Our favorite holiday desserts with pumpkin, apples, pecans and more

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake.
No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. (Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

I’m a fairly disciplined eater, but if there was a time I’d be most tempted to skip the main meal and go straight to dessert, it would be Thanksgiving. Sure, the rest of the dishes are great, but, oh my, the sweets!

And if there are a few to choose from, all the better. When the options include recipes starring apples, pecans, pumpkin, sweet potato and more seasonal delights, the more the merrier. Case in point? We’re getting close to 100 Thanksgiving dessert recipes in our archives. To help you sort through the options, here’s a collection that includes classic and innovative takes on the staple pies mentioned above, as well as some wild cards for those looking to branch out.

How much turkey per person? And other Thanksgiving questions, answered

As a reminder, most pies can be made two or more days in advance. If you go the cake or cookie route, those can also generally be stored at room temperature for a few days, or frozen for even longer.

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

This was the runaway hit from my simpler Thanksgiving menu last year. I combined pumpkin pie and a no-bake cheesecake for an ethereal and easy-to-assemble dessert. Making it even easier is a store-bought graham cracker crust. Get the recipe.

Choose simple or show-stopping recipes for your holiday meal


Silky Pumpkin Pie

Our pie queen Daniela Galarza elevates this classic with a few smart twists, including cooking the pumpkin and straining the filling, for an ultrasmooth result. Serve with Pecan Butterscotch Sauce to get the best of both worlds with that other holiday favorite. Get the recipe.


Pumpkin Tassies

What’s better than one big pie? Lots of mini pies. Daniela’s petite pumpkin pies can be served with any or all of the other recipes in her tassies package. Get the recipe.

Other pumpkin ideas: No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (light and low-lift); Libby’s New-Fashioned Pumpkin Pie With Dulce de Leche and Cardamom (an upgraded version of the staple recipe); Pumpkin Creme Brulees (elegant, made in Instant Pot); Maple and Pumpkin Custard (just the filling, baked in a cast-iron skillet); Fluffy Pumpkin Buttermilk Pie (gingersnap crust, light and fluffy filling); Vegan Pumpkin Pie With Coconut Cream (with molasses and pureed pecans!); Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust (featuring a short bake time and a press-in crust); Pumpkin Hazelnut Bars (easier to transport than a pie).

Two-bite tassies get all your Thanksgiving pies on one plate


Zesty Apple Pie

Have fun mixing and matching different apple varieties for a blend of flavors and textures. The filling is amped up with loads of spices and a glug of bourbon. Get the recipe.

The best apples for baking


Apple Crumble Tassies

If apple pie stresses you out, try these mini versions with a simple press-in crust and a buttery crumble topping. Get the recipe.

More apples: Caramel Apple Pie With an All-Butter Crust and Painted Cutout Topping (no lattice crust, just pretty cutouts); Apple Sharlotka (one-bowl Russian cake); Apple Tarte Tatin (stunning pie alternative); Apple Cranberry Crumb Pie (from our Voraciously Baking Basics newsletter series by Joy “the Baker” Wilson); Albemarle Pippin Apple Cobbler (perfect for any tart apple); Tiffany MacIsaac’s Double-Crust Apple Pie (classic!); Caramel Apples (a wild card, but fun).


Brown Butter Pecan Pie

Daniela takes a Thanksgiving staple to the next level with nutty brown butter and loads of pecans. Serve with dollops of Pumpkin Mousse so you don’t have to choose a favorite. Get the recipe.


Pecan Bundt Cake

Not pie people? This cake would be a stunning centerpiece, especially with your showiest Bundt pan. Get the recipe.

More pecans: Pecan Tassies (more bite-size pies); Whiskey-Laced Pecan Pie (jazzed up with whiskey or rum); Creole Pecan Praline Bars (easy slab dessert); Bourbon Pecan Pie (vegan, sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar); Date Pecan Pie (best served cold); Pecangipane Pear and Cranberry Tart (looks fancy, freezes well).


Cranberry Apple Crisp

Simple and comforting, this dessert is doable for even non-bakers. For extra flourish, serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Get the recipe.


Cranberry Tart With Gingersnap Cookie Crust

Elegant but approachable — and quite tart! — is how I’d describe this dessert filled with a cranberry curd. Get the recipe.

More cranberries: Roasted Cranberry Pie With Meringue and a Press-In Cookie Crust (a real looker); Instant Pot Cranberry Bourbon Bread Pudding (makes great use of your multicooker); Tiny Tim Cranberry Tarts (two-bite tarts with a cream cheese pastry); Cranberry Apple Lattice Pie (with a red wine and cranberry compote); Apple Cranberry Brown Betty (a lighter take on a classic); Cranberry Tart With Hazelnut Crust (lets the berries really shine).


Sweet Potato Pie With Almond Crust

Slow-roasting the potatoes brings out their natural sweetness, which is complemented by the nutty crust that happens to be gluten-free. Get the recipe.


Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie

This pie from the famed singer and cookbook author — you may recall its video fame — has more nutmeg than you might be used to. Go with it; it works. Get the recipe.

More sweet potatoes: Sweet Potato Pie With Macaroon Crust (zesty and gluten-free); Sweet Potato Pecan Dessert Cups (individual desserts, mash-up of sweet potato and pecan pies); Brown Sugar-Sweet Potato Cake (dense and moist); Persian-Spiced Sweet Potato Pie (no precooking of sweet potatoes required).


Frozen Maple Mousse

Essentially a no-churn ice cream, this treat can be made up to 2 weeks in advance, taking the pressure off yourself come holiday time. Get the recipe.


Sour Cream Maple Cake With Maple Buttercream Frosting

This autumnal cake is one-bowl, which is just the thing you need to cut back your dishwashing on such a busy day. Get the recipe.

More maple: Maple and Pumpkin Custard (like a crustless pie); Maple Bread Crust Pudding With Salted Caramel Sauce (thrifty and tasty).

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