15 Last-Minute Thanksgiving Desserts, Because Everything's *Totally* Fine

Speedy sweet solutions to, "What about dessert?"

November 20, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, you’ve got a lot on your plate: roast the perfect bird, set the table, whip out dozens of pillowy rolls, pick up the wine, find enough serving spoons. And even if you’re a super-duper planner with spreadsheets and seat assignments, things fall through the cracks. For my family, that slip-up always seems to be dessert.

Maybe it’s because no one in my family considers themselves a “baker,” but more often than not our Thanksgiving morning involves a last-minute pie run (with an added ice cream stop) to Walmart. This year, I’m determined to be a better planner, to make a dessert as worthy as the turkey.

Okay, so homemade dessert doesn’t have to be a time-consuming pie with a from-scratch crust. (Although, please save me a slice if yours is!) Instead, I’ve thought about a variety of simple, last-minute treats that won’t add any Thanksgiving stress. Check them out below, and—no matter what—remember that everyone's grateful for your sweet efforts.

You’re committed to baking.

I get it—it’s not Thanksgiving without the smell of warming spices and buttery crusts. Make these streamlined apple treats or no-fail bakes.

Serve something unexpected.

Not everyone needs pie. From a light, bright orange (and chocolate!) dish to cozy puddings and hot chocolate, these five recipes will add a sweet twist to your feast.

Say cheese!

Take a page from the Old World and end your meal with a big, beautiful cheese board. Not only does it come together lickety-split, it's a great moment to break free from the traditional mold.

When all else fails…

My mom stockpiles gallons of ice cream for emergency situations. (Yes, "emergency" is relative.) But I’ve thought of a homemade touch: toppings! These come together in the blink of an eye and add an extra-special something to the end of your celebration.

Share your favorite last-minute desserts in the comments section below!

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Noreen F. November 20, 2018
It's just my mom and I this year and neither of us is a pumpkin pie lover, so I'm thinking about making a small pan of gingerbread with lots of whipped cream. If I get my side dishes done Wednesday night, just ready to be reheated in the oven, I'll have time to bake it in the morning on Thursday.
Noreen F. November 26, 2018
Unfortunately I came down with a cold last week, so I we had broccoli and cheese soup for Thanksgiving. I made the turkey breast and sides yesterday, but by then a half-pan of brownies left over from guests on Saturday night, so we had those for dessert. I’ll make it some time in the next few weeks.