Thanksgiving desserts that'll make you and guests save room for something sweet

Food bloggers, cookbook authors and more share their favorites.

November 15, 2021, 4:01 AM

We all know the tried-and-true classics of a Thanksgiving dessert table such as pumpkin, pecan and apple pies, but there are so many other options to sweeten that lineup.

Whether you're planning out simple treats to tack on at a Friendsgiving or really want to wow some guests with not just another pie, check out the recipes below for some holiday baking inspiration.

Persimmon crumble

Rebecca Du, a Los Angeles-based Chinese and Vietnamese American food blogger and founder of Cooking Therapy, admitted that she's never been a fan of pumpkin pie and shared the dessert she created to take its place on Thanksgiving.

"This persimmon crumble recipe includes fuyu persimmons seasoned with warm spices and topped with a yummy crumble," the recipe developer said. She added "it's seriously so easy to make and so delicious. You got all the same warm spices but with the yummy texture and flavor of persimmons."

Cook time: 25 mins


Persimmon filling
1 lb fuyu persimmons sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tsp corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Crumble topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients for the persimmon filling into a bowl. Mix and spoon the filling into a small baking dish. I used a small oval baking dish that is 10 inches by 7 inches. Make sure the persimmons are evenly coated in the sugars and spices.

In a separate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crumble. Mix until it comes together. Spoon the crumble on top of the persimmon filling.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crumble is golden brown.

Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve.

Pumpkin cheesecake with Biscoff cookies

Cookbook author and Orchids and Sweet Tea blogger Shanika Graham-White shared her version of a holiday classic that adds the delicate crisp and buttery, deep caramelized sugar flavor of Biscoff cookies.

Total time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8

For the crust
12-14 Biscoff cookies
3 Tbsps organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 Tbsps unsalted butter, melted + more, if needed
Pumpkin cheesecake and filling
16 ozs. organic cream cheese, softened at room temp.
1 cup organic pumpkin puree (Canned version, not pie filling!)
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
4 Tbsps organic all-purpose flour
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 organic eggs, at room temp.
3 Tbsps low-fat or full-fat sour cream
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Whipped cream, store-bought or homemade (See Notes!)
Biscoff cookies, crumbled


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 7- or 8-inch springform cheesecake pan by lightly greasing it with butter or oil spray.

Grind the Biscoff cookies until almost finely ground (it’s OK to leave a few medium chunks, if you're a lover a little crunch). Combine the cookies, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until well-incorporated.

Add the mixture into the prepared pan, and press down into the bottom with your fingers (focusing on the middle) to ensure that it’s perfectly covering the bottom and sides (like a deep well).

Bake the crust for about 5 minutes and then remove from oven and allow it to cool until you’re ready to use.

For the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together on low speed: cream cheese, sugar and flour until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed.

Next, add the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and the first egg, and beat slowly until mostly combined. Then add the remaining egg and mix until well-combined, still mixing everything on low speed. Now, add the sour cream and spices and continue mixing until combined.

Change mixer attachment to a whisk, and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or so until completely smooth and lump-free.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan until 3/4 filled. Leaving a bit of room at the top prevents the cheesecake from spilling over while baking.

Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes (until center comes out mostly clean when tested with a toothpick or knife), then turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven for another 5 minutes with the oven door halfway open to avoid cheesecake from deflating. When baking, I always prepare a medium pot with water and add it to the oven as well, to keep cheesecake temperature even and to add moisture.

Once done, remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to continue to cool for another 15-20 minutes, before putting it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Once cheesecake has fully chilled, top with whipped cream and crumbled Biscoff cookies. Slice and enjoy.

Leftover cheesecake can be stored (tightly wrapped) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best results, keep cheesecake in the freezer until the night before you’re ready to serve. Defrost by refrigerating.
If you turn this recipe into cheesecake bites, you’ll make about 2 dozen bites.
To make homemade whipped cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip the organic heavy cream (2 cups), using the whisk attachment for 4-5 minutes, until fluffy peaks begin to form. When it begins to thicken after the first 2-3 minutes, gradually add in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt.

Easiest vegan chocolate cake

For any non-dairy guests, Graham-White shared an additional dessert recipe that's moist, dense and decadent. Plus, this cake takes just 35 minutes to make.

3 cups organic all purpose flour (See notes)
1 cup organic cocoa powder (You can also use Cacao powder as well)
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsps dissolvable espresso powder
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk!)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Chocolate buttercream
4-5 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened at room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk!)


Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease with butter and line with parchment paper the bottoms of three 6-inch cake pans or two 8-inch pans.

In a bowl or measuring cup, add the milk and apple cider vinegar together, whisking until combined. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture slightly thickens.

In another bowl, add together the espresso powder and boiling water, mixing until powder fully dissolves.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt until combined.

Add in the milk-ACV mixture, melted butter, melted chocolate and espresso mixture, and mix together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly into each of the cake pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean when tested in the centers.

Remove cakes from the oven and let them rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes and placing them onto a cooling rack to fully cool. Let them cool for at least 1-2 hours in a cool place.

Simply beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency: smooth and fluffy. Add more milk (1 tbsp at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).

Place the first cake layer on your cake stand, and evenly cover the top with buttercream. Now, top with the second layer and add more buttercream atop that layer. Finally, top with final layer and top with remaining buttercream, spreading it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly and thinly.

Once fully frosted, add small little designs of the buttercream using a piping bag + tip followed by chocolate (or rainbow) sprinkles around the sides and top of cake, if desired. Chill for 5 minutes to ensure the buttercream sets.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Slice and enjoy.

Cinnamon sugar chips and sautéed apples

Blair Johnson shared from her blog, The Life of Mama Blair, a recipe that packs all the flavor of apple pie, with way less work.

"I always try not to overstuff myself so I can leave room for one of my favorites, cinnamon chips with cooked apples," she said. "It's such a simple recipe which doesn't fill me up too much, and it tastes amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream."

6 flour tortillas
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

Sautéed apples
1 large apple or 2 small red apples, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 dash cinnamon
2 tablespoons water + 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with wax paper.

Cut each tortilla into four or eight triangles. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.

Brush each side of the tortilla with melted butter and place on baking sheet.

Sprinkle sugar mixture over tortillas, flip to repeat. Bake 8 minutes or until lightly brown and crispy.

Combine diced apples and butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.

Stir until fully coated and fork tender, approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add slurry to pot and stir. Add in brown sugar and cinnamon. Taste apples and add more sugar if needed.

Put sautéed apples in a small bowl and serve with chips on the side.