Divine Dinner Party

Easy Thanksgiving Desserts
Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Desserts

With Thanksgiving dinner so big and complicated, easy Thanksgiving desserts can be a lifesaver. Having something you can whip up quickly, make ahead of time, or even pull out of the freezer is a great way to take some of the load off of your shoulders come Thanksgiving day. And actually be able to, you know, enjoy your meal.

Creative and Easy Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

Sure you could pour blood, sweat, and tears into an incredibly complex gourmet Thanksgiving dessert. But unless that's really your cup of tea, why not opt for simple and sublime instead?

The ideas below are a great starting point for coming up with your Thanksgiving dessert menu. But there are also lots of recipes and pointers at:

Freeze a Classic Thanksgiving Dessert

Delicious Pumpkin Pie for ThanksgivingI think one thing that many people forget when planning for Thanksgiving is how much time you really have: more than you think!

Sure, your turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and all that need to be done on the spot. But lots of desserts freeze beautifully… and something you can just pull out of the oven the day before Thanksgiving is pretty much the epitome of an easy Thanksgiving dessert.



Freezing Thanskgiving Pies and Cakes

Some great classic Thanksgiving desserts that freeze well are:
  • Pecan pie
  • Apple pie
  • Fruit pies, like peach, blueberry, cherry, etc.
  • Fruit crisps or cobblers
  • Brownies
  • Bread pudding
  • Most cheesecakes (I love this Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake)
  • Any butter-based cake (not sponge or angel food)
  • Mousse (like this Nutella Mousse)
  • Cupcakes (unfrosted, frosting frozen separately)
How to freeze them. Any of these easy Thanksgiving desserts will keep well for a maximum of 2-3 weeks in the freezer. Just be sure any cooked desserts are fully cooled before frozen to avoid condensation and sogginess. Then wrap them up tightly and very well (keep them in the pans to make them easy to re-warm) in multiple layers of plastic and foil. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature before reheating (if necessary) in the oven to make them taste fresh-baked.

What not to freeze. Unfortunately, a Thanksgiving dessert classic, the pumpkin pie, doesn't freeze all that well. But most pumpkin pies are ultra easy to make, and are better served at room temperature than they are fresh-baked. So simply make it a day ahead of time, and you're good to go.

Easy Thanksgiving Dessert Drinks

One way to simplify Thanksgiving dessert is by putting together some sweet beverages instead of a traditional dessert. After all, you've been eating all day. Having something to sip on after dinner could fit your celebration perfectly!

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake Thanksgiving DessertOne thing I love after a heavy meal is a sweet and creamy ice cream drink. There are so many flavors of ice cream that a milkshake (with or without alcohol) could even mimic your favorite traditional pie flavors.

Did you know that at Thanksgiving you can even get pumpkin ice cream? To make pumpkin pie milkshakes, just put a few scoops in the blender with milk, pumpkin pie spice, and some crushed cookies, whip it up, and top it with a bit of whipped cream. An easy Thanksgiving dessert that tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass. What could be better?

Autumn Fruit Smoothie

A slightly healthier option to ice cream blends would be using yogurt as your foundation. You can add all kinds of things to frozen yogurt to dress it up-- in particular consider cranberry and orange juice (fitting for the holiday), or bits of fresh fruit for a yummy smoothie!

Fancy Adult Sorbet Cup

This is one of my favorite things to make at the end of a heavy meal. Fill a pretty cup with a few scoops of lemon sorbet. Pour a shot or two of chilled limoncello liqueur over. Add a few icing flowers or other similar decoration (you can find these at your local bakery) and a mint sprig, and you're done! You've got an elegant, refreshing, beautiful dessert without having to cook a thing. When it comes to easy Thanksgiving desserts, this is about as elegant as you can get.

Fruit Display Desserts

Fruit and Chocolate (or Pumpkin Pie!) Fondue

Chocoloate Fondue with Fruit for ThanksgivingAnother way to put together easy Thanksgiving desserts is by using seasonal fruits as the centerpiece for your dessert table. A colorful array of grapes, strawberries, melon slices, berries, and pineapple becomes a feast for the eyes. Serve your pre-cut fruit pieces with a sweetened cream cheese sauce, warm chocolate sauce (these chocolate fondue fountains are great), or a warm caramel sauce (all of which you can buy pre-made at many markets!).

Or try this with this wonderful pumpkin pie fondue recipe. It's heaven and it's the perfect easy dessert for Thanksgiving!

Elegant Individual Fruit Trifles

If you're feeling a little fancy, mix your cut fruit with a bit of sugar and Amaretto liqueur, layer into tall glasses with a little sweetened whipped cream between each layer, and decorate the top with a mint leaf. Or mix sliced strawberries, blue berries and raspberries with sour cream and brown sugar. Let this sit for a little while before serving in pretty glass dessert bowls. This combination tastes just like cheesecake! Both are beautiful, light, and easy Thanksgiving desserts.

Make Your Own Dessert Buffet

Build-a-Sundae Bar

This next approach to easy Thanksgiving desserts gets your guests in on the fun. The easiest make-your-own dessert set up is sundaes. Simply provide a variety of ice creams, caramel, fruit sauces, and/or hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, and cherries. Let your guests do the rest. A lot of fun, and one your family might want to make an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

Note: If you have guests that need less sugar in their diet remember to include some sugar-free ice cream or some fruit sorbet.

Assemble-Your-Own-Crepe Bar

Another really easy Thanksgiving dessert idea that you guests make themselves begins with a pre-made batch of crepes (you can make these a day ahead and refrigerate, or even purchase them pre-made). Put a stack of crepes on one end of the buffet. Then create a pretty arrangement of trays and dishes with different fillings and toppings. Some favorites of mine are:
  • Nutella (of course)
  • Fruit pie filling (apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, etc.)
  • Canned pumpkin mixed with whipped cream or cream cheese and spices
  • Almond or peanut butter and fruit
  • Cooled bananas foster with ice cream
  • Slices strawberries with Cointreau
  • Vanilla custard
Provide some whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate sauce, and crushed nuts at the other end, and you've got an easy Thanksgiving dessert that you don't have to do yourself! A great idea if you're looking to create a new Thanksgiving tradition in your family.



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