20 Spiced Christmas Desserts That Taste Just Like Grandma's

Molasses Crinkles Recipe
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

There's nothing quite like Christmastime to bring us back to the smells and sounds of Grandma's kitchen. From the ring of her old-school crank timer (why buy digital when you have the original?) to the aroma of freshly baked delights wafting from her oven, nothing could keep us from Grandma's kitchen come baking season. With a crack of her cookie jar, you'd find sweets just begging you to spoil dinner. On chilly December days, our favorite finds were full of holiday flavor—treats you were lucky enough to taste before the annual holiday party or after Christmas dinner. Classic spices, like gingerbread, molasses, cinnamon, and nutmeg, filled these signature recipes with Yuletide spirit. These days, you can bring that same holiday cheer to your kitchen with the right spiced cookie, cake, trifle, or pie. Here, our best spiced desserts to bring a taste of Grandma's baking into your kitchen this holiday.

01 of 20

Butterscotch-Spice Trifle

Butterscotch-Spice Trifle
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Butterscotch-Spice Trifle

Nothing says Christmastime quite like a trifle, and this holiday showstopper layers on the spices. Making it in advance gives the flavors more time to meld. This crowd-pleaser will be the hit of any dessert buffet.

02 of 20

Spiced Pecan Pie Bars

Spiced Pecan Pie Bars
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Spiced Pecan Pie Bars

Swap out the Pecan Pie. Ground cinnamon and ginger give these portable bars a spiced twist. Turn these simple treats into a memorable dessert by topping with ice cream and caramel sauce.

03 of 20

Pumpkin Spice-Heath Cake

Pumpkin Spice-Heath Cake
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice-Heath Cake

Toffee, almond candy bars, and a spiced cream cheese frosting combine to bring new life to a box of spice cake mix. Top with candy bits. No one needs to know how easy this sheet cake is to make.

04 of 20

Pumpkin-Spice Bundt with Brown Sugar Icing and Candied Pecans

Pumpkin-Spice Bundt with Brown Sugar Icing and Candied Pecans
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Pumpkin-Spice Bundt with Brown Sugar Icing and Candied Pecans

This simple pumpkin Bundt is literally dripping with seasonal sweets. Pour the rich icing on top while still warm to ensure a smooth finish. Candied pecans take this cake over the top.

05 of 20

Old-Fashioned Shoofly Pie

Shoofly Pie
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Shoofly Pie

Molasses mingles with the richness of shortbread in this desperation pie that couldn't be easier to make. Guests will love this simple pie that's reminiscent of a trip to Grandma's. Top with whipped cream for serving.

06 of 20

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Who says pumpkin spice recipes are only for autumn? This recipe's similarities to a classic snickerdoodle will surprise you, but its pumpkin flavor makes it a standout.

07 of 20

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Antonis Achilleos

Recipe: Cinnamon Coffee Cake

A slice of this cinnamon-filled cake is fitting for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, and any time in between. Keep this on hand during the holidays when you're sure to have guests popping by.

08 of 20

Classic Gingerbread

Brown Sugar-and-Ginger Whipped Cream
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Classic Gingerbread

An upgrade from your classic cookies, this old-fashioned gingerbread cake is tender and rich. Gingerbread became popular for home bakers when affordable ingredients couldn't be found. Substitute pumpkin pie spice if you don't have the other spices on hand.

09 of 20

Chocolate-Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookies

Chocolate-Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookies
Joy Howard

Recipe: Chocolate-Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookies

Chocolate and gingerbread make a merry combination. Gather the kids before you decorate these spice cookies. Frosting together is half the fun.

10 of 20

Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies

Chocolate-Gingerbread-Toffee Cake
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell

Recipe: Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies

Whether you're using them to top your holiday white cake or taking them to your next cookie swap, these Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies give you the option to think beyond the gingerbread man. Use the recipe for more than snowflakes with fun cookie cutouts like a reindeer or car.

11 of 20

Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream

Gingerbread Latte Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream

Creamy and slightly boozy, this seasonal spice cake offers a whole new way for Christmas guests to enjoy their eggnog. Dust with nutmeg as you would a traditional mug.

12 of 20

Chocolate-Cinnamon Latte Cake

Chocolate-Cinnamon Latte Cake

Recipe: Chocolate-Cinnamon Latte Cake

Warm up your kitchen with this slow cooker dessert. Serve alongside a post-dinner cup of coffee and a generous helping of ice cream. This sweet combination takes the cake.

13 of 20

Molasses Crinkles

Molasses Crinkles Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Molasses Crinkles

Loaded with Christmas spices, like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, you couldn't fit more holiday spirit into these cookies if you tried. Add these to your cookie swap or dessert tray rotation.

14 of 20

Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon Pudding
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon puree is mixed with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a touch of orange in this dessert that warms and wows. Top with Cinnamon Whipped Cream for even more indulgence. Serve with persimmon slices.

15 of 20

Spiced Pear Hand Pies

Spiced Pear Hand Pies
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Spiced Pear Hand Pies

These little pockets are filled with pear that's perfectly spiced with anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. They're perfect to have on hand for gifting or when you need to impress holiday guests.

16 of 20

Pumpkin Dump Cake

Pumpkin Dump Cake
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Pumpkin Dump Cake

Dump cakes do not get any easier. Like their name says, they're built by dumping ingredients into a pan. This easy recipe relies on canned pumpkin mixed with brown sugar and spices for a delightful result. Boxed cake mix has never tasted better.

17 of 20

Apple Butter Cobbler with Drop Biscuits

Apple Butter Cobbler with Drop Biscuits
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Apple Butter Cobbler with Drop Biscuits

Apples are the star of the show in this unexpected favorite that will transport you right back to Grandma's kitchen. Loaded with apple flavor, two varieties of apples mix with spiced apple butter for a winning combination. Easy drop biscuits make a satisfying topping.

18 of 20

Southern Sweet Potato Cake

Southern Sweet Potato Cake
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck; Food Styling: Erin Merhar

Recipe: Southern Sweet Potato Cake

Use fresh or canned sweet potato in this scrumptious cake. Spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, the cake's sweet Caramel Frosting offers the perfect balance. This cake is ideal for a holiday gathering or a weeknight finale.

19 of 20

Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling

Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling
Linda Pugliese, Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas, Buffy Hargett Miller

Recipe: Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling

Proudly display this beautiful cake on your holiday table. Layers of spice cake and sweet cranberry filling will quickly become your new favorite. When you think this cake couldn't get any better, it's finished with an Apple Cider Frosting.

20 of 20

Spiced Caramel-Apple Bread Pudding

Spiced Caramel-Apple Bread Pudding
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

Recipe: Spiced Caramel-Apple Bread Pudding

This is the dessert you want during the cold holiday season. Easy to throw together, this recipe relies on warming spices and apple cider. It tastes like comfort.

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