Heavenly Holiday Desserts
No Southern table is complete without these holiday dessert recipes from our Test Kitchen. Of course when it comes to Christmas desserts, we’re known for our Big White Cakes, but we also have charming cheesecakes, crowd-pleasing pound cakes, and layer cakes from coconut to gingerbread with buttermilk frosting. If you’re looking for holiday desserts that stop the show, look no further than our Praline Cream-Beignet Tower or Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle. We also have you covered on holiday desserts that we like to call “easy wows.” They're perfect for toting to a cookie swap or holiday party, from Ambrosia Streusel Bars to Layered Eggnog Blondies. These fabulous holiday dessert recipes taste divine and will absolutely dazzle on your Christmas dessert table. Prepare to impress!
Snowy Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream
Christmas Tree Brownies
Recipe: Christmas Tree Brownies
These brownies have the soft texture you crave, but the best part is decorating them with the family.
Recipe: Peppermint Truffles
When coating the truffles, the Southern Living Test Kitchen professionals recommend using Ghiradelli Chocolate White Melting Wafers—not only do they melt smoothly, but they have a very nice vanilla flavor.
Cream Cheese Cookie Wreaths
Recipe: Cream Cheese Cookie Wreaths
These adorable cookies are the best way to occupy the kids on a slow day off school during the holidays.
Chocolate Peppermint Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Cake
Southerners know that mayonnaise is the secret to the best chocolate cake, and this layer cake starts with it.
Bourbon Ball Tart
Recipe: Bourbon Ball Tart
If you want to have the most fun dessert on the sideboard, bring this one that tops chocolate ganache with festive bourbon balls.
Recipe: Peppermint Divinity
Since the South’s hot, humid climate can extend well into winter, be sure to check the weather and pick a dry, sunny day as your “divinity day” to make this old-fashioned treat.
Peppermint Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Each element of this cake can be made ahead, so you can just decorate and serve the day of your gathering.
Red Velvet Crackle Sandwich Cookies
These red velvet delights belong in a vintage cookie tin for friends and family to enjoy.
Buche de Noel
Recipe: Buche de Noel
It’s a labor of love, but if you’ve never made a classic yule log cake for the holidays, this is the year to try.
Candy Cane Cake Bars
Recipe: Candy Cane Cake Bars
Who could guess these adorable little bars started with a box of cake mix?
Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies
Chocolate cookie dough rolled in sparkling sugar with peppermint filling makes for a Christmas treat that’s almost too pretty to eat.
Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake
Recipe: Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake
Calling all eggnog lovers! You’ve got to make this pretty Bundt. A tip from the Test Kitchen: For the most tender crumb, don’t overmix the wet and dry ingredients; stop stirring just after they are blended.
Brownie Baked Alaska
Recipe: Brownie Baked Alaska
Ditch the traditional sponge cake layer for a warm, classic brownie that kids and adults alike will love.
Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream
Instead of drinking your eggnog this Christmas, serve it on a cake plate.
Red Velvet Santa Hat Meringues
Recipe: Red Velvet Santa Hat Meringues
A few tips from the Test Kitchen for these oh-so-fun meringues: Use a concentrated red food coloring gel (not liquid food coloring) for the brightest results. When baking the meringues, don't open the oven after turning it off; this will help them dry.
Rice Krispies Christmas Trees
Recipe: Rice Krispies Christmas Trees
Adorable as a cake topper or snack for the kids’ table at Christmas dinner, you just need a few store-bought ingredients to bring these trees to life.
Recipe: Christmas Fudge
Every Christmas gathering needs a cake plate stacked high with perfect pieces of fudge.
Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
Warm spices and molasses blend beautifully with tangy buttermilk frosting.
Gingerbread Latte Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting
Each tender spice cake layer is brushed with espresso simple syrup and topped with dreamy vanilla frosting.
White Chocolate-Peppermint Blondies
Since this festive recipe makes four and a half dozen bars, you’ll have plenty to share with the neighbors.
Best White Cake
Recipe: Snowball Cake
Use your biscuit cutter to turn a tender sheet cake into sweet mini snowball cakes for each family member to enjoy themselves.
White Christmas Pavlovas
Recipe: White Christmas Pavlovas
There’s no prettier way to end a meal than with a fluffy pavlova. The mini portions are perfect for easy serving.
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Gingerbread
This year, we could use a little homemade comfort, and this old-school gingerbread recipe is like a hug in a pan.
Red Velvet Brownies
Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies
Brownies get dressed up for Christmas with red velvet and snowy cream cheese frosting.
Cherry-Spice Cake Trifle
Praline Cream-Beignet Tower
Recipe: Praline Cream-Beignet Tower
Make the praline filling and dough up to two days ahead.
Cranberry Dreamsicle Trifle
Recipe: Cranberry Dreamsicle Trifle
Effortless to pull off? Check. Tastes better the longer it sits? Check. Make this beauty up to one day before company arrives.
Recipe: Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake
Don't worry if your cheesecake cracks; the light and fluffy layer of whipped cream will cover it.
Red Velvet Cheesecake-Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Creamy red velvet cheesecake, soft white cake, and layers of tangy cream cheese frosting? Somebody pinch us.
Triple Chocolate Brownie-Mousse Stacks
Allow plenty of time to make fillings, and immediately assemble stacks. You can chill the assembled stacks up to 24 hours ahead of time.
Recipe: Pecan-Cranberry Shortbread
Making shortbread with melted butter skips the wait for it to soften.
Red Velvet Fudge
Recipe: Red Velvet Fudge
If you like red velvet cake, you'll love this fudge.
White Cake with Bourbon Buttercream
Top this cake with Sugar-Coated Orange Slices and Sparkling Cherries.
Ambrosia Streusel Bars with Shortbread Crust
Use the foil as a handle to remove the cooled batch from the pan for easy slicing.
Milk Punch Tres Leches Cake
Recipe: Milk Punch Tres Leches Cake
Bake this a day before serving so it soaks up the creamy syrup. Make mini cakes with a round cutter. Top with whipped cream and a grating of nutmeg.
White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream
Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle
Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle
Top this rich trifle with a sprinkle of chocolate curls.
Layered Eggnog Blondies
Recipe: Layered Eggnog Blondies
These treats have a split personality: 1 part blondie, 1 part eggnog cheesecake. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container up to one week.
Pecan Linzer Cookies
Recipe: Pecan Linzer Cookies
Use your favorite jams to vary the flavor and color of these beauties.
Banana Brownie Sticky Toffee Puddings
Any remaining sauce makes a great topping for ice cream.
Recipe: Coconut Snowballs
If the melted white chocolate is too firm after it is heated, stir in about 1/4 tsp. coconut oil.
Banana Pudding Trifle
Recipe: Banana Pudding Trifle
This classic English layered pudding dessert goes Southern with banana pudding and bourbon-soaked vanilla wafers.
Recipe: Sugar-and-Spice Cake
Make a classic white cake for Christmas this year. This recipe starts with boxed mix, then adds a few key ingredients to make the end result light, fluffy, and totally delicious.
Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake
Recipe: Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake
We replicated the flavor profile of Mexican chocolate using semisweet chocolate and cinnamon. If you prefer to use Mexican chocolate, look for it with the hot drink mixes or on the Hispanic food aisle. This moist pound cake is equally delicious without the Mexican Chocolate Sauce.
Recipe: Coconut Pudding
Try unsweetened coconut flakes for a not-too-sweet topping.
Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Red Velvet Soufflés with Whipped Sour Cream
These snazzy red velvet soufflés are not only eye catching, but drool-worthy desserts that will dazzle any holiday table.
Hot Buttered Rum Bread Pudding
Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum Bread Pudding
We turned one of winter’s favorite cocktails into an ultra-decadent dessert that will make your house smell amazing.
Hot Chocolate Brownies
Recipe: Hot Chocolate Brownies
Rich, gooey brownies topped with a layer of homemade marshmallows—sounds like we just found your next baking project.
White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake
Recipe: White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake
Who knew a petal-shaped cookie cutter could create such a stunning holiday cake topper?
Red Velvet-Raspberry Tiramisù Trifle
Since this merry and bright trifle can chill for up to 24 hours before serving, it’s an ideal make-ahead dessert to save you time this holiday season.
Upside Down Pear-and-Gingerbread Cake
Trade the old-school pineapple version for a holiday-ready gingerbread cake topped with a layer of caramelized pears.