50 Party Desserts That Guarantee A Sweet Time

Carrot-Pineapple Mini Bundt Cakes with Buttermilk-Vanilla Glaze
Photo: Cedric Angeles; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Finish your party menu with one of these crowd-pleasing desserts. Entertaining should be about ease and simplicity. Here are our favorite party dessert recipes that let you take the matter in hand—literally. The mini desserts are single-serve portions that make entertaining a breeze. Fill a plate with bite-sized desserts like our Basil Lemon Bars or Best Ever Brownies. Or serve party guests a dessert made for a crowd, like a rich cake or decadent pie. There are party dessert recipes for chocolate lovers, and twists on Southern classics like Fried Apple Pies or the deliciously decadent Hummingbird Cake Whoopie Pies. So load up on crowd-pleasing desserts and enjoy yourself, because these party dessert recipes will ensure that you are the life of the party.

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Triple Chocolate-Brownie Mousse Stacks

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

These chocolatey stacks are great for entertaining because you can assemble and chill them for up to 24 hours ahead of time. You don’t need any special equipment to create them, just aluminum foil and clean paper clips to form mini cans for filling.

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Mini Strawberry Tarts

Mini Strawberry Tarts
Greg Dupree

These sweet treats start with a pistachio crust. A dreamy mixture of cream cheese, lemon juice and zest, and whipped cream is folded together before filling the individual tarts. Toss the fresh strawberries in sugar, just before topping the tarts, to give them a hint of added sweetness.

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Lemon Tiramisù

Lemon Tiramisu
Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist Heather Chadduck

Tiramisù is delicious no matter what. Throw lemon into the mix and you'll have a to-die-for dessert.

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Pecan Cheesecake Pie

Pecan Cheesecake Pie
Photo: Jennifer Davick

You don’t have to decide between pie and cheesecake. This dessert lets guests have both. The nutty topping adds a nice crunch to the characteristic creaminess of the popular cheesecake.

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Vanilla Custard with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Vanilla Bean Custard with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

These custards add a touch of elegance to a dinner party. Use any leftover bourbon-caramel sauce on brownies and ice cream.

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Basil-Lemon Bars

Basil-Lemon Bars
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Put a sophisticated spin on a classic dessert. A basil-infused crust transforms tangy lemon bars into a bright and lively treat. Try lemon basil for an even more complex flavor.

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Lemon-Vanilla Pound Cake with Lavender Glaze

Lemon-Vanilla Pound Cake with Lavender Glaze
Hector Manuel Sanchez

You can’t miss when serving a simple pound cake, and a luscious lemon-vanilla combo makes it even better. The cake is good alone, but try it with the lavender glaze and you won’t be disappointed. Serve the glaze on the side so guests can decide for themselves.

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Buttermilk-Lime Mini Cakes with Vanilla-Mascarpone Buttercream

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

This elegant dessert is made by cutting rounds from a sheet cake to make little stacks. Brushing the cakes with lime syrup gives these mini desserts a burst of citrus. Garnish with edible flowers, fresh berries, white nonpareils, or white chocolate shavings, depending on your special occasion.

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Fudge Pie

Fudge Pie
Iain Bagwell

You’ll put your microwave to use for this chocolate treat. This fudge pie is one of the most wickedly delicious chocolate desserts you'll ever eat. Try it with ice cream for an even better result.

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Peach Shortcake Trifle

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

A trifle is a beautiful choice for a party dessert. Not only does it score points for presentation, but it also feeds a crowd. The layers of juicy peaches, vanilla cake, and mascarpone cream are easy to assemble.

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Chocolate-Coconut Pavlova Cake

Chocolate-Coconut Pavlova Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos

You don't have to be a professional to make a pavlova. Assemble the elegant dessert just before serving; you can make the meringue up to two days ahead and store it in an airtight container. It’s dairy- and gluten-free, so it’s friendly for all of your guests.

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White Chocolate Panna Cotta With Dark Chocolate Sauce

White Chocolate Panna Cotta With Dark Chocolate Sauce
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Served in stemmed glasses, these silky smooth Italian custards make an elegant ending to any meal. Serve the chocolate sauce on the side so guests can help themselves.

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Mini Triple-Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cakes

Lemon Ginger Pound Cake
Photo: Alison Miksch; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Everyone gets their own sweet cake when you make mini versions. These little pound cakes are perfect for everything from picnics to holiday parties. Chocolate and buttermilk glazes make these extra luscious.

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Best-Ever Brownies

Best-Ever Brownies
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

If you love boxed brownies, this is the ultimate chewy, chocolatey, homemade version you’ve been looking for. Instead of squares, cut your brownies into diamond shapes for a prettier party platter.

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Easy Blackberry Cobbler

Easy Blackberry Cobbler
John O'Hagan

Make the easiest blackberry cobbler ever using fresh berries plus 5 more ingredients. To make it special, top it with whipped cream and a mint garnish.

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Coconut-Almond Cream Cake

Coconut-Almond Cream Cake
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Rose Nguyen

This decadent cake is deliciously rich as well as moist. For a colorful presentation, garnish with kumquats, currants, and fresh mint sprigs.

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Easy Individual Peach Pies

Easy Individual Peach Pies
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

These little pies are perfect for outdoor entertaining. The pie crust edges are folded over like a galette to keep assembly easy and the glorious peach filling from spilling out. Made right in your muffin tin with refrigerated pie crust, these are a breeze to put together.

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Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies

Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Finish your dinner party with a platter of these rich, fudgy brownies. Laced with bourbon and espresso, adults will savor this grown-up take on a favorite dessert. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.

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Coconut-Pecan Truffles

Coconut-Pecan Truffles
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Dazzle guests with sweet chocolate bites that look fancy but are simple to make. Just melt the ganache ingredients and refrigerate until firm. Nuts and coconut add texture and candy bar taste.

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Peach Sorbet

three bowls of peach sorbet on a large white tray
Alison Miksch

A light, refreshing dessert is the perfect ending to a delicious, laid-back meal. You can make this in 10 minutes with frozen peaches. Garnish your sorbet with fresh peach slices for added flavor.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

Sweet chocolate cake and salty peanut butter buttercream are a match made in heaven. The peanut butter isn’t too overpowering but complements the cupcake just enough to cut the sweetness. Served with ice cream, these will be a memorable dessert.

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Rebecca's Black Bottom Icebox Pie

Rebecca's Black Bottom Icebox Pie
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

With a rich, creamy filling and melt-in-your-mouth crust, this is quite possibly the best chocolate pie ever. Make it up to filling the pie crust a day ahead. Top with whipped cream and garnish before serving.

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Meyer Lemon Sponge Pudding

Meyer Lemon Sponge Pudding
Hector Manuel Sanchez

This pudding gets its airy texture from whipped egg whites. Use Meyer lemons for a bright citrus flavor. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Mini Chocolate Chess Tarts

Mini Chocolate Chess Tarts
Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Stack the pie crusts to make quick work of cutting multiple tart rounds. These mini tarts make it easy for party guests to enjoy their dessert as they mingle. This recipe can be made up to three days in advance.

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Lemon Meltaways

Lemon Meltaways

You'll use just a tad less than two sticks of butter to make these delicate little gems. Toss them with powdered sugar while still warm.

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Carrot-Pineapple Mini Bundt Cakes with Buttermilk-Vanilla Glaze

Carrot-Pineapple Mini Bundt Cakes with Buttermilk-Vanilla Glaze
Cedric Angeles; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

These mini Bundt cakes combine everything you love about carrot cake and hummingbird cake. Make them a day ahead and top them with the buttermilk glaze the day of. The pineapple flowers are a special touch that makes these cakes worthy of any celebration. Just be sure to make them the day before so they’ll be dry before topping the cakes.

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Lemon-Almond Bars

Lemon-Almond Bars
Hector Manuel Sanchez

For quick cleanup and easy serving, line the bottom and sides of the pan with foil before adding the dough. Bring a pan of these to your next potluck or family gathering.

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Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Use four cups of strawberries on these fresh shortcakes. Sanding sugar tops the vanilla biscuits. Use vanilla extract or paste if you can't find vanilla bean pods.

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Coconut-Citrus Bars

Coconut-Citrus Bars
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Giulietta Pinna; Food Styling: Ali Ramee

We reimagined a classic recipe into a dreamy citrus delight. These citrus bars are a nod to the holiday ambrosia Southerners love. Top with a variety of citrus wedges before serving.

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Coconut Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Granita

Coconut Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Granita
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Giulietta Pinna; Food Styling: Ali Ramee

Impress guests with this dessert that looks complicated but takes only 30 minutes on the stovetop. The dish finishes in the freezer. Blood orange slices make a beautiful garnish. 

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Mini Bourbon-and-Cola Bundt Cakes

Mini Bourbon-and-Cola Bundt Cakes
Iain Bagwell; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Turn a classic cocktail into a dessert your company will rave about. Chocolate cakes are made even more luscious with bourbon and cola in the batter and the glaze. Make mini treats or one large cake for your special occasion.

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Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies

Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

Use Granny Smith apples for these handheld sweets that should be on any fall party menu. Caramel candies are an easy trick for the apple filling.

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Fried Apple Pies

Fried Apple Pies
Photographer: Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Karen Ranking; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Pockets of sweet apple filling will delight guests of any age. While still warm, dip these in a cinnamon-sugar coating.

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Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Meyer lemons have a sweeter taste than regular lemons, with a slight floral note. Guests will notice the distinctive taste with the first bite. Create the marbled effect by swirling Meyer lemon curd into the cheesecake batter.

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Hummingbird Cake Whoopie Pies

Hummingbird Cake Whoopie Pies
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

Guests will delight in these miniature handheld hummingbird cakes. The cream cheese frosting is sandwiched inside. Roll the edges in shredded coconut for the same taste as the beloved cake.

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Avocado-Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Avocado-Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
Hector Sanchez; Stylist: Buffy Hargett

A new freezer favorite has arrived. Don't let the avocados fool you. This cool and creamy treat has an indulgent flavor. Make ice cream sandwiches and keep them on hand for impromptu gatherings.

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Cherry Pie Bars

Cherry Pie Bars
Greg DuPree

There’s no need to fuss over making a pie when these bars are equally delicious. Generous for a crowd and portable, count on this fruity dessert for all of your summer potlucks.

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Blackberry-Peach Cobbler Bars

Blackberry-Peach Cobbler Bars
Hector Sanchez

Looking for a party-perfect treat that's a cut above the classic fruit-filled cobbler? Consider it found.

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Blueberry-Lavender Hand Pies

Blueberry-Lavender Hand Pies
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

These portable pockets make a fun sweet for outdoor gatherings. The hint of lavender is an unexpected, pleasant surprise. Make sure to use culinary lavender in this recipe.

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Mini Confetti Cake

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

Guests will never know how easy these mini cakes are to make. Cut the small cake layers from a sheet cake using a round cutter. Whipped cream makes frosting the cakes simple and quick.

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Lemon Sherbet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Lemon Sherbet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Hector Manuel Sanchez

For a spring party, baby shower, or cookout, bring cheer to the menu with citrus-flavored cupcakes. The sherbet-colored frosting is reminiscent of the popular party punch.

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Petite Blueberry Cheesecakes

Petite Blueberry Cheesecake
Jennifer Davick

As pretty as petits fours, these luscious little two-bite gems can be finished with any kind of berry or preserves. Get ahead, and bake the cheesecakes in advance. After baking, they'll freeze up to one month. Thaw and top with preserves and fruit before serving.

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Mini Apple Cider Pound Cakes

Mini Apple Cider Pound Cakes
Brian Woodcock

Finish the cakes with one of three toppings, listed with the recipe. Toss together the Streusel Topping before you start baking. Both glazes can be prepped while the cakes cool.

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Sweet Tea-and-Lemonade Cake

Sweet Tea-and-Lemonade Cake
Hector Manuel Sanchez

This Arnold Palmer-inspired cake will be the winner at your gathering. Substitute bourbon for lemon juice in the frosting if desired. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.

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Cappuccino Swirl Bars

Cappuccino Swirl Bars
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Offer your guests coffee and dessert with these decadent bars. Make them in advance and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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Cream Soda Confetti Sheet Cake with Strawberry-Sour Cream Buttercream

Cream Soda Confetti Sheet Cake with Strawberry-Sour Cream Buttercream
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

If you’re having a birthday party, this fun sheet cake is full of cheer. The cake is made with cream soda and confetti sprinkles. Freeze-dried strawberries create vivid pink frosting and add sweetness and flavor.

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Raspberry-Rhubarb Bars

Raspberry-Rhubarb Bars
Cedric Angeles; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

These bars have a buttery, shortbread-like crust that’s flavored with almonds. Bake these a day ahead of your party, and store them at room temperature. If rhubarb is out of season, use all raspberries or substitute sliced strawberries.

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Lavender-Ginger Meringue Twists

Lavender-Ginger Meringue Twists
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Make these for tea, or celebrate spring or a mom-to-be with pastel-hued meringues. Delicate lavender and ginger create a unique flavor combination. Add sticks to turn these into cute lollipops.

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Grand Marnier Cakes

Grand Marnier Cakes
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Ana Kelly

This recipe adopts the Southern practice of adding liqueur to a cake to keep it moist. Here, the orange liqueur glaze also adds intense flavor. Mini Bundt pans make these cakes perfect for holidays or tea parties.

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Cakey Lemon Brownies

Lemon Brownies
Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Jennifer Wendorf

Brownie lovers will delight in this bright citrus version. Melted white chocolate is the secret to keeping these moist. The lemon-cream cheese frosting is optional, but it really enhances these brownies.

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