Once the green beans are cooked, the potatoes are mashed, and the turkey is stuffed, how could there possibly be time left for anything else? Easy Thanksgiving desserts are here to save the day. Check out these easy-peasy Thanksgiving dessert recipe ideas that everyone will love (and won’t have you stressing out).
No-Bake Easy Thanksgiving Desserts
The kitchen is already hot enough, right?
Thanksgiving (and the following Christmas season) always seem to be laced with elegant romance, and no other dessert quite gives those vibes like fondue. It’s super simple, and everyone gets to pick their favorite food to dunk in delectably smooth chocolate. What’s not to love?
For a Thanksgiving-themed Chocolate Fondue, start by melting 8 ounces of good-quality dark chocolate with 1 cup of heavy cream in a fondue pot or double boiler, stirring until smooth. You can add a tablespoon of orange liqueur or vanilla extract for extra flavor. For the dippers, think Thanksgiving: Offer guests chunks of pumpkin bread, gingerbread, or fresh apple slices. You could even replace regular marshmallows with the pumpkin-flavored version for a festive touch. For a bit of crunch, offer pretzel sticks or cinnamon graham crackers. Arrange everything on a platter around your fondue pot so family and guests can easily grab them. Don’t forget to get some skewers for dipping!
When I was just a pre-teen baker (how long ago was that? Not relevant), cheesecake was one of my most ambitious endeavors. It involved lots of preparation, time, and patience. Now that I’m an adult who has a LOT of other things on my plate, you bet I’m going to go with the no-bake option.
Begin by blending 1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs with 1/3 cup of melted unsalted butter and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar until well combined. Press this mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, forming a crust, and chill it in the refrigerator. In a mixing bowl, beat together 16 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whip 1 cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined. Pour this filling over the chilled crust, smoothing the top with a spatula. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to set. Once set, you can garnish it with fresh berries, fruit compote, or a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce.
Caramel Apple Pie Dip
Despite the great “pumpkin vs. apple” debate that makes its re-appearance every year around November 1st, I think everyone can agree that an apple pie dip wins points for how EASY it is.
Begin by peeling, coring, and finely chopping 4 medium-sized apples. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the apples with 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg until the apples are soft and the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes. Let this apple mixture cool to room temperature. In a separate bowl, blend 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth. Spread the cream cheese layer into the bottom of a serving dish. Once the apple mixture has cooled, spread it evenly over the cream cheese layer.
For the final layer, drizzle 1/2 cup of caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade) over the apple mixture. If desired, sprinkle a little more cinnamon on top for garnish. Serve this Caramel Apple Pie Dip with slices of baguette, graham crackers, or vanilla wafers for dipping.
Keep it Classic with Thanksgiving Flavors
Why fix it if it isn’t broken?
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is seriously one of the most underrated desserts of the holiday season. French toast and monkey bread tend to get all of the attention but served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, I’d take bread pudding any day. And the best part: it’s super easy.
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Cube enough day-old bread (like a French loaf or brioche) to make 8 cups and place it in a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 4 large eggs, 1 1/2 cups of milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes, ensuring they are completely soaked. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes so the bread absorbs the liquid.
For added crunch and flavor, sprinkle the top with a mixture of 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the pudding is set and the top is golden. Serve your Pumpkin Bread Pudding warm, perhaps with a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of maple syrup for an extra treat.
Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts
Going to a get-together? These mini pies are easy to transport, easy to eat, and just generally adorable. I remember my mom making these for a youth group event when I was younger, and they were always a fan favorite.
To whip up these mini pumpkin pies, first, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. For the crust, unroll store-bought pie dough and use a round cutter (about 4 inches in diameter) to cut circles. Press these circles into the cups of a muffin tin, shaping them to form mini pie shells. For the filling, in a bowl, combine 1 cup of pumpkin puree, 1 large egg, 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, and a pinch of salt. Whisk these ingredients together until smooth. Spoon the filling into each mini pie shell, filling them almost to the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust is golden. Allow the mini pies to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Top them with a dollop of whipped cream right before serving.
Pecan pie usually makes an appearance around the holidays, but this “bar” version is so much easier and is perfect for little hands to grab!
Easy Peasy Pecan Pie Bars
- 1 9 x 13 inch baking pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 3 cups pecans chopped
For the crust
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
- In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of white sugar, and 3/4 cup of softened unsalted butter. Blend these ingredients until the mixture becomes crumbly.
- Press the crumbly mixture evenly into a 9×13 inch baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned.
For the filling
- While the crust is baking, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine 3/4 cup of honey, 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar, 2/3 cup of unsalted butter, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream.
- Bring this mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat.
- Stir in 3 cups of chopped pecans. Make sure they are well coated with the mixture.
- Pour the pecan filling over the baked crust, spreading it evenly.
- Place the pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until the filling is set.
- Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, cut them into bars.
Easy Layered Desserts
Layered desserts are a fan favorite at my house, so they needed their own category.
Trifles are the MVP of easy desserts. Not only can you use semi-pre-made items (hello, boxed brownies, my old friend), but you can customize them with whatever flavors you’d like. The finished trifle always turns out so pretty; it’s sad to see it destroyed once you finally dig in. Just kidding—it tastes so good, it’s completely worth it.
Begin by preparing a batch of box brownies. Once cooled, cut them into bite-sized cubes. Next, make a caramel cream layer by mixing 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup of caramel sauce until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip 2 cups of heavy cream with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form, then fold half of this whipped cream into the caramel mixture. For assembly, take a large trifle dish and layer half of the brownie cubes at the bottom. Drizzle additional caramel sauce and chocolate sauce over the brownies, and sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped pecans. Spoon half of the caramel cream mixture over the top.
Repeat these layers once more with the remaining brownies, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, pecans, and caramel cream mixture. Finish off by topping the trifle with the remaining whipped cream. For a final touch, garnish with chocolate shavings, a few whole pecans, and a drizzle of caramel and chocolate sauce. Chill the Turtle Trifle for at least an hour before serving.
The minute the weather gets cooler, I start scavenging for the perfect sticks to roast marshmallows. Call me a purist, but I think a little bit of bark in the gooey marshmallow adds a bit of “je ne sais quoi.” But understandably, if you’d prefer your desserts to have a little less effort involved in their preparation, s’mores bars bring all the same flavors (sans bark). If you’re a huge s’mores fan, check out some of these other recipes.
To make these Thanksgiving-themed S’mores Bars, start by lining a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. For the base, combine 2 cups of crushed graham crackers with 1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, pressing this mixture firmly into the bottom of your prepared dish. For a Thanksgiving twist, sprinkle a layer of chopped pecans or walnuts over the crust. Next, evenly spread a layer of chocolate chips – about 2 cups – over the nuts. Now, for the marshmallow layer, instead of traditional marshmallows, use one jar (about 7 ounces) of marshmallow creme. Gently spread the creme over the chocolate layer.
To add a festive touch, sprinkle the top with a bit of pumpkin spice or cinnamon. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted and the top is lightly browned. Allow the bars to cool completely in the dish, then cut them into squares.
Easy Thanksgiving Desserts to the Rescue!
There are other years for the complicated, time-consuming dessert that makes you pull your hair out and maybe consider auditioning for the Great British Bake Off. But most likely, if you’re reading this, it isn’t that year. This is the year of the EASY dessert. But you know what? It’ll still taste just as good, if not better because you get to spend more time enjoying time with the people you love. And that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. What are your favorite easy Thanksgiving dessert recipes? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram @getfamilyapp!