Turkey who? Thanksgiving desserts. Let’s face it: it’s what we all look forward to after a filling, traditional Thanksgiving dinner. When it comes to desserts, there are some pretty standard recipes like pecan pie and cookies.
But, what if you elevated your dessert game this year? It’s hard to believe but Thanksgiving will be here in only a few short months, so why not get a jump start on some new recipes you can enjoy around the table?
Say goodbye to old, boring desserts and try these Thanksgiving dessert ideas instead. Who knows, maybe making these tasty desserts will kick start a brand new yearly tradition with you and your loved ones.
Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or something unique, there’s no shortage of all the different dessert recipes you can try this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and every year after. Let’s get started.
But first – let’s answer some commonly asked questions about Thanksgiving desserts:
What are the most common desserts for Thanksgiving?
You may have guessed it – pie! While any type of pie is appropriate for the season, two of the most common are pumpkin pie and pecan pie.
Depending on dietary preferences, some families may prefer to swap the pumpkin pie out for a sweet potato pie. But, pie definitely reigns supreme at most Thanksgiving dinners.
What is the most common pie eaten on Thanksgiving?
Though we sort of answered this above (pumpkin pie), you may be surprised to learn that the most common type of pie enjoyed at Thanksgiving dinner depends on where you live.
In the North-Eastern parts of the United States, apple pie is the most common dessert eaten on Thanksgiving, whereas those in the south usually had a hankering for pecan pie.
What was the first dessert on Thanksgiving?
If you want to impress your friends and family with a little Thanksgiving trivia, go ahead and tell them the first dessert to be served on Thanksgiving was actually dried grapes (raisins), cornmeal pudding, and sweetened strawberries. Pretty neat, right?
1. Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Alright, I know we said that pumpkin pie was traditional – and it is – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it on your Thanksgiving menu.
Cloves are the secret ingredient, as they give the pumpkin pie that traditional spicy flavor we all know and love.
Like any pumpkin recipe, you can easily swap it out for some sweet potato or even some butternut squash and a dash of cinnamon.
Serve with some cool whip and maybe a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream and you’ve got a classic dessert that everyone at the table will love.
2. Best Pecan Pie
Are you looking for the best Thanksgiving dessert recipes? If so, look no further than this one for some crunchy and irresistible pecan pie.
The secret ingredient is dark corn syrup, which will give the pie that dark, familiar color. While you can’t have pecans without, well, pecans, you can swap them out for another type of nut such as almond or walnut.
The recipe will obviously be a little bit different, but feel free to get as creative as you want with it. It’s Thanksgiving, after all. There’s no such thing as rules!
3. Mini Pumpkin Pie
Are you planning to have kids over for Thanksgiving dinner? Even if you’re not, these finger foods make for the cutest little desserts and appetizers that both kids and adults won’t be able to get enough of.
Nutmeg is the secret ingredient because it adds a little bit of sweetness to the pumpkin pie without overpowering it. Plus, it has a little bit of a citrusy taste to it, too, which is really unique when paired with the rest of the pumpkin pie ingredients.
Though the recipe does call for the use of eggs, you can opt for an eggless pie by swapping it out with some buttermilk, applesauce, or mashed banana.
4. Apple Pie Recipe
As noted above, apple pie may be your preferred choice of Thanksgiving dessert depending on where you live.
However, even if it’s not, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sweetness of a warm apple pie at the dinner table.
The secret ingredient is one you actually have a hand in: the amount of sugar you add to it! The more sugar you add, the sweeter your apple pie will be.
So, having the ability to customize your pie to your liking is a really sweet (no pun intended) feature of this popular Thanksgiving dessert. If you don’t have apples, you can swap them out for either peaches or pears.
Sure, the taste will be different, but it’s a good tip to know if you’re ever in a pinch.
5. Dutch Caramel Apple Pie
This is a bit of a twist on the classic apple pie. Dutch caramel apple pie is one of the best Thanksgiving desserts because it combines all the best flavors of fall: apples and caramel!
However, the secret ingredient in this tasty, simple recipe may surprise you. It’s actually lemon juice.
Don’t worry – the lemon flavor will mostly burn off while baking, but it adds a little bit of sweetness to the apple pie to give everything a bit more kick.
If you don’t have lemon juice, go ahead and swap it out for some lime juice instead since the flavors are mostly similar.
6. Cranberry Orange Custard Pie
If there was ever a pie that literally SCREAMS Thanksgiving, it’s this one. The blend of cranberry and orange is refreshingly sweet and it’ll be the perfect wake-me-up after eating a plateful of turkey and stuffing.
Orange zest is the secret ingredient since it ties all the flavors together and makes every bite refreshing and flavorful.
This recipe also calls for whipping cream, but don’t fret if you don’t have it. Buttermilk can easily be used as an alternative if necessary.
7. Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake
After standing over a hot stove all day to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, the last thing you probably want to do is spend even more time making dessert.
Well, with a delicious dump cake you don’t have to. This recipe is simple and doesn’t involve a lot of ingredients, so the secret ingredient really comes down to the pumpkin puree you’ll need to make this.
The recipe calls for evaporated milk, but if you don’t have any, you could easily swap it out for some regular milk, soy milk, or heavy cream.
8. Raspberry Pretzel Jello Recipe
I know, I know, pretzels and Jello are an odd pairing but hear me out: it’s actually genius! With every bite, you get the crunch and saltiness of a pretzel and the cool, flavorful texture of Jello.
It’s really the best of both worlds and the kids will go ham (I mean turkey) for it.
The secret ingredient is the box of Jello you use. While it calls for raspberry due to how well the flavor pairs with salty pretzels, you can swap it out for any flavor you prefer.
Blue raspberry, strawberry, and orange would both pair well with pretzels, too. This is definitely one of those Pinterest cute Thanksgiving desserts you’d probably otherwise never think of.
9. Brownie Trifle Recipe
The best thing about a trifle is that it allows you to add multiple layers of tasty goodness. And what tastes better than a chocolatey brownie?
The secret ingredient is the homemade whipped cream, which just includes heavy whipping cream, sugar, and a little bit of vanilla extract.
Of course, you can swap out the homemade whipped cream for storebought. Or, if you’re planning on making homemade but don’t have heavy cream, you can swap it out for some regular milk or half and half.
This is a unique, easy recipe that will have everyone around the table asking for seconds.
10. Pecan Pie Bars
Maybe you want to enjoy all the flavors of a pecan pie but in a smaller bite. If so, try these pecan pie bars.
They’re easy to make and great to eat. The secret ingredient is vanilla, which adds a little boost of sweetness to this already sweet pie-inspired dish.
If you don’t have vanilla, you can swap it out with almond extract.
This will change the flavor a little bit, but the change is actually good, considering it gives the pie more of a nutty flavor than what the traditional recipe calls for. Either way, you can’t go wrong with what kind of extract you use.
11. Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes With Caramel Sauce
Here we go again with another pumpkin recipe, but we can’t help it! It’s just that good.
The secret ingredient in this rich, delightful dessert is softened cream cheese, as this will make the cheesecakes moist and fluffy.
If you don’t have cream cheese, you might be wondering if you can still make cheesecake. And the answer is, yes you can!
Swap it out for either sour cream, ricotta cheese, or mascarpone. In our opinion, it’s one of those easy Thanksgiving desserts everyone will love.
12. Gingerbread Cake
Thanksgiving officially kicks off the Christmas season so why not celebrate the spirit of the holidays with this tasty and unique gingerbread cake?
If you’re looking for Thanksgiving dessert recipes ideas, this one certainly doesn’t disappoint.
The secret ingredient is molasses since it provides that dense, heavy flavor we all know and love about gingerbread cookies.
Only this time in cake form! The recipe calls for granulated sugar, but you could always swap it out with a sugar substitute or brown sugar.
13. Apple Hand Pies
What’s better than eating a tasty apple pie with your hands? Not much, that’s what!
These sweet sliced apples taste great inside a flaky, crispy pie crust, which just so happens to be our secret ingredient.
You can either buy premade pie crusts from the store or make your own.
If you don’t have any, you can go ahead and swap them out for biscuit dough or phyllo dough to get the same flaky consistency. Use whatever kind of apple you want! You can’t go wrong.
14. Butter Pecan Cookies
Cookies are simple to make and easy to eat the entire tray full – and I have on quite a few Thanksgiving dinners! With this unique recipe, you can enjoy the flavor of your favorite ice cream without buying it from the frozen section.
The secret ingredient is, of course, the pecans, as this gives off the famous flavor. The recipe also calls for toffee bits, but don’t stress if you don’t have them.
You could either omit them completely or swap them out for another type of nut should as pistachio, walnut, or macadamia nut.
If you’ve been on the hunt for easy Thanksgiving dessert recipes, this is definitely the one for you.
15. Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Dessert
You can’t ever go wrong with a mix of chocolate and peanut butter in any dessert ever.
That’s why you need to try out this awesome layer dessert for yourself! The secret ingredient here are the pretzels that make up the crust.
They add a bit of saltiness to the dessert, providing a bit of salty mixed in with the sweetness of the chocolate, while also adding a crunchy texture to the crust.
If you need to change anything up, we recommend swapping the granulated sugar for a healthy sugar substitute if you’re looking for a healthier alternative.
16. Old Fashioned Easy Apple Crisp
This next recipe is an apple crisp just like grandma used to make.
If you’re looking for warm belly food for your Thanksgiving dessert, look no further than this tasty dessert. The secret ingredient here is the apples.
Being the main ingredient they inform much of the dish from the texture to the flavor.
If you want to put a fun spin on this, try serving it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some caramel sauce to sweeten an already sweet dessert.
17. Carrot Cake Bars
Who doesn’t love a good carrot cake? This finger food twist on a classic is sure to be a favorite at the Thanksgiving dessert table.
The secret ingredient for this one is the cream cheese that is the base for the delicious cheesecake swirl.
In turn, being part of the cheesecake swirl also helps hold all aspects of this dessert together.
If you need to change anything up, you can swap granulated sugar for powdered sugar. You’ll love this simple, easy-to-make version of carrot cake.
18. Rum Cake
It won’t just be pirates asking where the rum is when your guests try out this delicious and easy-to-make rum cake recipe.
The secret ingredient for this one isn’t quite a secret. It’s the rum! It informs the overall flavor of the desert and it’s tasty, too!
If you need to substitute anything, try swapping out the vanilla extract for coconut extract. It’s a little healthier and it shouldn’t really affect the overall flavor of the cake. Plus, coconut pairs great with the island flavors of rum!
19. Blueberry Crumble Cheesecake Pie
This delicious cheesecake pie recipe is one worth checking out if you love the taste of blueberries.
The secret ingredient for this one is cinnamon. It shows up in both the crust and the crisp topping and adds a hint of flavor to an already delicious dish without overpowering the rest of the ingredients.
If you’re looking for a fun spin on this one, serve it up with either a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
20. White Chocolate Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
The name might be a mouthful, but you’ll want a mouthful of these cookies once you get a taste of them.
The ingredients in this one all combine to create a hearty, tasty treat worth trying.
The secret ingredient for this one is the old-fashioned oats that provide texture for the meal as well as a base that everything else mixes into.
If you need to swap anything out, try swapping out the pecans for a nut of your choice like peanuts or walnuts instead.
21. Caramel Apple Crisp Cheesecake
This delectable cheesecake recipe is the perfect dessert to cap off your Thanksgiving night.
This mix of caramel, apples, and cheesecake is sure to be a dessert the whole family enjoys. The secret ingredient for this one is cinnamon.
It’s just enough that it doesn’t overpower the other flavors but it enhances the rest of the flavors in this dish.
If you need to change things up, we recommend swapping the butter for applesauce since it will not only serve the same purpose but add more apple flavoring to this dish.
22. Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Blondies
If you’re looking for a creative dish involving chocolate and zucchini then look no further than this sweet dessert.
The secret ingredient for this one is rolled oats. They add texture and flavor to the dish while being a binding agent for the other ingredients.
If you need to swap out anything, you can use normal flour instead of oat flour without significantly changing the flavor of the dish.
It’s easily one of our favorite desserts for Thanksgiving. It’ll be one of yours, too!
23. Caramel Apple Cookies
Who doesn’t like a couple of cookies as a snack after eating dinner?
These caramel apple cookies are sure to delight your guests the next time you serve them.
The secret ingredient here is the apple spice. That’s right, pumpkin isn’t the only spice that goes well with autumn weather.
This apple spice will enhance the apple flavor while providing sweetness to the dish.
If you’re looking for a possible replacement for an ingredient, we recommended swapping the butter for applesauce. Not only is it healthier, but it will add even more apple flavor to this wonderful dessert.
24. Chocolate Peanut Butter Ooey Gooey Cake
If there are two words that we love to hear describe a good cake, it’s “ooey” and “gooey”.
This cake combines our favorite flavors to create a delicious dessert that everyone can enjoy.
The secret ingredient for this one is peanut butter. It’s one of the major flavors of this meal, it brings a texture to the dish, and it might possibly be the literal glue that holds everything together.
We’re not quite sure if this is the “ooey” or “gooey” portion of this dessert, but either way, it tastes great. If you’re in a pinch, we recommend swapping the eggs for yogurt for a healthy alternative.
25. Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars
These sweet-tasting bars are a delight to enjoy after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner.
This mix of apple and cheesecake is the perfect blend of flavors. The secret ingredient for this one isn’t so secret.
It’s the sliced apples! They bring flavor and texture to every bite that makes this dessert so enjoyable.
If you’re looking to change things up, swap out your brown sugar for granulated sugar of a similar but different flavor profile. Try this one out if you’re looking for something a little different for your next dessert.
26. Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling
This is a delicious, classic pumpkin roll with a cream cheese filling that’s so good that you won’t stop thinking about it.
This is a classic dessert that would be right at home at any Thanksgiving dinner.
The secret ingredient for this one is probably the vanilla extract. It adds flavor to the dish while being the glue that brings all of the other flavors together.
If you need a substitution, we recommend trying to swap the granulated sugar for brown sugar for a slightly different taste.
27. Pumpkin Sheet Cake
For this second-to-last recipe, we’re looking at a new twist on an old favorite. This pumpkin-flavored sheet cake is a unique way to celebrate autumn with everyone’s favorite fall flavor.
The secret ingredient for this recipe has to be pumpkin spice. It’s the fall flavor that everyone loves and why wouldn’t it be?
If you’re looking for anything to swap out, you can swap out the eggs with yogurt, which provides a healthy alternative. This dessert is guaranteed to have your entire family asking for more.
28 Best Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes
This is the perfect dessert to make a statement at your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.
- ½ c white sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ c butter, softened
- ¼ c all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅛ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 3 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tbsps butter, softened
- 1 c powdered sugar
- 1 ½ tbsps milk
- 60 candy corn, or as needed
- 12 red candy-coated chocolate pieces (such as M&M's®)
- 24 candy eyeballs
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Add cooking spray to your muffin tray.
- With an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar, and vanilla extract.
- In a different bowl, combine cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and flour.
- Pour the flour mixture into the sugar batter. Then, equally, divide the batter into the muffin cups.
- Bake for approximately 14 minutes. Remove from oven to let cook for about 20 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine milk, butter, and cocoa powder. Mix until smooth. Add powdered sugar.
- Add your frosting mix into a piping bag and draw a circle around the bottom of each brownie to form the shape of the turkey’s head.
- Next, add eyes and feathers.