But maybe you're in the market for something a little different this year. Consider supplementing your roster of pies with alternative desserts—perhaps something lighter, like a pear sorbet or crunchy biscotti, or maybe something rich and chocolatey, like our dulce de leche brownies. Or maybe you can't get enough of pumpkin spice and you want to serve it up in a different form, like a cheesecake or a cupcake. If you're on board with the idea of mixing things up, keep reading for 15 of our favorite non-pie Thanksgiving desserts.
The Best Apple Crisp
If you're too slammed for time to make apple pie, apple crisp is a natural alternative. To tell you the truth, I actually prefer its crumb topping to a pie crust. Pecans are an especially good choice for the crumb, but other toasted nuts work, too. No room in the oven? We also have a recipe for a crisp that you can make entirely on the stovetop.
Gluten-Free Apple Fritters
I've personally never seen doughnuts served as a Thanksgiving dessert, but these apple fritters are certainly seasonally appropriate. We pre-cook the apple just a little before adding them to the dough so that they end up tender, not mushy. As for the dough itself, we make it with Chebe mix, so it's totally gluten-free.
Apple Oatmeal Cookies
If you are not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, but were tasked with bringing dessert, cookies are a great choice—they scale well and travel even better. Sticking with apples, these chewy oatmeal cookies are studded with chopped Granny Smiths and get most of their moisture from applesauce, which reinforces their fruit flavor.
Pear, Riesling, and Ginger Sorbet
Apples get all the love, but fall is also peak season for ripe, juicy pears. Here we poach the pears in sweet-tart Riesling and make them into a light sorbet—just what you need after a heavy dinner. We use a lot of ginger to complement the sweetness of the pears and the wine's mineral backbone, but you can cut back on the amount if it seems too spicy.
Fresh Cherry Pie
Cherries are generally thought of as a summer fruit, but cherry pie is always a hit at Thanksgiving. Our recipe uses a mix of sweet and sour cherries and is thickened with tapioca starch. The pie can be made ahead of time and frozen before baking—just let it thaw overnight and bake as normal.
Olive Oil Cake With Roasted Grapes and Chocolate Ganache
Can't decide between a fruit dessert and a chocolate one? This elegant olive oil cake will satisfy both cravings with its grapes, orange juice and zest, and bittersweet chocolate ganache. We roast the grapes before mixing them into the cornmeal batter to deepen their sweet flavor and reduce their water content.
Candied Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti
I can't drink coffee after noon without being up all night, but a lot of my family always finishes up Thanksgiving dinner with a cup of joe. If you're the same way, try making a batch of these crunchy biscotti for dunking. The light, crispy cookies are made with chocolate chips and candied almonds.
Smoked Salt, Pretzel, and Potato Chip Chocolate Bark
Chocolate bark is a holiday classic that's both easy and impressive. In this version the chocolate is complemented by a triple dose of salt from pretzels, potato chips, and smoked salt. The smoked salt adds a deliciously smoky, almost bacon-like flavor to the bark, but if you can't find it, regular coarse salt is fine.
The Best Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
As a lifelong coconut fanatic, I have an undying love for macaroons. A good macaroon is all about texture—it should be chewy (not dry) inside and crunchy outside. This recipe nails the texture by using toasted, unsweetened shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and whipped egg whites. If you don't mind your macaroons being brown instead of white, swapping the condensed milk out for dulce de leche makes for a creamier, more complex cookie.
Salted Dulce de Leche Brownies
Dulce de leche sounds fancy, but it's really just condensed milk that has been simmered in water for a few hours. If you're not making macaroons, try using it in these rich, fudgy brownies. This recipe starts with beating together butter and sugar—it's a cake technique rather than a brownie one, but these brownies need a little extra heft so that the dulce de leche doesn't sink to the bottom of the batter.
Pumpkin Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust
I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. But take those same warm, spicy flavors and put them into a creamy cheesecake and I'll be first in line for a slice. The crust is made with gingersnaps and brown sugar to complement the mellow pumpkin filling, and we top the cheesecake with homemade candied walnuts.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Icing
By Thanksgiving, you might be pretty sick of pumpkin spice, but it's worth holding out one more day to try these festive cupcakes. We make them with pure pumpkin purée to give them a real pumpkin flavor, which we then complement with a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice and a splash of orange juice. White rice flour and cornstarch keeps them gluten-free, and if you want to make them vegan you can make the icing with dairy-free cream cheese.
The Best Gingersnaps
I like my gingersnaps extra spicy, and this recipe comes through with both fresh and ground ginger. "Snap" is right there in the name, so we make these cookies with whole wheat flour and cream the butter and sugar for several minutes, which ensures they come out extra crispy. We roll the cookies in sugar before baking—granulated white sugar works, but turbinado or raw cane sugar will give them a deeper flavor and better crunch.
Moist and Chewy Lebkuchen
Cakey, chewy lebkuchen are technically Christmas cookies, but they're just as delicious at Thanksgiving. The cookies are heavily spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cardamom. We also mix in candied orange rind and crystalized ginger. You can form the dough into individual cookies, but baking it in a sheet pan and cutting it into bars is easier.
Easy One-Bowl Oatmeal Cookies
The secret to our oatmeal cookies is letting the dough rest for about 45 minutes before baking. This gives the oats time to soak up moisture from the dough and become extra tender. The result is a batch of the most perfectly chewy oatmeal cookies you've ever had. Raisins are a traditional addition, but I say go with dried cranberries instead—not only will it give the cookies some Thanksgiving flair, but the tart cranberries balance out the sweet dough wonderfully.