10 Classic Holiday Dessert Recipes

Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holidays are among the few days people look forward to every year. They’re opportunities to bring together families, reconnect with friends, continue traditions, and make unique experiences. 

Thus, we invest a lot in holidays. There’s a lot of planning and prepping, especially with the holiday menu – everyone brings out their most delicious Thanksgiving meal and Christmas dessert recipes.

If you’re in the holiday prepping phase, let me help you out. Deck your holidays with this compilation of easy holiday desserts that will make your loved one’s holidays merry and full of warmth. 

1. Sweet Potato Pie 

There’s no Thanksgiving dinner table bare of this classic sweet potato pie. This sweet and creamy treat is the perfect canvas for different fall flavors: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, five-spice, ginger, and more.

Simply put, this perfect holiday treat is a complex of flavors yet simple to make. You’ll need sweet potatoes, a pie shell, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, butter, and half-and-half. 

You can switch the recommended spices for others and use cream or evaporated milk instead of half-and-half. When serving, place whipped cream on top to complete the look, taste, and experience. 

2. Pecan Pie Bars 

Do you still have some space on your Thanksgiving menu? I’ll tell you what – these absolutely amazing pecan pie bars are just the thing to fill the slot. 

You can make a pan of pecan pie bars using butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt, pecan halves, and pie crust. All these ingredients combined (except for pie crust) over moderate heat make a sweet and rich custard filling. 

This recipe is one of those easy holiday desserts you can make within a few hours. After baking and cooling, cut into bars and display them on the table. 

3. Mince Pie 

In England, one of the must-have Christmas desserts is mince pie. As the name implies, this recipe has meat as it is a traditional mincemeat pie – as weird as a meat dessert sounds, you might actually like it. 

You can make the pie crusts from scratch, with animal lard, or use ready-made. Meanwhile, the filling is a complex mixture of beef steak with sweets, candied peels, and spices. 

This recipe makes mini-pies, so you’ll need a muffin pan, but you can quickly turn it into an entire pie. Sprinkle the pastries with some powdered sugar before serving. 

4. Yule Log Cake 

Yule log cake is among the most popular holiday desserts, especially around Europe and the US. It’s a soft, log-shaped sponge cake stuffed with silky cream and covered with chocolate ganache. 

Yule log cakes are reminiscent of a holiday tradition that involves burning a whole Christmas tree. But, don’t worry, you won’t have to burn your cake, but you get to gobble it up come Christmas morning. 

This recipe has three components: chocolate cake, mascarpone whipped cream and whipped chocolate ganache. You’ll make all those and design the cake into a log from scratch. 

5. Red Velvet Cake 

Appearance and flavor-wise, red velvet cake makes a fitting, if not perfect, Christmas dessert. It’s got the color palette – red and white – and makes a great addition to the holiday season’s list of sweet treats. 

Moreover, they’re simple – just make the red velvet cake, cover with rich cream cheese frosting, and decorate with whatever you like. You can top it with fresh fruits, like strawberries, but you can also keep it clean and simple.

This red velvet cake from Sally’s Baking Recipes promises a moist cake with subtle tang and cocoa flavors. There are also hints of vanilla and butter. 

6. Russian Tea Cakes 

Despite the name, Russian tea cakes are actually more of a pastry or cookie than a cake. It’s also served during Christmas and not at tea parties. Lastly, it’s a favorite in the US but not so well known in Russia. 

But despite all that irony, Russian tea cakes make the perfect Christmas desserts. They have a buttery and nutty taste that melts in your mouth, punctuated by the crunch of walnuts. 

These sugar-coated balls need flour, butter, walnuts, confectioners or powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. The recipe lets you make 36 of them in less than an hour.

7. Christmas Cookies

Of course, our list of holiday dessert recipes would not be complete without our childhood favorite: Christmas cookies. These cookies are vanilla biscuits or sugar cookies formed into creative shapes and covered with holiday-themed frosting designs. 

To make them, you’ll need butter, white sugar, vanilla, egg, flour, baking powder, salt, and ice. You can make them soft or crispy, colorful or monochromatic, with or without festive sprinkles. 

If you don’t like icing, dip the cookies in melted chocolate, either white or dark chocolate. You can also decorate with crushed candy canes, colorful sprinkles, and other candies. 

8. Gingerbread Man 

Your holiday baking isn’t complete without this icon: the gingerbread man. This classic holiday cookie is a staple not just in fairytale stories or Shrek movies but also on our Christmas dessert tables. 

But what makes a perfect gingerbread man? Simply put, it’s a human-shaped cookie with crisp edges, a soft body, and a beautiful combination of flavors that settles on your tongue. 

You’ll need butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and salt to achieve such perfection. There’s also a mix of spices: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Finally, you need icing to decorate the cookie. 

9. Christmas Pudding

I’ve mentioned a lot of British holiday classics here, but, of course, we can’t miss out on a classic Christmas pudding. This dessert has fruits, nuts, spices, and alcohol – a lot is going on, but it all comes together nicely. 

To make this Christmas pudding, there are two components: the pudding plus the brandy and ginger butter. Make and store them ahead so you won’t have a hectic Christmas meal prep. 

For a more unique and memorable experience, you can set the pudding on flame for Christmas Day. Just pour brandy over it and put it to light. 

10. Christmas Crack (Graham Cracker Toffee Bars)

To wrap up our list of holiday desserts, let’s end on a sweet note with this Christmas Crack from Tastes Better From Scratch. Christmas Crack is a delicious, easy-to-make graham cracker toffee bar. 

There are three layers: graham cracker crust, pecan filling, and melted chocolate bar layer. It’s also customizable – you can use white chocolate instead of dark Hershey’s bars. You can also top with various candies, like sprinkles or M&Ms.

This perfect Christmas dessert is simple, needing only five ingredients: honey graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate bars, butter, light brown sugar, and chopped pecans.

10 Classic Holiday Dessert Recipes

10 Classic Holiday Dessert Recipes

Recipe by Brenda

Elevate your Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays with these classic recipes!


  • Sweet Potato Pie 

  • Pecan Pie Bars

  • Mince Pie 

  • Yule Log Cake 

  • Red Velvet Cake 

  • Russian Tea Cakes 

  • Christmas Cookies

  • Gingerbread Man

  • Christmas Pudding

  • Christmas Crack (Graham Cracker Toffee Bars)


  • Select your favorite recipe.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a holiday dessert in 30 minutes or less!


4.2/5 - (5 votes)