18 Desserts You Can Whip Together The Night Before Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a holiday of epic preparation. You have to get your menu organized and assigned, prep the many creamy casseroles, set out the china, decorate the table, and make sure that turkey is thawed and ready. Oh wait—and then there’s dessert. As the finishing touch on the Thanksgiving meal, dessert is often looked forward to by our families as much as the turkey and stuffing; but if you’re the one cooking, it’s not always your first priority. So, if you’ve ever been down to the wire on picking a dessert to make or if you’re just looking for an easy bake-and-take option, you’ll be more than pleased with these quick desserts that don’t require nearly as much hands-on time as your family will think after taking a taste. You can whip these desserts up the night before, and they’ll taste freshly made at your Thanksgiving meal the next day. When it comes to Thanksgiving, store-bought pie crusts, easily frosted sheet and Bundt cakes, and overnight-chilled cheesecakes are sometimes the trick to waking up (a little) more stress-free on Thanksgiving morning.
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Hummingbird Bundt Cake
Recipe: Hummingbird Bundt Cake
A Bundt cake is such a great way to go for an easy, make-ahead dessert—it’ll stay moist and doesn’t require laborious frosting like a layer cake. This twist on a traditional Hummingbird Cake is a surefire winner any holiday, and it takes only 20 minutes of hands-on time.
Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe: Pecan Pie Bars
Just twenty minutes of prep time will get you going with these chewy, bite-sized bars that are inspired by the Thanksgiving staple: pecan pie. After trying this tasty bar form, you might not want to go back to the pie dish next year.
Pumpkin-Lemon Cream Cheese Chess Pie
Use a store-bought pie crust to make this recipe a complete breeze. The pumpkin and lemon flavors in this creamy chess pie are the perfect combination of fresh and fall-inspired.
Recipe: Chocolate Chubbies
These cookies are packed full with chocolate and nuts for a not-too-sweet finish to an indulgent Thanksgiving meal. The chocolate-lovers in your family will rejoice.
Pumpkin Spice-Heath Cake
Recipe: Pumpkin Spice-Heath Cake
Toffee bits take this pumpkin spice cake to this next level, and you make and serve this dessert in a baking sheet pan for ultimate ease. A simple spiced cream cheese frosting can be spread on the night before or day-of—whatever works best for you!
White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake
Everyone loves a delicious cranberry dish at Thanksgiving, and this cheesecake is easy to make the night before. The chocolate pie crust isn’t too difficult or time-consuming and adds a great touch to the cranberry-white chocolate filling. Prepare the topping the night before and spoon over the pie right before serving.
Apple-Spice Bundt Cake with Caramel Frosting
This pretty cake looks fancy, but only takes about 30 minutes of hands-on cooking time. The apple-spice batter and cream cheese filling give you the tastes of fall, while the caramel frosting is a quick finishing touch that only takes ten minutes!
Fresh Apple Cake
Toasted pecans and thinly sliced apples speckle this sheet cake throughout, and you can top this with any quick frosting of your choice (we love it with cream cheese frosting or browned butter frosting).
Salted Caramel-Chocolate Pecan Pie
This twist on the traditional pecan pie is even more decadent. The salted caramel topping complements the nutty, sweet pie perfectly.
Carrot Sheet Cake
Recipe: Carrot Sheet Cake
A sheet cake is your answer to bringing a top-notch cake to the Thanksgiving meal without having to spend the extra time and effort icing three (or more!) layers. This carrot sheet cake never fails to be moist and flavorful, topped with extremely easy and quick buttermilk glaze and cream cheese frosting.
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie
Recipe: Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potatoes are the conundrum of Thanksgiving—whether served with the meal as a side or after as a dessert can rely upon very small deviations in recipes. This pie makes it into the dessert category thanks to its browned, spiced butter component.
Rum-Glazed Sweet Potato Cakes
Recipe: Rum-Glazed Sweet Potato Cakes
These mini cakes cut down your bake time tremendously. The cakes are then dipped into a delicious rum glaze and sprinkled with toasted pecans. These are going to be a hit—trust us.
Recipe: Lemon-Almond Bars
These yummy bars are made of three delicious layers: a buttery crust, zesty ginger-lemon filling, and warm nutty top. For even easier serving and cleanup, line the pan with foil before beginning with the dough.
Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake
This cheesecake takes very little hands-on time, but tastes too amazing to tell. A quick homemade pie crust of cinnamon and chocolate graham crackers gives the dessert even more flavor, and the swirled spiced cream cheese filling is baked right into the cheesecake quickly at the end. Pop it in the refrigerator to chill until you need to break it out the next day.
Pecan Pound Cake
Recipe: Pecan Pound Cake
We love a pound cake because they stay so moist and fresh when made ahead. This nut-filled pound cake isn’t overly sweet, so the quick citrus glaze gives the perfect finish.
Peanut Butter-Toffee Turtle Cookies
While not traditional Thanksgiving flavors, toffee, caramel, and peanut butter are a delicious team in these pretty cookies (their presentation alone will bring people to the platter).
Coconut Sheet Cake
Recipe: Coconut Sheet Cake
Coconut cake is an indulgent treat for any holiday, but this sheet cake recipe makes it an easy one to show up with even in a pinch. The moist cake stays in its pan for easy cleanup, but the coconut-cream cheese frosting is the real star.
Recipe: Chocolate-and-Almond Macaroons
These handheld dreams only take six simple ingredients and less than an hour to make. Put these on a dessert platter the next day, and watch them disappear.