70 Top-Rated Dessert Recipes to Tempt You All Year Long
In our opinion, no meal is complete without dessert, and this luscious collection of dessert recipes is so delicious you'll definitely be tempted to eat your desserts first. Whether you’re in the mood for our classic Hummingbird Cake, easy Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, or something new like our Cheerwine Cherry Cupcakes, our collection of dessert recipes has a sweet treat for any occasion. Our best desserts have solutions for hurried hostesses, like our easy Cakey Strawberry Cobbler, which only requires 10 minutes of hands-on time. But we also have dessert recipes for impressing your next dinner party guests like layer cakes, pound cakes, pies, and tarts. And don’t worry, whether you’re craving homemade ice cream or fixing a fruit pie, we have you covered. Now, you've just got to make sure to leave enough room for dessert!
Recipe: Hummingbird Cake
If you love Southern Living, you’ll know how proud we are of our Hummingbird Cake. We celebrate it every chance we get. It’s not just pretty. It’s not just tasty. It’s a wonder. Thanks to Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina, this pineapple-banana spice cake with cream cheese frosting became one of our most requested recipes. Decades after it graced the pages of our magazine, we still stand by Mrs. Wiggins' original, indulgent creation. It is just as delicious, relevant, and crowd-pleasing today as it was when Mrs. L.H. Wiggins first whipped it up. Try this one. Thank us later.
Strawberry-Lemonade Layer Cake
Recipe: Strawberry-Lemonade Layer Cake
Is there anything more refreshing than strawberry lemonade on a sweltering summer afternoon? We’ve translated that same burst of flavor you get from a glass into this fruity layer cake. You can assemble this recipe for Strawberry-Lemonade Layer Cake up to two days ahead of time, minimizing prep time—which we love. Be sure to store at room temperature. Also, you can freeze cooled layers up to a month in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, ensuring that you are always ready to assemble a layer cake for impromptu parties and get-togethers anytime during the day or night. Just open the freezer—it’s your first step to a creamy strawberry-lemonade treat.
Mississippi Mud Cake
Recipe: Mississippi Mud Cake
Imagine the richest, darkest, most indulgent chocolate dessert you’ve ever eaten. Now add some marshmallows, and you've got this decadent yet simple-to-bake cake. Mississippi is known for many things, but a Mississippi Mud Cake is one of the tastiest things we can trace back to the great state of Mississippi. Just saccharine enough, this harmony of chocolate isn’t anywhere near mud, but the combination of ingredients gives you a sense that we’ve included everything but the kitchen sink. Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe this creation, but it approaches adequately describing the indulgence you’ll feel biting into this chocolate, pecan, marshmallow combination. Make it quick, or try the cupcake version.
Cakey Strawberry Cobbler
Recipe: Cakey Strawberry Cobbler
Fresh strawberries and cake-like filling bake together to create this delicious batter cobbler. You can substitute sliced stone fruit, like peaches, for the strawberries if you prefer, but we love the taste of strawberries and a dash of lemon zest in this cobbler. You can easily refrigerate the leftovers, but don't expect to have any!
Chewy Peanut Bars
Recipe: Chewy Peanut Bars
Bite-sized and nutty, these bars are great for tucking into lunch boxes or for sweet and indulgent after-dinner treats. This recipe also has a surprising origin. We weren't exactly excited to test our old microwave column recipes again, but these chocolate-peanut blondies truly surprised us. We whipped them up and had to immediately make another batch. They’re easy, the perfect combination of homemade and crowd-pleasing. If you want even more peanut delight in your life—and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want as much peanut delight in their lives as possible?—try our quick and easy peanut butter cookies, too.
Mini Strawberry Chiffon Pies Recipe
Recipe: Mini Strawberry Chiffon Pies
These strawberry pies are berry-licious and stuffed full of flavor. You may think that piled-high and mini are two mutually exclusive terms, but once you take a look—and a bite—of these substantial-but-teeny strawberry pies, you’ll immediately understand that both descriptions are truly accurate.
Classic Chocolate Pound Cake
Recipe: Classic Chocolate Pound Cake
This moist, classic chocolate cake is dusted with powdered sugar to create a slice chocolate lovers will dream of for days. Plus, with just 30 minutes needed, this traditional cake is a great recipe for experienced and novice bakers alike. Delicious with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of warm chocolate or caramel sauce, or a dollop of whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries, we love the presentation possibilities that come with this chocolate pound cake.
Recipe: Pecan-Peach Cobbler
The lattice on top of this cobbler—with cute, zig-zag edes—is really a showstopper. It’s the perfect pairing for the tasty cobbler inside—which is just as winning. Here, we showcase two of the South’s most beloved products—peaches and pecans—in this old-fashioned peach cobbler recipe. Georgia grandmothers everywhere know that peaches and pecans aren’t just great on their own, they also pair together seamlessly. They create a combination of nutty and sweet flavors that we can’t get enough of—especially in a warm cobbler with a gorgeous, crisp and flaky lattice top. If you’re going to try a new recipe for a peach dish this season, make it this one.
Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Recipe: Cream Cheese Pound Cake
You can’t go wrong with a cake so beloved. Look no further for the perfect pound cake recipe. This traditional cake is extra-rich. It’s also sturdy and substantial because of the cream cheese, and it is always, always in style. Fourth of July? Perfect. Thanksgiving? Ideal. Christmas? Nothing better. Half-birthdays? Yes. We’ve even been known to dream up holidays on random Wednesday afternoons just to get in the kitchen to make this beauty. Garnish this versatile cake with seasonal fruits and you’ll ensure that it’s appropriate year-round. Get creative: The decorating opportunities—with berries, stone fruits, and glazes—are truly endless.
Red Velvet Brownies
Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies
This scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth treat combines two things almost everyone loves: red velvet and brownies. If you want to elevate your bake sale game, try this recipe. Our red velvet brownies are a bite-size version of the classic cake. Top them with a decadent cream cheese frosting for the ultimate dessert. It is just special enough—a few degrees beyond a traditional chocolate brownie—and it can be dressed up so easily with a beautiful topping of frosting, icing, cream cheese, or whipped cream. So succulent are these brownies that you will be returning for seconds. Give them away, keep them, but definitely make them—these red velvet brownies are so pretty and so delicious that they are sure to provide good vibes all around. This is a recipe you’ll want to add to your collection.
Black-and-Blue Buttermilk Tart
Recipe: Black-and-Blue Buttermilk Tart
This enticing topping of bright berries is just another reminder to revel in the bounty of berries Southerners are lucky enough to experience each summer. This creamy tart and sweet-and-salty buttery cracker crust is topped with a beautiful mix of blueberries and blackberries, but it is equally delicious with strawberries, peaches, or your favorite fresh fruit.
Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
Recipe: Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
Is an ice cream sandwich your go-to summertime dessert? Then it's time to give your typical ice cream sandwich an upgrade. Now the fan-favorite ice cream bar can become a crowd-pleasing dessert. This decadent ice-cream cake worthy of slicing. Make the whole cake ahead and freeze until ready to serve.
Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
Recipe: Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
We’re Southerners. We know our pecan pie, and this twist on a regional favorite has us wishing for pecan harvest. We’ll spend days picking up pecans in the orchard if it means we can conjure this chocolate-bourbon concoction in the kitchen. We have also gained a new appreciation for whiskey. The liquor goes way beyond drinking and finds its way into sauces, braises, and especially desserts. There is a sophistication to adding bourbon that is tempered by the accessibility, everyday decadence of chocolate. We believe that bourbon and pecan pie fit together like peanut butter and jelly or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. That sounds like a perfect fit to us.
Hot Buttered Rum Bread Pudding
Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum Bread Pudding
Is there anything more comforting or indulgent than a bread pudding? Maybe, but taking one look at this buttered pan of bread pudding, we can’t think of anything we would rather nibble on a chilly fall evening. Though you are free to make this dessert in summer if you have a craving for a rum dessert.
Peach-Bourbon Upside-Down Bundt Cake
Next time you think you need to run to the grocery store before a summer party for a premade, store-bought dessert, think again. Set aside some time to practice your cooking skills and make this Peach-Bourbon Upside-Down Bundt Cake. With its medley of flavors and infusion of fresh seasonal peaches, it will be leagues better than anything you find covered in plastic in a bakery section. Garnish with a drizzle of homemade glaze for a pretty, party-worthy finish.
Red Velvet Cake Balls
Recipe: Red Velvet Cake Balls
When we think of velvet, we think smooth, luxurious, elegant, beautiful, indulgent. And it’s true: all of those words can be used to describe this decadent but festive cake balls recipe. Plus, the frosting and sprinkles are a scene-stealer. This tasty creation is made out of red velvet cake that is bonded together with homemade cream cheese frosting and coated in white chocolate for a combination you can't pass up. Don't take our word for it. You've got to taste it for yourself.
Cakey Lemon Brownies
Recipe: Cakey Lemon Brownies
These easy-to-make bar cookies have the chewy, cakey texture of a brownie, but all of the bright and tangy flavor of a lemon bar. Feeling a little extra? Garnish with a few lemon slices for an extra bright, in both flavor and looks. All you need are pretty, thin slices of lemon, which dazzle on top of the brownie slices.
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
Recipe: Fresh Peach Ice Cream
When peach season rolls in—in the South, any time from May to September—we’re out in the orchard, picking plump, sweet ingredients to churn into this sweet mixture, which is one of our absolute favorite ice cream recipes. We guarantee that your family will ask for this chilly treat over and over again. Best of all, the seven-ingredient mixture requires no cooking, just stirring. “What?” you may ask. It’s true. This dessert is as easy as can be. It is just as nice as a perfect pound cake topper as it is as a cold and sweet treat in an ice cream cone.
Eggnog Bundt Cake
Recipe: Eggnog Bundt Cake
Did you think eggnog was just for December holiday parties? Think again. This light and fluffy Bundt cake makes eggnog accessible all year round—in warm weather and in cool weather—though we have to admit, it is still perfect for family gatherings around the holidays. Just when you thought Bundt cake couldn't get any better—eggnog and nutmeg raise the bar.
Fudgy Flourless Chocolate-Pecan Cookies
Fudgy and flourless? It's possible, and this simple chocolatey recipe is proof. Thanks to whipped egg whites, the cookies are airy and crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside, like a brownie in cookie form.
Red, White, and Blue Poke Cake
Recipe: Red, White, and Blue Poke Cake
The ultimate patriotic dessert for a Fourth of July celebration, this cake has everything: bursting berries, rich mascarpone frosting, and fresh fruit filling. It has red, white, and blue to spare. Our patriotic spin on poke cake is the coolest dessert of summer. With a cake this pretty and patriotic, it serves as decoration and dessert all at once.
Recipe: Cherry-Nectarine Pandowdy
If you’ve seen sweet, plump nectarines at your local grocery store but have refrained from buying them because you wondered how best to use them, look no further than this fresh, pandowdy. Here, nectarines pair with cherries for a beautifully cooked fruit under a pastry crust. As the dish cools, the broken crust absorbs the sweet juices from the cooked fruit, creating a deliciously messy dessertSo next time you see nectarines in the fruit aisle, pick up a few—two pounds, actually—and try out this delectable recipe.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Buttermilk-Cream Cheese Frosting
Spring into the season with this festive dessert that makes easy, individual servings. Inspired by a classic carrot cake, these light, fluffy carrot cake cupcakes are infused with even more bright flavor with the moist Pineapple Filling. Finish them off with adorable eggs for easter or simply pipe the Buttercream-Cream Cheese Frosting on top in whatever design you'd like for a slice-free, party-ready dessert.
Brown Sugar Cookie Stars
Recipe: Brown Sugar Cookie Stars
These Brown Sugar Cookie Stars are the closest you'll get to earning a gold star straight from your oven. Perfect for any celebration, from the Fourth of July to Christmas time, the touch of brown sugar gives this sugar cookie a deeper, richer taste than a traditional recipe.
Georgia Pecan Double-Decker Brownies
We know that we don’t need to convince you to try a new brownie recipe, but we’re still going to gush about how much we love this one. They are thick and fudgy—hence the double-decker in its name—with an accessible, comfortable depth of flavor. Speckled with pecans, they sit on a perfectly crumbly layer of chocolate wafer crust you'll taste in every bite. Don’t let this recipe pass you by.
The Ultimate Carrot Cake
Recipe: The Ultimate Carrot Cake
A classic at the pinnacle of its powers, our recipe for The Ultimate Carrot Cake is a multi-purpose, always-appropriate star of the dessert table. It is dense and moist, an ideal no-fail recipe for when you need a reliable go-to cake. This is a great recipe for bake sales and impromptu weekend desserts alike. We went for three thick layers plus a creamy brown sugar-cream cheese frosting. For additional edible decoration, try our recipe for candied carrot curls, pretty helixes that add something special to the display. It’s a traditional cake, but with a few thoughtful touches, it feels brand new. Be sure to use caution while de-panning: These layers are tender, so remove from pans carefully!
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
This any-time hit is good enough to make grandma proud. What's the trick? Browning butter. This simple step gives that classic cookie dough its signature taste and chewy, crisp texture. It's a quick, extra step worth taking every time.
Homemade Cookies-and-Cream Ice Cream
Haul out the ice cream churn this summer season—we have the perfect recipe for you. Here, five ingredients come together in a swirl of cookies and cream. All you need is your electric ice cream maker and a little freezing time. We have to warn you: This is no store-bought vanilla cone. This lovely combination elevates a typical summer afternoon ice cream treat to a memorable experience—certainly a moment to savor. For a party, we like to showcase scooped cones in decorative glassware for a personal touch.
Caramel Apple Cake
Recipe: Caramel Apple Cake
It’s the kind of dessert that seems to conjure autumn just by baking it. Cinnamon, caramel, and apple scents will waft into every crevice of your kitchen. Looking out your window, you may imagine the leaves changing green to red to gold as you smell fresh apple cake baking in your oven. It’s irresistible. We would bake this dessert any time of year just to imagine the arrival of autumn, but it’s true that this cake is at its best in September, October, and November, when fresh apple harvests send crisp, sweet, freshly-picked apples dripping with flavor into our fruit baskets. It’s tempting to bite into those apples, crunching them for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner, but save a few for this dessert. It’s autumnal and delicious. It’s also topped with sautéed apple slices and drizzled in a delicious Apple Brandy-Caramel Sauce.
Red Velvet Ice-Cream Cake
Recipe: Red Velvet Ice-Cream Cake
This frozen dessert comes together quickly. After mixing, this ice cream cake recipe just needs a little time to set in the freezer. It’s an ideal blend, with its depth of flavor enhanced by fresh berries on top. Plus, its red, white, and blue layers make it the perfect treat to pull out of the freezer after a Fourth of July feast.
Buttermilk-Lime Mini Cakes with Vanilla-Mascarpone Buttercream Recipe
You know those desserts that make everyone go “Wow!” when they bite into it? This is one of those desserts. As pretty to look at as it is to slice into, it will be hard to have just one bite of this decadent dessert. With a thick swirl of vanilla-mascarpone on top, it mixes buttermilk and lime in a substantial cake with a delightful, dainty presentation.
Lemon Bundt Cake
Recipe: Lemon Bundt Cake
If you can’t get enough citrus in your life, you may want to try this Lemon Bundt Cake recipe. With one bite, it will transport you to the breezy tropics, or at least a sunny nearby lemon grove. This recipe gets just the right bit of punch from the grated lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. The result: one of the best, and simplest, cakes you'll ever make. Add our two-ingredient glaze and, for added effect, candied lemons—they taste great scattered atop the cake.