If you’re the kind of person that spends the entire year waiting for that moment when the first crunchy leaf hits the pavement, then your fall dessert Olympics are about to begin. Regardless of whether or not you bear witness to the changing seasons, the flavors of autumn are inescapable.
The fall season offers countless opportunities to enjoy sweetly spiced treats with others, from cozy gatherings around the fire, to school functions, brunches and, of course, the holidays. It’s also the perfect time to plan a pumpkin or apple picking adventure, yielding pounds of in-season ingredients for baking at home.
Prepare for an onslaught of warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, bountiful apple and winter squash harvests and countless ways to incorporate toasted nuts and crumbly streusel. Can you taste it yet?
Whether you’re treating yourself to a huge slice of cake, enjoying the natural sweetness of in-season produce or stocking your pantry with the seasonal spices that make these desserts so highly anticipated, there’s no better way to embrace the essence of fall than by taking on a delightful fall baking adventure at home. Your kitchen is about to become the coziest spot in town.
Think of the following collection of recipes as a treasure trove of fall-inspired delights. From cookies and blondies to pies and tarts, you’ll find an option to satisfy every craving for any occasion.
Thanks to this cozy mash-up, enjoy the nostalgic comfort of snickerdoodles in bar form. Brown butter adds warmth and richness, while brown sugar creates a pillowy soft texture. According to recipe developer Sheela Prakash, snickerdoodle blondies taste like “an edible hug.” And who doesn’t need one of those?
Made with sweetened condensed milk, toasted pecans and shredded coconut, (plus a few of the other usual suspects!), this sweet and rich frosting is what makes German chocolate cake distinct from a regular chocolate cake! To balance the sweetness, use unsweetened dark chocolate in the cake batter.
There are two types of coffee cake lovers in this world: Those who could eat a bowl of just the streusel topping and those who prefer the spongy cake. This version, with a layer of cinnamon sugar running throughout the center, will satisfy both parties. It’s perfect to pair with your morning coffee or for sharing with friends and family over a cozy brunch.
Want to experiment with a new take on a fruit crisp? Give this recipe for roasted pears with pecan crumble a go. Instead of dicing the fruit, use halved pears as the vessel for the gluten-free streusel topping made of toasted pecans and oats. And don’t forget a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream.
Jennifer Lyle is the owner of Detroit’s Lush Yummies Pie Company, which happens to be one of Oprah’s Favorite Things! It’s likely that if you make her sweet and creamy ‘Buttamilk’ Caramel Pie, it’ll become one of your favorite things. The custard filling is topped with a four-ingredient caramel sauce that will have you wanting seconds.
Imagine a world wherein exists a no-bake pecan pie. Say hello to these vegan and gluten-free pecan pie bars that don’t require any time in the oven! Simply assemble a date and pecan crust and top with the filling made with applesauce, pecan butter, coconut sugar, almond milk, coconut oil and cinnamon.
For a no-fuss dessert recipe that’s deceptively impressive, this seasonal cranberry apple crumble fits the bill. Whether you’re hosting or bringing dessert to a party, make it ahead, cover with foil and reheat to warm through just enough to melt a large scoop of ice cream.
Classic pecan pie is synonymous with the holiday season. B.J. Chester-Tamayo, who developed this version, thinks it’s so good that it should have a place on your table all year round. Her recipe walks you through how to make a perfectly flaky crust, but if you need a shortcut, store-bought will do just fine.
Spice up your classic pumpkin pie… literally. This Spiced Squash Chiffon Pie combines the rich, warming autumn flavors of pumpkin pie with a light and airy chiffon filling that tastes like a cloud. Once you try this heavenly version, which is made with roasted winter squash, you might not want to go back to your old ways ever again.
Thanks to decadent brown butter and hearty buckwheat flour, these Brown Butter Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies boast a nutty depth of flavor. Loaded with generous chunks of chopped chocolate and topped with flaky sea salt, these delightfully chewy cookies might just replace your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
There’s a reason these carrot cake cupcakes are award-winning! The staple family recipe, packed with grated carrots and topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting, was perfected by Elizabeth Chambers, owner of BIRD Bakery in San Antonio, Texas. Enjoy the warm spices of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting in cupcake form so they’re easy to share.
If you love classic autumnal flavors, make this velvety rich pie with a maple syrup filling and a gingersnap crust. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkle of maple sugar, it’s a delightful alternative to a more traditional pumpkin pie. Rest assured, you’ll still get that classic pumpkin pie texture, thanks to the custard filling made with Greek yogurt, cream cheese, brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs and cinnamon.
For those who fall into the camp that believes pecan pie to be too sweet, this Korean take, excerpted from The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes From Omma’s Kitchen, might be for you. It has a vegan-friendly filling made with pecans, cinnamon, ginger, sesame seeds and the secret ingredient, paht: a red bean paste that tamps down the sweetness compared to more customary pecan pie filling.
Looking for a simple dessert that looks like it took a lot of effort to make? Try making an elegant dark chocolate bark, studded with ginger and tart pomegranate gems. The dried and fresh fruit elevates the bark into a highly giftable (and stunning) treat.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Martha Stewart is the queen of aspirational yet accessible recipes. Uplevel your standard fruit cobbler with quince cooked in maple and vanilla and topped with mounds of cornmeal biscuit dough. The opening in the center releases steam but also showcases the bubbling fruit filling, resulting in a showstopping presentation.
Courtesy of Sweet Laurel Bakery, this gluten-free carrot cake recipe will satisfy most tricky dietary needs. The almond flour cake batter instructions even includes a vegan swap option, suggesting a blend of chia and flax seeds in place of eggs. For the frosting, use blended raw cashews, nut milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract. No one will be the wiser!
Move over piecaken, the Cherpumple is the latest seasonal dessert mashup that’s about to be on everyone’s lips. What is it exactly? This masterful creation combines three different pies (cherry, pumpkin and apple) baked into three different layers of cake (chocolate, spice and yellow). Each layer is slathered with a generous layer of cream cheese frosting to tie it all together. For ease, store bought pies are encouraged! Assembly is required.
For an added depth of flavor, give your pecan pie an extra oomph by infusing it with molasses and a splash of bourbon. Even the most devout pecan pie purists won’t be able to refuse. (Especially if you add a dollop of homemade whipped cream.)
‘Tis the season for all things cranberry. Showcase the gem of the season in the form of an inviting skillet cake! This beautiful berry-studded treat will stun your guests, both visually and in terms of taste. The best part? You can cook it while you eat dinner and it’ll be ready for dessert. (Plus, it makes a great breakfast the day after.)
Give your holiday table something to talk about! This recipe, a cross between pumpkin and apple pie (plus wine!), dates back to the 1670s. The pumpkin gets fried in butter and layered over sliced apples in a store-bought (or homemade) crust. Flecked with raisins, currants, sugar and sherry, each bite of this pie is a celebration of fall flavors.
Celebrate the bounty of apple picking season with a rustic galette. Arrange thinly sliced apples on a flaky pastry crust, and top with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and lemon juice. It’s less laborious than a pie, but no less delicious.
Speaking of unfussy apple pie, let’s supersize it. No lattice, no crimping, no pie dish necessary. Simply roll out homemade or store-bought dough onto a baking sheet, top with the filling, then fold over into an extra-large galette. Slice with a pizza cutter for ease!
Fans of chai tea will go crazy for this apple coffee cake infused with ground cardamom, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. This bundt-shaped cake is studded with large chunks of fresh apple and topped with a streusel crunch. It makes for a gorgeous breakfast, afternoon snack or dessert, so you can enjoy it all day everyday.
These delightfully chewy cookies are made with an apple cider reduction, cinnamon and brown sugar. Drizzle with homemade vanilla icing and pair with a cup of tea. Or one better: a glass of piping hot mulled cider.
Chances are you know of a distant relative with a classic thumbprint cookie recipe! This version reimagines the standard jam-filled version, swapping it for homemade apple butter. The dough is mixed with buckwheat flour and sprinkled with sugar and ground walnuts for added sweetness and texture.
This triangular-shaped cookie is traditionally made for the Jewish holiday Purim. This year, try adding a fall-flavored twist: apple pie filling!. Pro tip: use a food processor to coarsely chop the apples, leaving some chunks throughout. If you want to shorten prep time, use store-bought pie crust for the dough brushed with an egg wash for a glossy, golden finish.
There’s a reason apple pie is a mainstay on nearly every holiday dessert table: it’s simply the best. This year, put your apple picking haul to good use with this classic rendition. This recipe walks you through making the perfect flaky dough step by step, so you’ll feel like a seasoned pro.
If the thought of putting cheese in apple pie gives you pause, you’re probably not alone. But don’t knock it ‘till you try it! This savory spin on the classic combines sweet apples with nutty brown butter, earthy sage and creamy Winnimere cheese. The complex flavor combo will have you wondering why you haven’t been making apple pie like this all along!
Want to know the secret ingredient to Al Roker’s apple crisp? Chinese five-spice powder! The other key is portioning the apple filling into individual ramekins and piling on the crispy topping so everyone at your table has their own personal dessert.
Cream cheese frosting isn’t only for red velvet cake! It’s also the perfect topping for this easy, make-ahead apple loaf cake. How far ahead, you ask? Once baked and cooled, the cake can be tightly wrapped and frozen until Thanksgiving. Plus, the cream cheese frosting can be made up to 14 days in advance and stored separately in the fridge.
Use whole, peeled and cored apples for this throwback recipe, then fill the dumplings with raisins, walnuts and honey, and top with cinnamon and butter. The end result is everything you love about fall flavors wrapped up like a present.
Break out your spiralizer to put a new spin on this classic dessert (pun intended). By spiralizing instead of peeling and chopping your apples, you’ll end up with beautiful curled fruit ribbons that add a show-stopping detail to your dessert. The lattice topping is optional but highly encouraged.
Mix up your pie game (quite literally) with this apple-cranberry dessert recipe by Curtis Stone. Not only do the cranberries add a tangy flavor to balance out the sweetness of the apples, but they also give your pie a festive pop of color, fit for a holiday table.
Pay homage to fall by making these individual apple-bourbon potpies, following Martha Stewart’s recipe. If the buttery, flaky crust and boozy apple filling isn’t enough for you, the presentation alone should put this dessert at the top of your wishlist.
It doesn’t get simpler than Dylan Dreyer’s apple crisp recipe. Peel and slice Granny Smiths and mix with sugar, flour, cinnamon and water. The topping is just as easy as the filling: quick-cooking oats, more flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter.
The next time you’re tapped to bring dessert to a festive fall gathering, make Giada de Laurentiis’s spiced apple walnut cake with cream cheese icing. The bundt pan instantly elevates the cake’s presentation — and so does the luxurious icing.
As their name suggests, these chewy apple-stuffed dumplings are a new spin on the classic Polish pierogi! Conceptualized by Casey Barber, the author of Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food, these fall-inspired pierogies can be enjoyed day or night. Like their more traditional counterparts, toss these pierogies in melted butter, or (unlike their traditional counterparts) drizzle with caramel sauce and top with whipped cream.
Looking to stand out at your next dessert swap? Alex Guarnaschelli’s Apple Tarte Tatin with Cranberry Caramel will do the trick. Don’t let the fancy-sounding name fool you. According to this dessert’s lore, two sisters dropped the tart on the floor and served it upside down, resulting in its now iconic inverted presentation.
Simple is the name of the game with this recipe. In order to cut this crisp’s cook time in half, use two skillets: one for the apples and one for the topping. Plus, make it even easier by leaving the skin on the apples.
Pumpkin pie meets cheesecake in the form of these perfectly portioned mini masterpieces. A creamy base of spiced pumpkin cheesecake filling sits atop a packed gingersnap crust and is baked in individual ramekins for an elegant presentation. If you can’t find gingersnaps, use graham crackers instead.
What sets this No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake apart is its effortless preparation. Unlike traditional cheesecake, it’s not made with eggs, which means that it doesn’t require baking and is a cinch to whip up. Make it ahead and refrigerate for 4 hours, or up to overnight, for a hassle-free dessert.
It doesn’t get much more traditional than a slice of creamy pumpkin pie. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, use fresh pumpkin, which you can prep in advance.
Kick your pumpkin pie up a notch with a buttery, crumbly streusel that adds texture to a creamy slice. The smooth and crunchy combination will have you wondering why you didn’t try this technique sooner.
It’s not fall unless everything is pumpkin flavored — including chocolate chip cookies! The pumpkin purée makes these cookies extremely soft and moist, and creamy almond butter gives a subtle nuttiness. I bet you didn’t guess these were gluten-free and vegan either!
Spooky season isn’t complete without these pumpkin spice ‘ghoulmen,’ a riff on classic gingerbread men! Use pumpkin pie spice (of course) to flavor the dough and whip up a simple royal icing, then decorate as desired.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of making pumpkin pie from scratch, Curtis Stone’s no-fail recipe is, well, easy as pie. His most important tip? Place the pie on the lowest rack of the oven to ensure that the bottom of the dough cooks through. And of course, top with fresh whipped cream and extra warming spices.
Any excuse to have cake for breakfast is well worth it, and few pleasures in life are better than a slice of pumpkin cake — er— bread, topped with a pat of butter. This recipe yields two loaves so you can enjoy one now and freeze another for later (or give one to a friend if you’re feeling generous.)
A cross between pumpkin pie and French toast, this decadent treat is sure to be the star of your table. A scoop of this warm bread pudding, which is made with challah bread, is pure comfort on a plate. And as if you needed any extra convincing to make this recipe, you can make it ahead (before baking) and put it in the oven just before you plan to serve it.
Forget about waking up early to make breakfast. If you’re hosting overnight guests, add this crowd-pleasing casserole recipe to your repertoire. Make this a few days ahead and pop it in the oven an hour before guests arrive (or arise!). The extra time in the fridge just makes this even more flavorful and custardy.
Festive pumpkin pie shots are a cause for celebration. Use a shaker to mix caramel vodka, pumpkin spice liqueur and RumChata. Pour into sugar rimmed shot glasses when you’re ready to get your fall fest on.
According to former TODAY host Natalie Morales, “flan is the perfect way to end a Thanksgiving feast” because it’s creamy, light and fuss-free. Just be sure to carefully caramelize the sugar, ensuring that it doesn’t burn. Once the sugar turns light brown, pour in the flan mixture, place in the double boiler pan and bake until set.
Layer gingersnap cookies and generous dollops of homemade pumpkin pudding to create this wow-worthy dessert. As they’re refrigerated, the cookies will soften from the moisture of the pudding making this perfectly scoopable. Make sure to dollop with a generous heap of whipped cream.
PSL purists take note: While this bundt cake batter doesn’t contain any espresso, it’s still a spot-on dupe for your favorite fall drink. You might find solace in the fact that it’s made with easy shortcuts like spiced box cake mix, instant vanilla pudding and canned pumpkin, which magically combine to create a symphony of fall flavors.
Move over caramel corn — this pumpkin-pie-spiced popcorn is the snack of the season. Simply combine pumpkin purée, maple syrup and pie spice, then pour evenly over two trays of popped popcorn. Bake in the oven until the coating solidifies on the kernels, then season with salt and more warming spices to taste.
For a more avant garde take on pumpkin pie, this deep-dish, phyllo-crusted version fits the bill. Layer sheets of store-bought phyllo in different angles in the pan to create a sculptural base. Then fill with a custard-y pumpkin batter spiced with Chinese five-spice powder (which contains cinnamon and clove), maple syrup and vanilla.
Here’s an idea for how to turn plain Greek yogurt into a more decadent (but still good-for-you!) treat. Whip heavy cream in a stand mixer along with a touch of maple syrup and fold into Greek yogurt. Layer the whipped yogurt with a mixture of pumpkin purée sweetened with more syrup plus ground cinnamon and top with toasted nuts for a festive parfait.
Heads will roll over this roulade-style pumpkin cake. While still warm, pumpkin cake slathered with a ginger cream cheese frosting is rolled into a stunning spiral. Once cut, each slice becomes a mesmerizing pinwheel of fall flavor.
Dessert queen Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame is to thank for these Easy-as-Pie Pumpkin Bars. “When fall strikes, I long for cozy, gooey treats, but I am not always down to make a full pie,” says Tosi. “These little squares deliver big on dessert magic.” If you’re craving a different fall flavor, apple butter makes a great swap for the pumpkin in this recipe.
Food Network’s Marcella Valladolid wows with a festive fall cheesecake topped with shards of pumpkin brown sugar brittle. While the cheesecake is baked with butternut squash, it’s topped with pumpkin seeds, so it still counts in the pumpkin category! This is a great reminder that you can always swap pumpkin for other types of winter squash or even sweet potatoes.
If you want to channel fall farmers’ market vibes, these sugar-dusted pumpkin fritters made with roasted fresh pumpkin will transport you there immediately. Take them one step further by dipping them in pumpkin caramel. This is the perfect post-pumpkin picking weekend project.
Cinnamon buns are a labor of love and these multi-step pumpkin cinnamon buns are no exception. Fun fact: The ingredients list calls for instant mashed potato flakes, which results in soft, moist buns. (The more you know…)
What do you call a pumpkin pie that’s made without a crust, oven or a pie dish? Pumpkin pie mousse! This quick and easy recipe tastes just like pumpkin pie filling, but is lighter and airier, thanks to the whipped cream folded throughout. Top with crushed cookies and serve out of a stemless wine glass with a spoon!
Sweet Potato Desserts
Indecisive guests will fawn over this sheet-pan dessert created by Jocelyn Delk Adams. It features the holiday pie-fecta: sweet potato, pecan and pumpkin. If making three pies in one feels like too mighty of a task, use canned sweet potato, canned pumpkin and store-bought pie crust for ease. Slice this into little squares and place bets on which flavor goes first.
These veggie-studded brownies made with sweet potato and shredded zucchini (for added moistness) will be the sleeper hit of your dessert table. Thanks to quinoa or oat flour and honey for sweetness, these brownies are gluten-free and better-for-you than a boxed version. Serve these and see who can guess what the secret ingredient(s) are.
According to Patti LaBelle, the secret to a tender, flaky pie crust is using shortening, not butter. The other secret to this classic sweet potato pie? Patti cooks a thin layer of brown sugar into the bottom crust, which adds flavor and keeps the crust from getting soggy. Don’t be shy about the sweet potato — it’s the star of the show here.