This story was originally published in November 2020.
When it comes to Thanksgiving desserts, there are a number of classics that always seem to find a way to the table. More often than not, it’s pies — apple, pecan or pumpkin are perhaps the most prevalent — that are duking it out for that center spot.
Here are desserts that use either apples, pecans or pumpkins (or perhaps a combination of them) that will make your Thanksgiving extra sweet this year, no matter how you’re celebrating.
Apple custard pie
An apple custard pie is a decadent alternative to a classic apple pie. The creamy custard filling may make this recipe seem gourmet, but is simple to prepare even for novice home chefs. Here’s how to make apple custard pie.
Pumpkin pecan pie
The combination of pumpkin and pecan is a spin on the classic pies that grace the Thanksgiving table. With a hint of maple, you can’t get much better for a Maine Thanksgiving. Here is a recipe for pumpkin pecan pie.
Pumpkin pecan bites
If you do not think you can handle a whole pie by yourself this Thanksgiving, try these delectable bite-sized sweets that combine the two classic Turkey Day desserts with a buttery cookie crust. Here is how to make pumpkin pecan bites.
Pumpkin pie bars with pecans
Yet another perfect marriage of pumpkin and pecan, these bars have all the great flavors of the center of pumpkin pie, but with a sweet, crisp, slightly salty crust and the nutty goodness of pecans. Best of all, you don’t need a fork to enjoy this dessert. Get ready to get your hands dirty with this recipe for pumpkin pie bars with pecans.
With light fluffy pastry, sweet apples and a creamy custard in the center, each of these apple squares is like an autumnal slice of heaven. Preparing this recipe for apple squares will make a delicious addition to any Thanksgiving table.
Pumpkin cheesecake squares
These pumpkin cheesecake squares will definitely make you feel thankful. The creamy coolness and spiciness of the pumpkin are a welcome update to the classic, making it taste almost like the love child between a cheesecake and a pumpkin pie. Check out this recipe for pumpkin cheesecake squares to see for yourself.
Mini pecan turtle cheesecakes
These exquisite little treats seem gourmet, but are actually simple to prepare. Set a vanilla wafer in a cupcake liner, pour over a batter of cream cheese, add the nutty-and-sweet toppings and — voila! — you have a miniature cheesecake without all the troubleshooting that comes with cooking a large cheesecake. Here’s how to make mini turtle cheesecakes with pecans for an easy, grabbable individual dessert for your small Thanksgiving.
Flourless apple dessert
Based on a reader recipe from a mid-twentieth century tea house, this flourless apple dessert is not only a good way to avoid gluten, but also provides a lighter, no-less-delicious dessert for those of us willing to admit that we’re unlikely to enjoy anything too rich after a hearty Thanksgiving meal. You can eat it warm with ice cream, and also enjoy it the next day for breakfast. Check out this tasty recipe for flourless apple dessert.
These tasty pumpkin bars with a sweet cream cheese frosting are easy to whip up from a can of pumpkin puree. You can even spice it up with a little extra cinnamon or ginger, or swap out a simple vanilla frosting or even a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar to mix it up. Here is a recipe for iced pumpkin bars that would make for a delicious dessert on Thanksgiving.
Apple cake is yet another versatile dessert that will be delicious the night of Thanksgiving, but equally enjoyable in the days to come with a cup of coffee for breakfast or as a snack after lunch — that is, if you don’t finish it all on Thanksgiving night. Check out this recipe for apple cake to see for yourself.
With tart, sugar-doused apple topped with a buttery biscuit-like crust, this dessert is an absolute delight served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Follow this recipe to add a perfect apple cobbler to your Thanksgiving table.
Buttery apple crumble
Not to be confused with a biscuit-like apple cobbler (which is delicious in its own right), this apple crumble is not only rich, delicious and overflowing with warm oats and scrumptious cinnamon, but it is also a fun hands-on recipe to make with kids if they want to get in on the Thanksgiving prep. Check out this recipe for a buttery apple crumble.
Iced apple oatmeal cookies
With a glaze lightly flavored with cinnamon and a dense, soft center, these cookies are a delicious treat for the Thanksgiving table. They’re so good, you definitely won’t be able to eat just one. Here’s how to make iced apple oatmeal cookies.
Pumpkin spice iced pumpkin cookies
These moist cookies have a glaze that’s jam-packed with all the spicy-sweet flavors of fall. They are a perfect topper to a Thanksgiving meal and a great addition to any other autumnal activities you might enjoy. Here’s a recipe for iced pumpkin cookies.
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
Cookies might be a better fit for a small Thanksgiving. These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are a delicious way to bring a little chocolatey goodness into the classic Turkey Day palette. Here is the recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
Pecans give these cookies a delicious texture and flavor. If you master them, they will be great for Christmas, too. Here is the recipe for shortbread pecan cookies.
Pecan rocky road brownies
This tasty treat is inspired by the brownies at a cafe halfway down Aspen Mountain that author Sarah Caron always stopped at on trips with her mom for their signature brownies covered with nuts. These cakey brownies — stuffed with flavor from sweet marshmallows, meaty pecans and rich chocolate chips — are perfect for sharing amongst your immediate household, or for enjoying all on your own. Here is how to make pecan rocky road brownies.
With Thanksgiving looking a little different this year, it seems natural that the menu might change. When it comes to dessert, though, it can be comforting to have some of those familiar flavors incorporated into the sweet treats that we try to cram into our overstuffed stomachs at the end of the meal.