in the U.S. Not only is the main course absolutely enormous (What other entrée would be considered on the small side weighing in at 10 pounds?), but it's accompanied by side dishes galore, many of these rather over the top themselves like those marshmallow-topped yams and soup-smothered green beans. After such a meal, how could anyone possibly have room left for dessert?

And yet, somehow we find a way, year after year, to get a few sweets in. After all, what Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without some pumpkin or pecan pie? Doesn't that poor lonely slice look kind of forlorn sitting out there all by itself on that big table? And you know what would really go good with that pie? Some homemade ice cream, perhaps. Plus you might as well add a few more pies, some cakes, cookies, donuts, and turnovers ... After all, it is a celebration! Here are 39 sweet ways for you to celebrate.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is pretty much the one must-have Thanksgiving dessert. While every grocery and warehouse store will be offering pies galore throughout the weeks leading up to the big day, the fact it, it's not really all that difficult to make a pumpkin pie from scratch. Okay, so pie crust can be kind of a pain, but the secret to this pie is that it starts out with a store-bought unbaked pie shell. Hey, it will still be a homemade pie, since you'll be stirring up the filling and baking it in your very own oven!

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Cherry Pecan Bread Pudding

The Thanksgiving celebration itself dates back to our nation's earliest days, so it's no wonder many of us like our meals to be pretty traditional. Still, others don't want to be stuck in the same old holiday rut year after year. This cherry pecan bread pudding is the perfect compromise between the traditional and the new, since bread pudding is a sweetly old-fashioned dessert, yet the salty-sweet, dried cherry-spiked flavor of this dish is something that will surely appeal to the most modern of palates.

Recipe: Cherry Pecan Bread Pudding Recipe

Easy Apple Pie

Despite its European origins, apple pie has nonetheless been enshrined as the all-American dish. (Strangely, you never hear anyone say "As American as a Big Mac," do you?) As such, it has surely earned a place at the table, or rather on the table, for this most American of holidays. This apple pie starts out with store-bought pie crust, so you don't have to mess with that somewhat time consuming step of the pie prep. The trickiest part of this recipe is probably weaving a lattice top, but if you want to make things easier on yourself you can just go with a plain top crust or opt for a simple streusel instead.

Recipe: Easy Apple Pie Recipe

Apple Pie Ice Cream

Another way to have your pie and eat it, too, involves using apple pie flavors and ingredients to make your own homemade ice cream. To make things easier, there's no pie crust involved –- crushed graham crackers will instead be stepping in to take its flaky place.

It is worth noting, however, that this ice cream recipe does require the use of an ice cream maker. Don't own one or are short on time? Simply mix the (cooled) sautéed apples, cinnamon, and graham crackers into a quart of slightly thawed vanilla ice cream.

Recipe: Apple Pie Ice Cream Recipe

Chocolate Lover's Pudding Pie

While many Thanksgiving desserts seem to lean heavily into fall flavors such as pumpkin, apples, and cinnamon, there's no rule saying you can't have chocolate. Just look around the table at all your guests — chances are most, if not all, are chocolate lovers, and they'd certainly welcome a dessert like this rich, chocolatey pudding pie.

The best thing about it (besides the flavor) is the fact that it couldn't be much easier to make. Start with store-bought pie crust, fill it with chocolate pudding, then top it off with whipped cream, and you have yourself a dessert that's easy-peasy sure to please-y.

Recipe: Chocolate Lover's Pudding Pie Recipe

Pumpkin Cream Puffs

Pumpkin cream puffs! Just those three words say it all — this is bound to be the one dessert that all your Thanksgiving guests ooh and ahh over. They'll probably assume you bought them from a high-end bakery, though. It may take a little convincing, and in fact, you may never be able to get everyone to believe that you actually managed to make these beauties from scratch. 

Believe it or not, while impressive, homemade cream puffs aren't nearly as difficult nor as time-consuming as you might think. If you take your time and follow the directions to a T, you'll end up with a picture-perfect dessert.

Recipe: Pumpkin Cream Puffs Recipe

Easy Pecan Pie

While pumpkin pie may be the star Thanksgiving dessert, pecan has more than earned its seat at the table (and we'd be willing to bet is secretly many people's true favorite). Afraid this dish is to too hard to make yourself? It doesn't have to be, especially if you start with a store-bought crust.

The best part of pecan pie preparation is that there's no need for a top crust! All you'll need is a little whipped cream to finish off this nutty beauty.

Recipe: Easy Pecan Pie Recipe

Easy Apple Pie Cookies

While there are zillions of Christmas cookie recipes floating around, the concept of Thanksgiving cookies has never really seemed to catch on. Still, why be bound by custom?

These apple cookies, which are pretty similar to mini hand pies, are absolutely perfect for a late-night, after-the-dishes-are-finally-done Thanksgiving snack. Perhaps with a cup of pumpkin-flavored coffee? (Decaf, of course, unless you're planning to get a really early start on those Black Friday sales.)

Recipe: Easy Apple Pie Cookies Recipe

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

If it's Thanksgiving day and the turkey is monopolizing the oven, what do you do if you suddenly realize you're short on desserts? Hope everyone fills up on the stuffing and rolls? Break out a package of cookies? Send someone on a panicked run to whatever grocery stores may be open, desperately hoping there's still some kind of pie left on the shelves? No, what you can do instead is to make this super-simple no-bake cream cheese pumpkin pie. Even the crumb crust requires no oven time, since it sets in the freezer instead.

Recipe: No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Easy Apple Turnovers

While we toss around the phrase "easy as pie," it really doesn't make any more sense than other old idioms like "raining cats and dogs." Cute little furballs don't really fall from the sky, nor are most pies all that easy to make. Turnovers, on the other hand, really are pretty simple, at least if you start with frozen puff pastry.

Thaw the pastry and cut it into squares, then just fill it with cooked apples and fold into a triangle to make your turnover. Glaze it with egg wash, bake it, and you have a super easy, not-too-sweet addition to your Thanksgiving dessert buffet.

Recipe: Easy Apple Turnovers Recipe

Quick Easy Pecan Pie Bars

While pies are a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition, you know what's way easier? Transforming those same flavors into bar cookies, instead.

These pecan pie bars feature a delicious buttery crust topped with that familiar, sugary pecan filling we all know and love, but there's no need to fuss with any of that complicated pie geometry. Instead, you can simply slice these bars into squares and pile them on a plate for people to help themselves.

Recipe: Quick Easy Pecan Pie Bar Recipe

5-Ingredient Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue may not be the most Thanksgiving-y of pie flavors, since lemons tend to be thought of as more of a summertime fruit; but as we all know, lemons are readily available year-round. What's more, we think that any season or reason to serve up this sweet and tangy pie is one your guests will appreciate.

This particular recipe uses a cookie crumb crust and pre-made lemon curd filling to cut down on the prep work, but it tastes every bit as good as a more time-consuming pie.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Sheet Cake

Sure, pumpkin pie is great, but you know what's even better? Pumpkin cake! Especially when it's finished off with a tasty cream cheese frosting like the kind you usually find on top of a carrot cake. (Pumpkin, after all, is just as sweet as the other orange-colored veggie.)

This pumpkin sheet cake is super-moist due to the fact that it is made with applesauce as well as pumpkin pie filling. Use pumpkin pie spice or your own seasonal blend.

Recipe: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Sheet Cake Recipe

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Sure, pecan pie is just about perfect in its original form, but who says that you can't improve upon perfection? And the best way to do this in most cases (at least as far as desserts are concerned), is to add some chocolate.

This easy-to-make pie (Shh! The secret lies in using a frozen crust!) will allow you to honor Thanksgiving tradition while making all of the chocolate lovers at your table over-the-moon happy.

Recipe: Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe

Pumpkin Hershey Kiss Cookies

You know those peanut blossoms you see at every holiday cookie exchange, the ones that are basically a fat round peanut butter cookie topped off with a Hershey's kiss? Well, these cookies are kind of like those blossoms, with a fun fall twist.

Instead of peanut butter, the cookie is flavored with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices, but the Hershey's kiss remains. If you never knew what a perfect flavor combo pumpkin and chocolate make, these cookies will make a believer out of you!

Recipe: Pumpkin Hershey Kiss Cookies Recipe

Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Who doesn't love a caramel apple? They're probably one the all-time greatest foods on a stick. What they're not, though, is the kind of thing you probably want to serve at Thanksgiving — unless you plan to enjoy your holiday dessert at a picnic table outdoors. Foods on a stick, after all, tend to be too messy to play nicely with white tablecloths and fine china. Instead, you can take both the apples and the caramel from this classic treat and use them to top a brown sugar bar cookie for a less-messy version of the fall favorite.

Recipe: Caramel Apple Pie Bar Recipe

Instant Pot Pumpkin Pie

Sure, you love your Instant Pot and use it to make soups and stews all the time ... maybe you even dabble in pasta dishes and casseroles. But have you really explored everything it can do? If not, Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to try your hand at an Instant Pot pumpkin pie.

While not a one-pot dessert, as you'll need to bake the crust separately, once the crust is filled, you'll be using the Instant Pot to pressure-cook the pie.

Recipe: Instant Pot Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Fall isn't just the season for pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes, but also for pumpkin donuts! While the ones at Starbucks and Dunkin are great, and the ones you get at pumpkin patches and farm stands are even better, the very best donuts are always the freshest — and nothing is fresher than something you make yourself.

These pumpkin donuts, as their name implies, are baked rather than fried, so you'll need a donut pan to make them.

Recipe: Baked Pumpkin Donuts Recipe

Classic Chess Pie

What is a chess pie? If you're not from the South, you may not be familiar with this classic dessert. Well, to set your mind at rest, chess pie is not nearly as difficult to make as the game featuring knights, rooks, and pawns is to win!

The filling has a custardy flavor without any messing around on the stovetop required. All you need to do is stir together sugar, cornmeal, flour, salt, butter, milk, eggs, and vinegar (this last ingredient adds a buttermilk-like tang), pour the mixture into a pre-baked crust, and cook.

Recipe: Classic Chess Pie Recipe

Mini Apple Pies

While Thanksgiving is all about abundance, we still need to make time to savor the little things in life ... little things like these perfect mini apple pies. They look super-cute and are really fun to eat, particularly when you think you can't manage much more than a bite or two of dessert. They're surprisingly easy to make, too, since they start with store-bought pie crust you'll fill with maple-sweetened apples before baking in muffin tins.

Recipe: Mini Apple Pies Recipe

3-Ingredient Marshmallow Pumpkin Cake

Is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish that sweet potato casserole that's drenched in butter and brown sugar and topped with a blanket of melted marshmallows? If so, then have we got the dessert for you!

This recipe starts off with a ridiculously easy two-ingredient cake, made with vanilla cake mix and pumpkin pie filling, but in lieu of plain old frosting the cake is topped off with marshmallow cream! If you want that toasted marshmallow taste, you can either use a kitchen torch or pop it under the broiler for a moment.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Marshmallow Pumpkin Cake Recipe

Classic French Apple Tart

If you want to lay out a truly impressive Thanksgiving spread this year, you can go about it in one of two ways — either by going totally over-the-top with everything or by opting for a slightly more restrained, yet elegant approach.

This French apple tart fits into the latter category, as it is both simple and sophisticated. The fact that it's actually quite easy (thanks to the use of pre-made pie crust) can remain our little secret.

Recipe: Classic French Apple Tart Recipe

5-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie

Want a homemade pumpkin pie that's quick and easy to make? This five-ingredient recipe will surely fill the bill. Ingredient one is a store-bought graham cracker crust, so there's no need to futz around with rolling dough or pre-baking or any of that stuff. You simply need to stir together ingredients two through five (those being pumpkin puree, condensed milk, pumpkin pie spice, and eggs), pour the filling in the pie crust, and bake until your house is filled with the scent of Thanksgiving.

Recipe: The Best 5-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Banoffee Pie

What, pray tell, is a banoffee pie? If you are asking this question, you're probably not from the U.K., since it's been a popular dessert there for the past half-century or so. If you're a fan of portmanteau words, you may be able to decipher the main ingredients by picking apart the name, as this pie gets its flavor from ban[anas] and [tof]fee. Or caramel, as we actually use in this recipe. Perhaps if this pie ever catches on in the U.S., we could consider changing the name to "banarmel," though we'd rather just enjoy it with whipped cream instead of getting into semantic squabbles with our friends across the pond.

Recipe: Best Banoffee Pie Recipe

Easy Apple Cider Donuts

Apple cider donuts are right up there with changing leaves, crisp air, and bright blue skies as one of autumn's greatest pleasures. If you've never considered making your own donuts at home, though, you might be surprised to find that it's not as difficult as you think. These donuts get their flavor from apple cider concentrate and are baked, rather than fried, for a much less messy experience. This recipe does call for a donut pan, but if you don't have one you can always MacGyver a pan out of a large muffin tin and some crumpled tinfoil "donut holes."

Recipe: Easy Apple Cider Donuts Recipe

Easy Pumpkin Bars

Bar cookies are a favorite item on any buffet table: they're compact, easy to eat, and their shape lends itself to layers that add more depth of flavor than is possible in a typical drop or rolled cookie. Also, bar cookies are much easier to make, since you simply add the ingredients to a pan or baking dish and bake them all in one batch. These pumpkin bars are extra- extra-easy, since they are made from cake mix and topped with pumpkin pie filling for a perfect Thanksgiving dessert with only five ingredients.

Recipe: Easy Pumpkin Bars Recipe

Easy Piecaken Cupcakes

Will you be dining on turducken this Thanksgiving day? Even if you're not serving up John Madden's favorite bird(s), you can still finish off your meal in style with the dessert version, the piecaken. Not only is the name a portmanteau, but so is the dessert itself, as it consists of a pie baked inside a cake.

Too much work, you say? Not with these piecupcakens, it isn't! Start with boxed chocolate cake mix, then fill each cupcake with a spoonful of a pre-made cherry pie (crust and all) before topping off with more cupcake batter and baking. Easy as pie, tasty as cake, and sure to surprise your Thanksgiving guests in the nicest possible way!

Recipe: Easy Piecaken Cupcakes Recipe

Caramel Apple Turnovers

As any parent knows, caramel apples are yummy, but messy. Luckily for us, there's a way around that — simply turn them into turnovers! These compact treats are fit to grace your Thanksgiving table without getting sticky stuff all over the good linens.

How do you do accomplish this sweet assignment, you may ask, and we may answer: it's easy, all you need to do is fill frozen puff pastry squares with sweetened sautéed apples. Fold each square over into a triangle, and voilà! It's a turnover, or it will be once you bake it.

Recipe: Caramel Apple Turnovers Recipe

Easy Banana Cream Pie

Banana cream pie gets a pretty bad rep, at least among the clown community. After all, if you're a clown, you're most likely to get a taste only after it's been smashed into your face. Non-clowns, however, likely know it as a classic southern dessert.

This super-easy banana cream pie is a fun and quick alternative (or addition) to pumpkin on your Thanksgiving dessert buffet. As an added bonus, you can use it as a defense weapon should your holiday meal come under assault from the red-nosed, big shoe-wearing, baggy pants brigade.

Recipe: Easy Banana Cream Pie Recipe

Copycat Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Blizzard

An annual rite of fall for many involves a trip to the local DQ as soon as the pumpkin pie Blizzards come out. Who can resist a slice of that classic Thanksgiving dessert whirled in the blender with soft-serve ice cream? If you think your Thanksgiving guests might enjoy this treat as well, there's no need to order out. (Would DQ even deliver on Thanksgiving day?) Instead, this copycat recipe will enable you to whip up a reasonable facsimile in your own blender in just a few minutes' time.

Oh, and there's no need to sacrifice so much as a single slice of your precious pumpkin pie! This recipe calls for pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, but uses vanilla wafers in place of the crust, so you can indulge in both treats without sacrificing too much oven space.

Recipe: Copycat Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Blizzard Recipe

20-Minute Air Fryer Apple Pie

Air fryers, as their name implies, are a cooking appliance that specializes in cooking foods that would otherwise be fried, such as french fries or chicken wings. They can also be used to create "fried" desserts like donuts, churros, and hand pies — like these apple ones!

This recipe makes use of ready-made pie crust and canned pie filling, so the prep time is minimal. In less than 15 minutes of cook time, your pies will be hot and ready!

Recipe: 20-Minute Air Fryer Apple Pie Recipe

Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream

Pumpkin pie is great on its own, and even better with a dollop of whipped cream, but have you tried it à la mode?

If you really, really love pumpkin pie, why not double down on fall's favorite flavor by topping your slices with a scoop of pumpkin ice cream? This homemade ice cream is flavored with pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree. The recipe is so simple and easy to make — you don't even need an ice cream maker!

Recipe: Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

Classic Egg Custard Pie

Egg custard pie may not have been served at the very first Thanksgiving, but it's been around for nearly two centuries and counting. It makes the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert spread since even non-pumpkin people will enjoy its creamy vanilla flavor. If you want to get an early start on celebrating the next holiday (kind of like Santa making his first appearance at the Macy's parade), you can always flavor this nutmeg-dusted dessert with a little rum extract and re-dub it "eggnog pie."

Recipe: Classic Egg Custard Pie Recipe

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles were once among the first things everyone learned to cook in middle school home economics class, teaching kids such necessary life skills like baking cookies and darning socks. As such, this dessert has a certain charm for people who fondly remember "homec," but it's popular with younger folks too, since just about everybody loves cinnamon. This recipe, however, takes your standard snickerdoodle and dresses it up for Thanksgiving with the addition of pumpkin puree. This ingredient not only adds to the flavor, but tints the cookies a festive orange hue.

Recipe: Best Pumpkin Snickerdoodles Recipe

Oreo Pudding Pie

While just about everyone we know loves Oreo cookies on their own, what makes them even better is that they can be transformed into all manner of amazing desserts ranging from dirt cakes to ice cream to chocolatey pie crusts. This Oreo pie recipe contains a triple dose of the cookies — they're used to make the crust, flavor the cheesecake filling, and they make one final appearance sprinkled over the whipped cream that tops the pie.

Recipe: Oreo Pudding Pie Recipe Everyone Needs To Indulge In

Brown Butter Apple Tart

Brown butter is one of those specialty baking ingredients that you can, and definitely should, make at home. Browning butter is not at all difficult, but does require you to pay attention since there's a fine line between butter that's browned to the point of acquiring a rich, nutty flavor and butter that's just plain burnt. Once you've mastered the art of butter-browning, though, what should you do with this ingredient? We suggest this simple, yet elegant, apple tart to wow your Thanksgiving guests.

Recipe: Brown Butter Apple Tart Recipe

Emeril Lagasse's Banana Cream Pie

Emeril Lagasse may not hail from the South, but New Orleans proudly claims him as a favorite adoptive son. Emeril being Emeril, he can take even the most basic of classic Southern dishes and puts his own special spin on it, as is the case with his banana cream pie. In addition to bananas and cream, this pie features chocolate and caramel sauces and chocolate shavings. Our version of his recipe takes that over-the-top pie and miniaturizes it so you have eight exquisite little pies instead of one towering heap of decadence.

Recipe: Emeril Lagasse's Banana Cream Pie Recipe

Apple Galette

Galette aux pommes sounds so much more élégante than plain old apple pie, non? Strange though it may seem, this dessert très sophistiqué is actually easier to make than your standard pie. It involves the same type of crust (our recipe starts from scratch, but you can use store-bought dough if you're pressed for time) and the same sugar-sprinkled, butter-dotted sliced apple filling, but when it comes to the construction, that's where we see la différence. Simply roll out the pie dough — raggedy edges and all — top it with the apples, then fold up the crust. The resulting freeform tart will bring a touch of boho chic to your Thanksgiving table.

Recipe: Apple Galette Recipe

Pumpkin Cheesecake

While pumpkin pie may be practically de rigueur for Thanksgiving dessert, there is one circumstance under which you're permitted to skip it — that being when you upgrade to an even more delicious (but equally pumpkiny) option. Sure, this pumpkin cheesecake takes a little time and effort to bake, but it will be welcomed most enthusiastically by all pumpkin fans at your table. In fact, it's so rich, creamy, and downright delectable that it may even convert those who've yet to climb aboard the pumpkin train.

Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe