The Spirit of the Holidays

31 holiday dessert recipes from cookies and cakes to candy and pies.
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31 Days Of Holiday Treats & Desserts That'll Make You Say Figgy Who?

From homemade candy for gifts to cookies and cakes to enjoy with family, there is a treat for every holiday moment here.

The Spirit Of The Holidays

I love the holidays. It’s not the season to be stressed or overwhelmed — it’s the season of spending an entire Sunday afternoon in the glow of twinkly lights, making a sticky gingerbread cake or decorating sugar cookies or rolling peppermint truffles. It’s the season of holiday desserts. Of candies and cakes and pies, of cookies and puddings and jelly donuts. Bite-sized desserts, desserts that take up an entire 13x9 pan, desserts that require special cookie presses to make — they are all here, in this list of 31 holiday desserts to inspire you.

Literally, one of the most famous Christmas carols in the world has a line that says, “Now bring us some figgy pudding,” followed by a verse that includes the line, “We won’t go until we get some.” Like, maybe we should all just lean into that this holiday season? Forget about worrying over gifts and the perfect mantle decorations — put all your energy into the best holiday desserts so nobody threatens to move into your house unless they’re given a treat. Feeding people is pretty much my favorite thing, and with all of the gathering that happens at the holidays, it just makes sense to have a giant list of every kind of holiday dessert imaginable in your repertoire. For the grandparents who show up on Christmas morning with gifts to the out-of-town cousins who are only home for one night, pick your favorite, roll up your sleeves, and enjoy making one of these holiday desserts.


Buche de Noél

Perhaps the most classic of Christmas desserts is the Bûche de Noél, often called a yule log. The significance of this French dessert is meant to represent the dense logs that were once put on fires to represent the old year going out and a new year beginning. It’s the perfect holiday dessert, and is honestly a showstopper. (And super decadent, so take small slices.) This gorgeous version of a Bûche de Noél featured on Yummly is, I’m not going to lie, pretty time-intensive. But all yule logs are, and this one has pretty great, concise directions to make sure you get the exact look you want. (The ingredients also include instant coffee granules, which is a classic choice a lot of yule log recipes don’t include.)


Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

OK, I’m the only one in my family who likes peppermint flavors, which means I make a giant batch of these chewy double chocolate peppermint cookies from The Minimalist Baker at least twice in December and I just eat my way straight through the whole batch. They are perfect literally every time I make them, and if you need to get out some holiday stress, might I suggest crushing the candy canes? These are also really pretty cookies, so they’re great for a dessert board or holiday party or even as a gift for a teacher or neighbor!


Peppermint Truffles

Remember what I literally just said about peppermint? OK, adding these peppermint truffles featured on Yummly to my holiday dessert rotation. The inside texture is a lot like a York Peppermint Patty, and they feel super cool with the perfect bite of peppermint inside all of that fabulous chocolate. Again, super pretty for a dessert board or a gift!


Sticky Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread cookies are out and this sticky gingerbread cake featured on Yummly is in. (Don’t quote me on that, actually — there is room for all gingerbread confections.) Major bonus: it’s egg-free, if that’s something you and your family need! But also, even if you can handle eggs, the addition of prunes and prune purée (stay with me) is incredibly dense and rich for this cake. Seriously, just try it. It’s also the perfect snacking cake for any holiday gathering.


Chocolate Pecan Pie

OK, let’s talk pecan pie. So this is a holiday classic. Thanksgiving and Christmas both enjoy a good old pecan pie made with straight-up corn syrup in the middle of the table, but let me have you break tradition a bit with this chocolate pecan pie from My Baking Addiction. I cannot even begin to tell you how much my family loves this. My sister actually requests I make two so there are enough leftovers to take home. (Eaten cold for breakfast in the morning is peak post-holiday meal planning, you guys.) It could not be easier to make, either. Go for a pre-made pie crust, and save your energy for homemade whipped cream to top it. Trust me.


Traditional Christmas Pudding

My mother is English, which means that, for a lot of my Christmases, she had a family member either come to visit with a Tesco’s Christmas pudding wrapped up in their luggage, or she had my Granny pay a lot of money to ship one to the States. But this year, I wouldn’t mind trying to make one together, and this traditional Christmas pudding recipe featured on Yummly looks pretty fantastic. A Christmas pudding isn’t exactly an easy treat — there are seriously 22 ingredients in this recipe — but it’s a gorgeous holiday dessert and is made with a whole lot of love.


White Chocolate Ginger Thumbprint Cookies

Like I said, there is always room for more ginger treats, and I am obsessed with these white chocolate ginger thumbprint cookies from A Pretty Life in the Suburbs. The origin and history of thumbprint cookies can differ depending on who you speak with (most people agree they originated in Sweden though), but they have, somehow, become totally associated with Christmas. While a shortbread cookie with jam is the traditional thumbprint cookie recipe, these ginger thumbprint cookies give a great seasonal flavor with a big ol’ thumbprint of white chocolate right in the center. They are soft and crinkly, and the white chocolate is literally just white chocolate chips melted down and poured into the little cookie well with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bliss.


Eggnog Cheesecake

I do enjoy a nice cold glass of eggnog, but sometimes it’s just a little too much to drink, you know? But all the flavors of eggnog are available in this eggnog cheesecake recipe featured on Yummly. The cheesecake and topping are made with real eggnog (store-bought, which is even better!), but one of the best parts of this recipe is the gingersnap crust. I mean, how perfect of a holiday dessert is that?


German Dresden Christmas Stollen

For a super traditional holiday dessert, try making this German Dresden Christmas Stollen featured on Yummly. Like a fruitcake (but better, in my opinion), it’s a yeasty Christmas bread full of all kinds of spices and fruits, but covered in melted butter and coated in confectioner’s sugar on its way out of the oven. It looks gorgeous, and its origins are (obviously) German, dating back to the 14th century. Apparently, they used to be baked and given to church dignitaries and princes, but they were also sold at fairs and markets. Bring back some of that old-world Christmas charm and make a few as gifts for neighbors and friends.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Alright, I know you’ve heard of buckeyes and how they are given away as Christmas treats, but let’s try this chocolate peanut butter balls recipe from Averie Cooks instead because, ahem, she uses crunchy peanut butter. That small variation makes for a great texture in these delicious little holiday treats, and again, they are going to look so cute in a tin as a gift for a neighbor or friend or teacher — literally anyone.


Biscoff Pie

Biscoff cookies can be eaten at any time, but there’s something that feels a little holiday-ish about them (maybe it’s from eating them on airplanes?) and they make for an incredible pie crust in this Biscoff pie recipe from Gimme Some Oven. The actual pie filling is also made with Biscoff spread, so you get all of that sweet, caramelized cookie taste in every bite.


Soft Gingerbread Cookies With Maple Glaze

OK, full disclosure: I have made these 800 times. Like, truly, I’ve lost count. And these are the cookies that every family member and friend texts me about after eating one and asks, “OK, what’s that recipe?” Now it’s your turn to try these soft gingerbread cookies with maple glaze featured on Yummly. They are somehow soft and chewy and also crinkly, all at the same time, and the glaze is an absolute cinch to whip up. You make the dough and roll them into perfect balls, and then roll those balls in sugar before popping them in the oven. Feel free to grab the Christmas sprinkles to make the little holly decorations, too. These look so beautiful as a holiday dessert!


Salted Caramel Linzer Cookies

Linzer cookies have been an Austrian holiday tradition forever, but I’m obsessed with this new take of salted caramel Linzer cookies from A Cozy Kitchen. They are clearly beautiful to look at and have on a dessert table, but that flavor. The cookie itself is still a traditional shortbread, but the filling on the inside is a rich caramel that just really brings it all together. And the dusting of the powdered sugar? Go for it. Don’t hold back! These types of cookies do require some forethought though, so be warned: you’ll need to roll the dough, let it sit at room temp, freeze it, cut it, etc. Plan ahead. (This might not be a “Hey, kids, let’s make some cookies together!” kind of recipe.)


Peppermint Meltaway Cookies

I feel like maybe I’ve mentioned how much I love peppermint flavors, so let’s please go on and on forever about these peppermint meltaway cookies featured on Yummly. When the recipe calls them “meltaway” cookies, please know that is an incredibly accurate description. These are like the sugar cookies you get at the grocery store that feel just like a pillow of sweetness, but with a crisp peppermint flavor thanks to the peppermint extract and the crushed candy canes on top. For kids who don’t like the crushed-up candy cane bits on top, feel free to just go with the frosting.


4-Ingredient Cinnamon Twist Wreath

How delightful are these? I know so many people, including myself, who have made cinnamon rolls a Christmas morning breakfast tradition, but I’m really excited to try this four-ingredient cinnamon twist wreath recipe from The Comfort of Cooking. It’s perfect for an early morning dessert board, or for those who like sweetness, but not too much. And the best part? It’s literally pizza dough. Like pre-made! And with a little work, you can turn it into the perfect, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon braid.


Creamy Frosted Cranberry Dessert

Whether you serve cranberry sauce with dinner or string cranberries up on your Christmas tree, everyone has a connection to cranberries during the holidays. While I’m not a huge fan of them in bread or anything super dense and heavy, I love the idea of this creamy frosted cranberry dessert recipe featured on Yummly. With just six ingredients (and they are easy ingredients like condensed milk and crushed pineapple), you can have this sweet, tart, gorgeous holiday dessert ready in no time. It’s also nice and cold, and even the pickiest kids will want to give it a try.


Gingerbread Surprise Beignets With Spiced Mocha Hot Chocolate

OK, can we do one more gingerbread recipe, please? Because Half-Baked Harvest has a recipe for gingerbread surprise beignets with spiced mocha hot chocolate and I am literally screaming. Now, listen, these do require some work. There is some rising happening for the homemade beignets, but I feel like it’ll be worth it. With molasses, nutmeg, cloves, and tons of other spices found in gingerbread, these beignets are going to taste exactly like a Christmas morning. Serve them alongside the spiced mocha hot chocolate, which is also made from scratch with cocoa powder, instant coffee, and heavy cream or coconut milk.


English Christmas Trifle

Don’t be a Rachel Green and slip any peas or beef into this trifle! My English mother makes one of these every year, and while she’s tried new variations and flavors to “change things up” (but never beef or peas, I feel like I have to reiterate), the classic English Christmas trifle recipe featured on Yummly just can’t be beat. Layers of custard, fruit, and whipped cream make this a gorgeous dish, but also just sweet and decadent enough to satisfy all of the sweet teeth in your family.



It’s not the holidays without some kind of jelly treat, and to celebrate Hanukkah, these perfect little donuts are the ultimate choice. This recipe for Sufganiyot featured on Yummly may feel a little intimidating, but there are lots of tips and tricks to make this traditional dessert, and it will be totally worth it. The history behind Sufganiyot is also fascinating, and the recipe includes little bits of the story of these donuts and the miracle of Hanukkah.


French Silk Pie

For several holiday seasons, my Granny Jo’s holiday menu was not complete without at least two chocolate cream pies. And I say there was at least two, because she always had to make one just for me. I could literally eat my weight in chocolate cream pie, and I’m super excited this holiday season to try my own hand at this French silk pie recipe featured on Yummly. With just nine ingredients and a pre-made pie shell (seriously perfect), this holiday dessert is super easy to pull together and the recipe does not skimp on chocolate. There is semisweet chocolate in the actual filling, as well as chocolate shavings on top for all the chocoholics at your holiday table.


Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake

Talk about a showstopper of a holiday dessert. This Pandoro Christmas tree cake recipe from Yummly is a star-shaped cake with Italian origins that has sweet ricotta filling and pomegranate seeds to decorate. The easy part? You buy the actual Pandoro cake pre-made (World Market sells them!) and then it’s just a matter of following the directions to make the filling and decorate. Bada bing, bada boom.


World’s Best Fruitcake

Alright, it’s just not the holidays without a fruitcake, and A Beautiful Plate promises that this is the world’s best fruitcake recipe for those of you who are a little “meh” about a dessert that looks like it originated with Ebenezer Scrooge. (It’s actually older than that, and has been around since Roman times.) It’s another time-consuming one, but I think it could be totally worth it with all of the figs, cherries, and rum.


Orange Zested Cranberry White Chocolate Bliss Bars

Nothing sounds more like the holidays than orange and cranberry smashed together, so I’m obsessed with these orange zested cranberry white chocolate bliss bars from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. This recipe is kind of a knockoff of the infamous Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars, so if you’re a fan of those, definitely give these a whirl. These also require a little bit of work, what with all the zesting and mixing, so be sure to check your ingredients list and make sure you have everything you need.


White Christmas Pie

Kelli's Kitchen/Yummly

I can honestly say I’ve never heard of a white Christmas pie, but now I’m ready to try one with this white Christmas pie featured on Yummly. Look how crisp and white it is! Apparently this recipe came from a 1950s cookbook, so fair warning: it looks a little complicated, what with gelatin and egg whites being part of the ingredient list. It’s basically like vanilla pudding mixed with whipped cream mixed with meringue and topped with coconut. And I’m absolutely going to make one.


Sugar Cookies

I’m sorry, but it’s just not the holidays until you try this easy sugar cookies recipe from Cookies and Cups. I can vouch for this recipe myself — it’s flawless. And the cookies themselves cut out of the dough very well and bake like a dream. Unlike a lot of sugar cookie recipes, this one doesn’t require a whole lot of in-the-fridge and in-the-freezer action unless you’re splitting the dough up to save. Bonus: the recipe includes a royal icing recipe, but like me, the baker suggests using buttercream because honestly, why not?


Chocolate Chestnut Torte

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire sounds pretty perfect for the holidays, but also complicated. Enter this chocolate chestnut torte recipe featured on Yummly. I’ve never baked with chestnuts before, but it sounds pretty simple in the directions, and includes steeping whole, peeled chestnuts in warm milk and then chopping them up. The recipe suggests serving the “delicate” cake with a glass of moscato.


Last-Minute Christmas Candy

Is it even the holidays if someone doesn’t give you a Christmas tin full of Christmas candy? This last-minute Christmas candy recipe featured on Yummly is an absolute classic, and it’s so easy to whip up for a holiday party or just to serve while everyone’s opening gifts and hanging out. If you’ve never had it before, it’s literally saltines covered in melted brown sugar and butter with chocolate, and it becomes this perfect crunchy, chewy, salty, and sweet treat. So delightful.


Better Chocolate Babka

Hanukkah has some of the best holiday desserts, and I’m 100% obsessed with this better chocolate babka recipe featured on Yummly. Making this one is definitely a process, but honestly, I feel like more holiday baking and cooking should be a day-long affair. Feels like a real part of the holidays to block off a whole chunk of the day to make something delicious. Be sure to check the ingredients list thoroughly to make sure you have it all, but I’ll give you a hint — this chocolate babka includes orange zest. Yes. Please.


Rum Balls

Another Christmas treat given as a gift is the classic rum ball. And this rum balls recipe from My Baking Addiction means your gifts are going to look gorgeous, too. Rum balls are always great to have on a board with some truffles and other bite-sized desserts, but this recipe especially is fun because of all the different things the rum balls are rolled in. Powdered sugar, sprinkles, cocoa powder, coconut — the options are endless. And this recipe makes about 20 large rum balls, so you’ve got plenty of ways to experiment.


Classic Spritz Cookies

Spritz cookies are a holiday classic from Scandinavia and Germany, and are given the name because of the German word spritzen, which means “to squirt,” like how these cookies are squeezed through a cookie press. But you can try making your own classic spritz cookies with this recipe featured on Yummly. They’re pretty easy to make and are like a combination of a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie. Order your press now!


Oreo Truffles

OK, and it’s not officially the holidays for my husband until I whip him up some Oreo truffles from Brown Eyed Baker. Have you ever had these? They are so easy to make (literally four ingredients), but when out on a plate at a holiday party or given as a gift, people go nuts over them. They’re super sweet and soft, and they are actually super fun to try making with your kids. (I know. But trust me.)