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When the usual pie lineup feels boring and uninspired for your dessert repertoire, you’ve got to make a change. We’re not saying eliminate the classics like Thanksgiving pies 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.

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1. Easy Apple Dumplings

easy apple dumpling recipe

Anna Gass

These easy apple dumplings are nonetheless impressive, thanks in large part to store-bought puff pastry. And it gets better, because you can make them up to two weeks in advance and store them in the freezer, then just pop them in the oven when you’re ready to bake! It’ll be a delightful surprise when you bring out these apple dumplings to your holiday dinner crowd—and they won’t have any idea you didn’t even break a sweat over these. Get Anna Francese Gass’s Easy Apple Dumpling recipe.

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2. Maple Ice Cream


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.

3. Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce


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.

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4. Pecan Pie Bars


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.

5Cranberry Upside-Down Cake


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.

6. Salted Caramel Pots de Crème


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.

7. Pumpkin Pie Flans


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.

8. Chocolate-Cherry-Pistachio Pound Cake


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.

9. Ginger-Brandy Mini Cheesecakes


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. They’re made in muffin pans so they keep their perfect shape. Get our Ginger-Brandy Mini Cheesecakes recipe.

Related Reading: 17 New Ways to Use Your Muffin Pans

10. Cranberry Shortbread Bars


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. Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

make ahead marbled pumpkin cheesecake


This cheesecake is the perfect blend of fall flavors, with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove—plus a spicy gingersnap crust. Get our Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe.

12. Skillet Pear Cake

Skillet Pear Cake recipe


This cast iron skillet recipe proves that winter fruit is still a winner—try it with some vanilla ice cream for a home-spun, home-run dessert that everyone will love. Get our Skillet Pear Cake recipe.

Related Reading: The 9 Best Skillets of 2019

13. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

pumpkin spice cupcakes with spiced pumpkin cream cheese frosting


Cupcakes are perfectly sized for a dessert meant to follow a big meal, and since they’re already individually portioned, people can serve themselves (and grab one whenever they’re ready). These are flavored with pumpkin spice since it is the season—and topped off with fluffy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing that’s not too sweet. Get our Pumpkin Spice Cupcake recipe.

14. Pumpkin Snacking Cake

easy pumpkin snacking cake recipe with chocolate frosting

Jessie Sheehan

Another non-pie pumpkin option, this easy snacking cake is both unexpected and seasonally relevant. The creamy chocolate frosting is great with the spiced pumpkin crumb, and the best part is, you can make the entire cake—and frost it—ahead of time and stash it in the freezer. Get Jessie Seehan’s Pumpkin Snacking Cake recipe.

15. Martha Stewart’s Genoise Cake with Cranberry Curd

Martha Stewart’s Cake Perfection

If you’re up for a slightly more involved baking session, this beautiful cake epitomizes elegant simplicity. The tender sponge layers alternate with a sweet-tart cranberry curd and a snowy blanket of vanilla whipped cream in place of the usual frosting keeps the whole thing light and lovely. Get the Genoise Cake with Cranberry Curd recipe.

16. Pecan Turtle Brownies

pecan turtle brownie recipe


These brownies are easy to make, but the caramel-nut topping takes them over the edge and makes them a bit more festive. Try swapping in toasted hazelnuts for a more autumnal twist! Get our Pecan Turtle Brownie recipe.

17. Spiked Apple Galette

spiked apple galette recipe


This apple galette is spiked with apple bandy and spiced with cinnamon. As a free-form dessert, it’s a much easier alternative to a pie, but just as impressive. Get our Spiked Apple Galette recipe.

18. Spiced Walnut Apple Crisp

walnut apple crisp recipe

Alexis deBoschnek

Here’s another easy apple dessert: a fall crisp that tops the tender, cinnamon-scented fruit with walnuts and oats. Don’t skip the vanilla ice cream (or whipped cream…or both). Get the Spiced Walnut Apple Crisp recipe.

19. Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin whoopie pie recipe


For something that will make everyone smile even before they take a bite, these whoopie pies are a sure bet. The soft, spiced pumpkin cookies are sandwiches with tangy cream cheese frosting for a perfect flavor and texture pairing. Get our Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies recipe.

For more Thanksgiving tips, tricks, hacks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide.​

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Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC’s best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.
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