Just as turkey is the main dish and mashed potatoes are a staple side, there is one dessert synonymous with Thanksgiving — pie. Whether you’re a pumpkin pie stan or a
pecan pie devotee, you can always get your fix on the fourth Thursday of November each year. But there are those among us curious about fall desserts for Thanksgiving that aren’t pie (gasp). While classic pies will always have an undisputed place in the spread, there are countless other incredible recipes — cakes, cookies, tarts, and more — that might be worth a try this year.
Thanksgiving desserts don’t
need a remix. Pies are delightful and delicious and often made from recipes our families have been serving for years. Just don’t box yourself into Pie Land too tightly. There are so many other seasonal flavors, like pear, chai, and cinnamon, that lend themselves well to other desserts. And if the oven is full of other foods, being able to throw an apple crisp together in the slow cooker is just really handy. It’s nice to have some alternate dessert options for the folks who aren’t big pie people, especially if there will be kids in attendance.
Ultimately, the best reason to serve a new dessert at Thanksgiving is because more is more when it comes to sweets. All of these recipes will hold their own, even if they can never replace your favorite pecan pie.
1 Pumpkin Cake Roll
Cake rolls are a classic holiday dessert too, though they’re usually chocolate and dressed up as yule logs to be served in December.
This pumpkin version is a dense, moist cake full of cream cheese frosting and dusted with powdered sugar. 2 Cinnamon Pear Dumplings
If you walk into Thanksgiving with these, everyone will gather — they’re utterly adorable.
These dumplings are kind of like little self-contained pies loaded with pears and cinnamon. If they’re as delicious as they look, you might be asked to make them again next year. 3 Pumpkin Pie Mousse
pumpkin mousse cups look so elegant, and mousse is a lighter option if your family is usually too full to stuff down a dense slice of pie. This recipe only calls for six ingredients, minimal effort on your part, and a few hours to chill in the fridge. 4 Thanksgiving Pumpkin Trifle
Mousse but for the table — a pumpkin trifle is pretty to look at and perfect to serve family- or buffet-style.
This one has layers of pumpkin mousse, Biscoff cookies and toffee crunch, and whipped cream. Pass it down! 5 Slow Cooker Apple Pear Crisp
Apple crisp never disappoints — it’s sweet and cinnamon-y, with soft apple bites and crunchy bits. Best of all, it is absolutely divine with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on top.
This recipe comes together in the slow cooker instead of in the oven, like most desserts, because we all know it’ll probably be full of turkey and sides anyway. 6 Bourbon Pecan Blondies
If your relatives take no other leftovers home, they’re going to want a few of these to go, please and thanks. And how could they not? These buttery, brown-sugary,
bourbon-y squares with crunchy pecans on top are going to be a new family favorite. 7 Caramel Macchiato Tiramisu Parfaits
Tiramisu, parfaits, and caramel macchiatos are all good on their own,
but combined? Oh my. This dessert sounds complex but only requires eight ingredients and about 20 minutes to put together. 8 Classic Apple Tart
Tarts are technically not pies, but they’re pie-adjacent if you know your family will expect something akin to apple pie after dinner. And this apple tart is a real stunner if you want to bring the most Instagram-able dessert to Thanksgiving dinner.
9 Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes
Thanksgiving dessert just got cuter. These
pumpkin chai cupcakes sound so good — they’re flavored with real chai tea, brown sugar, and pumpkin puree — and topped with fondant pumpkins and homemade frosting. You could totally skip the pumpkin toppers if you’re not optimistic about how yours will turn out, or find something similar premade. 10 Thanksgiving Two-Fer Bars These bars are neither pumpkin pie nor pecan pie; they’re both, and all the tastier for it. They mix the flavors and textures of both classic pies together in a bar form that’s easy to pick up and dunk in an after-dinner cup of coffee. 11 Poached Pear Tarts
Apples aren’t the only autumnal fruit, you know.
Pear tarts are a gorgeous way to feature these seasonal fruits front and center. They take about 30 minutes to prep and a little over an hour to cook. 12 Cinnamon Apple Butter Cheesecake
With a name like that,
this cheesecake is bound to be good. Baked By Rachel’s recipe yields one apple butter cheesecake flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, held together on the bottom by a graham cracker crust, and topped with little dollops of fresh whipped cream. 13 Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies
Want to make cookies with the kids, or for them to eat after dinner?
These turkey cookies are too cute and would be fun to put together as a family. The recipe just calls for slice-and-bake sugar cookies for the easiest possible baking experience, or you could replicate the design on any kind of cookie you prefer. 14 Pumpkin Tres Leches Cake
If you’ve never had a tres leches cake, you’re missing out. Share the wealth with your family at Thanksgiving with
A Cozy Kitchen’s pumpkin tres leches. The tips in her post will help you nail the perfect texture if it’s your first time. 15 Easy Apple Cobbler
There’s so much food to make on Thanksgiving, and part of the appeal of pies is that many are pretty easy to throw together. This
apple cobbler is simple to make — the longest step is just slicing up all the apples — and it bakes in 45 minutes or less. 16 Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake With Salted Caramel Topping
Say no more. This cheesecake looks absolutely heavenly, and
Jessica in the Kitchen’s recipe is written so that it won’t melt (which she writes is a common problem for vegan versions of the dessert). The pecan-and-date crust sounds like the perfect crunchy complement to the pumpkin cheesecake on top. 17 Pumpkin Whoopie Pies These homemade whoopie pies are a bit more of an undertaking, but if you enjoy baking, you’ll love the process of putting these little cookie sandwiches together. They’re made with chocolate cookies and fresh cream cheese filling, so while they look like pumpkins, they’re more kid-friendly in flavor. 18 Pumpkin Crunch Pumpkin crunch is a super dense, rich cake (kind of like if cake and pie made a delicious little dessert baby) loaded with pecans for a special crunch-factor. It’s got all the flavors you want in a Thanksgiving dessert, down to the whipped topping, but in a new format. 19 Turkey Cake
If you need a real showstopper,
here you go. You can probably pull off a turkey cake better than you think, and even if it comes out a little wonky, maybe your cake will give everyone a new, hilarious holiday memory to talk about for years to come.
Your relatives may be stunned to see a non-pie on the dessert table, but who knows — with one of these recipes, you might just sway them to the dark side this year.