Fancy Dessert Recipes That Are Sure To Impress Your Guests

Buttermilk-Lime Mini Cakes with Vanilla-Mascarpone Buttercream


If you need a fancy dessert recipe for a special occasion, we’ve got you covered. Even though these dessert recipes are sure to impress your guests, we've snuck in a few shortcuts to help make serving them up a little easier. There's cakes on this list that start with boxed cake mix, ganaches that come together in the microwave, and even recipes that only require 30 minutes (or less) of hands-on time in the kitchen. With recipes this easy, you can whip up these fancy desserts for your family any day of the week.

Read on for our best fancy dessert recipes that are sure to wow any crowd. 

01 of 20

Pink Champagne Cake

pink champagne cake
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Ali Ramee; Prop Styling: Christine Kelly

Although this cake is pretty enough to serve at a special occasion, it actually starts with a boxed cake mix so it requires just 30 minutes of hands-on time to pull together.

02 of 20

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cheesecake

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake_WD0156-S
Photographer: Will Dickey Prop Stylist: Missie Crawford Food Stylist: Erin Merhar

This decadent recipe transforms the flavors of chocolate covered strawberries into a pretty cheesecake. Plus, the layer of chocolate ganache actually comes together in the microwave.

03 of 20

Peach Shortcake Trifle

Peach Shortcake Trifle
Pam Lolley; Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Layers of peaches, whipped cream, and vanilla cake come together in a trifle dish to create a beautiful centerpiece that's also delicious.

04 of 20

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava Cake

Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

These lava cakes come together from start to finish in just 35 minutes.

05 of 20

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake
Southern Living

The Hummingbird Cake is a classic layer cake that features three moist cake layers that are packed with pineapples and bananas. The layers are then covered with a cream cheese frosting and finished off with toasted pecans.

06 of 20

Raspberry-White Chocolate Meringue Sandwich Cookies

Raspberry-White Chocolate Meringue Sandwich Cookies
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Freeze-dried raspberries give homemade meringue a pretty pink hue.

07 of 20

Buttermilk-Lime Mini Cakes with Vanilla-Mascarpone Buttercream

Buttermilk-Lime Mini Cakes with Vanilla-Mascarpone Buttercream
Greg DuPree

This recipe transforms a sheet cake into miniature cakes so every guest has their own dessert.

08 of 20

Cranberry-Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream

Cranberry-Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream
Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Emily Neighbors Hall Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Citrus and sugared berries not only give this cake a beautiful finish but add plenty of flavor in the cake layers and in the icing as well.

09 of 20

Fresh Strawberry Meringue Cake

fresh strawberry meringue cake on a pink cake stand
Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle,Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

For the best meringue, make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before you add them to the mixture.

10 of 20

Bourbon Ball Tart

Bourbon Ball Tart

Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

Serving bourbon balls on top of a chocolate tart gives them an impressive presentation.

11 of 20

Chocolate-Coconut Pavlova Cake

Chocolate-Coconut Pavlova Cake

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos

Not only does this pavlova cake come together with just 9 ingredients, but it's also  dairy- and gluten-free.

12 of 20

Apple Rose Tart

Apple Rose Tart
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

This apple tart is almost too pretty to eat.

13 of 20

Devil's Food Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting and Ganache

Devil’s Food Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting and Ganache
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

You may be surprised to learn that this decadent cake comes together using just 9 ingredients, boxed cake mix being one of them.

14 of 20

Florida Orange Grove Pie

Florida Orange Grove Pie
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Ana Kelly

Baked meringue serves at the crust for this cheerful pie that was originally published in The Junior League of Tampa's cookbook in 1961.

15 of 20

Mini Confetti Cake

Mini Confetti Cakes
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Edible flowers such as violas, tuberous begonias, English daisies, or pansies instantly transform mini cakes into party-worthy desserts.

16 of 20

Transparent Pie with Whipped Crème Fraîche and Sugared Cranberries

Transparent Pie with Whipped Creme Fraiche and Sugared Cranberries

Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Sugared Cranberries and Whipped Crème Fraîche are just the embellishments transparent pie needs to give it an elegant finish.

17 of 20

Ice Cream Cake

Southern Living Ice Cream Cake decorated cake is ready to serve on a platter with a slice out on a plate

Morgan Hunt Glaze; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

No baking is required to pull together this ice cream cake, just make sure to allow plenty of time for freezing.

18 of 20

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Trust us, this homemade cheesecake is worth the extra effort.

19 of 20

Caramel Apple Cake

Caramel Apple Cake
Hector Manuel Sanchez

This cake will fool your family into thinking you spent all afternoon preparing it, when in reality you'll need just 20 minutes of hands-on time.

20 of 20

Triple Chocolate Brownie-Mousse Stacks

Triple Chocolate Brownie-Mousse Stacks
Linda Pugliese, Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas, Buffy Hargett Miller

Both the chocolate mousse and white chocolate mousse for these brownie stacks come together in the microwave. Plus, they can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.

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