Thinking outside the box this Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving seems to follow the same dull dessert theme of pies. If you’re all pied out this year, check out this selection of fresh and festive desserts.

By Erin Fell

Growing up as a picky eater, the selection of only pies at Thanksgiving never appealed to me. As dessert fanatics here at Baked, we feel there needs to be a more diverse selection of desserts for America’s unofficial day of eating. 

To make diversifying your Thanksgiving feast a bit easier for you, we’ve handpicked below a list of fresh, yet festive, Thanksgiving dessert recipes, including bars, cakes, pastries, puddings, cookies, and more. 

Butternut Squash Bread

We love a classic banana or pumpkin bread for a Thanksgiving spread, but we were especially impressed by this unique Butternut Squash Bread recipe from Ahead of Thyme.

What you’ll need:

  • Butternut squash puree – feel free to use store-bought canned puree or homemade
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Pumpkin spice blend (or ground cinnamon if preferred)
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil
  • Buttermilk (or  full-fat milk)
  • Icing (made with confectioners’ sugar, pumpkin spice blend (or cinnamon), and a liquid such as maple syrup, orange or lemon juice, or water


  1. Combine dry ingredients. (sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin spice together)
  1. Combine wet ingredients. (Whisk the eggs and slowly add sugar until the mixture turns a light yellow color. Add vanilla extract, oil, buttermilk, and butternut squash puree and mix until combined)
  2. Add dry to wet. (Slowly add in the dry ingredients while continuously mixing the batter, until just combined and no dry ingredients are visible)
  3. Bake. Lightly grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan. (350F preheated oven for 60-70 minutes)
  4. Cool. (allow the loaf to cool down completely before removing it from the pan

Slow Cooked Ginger Pears

This recipe might take a little longer than most, hence the “slow cook” in the name, but we promise the wait is worth it. Taste of Home gives us this minimal ingredient sweet pear dessert, perfect for guests who maybe filled up on too much turkey and could use something lighter.

What You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • 1-½ TSP lemon zest
  • 6 medium pears
  • 2 TBSP of cubed butter


  1. Combine the ginger, brown sugar, pecans and lemon zest
  2. Using a melon baller or long-handled spoon, core pears to within 1/4 inches of bottom. 
  3. Spoon ginger mixture into the center of each pear
  4. Place pears upright in a 5 quart slow cooker, then top each with butter
  5. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until tender. Serve with ice cream and caramel topping if desired.

No-Cook Pumpkin Spice Tiramisu

Baking on Thanksgiving can be a little unrealistic given how busy the day already is. Thankfully, this Pure Wow recipe is a great no-bake option for our fellow pumpkin lovers. And what’s more Autumn than tiramisu combined with pumpkin?

What You’ll Need:


  • 2 cups freshly brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cups mascarpone
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Splash of vanilla extract


  • About 36 ladyfingers (12 ounces/320g)
  • Cocoa powder, as needed for dusting


1. Ready a 9-by-13-inch baking dish

2. COFFEE SOAK: In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee, sugar, bourbon (if using) and vanilla extract, then let sit

3. PUMPKIN MASCARPONE: In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Whisk in the mascarpone until fully combined.

4. Combine heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and whip to stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Add half of the whipped cream to the pumpkin mascarpone mixture and gently fold to combine. Reserve the remaining whipped cream.

5. ASSEMBLY: One at a time, dip a ladyfinger into the coffee mixture for 10 to 15 seconds. configure dipped ladyfingers in a single layer in the baking dish until bottom is covered.

6. Spread half of the pumpkin mascarpone into the baking dish, smoothing out the top and coaxing it all the way to the edge of the dish.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6. Top with the reserved whipped cream, using a spatula to smooth. Dust the tiramisu with cocoa powder. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 6 hours before serving.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everybody has their chocolate cravings, even at Thanksgiving. If your dinner attendees are looking for an Autumn twist on a classic dessert, they’re bound to love I heart Naptime’s chocolate chip cookies with a fall flair.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon milk 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (extra teaspoon for extra spice)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips plus more for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Mix together pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla and egg until smooth. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in milk and stir into the wet ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until flour is almost all combined. Fold in chocolate chips until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. With a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, drop cookies roughly 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Add a few extra chocolate chips to the tops, if desired. Bake 10-13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the bottoms are lightly brown. Check 1 and bake 1 to 2 more minutes if the center is not quite done. 
  5. Let cool at least 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Apple Tart with Soft Pretzel Crust

What’s a fall dessert spread without some sort of cobbler, tart, or crisp? This decadent dessert is a perfect balance of sweet and savory, a great alternative to pie, but much more fun.

What You’ll Need:

  • PRETZEL TART: 3½ cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • LYE SOLUTION: ¼ ounce food-grade lye
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ASSEMBLY: 2 apples, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • Pearl sugar, for finishing


1. MAKE THE DOUGH: In the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, water and butter on low speed for 3 minutes. Raise speed to medium and mix for another 4 minutes

2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it’s doubled in size.

3. MAKE THE LYE SOLUTION: Pour the lye, without touching it directly, into a medium metal bowl. Pour the boiling water over the lye and stir with a metal spoon until the lye is fully dissolved. Mix in the cold water, and set aside.

4. ASSEMBLE THE TART: When the dough has risen, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle about a foot wide. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and cover and let rise for 20 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush the dough all over with the lye solution 4 times.

6. Fan the slices out evenly over the dough and then overlap the fanned sections as needed to fit all the apples on top, but leaving 1-inch of excess dough all the way around the dough.

7. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the apples, and sprinkle the sugar evenly over them. Sprinkle the pearl sugar around the exposed outer pretzel edge of the dough.

8. Transfer to the oven and bake until the pretzel is deeply golden brown and the apples are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

Thanksgiving desserts can be often overlooked or neglected from the spotlight being on dinner, which we are doing our best efforts to fix, and in style. We hope these desserts will keep your guests grabbing thirds!

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