When the usual pie lineup feels boring and uninspired for your Thanksgiving dessert repertoire, you’ve got to make a change. We’re not saying eliminate the classics altogether, but consider tossing in a wild card. Sometimes you’ve got to branch out and try something new. If you’re looking for an alternative to pie, here are some highly recommended Thanksgiving dessert recipes you haven’t tried yet.
From his new Big American Cookbook, Food Network’s beloved Chef Mario Batali shares with us an apple dessert that has all the homespun elements of apple pie we love, but reinvented Pennsylvania Dutch style. It’ll be a delightful surprise when you bring out these apple dumplings to your holiday dinner crowd. Without using pumpkin, you get all the flavors we love in fall desserts: apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins. Get Mario Batali’s Apple Dumplings recipe.
After a huge, heavy meal, a heavy dessert can be too much. But no dessert would be such a disappointment, that’s not an option. The solution? A seasonally-inspired ice cream. It’s cool, creamy, sweet, and refreshing. Serve this maple ice cream by itself in pretty little bowls, or use it a la mode with a tart, galette, or those apple dumplings from above. Get our Maple Ice Cream recipe.
Anything pumpkin-flavored with SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE is going to be a winner, trust us. Pumpkin pie, what’s that? The memory will fade fast as your guests sink their teeth into this beautifully moist cake dusted with powdered sugar, made oh-so decadent with that amazingly saucy drizzle. Get our Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce recipe.
Chewy and crispy at the same time, you get the flavors of pecan pie but in the form of a bar, so no fork necessary. These would be good served with a few other non-pie options like cookies and ice cream. Get our Pecan Pie Bars recipe.
Pineapple upside-down cake is as American as apple pie. This twist—with a fresh cranberry, orange, and cinnamon topping (though, naturally, it bakes on the bottom) deserves to be a new Thanksgiving classic. It’s colorful, seasonal, and a lovely excuse to eat tender, vanilla-scented cake. Get our Cranberry Upside-Down Cake recipe.
Sometimes the non-cliché dessert is the one everybody remembers. Here, the always-popular salted caramel takes the form of rich, creamy, and smooth baked custards. They add a subtle salt note to end Thanksgiving, a meal that’s not shy about poking brown sugar and marshmallows into savory dishes. Get our Salted Caramel Pots de Crème recipe.
We look forward every fall to pumpkin pie, arguably the most American dessert ever devised. The thing about pumpkin pie, though, is that—light and flaky as it is—the crust tends to weigh things down after a long, heavy meal. Here, all the earthy, sweet, and spiced flavors of pumpkin pie filling shine, sans crust, and with a gorgeous reddish-amber caramel topping that creates its own sauce on the plate. Get our Pumpkin Pie Flans recipe.
Chocolate lovers tend to be left out at Thanksgiving, unless you count the box of truffles set out on the dessert table, which sometimes feel like an afterthought. Chocolate is the star of this rich, dark pound cake that makes a stunning end to the celebration meal. Dried cherries and pistachios help make it feel festive. Get our Chocolate-Cherry-Pistachio Pound Cake recipe.
Committing to a whole, high pumpkin cheesecake slice can be an iffy proposition after a meal where mashed potatoes are only one of several sides. With mini cheesecakes, everybody feels like they can manage one. These—with ginger and brandy, and a gingersnap cookie crust—blend perfectly with a meal of autumnal flavors. Get our Ginger-Brandy Mini Cheesecakes recipe.
Everybody loves cranberry sauce as turkey’s sweet counterpart, but what about highlighting cranberries on your dessert table? A buttery shortbread crust, paired with a tart cranberry filling and nutty almond topping, makes these bars the perfect post-dinner or morning-after treat. Get our Cranberry Shortbread Bars recipe.
11. Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
This cheesecake is the perfect blend of fall flavors. With bourbon and pecan accents and a graham cracker crust, this dessert is foolproof. It’s like candy corn for grownups, according to Smitten Kitchen. Get the recipe.
12. Poached Pear and Brown Butter Tart
This tart recipe proves that winter fruit is still a winner—try it with some vanilla ice cream for a home-run dessert that everyone will love. Get the recipe.
13. Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting
Part bread, part dessert, this recipe is the ultimate compromise for a late-afternoon treat, especially for someone who’s not a dessert person: It’s just a little bit sweet and goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee. Get the recipe.
14. Pumpkin Chiffon Mousse with Gingersnap Crust
This mousse cake is both unusual and seasonally relevant. The light pumpkin chiffon isn’t too heavy after your Thanksgiving meal, and the gingersnap crust is an unexpected twist. Get the recipe.
15. Hazelnut-Caramel Bars
These nut bars are easy to make—the crust comes together quickly, and the hazelnut-caramel filling is a snap to make in a saucepan. Also great as leftovers! Get the recipe.
16. Apple Crostata
This apple crostata recipe is like apple pie but better. This free-from crostata is a simple version of a traditional Thanksgiving apple pie that you can make without a pie plate—try it when you’re visiting your in-laws! Get the recipe.
17. Vanilla Ice Cream Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel
Take a shortcut and use vanilla ice cream instead of making a base for this bread pudding. Not only will it save time, but the end result is absolutely fantastic. Get the recipe.
18. Gingersnap Pumpkin Cream Tart
This tart is as delicious as you imagine, and can be served any time of year. With canned pumpkin and cream cheese, it’s so quick to come together and incredibly satisfying. Get the recipe.
— Written by Caitlin O’Shaughnessy on Oct. 26, 2014; updated by Amy Sowder on Oct. 17, 2016.