Our Best-Ever Thanksgiving Cakes
Thanksgiving is the Southern cooking showcase of the year. From creamy casseroles to cornbread dressing, these mouth-watering, tried-and-true recipes are every Southerner's specialty. And, we can tell you from experience, our families wait all year to gobble them up. While many of our favorite dishes make appearances every Thanksgiving (no exceptions, unless you want to start a family feud), dessert can be a little more experimental. Sure, you have your go-to pies and cobblers; but when you really want to impress, we suggest a gorgeous, downright delicious cake. From pretty layer cakes to decadent Bundt cakes, these irresistible cakes all feature a special seasonal twist that will make them fan favorites on the dessert table this year. We have all the delicious fall flavors of apple, pecan, caramel, chocolate, pumpkin, and cranberry in this bunch. So, get ready to dazzle the crowd with these best-ever Thanksgiving cakes.
Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Browned Buttercream Frosting
A standard chocolate cake made lively (and maybe a tad naughty) by a generous splash of bourbon. We're not talking tablespoons, but rather a whole half cup. Combine with the nuttiness of the browned buttercream, and you've just found a suave and sophisticated addition to the dessert table.
Cranberry-Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream
Cranberries aren't only for sauce. Case en point: This cranberry-orange cake with orange buttercream. The zingy fruit is a great way to top off a decadent meal, thanks to the addition of fresh orange juice, orange zest, and sugared cranberries on top.
Bananas Foster Cake with Rum Buttercream
The beauty of this bananas fosters cake is that you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. If you're juggling other Thanksgiving dishes, keep it easy and skip the banana roasting. If this is your only contribution to the table, go all out and brûlée banana slices for the garnish.
Chocolate Water Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Water Cake
More decadent than it sounds, chocolate water cake is all about simplicity. The cake is dairy-free, vegan, and a one-bowl concoction. Top it off with a gooey ganache and call it an evening.
Recipe: Battenberg Cake
The Battenberg cake is the wow cake in your repertoire. Also known as a church window cake, checkerboard cake, and domino cake, it's a delight to cut into, if only for its distinct pattern. This particular edition includes raspberry jam sandwiched between alternating blocks of pumpkin-spice and chocolate layers.
Carrot Bundt Cake
Recipe: Carrot Bundt Cake
The Bundt pan makes even the simplest of cakes feel extraordinary, and this carrot bundt cake is a show-stopper in itself. With a swoopy maple syrup cream cheese frosting and sprinkling of toasted pecans, crystalized ginger, and carrot chips, it'll look like you spent hours (when it was really nothing at all).
Carrot-Walnut Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
It doesn't get much easier than an 8-inch square pan for this carrot-walnut snack cake. It belongs just as much on the dessert table as it does the grazing table, as you nibble on it while preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.
German Chocolate Cake
Recipe: German Chocolate Cake
Another Southern classic (this one hailing from Dallas), the German chocolate cake commands a presence on your dessert table. The towering three layers of cake are slathered in a thick, coconut-pecan concoction that provides a contrasting crunch.
Really Good Fruit Cake
White Chocolate Raspberry Loaf Cake
A white chocolate cake studded with raspberries, glazed in snowy-white frosting, and topped with more pieces of the jewel-toned fruit? It feels like a white Christmas to us! Give it a test run at your Thanksgiving table.
Pistachio Pound Cake
Recipe: Pistachio Pound Cake
For this pistachio pound cake, you'll toast the nuts, giving them a deep, rich flavor and delicious, crumbly texture. Fold it all into the buttery batter that's punctuated with lemon zest and almond extract for a unique addition to your Thanksgiving dessert spread.
Hallmark's Honey Almond Cake with Berries and Mascarpone Crème Fraiche
Hallmark and the holidays are nearly synonymous. This cake was created by the Hallmark team for the movie The Secret Ingredient. Three layers of rich buttermilk cake are doused in a vanilla-honey glaze and iced in a mascarpone and crème fraiche frosting.
Orange Peel Pound Cake
Recipe: Orange Peel Pound Cake
With whole wheat pastry flour, a healthy pouring of fresh orange juice, and the punch of the peel, this orange peel pound cake by Jerrelle Guy is a refreshing end note to a Thanksgiving feast.
Chocolate Strawberry Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Strawberry Cake
You can't go wrong with the chocolate-strawberry combination. Tender chocolate cake meets bursting, bright strawberries in this classic pairing.
White Cake with Bourbon Buttercream and Seven-Minute Frosting
Pillowy white icing, bright sugared fruits, and three layers of fluffy white cake. Add a dose of bourbon and you've got a pretty, attention-commanding dessert for your Thanksgiving table.
Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake
Recipe: Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake
The beauty of the Bundt is its deceptive simplicity. With the assistance of just one pan, an elaborate cake can be yours. We suggest this twist on the classic eggnog beverage: a spiked eggnog Bundt. With the addition of heavy cream, a quarter cup of bourbon, and a drizzle of glaze, it's a rich cake that announces the arrival of the holidays.
Marble Molasses Cake
Recipe: Marble Molasses Cake
Slice into the dramatic swirls of this marbled cake, filled with autumn flavors: cinnamon, ginger, and gloves. This is a great forget-about-it cake. 15 minutes of prep, and a two-hour baking time leave you the freedom to focus on other Thanksgiving prep work.
Recipe: Persimmon Cake
If you want an easy cake for your Thanksgiving menu, this persimmon cake is a sure winner. Only one bowl and some elbow grease required for this nutty, spicy cake that includes cinnamon and toasted walnuts.
Recipe: Pumpkin Cake
This pumpkin cake is homey and old-fashioned but packs the charm between thick layers of cake and frosting. Buttermilk adds a tang, and the spiced whipped cream complements the dense layers for a lightness to every bite.
Pumpkin Crunch Cake
Recipe: Pumpkin Crunch Cake
This cake gets its crunch from the spiced cookie crumble and toasted pumpkin seeds that adorn the pumpkin-cream-cheese-slathered top. It's an excellent contrast of textures to the tender, oil-based cake packed with ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.
Georgia Pecan Mist Cake
Recipe: Georgia Pecan Mist Cake
No need to worry about the pie crust for this nutty delight. With just pecans, eggs, powdered sugar, and salt, you'll have this airy concoction ready in no time—meaning more time to focus on the more complicated dishes.
Brownstone Front Cake
Recipe: Brownstone Front Cake
It looks rustic, but don't be fooled. You'll want to whip out your candy thermometer for this one. If you're short on time, opt for the fluffy chocolate filling — but the cooked icing is well worth the effort.
Apple Spice Cake
Recipe: Apple Spice Cake
Nothing quite screams fall like apples and spices. This simple cake is no-fuss, packed with Granny Smith apples, whose tart acidity is tapered with sour cream, light brown sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream.
Carrot Cake Quick Bread
Recipe: Carrot Cake Quick Bread
It may have bread in the name, but this carrot cake quick bread has all the soft richness of a cake. Instead of a typical cream cheese frosting, the buttermilk glaze drizzle keeps things fancy, fun, and fresh.
Flourless Pecan-Chocolate Cake
Recipe: Flourless Pecan-Chocolate Cake
Decadent, glossy ganache, fudgy cake (no flour here), the satisfying crunch of pecans — it's sure to dazzle the most devoted chocolate fans who gather around your Thanksgiving table.
Hummingbird Cake Whoopie Pies
Recipe: Hummingbird Cake Whoopie Pies
A beloved Southern classic in individual servings. All the usual signature ingredients — banana, pineapple, and pecans — find their way into this very portable desert form, which makes them ideal for packing up on the road.
Hummingbird Bundt Cake
Recipe: Hummingbird Bundt Cake
This Bundt cake features all of the great ingredients found in classic hummingbird cake, such as pecans, pineapples, and cream cheese, but in an updated version that doesn't require frosting layers. Top with a rich cream cheese glaze for your icing fix.
Marbled Pumpkin Praline Cake
Recipe: Marbled Pumpkin Praline Cake
You'll certainly impress with this beautifully iced and garnished cake. Sugared pecans, kumquats, and bay leaves make it shine, but take a bite and you'll find the marbled pumpkin and cream cheese cake and pecan-praline filling are the real showstoppers.
Butter Toffee-Pecan Layer Cake
Recipe: Butter Toffee-Pecan Layer Cake
Toasted pecans and toffee bits jazz up a classic vanilla layer cake batter. Elevate the brown butter toffee frosting with a little bourbon, dark rum, or cognac if you'd like. To step up the presentation, toasted pecan halves and flaky sea salt will do the trick.
Caramel Apple Cake
Recipe: Caramel Apple Cake
This is one of the prettiest cakes you can make for the fall—and it requires only 20 minutes of hands-on prep time. Drizzled and dripping with a delicious apple brandy-caramel sauce, this cake looks great and tastes even better.
Pumpkin-Spice Bundt with Brown Sugar Icing and Candied Pecans
Nothing screams fall like pumpkin-spice anything. Everyone will love this classic-style Bundt cake even more with its candied pecans and rich, buttery icing. It's a true grand finale dessert.
Coconut Cream Cake
Recipe: Coconut Cream Cake
A sweet coconut filling takes this coconut cake to the next level—it's seriously good. Top with a super creamy, fluffy coconut frosting and toasted coconut shavings, and you're set with a dessert almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Upside-Down Caramelized Apple Cake
This upside-down cake is especially gooey and rich thanks to the brown sugar, apple, and pecan mixture that's baked down in the skillet (with a little help from some brandy for the perfect caramelized touch).
Mama's German Chocolate Cake
Recipe: Mama's German Chocolate Cake
We love that this German chocolate cake gives a little something more than a typical chocolate cake with its rich, sweet frosting that's gloriously chunky with pecans and flaked coconut. Mama would be proud.
The Ultimate Carrot Cake
Recipe: The Ultimate Carrot Cake
You can't really go wrong with a classic carrot cake. Your crew will love this one, complete with brown sugar-cream cheese frosting.
Pineapple-Upside Down Cake
Recipe: Pineapple-Upside Down Cake
This dessert is always a winner in the fall with the Southern crowd. Butter, brown sugar, and pineapple cook together at the bottom of the skillet to make a deliciously gooey topping for this cake.
Recipe: Caramel Cake
A classic caramel cake is about as Southern as it gets, so why not feature it this year at the Thanksgiving family meal? The frosting is the most important thing to get right in a caramel cake, so pay attention and don't stop stirring.
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
If you want simple, old-fashioned, and delicious, this chocolate-mayo cake is as good as it gets. Southerners know Duke's mayonnaise is as useful in desserts as it is on a sandwich. This ultra-moist cake proves it.
Mini Apple Cider Pound Cakes
Recipe: Mini Apple Cider Pound Cakes
There are three different delicious toppings you can make for these mini pound cakes—mix and match the streusel topping, bourbon glaze, and lemon-sugar glaze as you please.
Marbled Pecan Pound Cake
Recipe: Marbled Pecan Pound Cake
Is it breakfast or is it dessert? The choice is yours when it comes to this sweet, seasonal cake. The chocolate marbling gives it an elevated feel, but you can make it even more festive with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Recipe: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
It doesn't get any cuter than this, folks. Our homemade Maple Whipped Cream makes these Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes absolute showstoppers.
Pecan Pie Cake with Browned Butter Frosting
There's no need to choose between a pecan pie and a decadent layer cake when Pecan Pie Cake with Browned Butter Frosting is on the table.
Thyme-Cornmeal Pound Cake
Recipe: Thyme-Cornmeal Pound Cake
This rustic cake isn't too sweet but comes packed with flavor thanks to nutty cornmeal and woodsy thyme.
Apple Pie Cake
Recipe: Apple Pie Cake
Boxed cake mix gets paired with all of your favorite apple pie ingredients to create one of the easiest Thanksgiving cakes you'll ever make. It only takes 15 minutes of hands-on time.
Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake
Recipe: Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake
Here's how to make a foolproof cheesecake in no time at all: Bust out your trusty Instant Pot. That's right, the wonder appliance can do it all, including churning out a delicious holiday dessert.
Apple Butter Pound Cake with Caramel Frosting
Pound cake and caramel apples meet in this fall favorite that combines delicious pound cake with an Apple Butter filling and sweet caramel frosting.
Sock It To Me Cake
Recipe: Sock It To Me Cake
This from-scratch recipe calls for simple pantry ingredients to create a buttery cake that's flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecans.
Recipe: Praline Cake
Light and airy vanilla sponge cake is given a decadent, salty-and-sweet praline glaze. The result? One stellar cake.
Texas Pecan Cake
Recipe: Texas Pecan Cake
Pound cake meets fruit cake in this holiday favorite that'll convince you to indulge just a little early this year. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Classic Apple Upside Down Cake
Recipe: Classic Apple Upside Down Cake
If you haven't tried your hand at an apple upside down cake, this recipe is where to start. But, disclaimer, we doubt you'll ever try another after you master our impressive confection that calls for a cast-iron skillet instead of a cake pan.
Southern Sweet Potato Cake
Recipe: Southern Sweet Potato Cake
Now here's an idea: Skip the casserole and save those potatoes for a cake instead. This sheet cake is full of all the seasonal flavor your taste buds can desire before being topped off with decadent Brown Sugar Icing.
Fig Upside Down Cake
Recipe: Fig Upside Down Cake
Make this dessert extra special by adding port to the whipped cream. It makes the perfect topper for the rustic autumn treat.
Pumpkin Pie Cake
Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Cake
This cake is as easy as 1-2-3. Start with a graham layer that gets topped with a sweet and creamy pumpkin layer. Finish it off with dollops of a cake mix that comes together in a cinch thanks to packaged yellow cake mix.
Brown Sugar-Rum Cake
Recipe: Brown Sugar-Rum Cake
Rich dark brown sugar and a decadent rum frosting make this sheet cake the comforting dessert the fall season is just begging for.
Caramel-Frosted Pound Cake
Recipe: Caramel-Frosted Pound Cake
There never was a more Southern cake than our Caramel-Frosted Pound Cake. It serves wonderfully as a dessert or decadent breakfast when an indulgence is requested.
Praline Mini Cakes
Recipe: Praline Mini Cakes
This recipe churns out 12 mini cakes, each drizzled with dreamy brown sugar icing. If you want to kick things up, sprinkle a bit of chopped toffee onto the warm icing before serving.
Pumpkin Dump Cake
Recipe: Pumpkin Dump Cake
Does it get any easier (or more seasonal) than our Pumpkin Dump Cake? We think not. Set aside just 10 minutes of hands-on time for a showstopping dessert that is bound to be your new favorite fall dessert.