Apple picking, leaf peeping and scarf wearing are a few of the perks of fall. But out of all the things to love about autumn, we think fall desserts take the cake. There's just something particularly pleasing about a kitchen filled with the smells of the season swirling together in the oven.
For every person that relishes the candle section at a home goods store — whiling away the hours wafting pumpkin, vanilla and spice — fall desserts provide that sensorial satisfaction, only so much more. Because, ya know, you can actually eat the desserts (as tempting as it might be to eat the candles).
Fall desserts take us through multiple seasons — not just autumn. They hit the spot when summer ends and can satisfy well through the winter months when warmth, coziness and comfort foods are priorities in home cooking. First, we have the traditional fall desserts: the apple crisps, pumpkin pies and pecan pies. Then there are the variations using all the beautiful ingredients fall has to offer — of which there are many. We're talking earthy walnuts, sweet potatoes, warm cinnamon, carrots, juicy pomegranates, pears and plump cranberries. Just thinking about the season's harvest makes us hungry!
So, without further ado, let's preheat the oven and get baking! Here are TODAY Food's fall favorites that are sure to sweeten everyone's day.
"(This pie) was my grandmother's favorite, then my grandfather's, then mine," says Jennifer Lyle. It's not super complicated to make and uses simple ingredients you usually have around the house to make something truly wonderful.
"I love making anything with apples and this recipe is more fun than a standard apple pie. They’re almost like individual apple pies with a little surprise in the middle!" says Dylan Dreyer about this classic recipe from Better Homes & Gardens.
Sometimes we just need a classic when it comes to fall-flavored classics. And it doesn't get more traditional and delicious than homemade pumpkin pie.
Apples may be available year-round but fall is when you're likely to find the crunchiest, most flavorful beauties at your local farmers market. For this pie, the apples are sliced with a spiralizer, which creates a cool-looking ribbony filling in minutes.
This pie has the same creamy texture and simple stir-and-bake assembly as pumpkin pie but is a little more versatile. With its gingersnap cookie crust and billowy clouds of sweetened whipped cream, it tastes like the beginning of fall.
Juicy fresh cranberries add a delightful tang to a classic apple pie in this delicious dessert. Making a lattice on top of the pie isn't as tricky as it may seem, and this recipe has an easy to trick to fool everyone into think you hand-wove the dough!
Individual apple pies topped with golden, flaky crust are the perfect finale for a cozy fall dinner. Store-bought puff pastry (all butter, please!) makes them easy; a boozy apple filling (we used bourbon, but another whiskey or even rum works, too) makes them totally decadent. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
This recipe, which is Anthony Contrino's most requested recipe, yields two loaves. It's perfect because then you'll always have something extra to give out as a gift at fall festivities. It's super moist and makes a great dessert, breakfast or anytime snack.
Here's a dessert that's both healthy and delicious. It's made with dark chocolate and pomegranates, both of which are great sources of good-for-you antioxidants. And did we mention that it has just four ingredients?
No time or patience to bake a pie? Make a fruit crisp instead. This recipe from Dylan calls for just a handful of ingredients and is super simple to put together.
Walnuts, which are harvested in the fall, are a lovely match for apples in this elegant cake from Giada De Laurentiis.
Eating this is like having the most delicious cloud of pumpkin pie. It's light and fluffy yet with all the deep flavors of the heavier classic version. Exactly what you want after eating an indulgent meal.
A cross between pumpkin pie and French toast, this super-decadent caramel pumpkin bread pudding is an awesome addition to any dessert or decadent brunch spread.
Pumpkin flavors may be most popular when the leaves begin to change color in the fall, around Thanksgiving and through the winter holidays. But give the delicious fall flavor a little love throughout the year with this gorgeous, no-bake pumpkin cheesecake. The spices are warm, but the oven doesn't have to be.
Take the humble cobbler up a notch: Slices of quince are cooked in a warm bath of maple and vanilla until tender and sweet, then baked under mounds of cornmeal-spiked biscuit dough. An opening in the center of the topping lets steam escape and reveals the bubbling, rosy-hued filling.
With this casserole, you can make it a day or two ahead and just pop it in the oven an hour or so before brunch, which makes it especially fantastic for having friends or family over. Plus, it always makes the house smell of pumpkin spice, maple syrup and freshly brewed coffee at brunch time.
Enjoy all the wonder of pumpkin pie in one tasty sip. These shots are perfect for any fall celebration where you don't want to be slicing up cakes and other confections. Just pass around and enjoy!
This berry-studded cake is festive enough for the holiday table but comes together so easily, you can mix it up anytime. Pop it in the oven as you're sitting down for dinner. If you have leftovers, no one will judge you for digging in at breakfast the next day.
This recipe is easy and it can be made in advance, which is great when you have a little extra time on your hands or are getting things ready for a party. Its crumbly topping adds that extra touch to the creamy, pumpkin filling.
Natalie Morales keeps this no-fuss flan straight to the point vanilla and condensed milk but gives it some added fall flair with pumpkin pie flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg. Each bite feels cool going down with a warm touch.
Avoiding gluten and dairy these days? You can still enjoy carrot cake, as this simple yet delicious recipe from Sweet Laurel Bakery proves.
This creamy pudding is one of Valerie Bertinelli's favorite desserts to make in the fall. The warm spices complement the sweet pumpkin perfectly.
These irresistible bars have strong cookie, pie and cobbler vibes all in one. While the sour cherry gives a vibrant tartness that we happen to love, feel free to swap out with any jam you enjoy.
This is a fun recipe that will please everyone, even the pickiest people, during the holidays. You can have three different flavors of pie all in one, so everyone is satisfied.
"I have 101 Bundt cake recipes on my website, but this one is my very favorite. It's always moist, it's always delicious and it always tastes just like fall," says Shay Shull about this sweet, spicy dessert that only requires five minutes of prep.
Get your apple-pie fix outside of the pie shell with these fun little pockets of fruity goodness. They make the whole house smell phenomenal and are easy to serve a crowd.
Technically six (yes, six!) desserts in one, the cherpumple combines cherry, pumpkin and apple pies with three different flavors of cake, all stacked high under a blanket of cream cheese frosting. Consider it the turducken of desserts. It sounds intimidating, but it's way easier to pull off than you could imagine.
No, it's not a spelling error. This is a recipe that dates back to the 1670s. It's a pumpkin and apple pie hybrid using wine. It's definitely different from a modern recipe, but its old-world charm and seasonal flavors make it a timeless dessert.
Potatoes … in brownies?! Baked and mashed sweet potatoes are the secret to this chocolaty treat. The starchy root vegetable actually brings richness and moisture to this healthy, gluten-free dessert.
Patti LaBelle makes one mean sweet potato pie, and even sells a pre-made version. But nothing beats homemade. And thanks to this handy recipe, you can make her famous pie in your own kitchen whenever you're craving it.
Give your popcorn an addictive, pumpkin-y spin by tossing a batch with a sweet and caramel-like sauce and then crisping it in the oven. It helps take a standard snack from good to, well, incredible. Plain crunchy popcorn becomes completely irresistible with the cozy warm flavors of fall. You will not be able to stop popping — and that's totally fine because there's only 45 calories per cup and a dose of filling fiber. Munch on, folks.
Did you know that fall is actually peak carrot season? Put those babies to good use in this recipe for carrot cake cupcakes from Elizabeth Chambers of Bird Bakery in San Antonio, Texas.
Try this deep-dish pumpkin pie when you want to put a modern spin on an old favorite. Adding Chinese five-spice powder to the filling may seem unorthodox, but two of its components (cinnamon and clove) can already be found in standard pumpkin-pie spice. The dramatic crust is delightfully easy to create.
Apples team up with another fall favorite — cranberries — in this impressive dessert from chef Alex Guarnaschelli.
This easy pear dessert takes just 10 minutes of active prep time — pop it in the oven before dinner and the dessert will be ready by the time you're done eating the main course.
This recipe is quick, easy and tastes just like a pumpkin pie. It requires no crust, no oven and no fancy tools. It can also be made a day in advance.
Thick Greek yogurt, dates that taste like caramel, maple syrup, pumpkin and nutmeg combine into a delightfully creamy dessert that's low in sugar but still full of bold flavor that hit the spot when you're craving something sweet.
This creamy pudding is one of Bertinelli's favorite desserts to make in the fall. The warm spices complement the sweet pumpkin perfectly.
Cinnamon and pumpkin cakes get rolled up into a log swirled with cream cheese frosting. They're perfect for dessert, a sweet breakfast treat with coffee or autumn entertaining.
"When fall strikes, I long for cozy, gooey treats, but I am not always down to make a full pie. These little squares deliver big on dessert magic," says Christina Tosi.
These pumpkin cookies are like fluffy clouds of pumpkin-spice heaven. The pumpkin adds a subtle flavor that isn't too overpowering, while lending to the extremely soft and fluffy texture of these cookies, to make them almost cake-like.
Impress guests throughout fall festivities with Marcela Valladolid's stunning pumpkin cheesecake topped with shards of pumpkin-brown sugar brittle.
This recipe is all pumpkin all the time! The crispy fritters are made from fresh roasted pumpkin then they get a dip in sweet pumpkin caramel infused with homemade pumpkin butter.
Pumpkin puree is cheap and helps make tasty treats. Use pumpkin puree to make these unbelievable pumpkin cinnamon buns from scratch with this recipe from Gesine Bullock-Prado.