33+ Thanksgiving Desserts That Aren’t Pie

Looking for Thanksgiving desserts that aren’t pie this holiday season? While pie is a beloved classic, there’s a world of delicious dessert options waiting to grace your Thanksgiving table. These 33+ non-pie desserts are sure to satisfy your sweet teeth and add a memorable twist to any Thanksgiving feast. 

collage of four desserts that aren't pie with the text 33 thanksgiving desserts that aren't pie

When you are planning your Thanksgiving menu or Friendsgiving meal, you might be tempted to add a pie or two to the menu. 

But perhaps someone in your party just doesn’t love pie. Yes, even apple pie and pumpkin pie. We all know that person who just isn’t about pie. 

Or perhaps you are just looking for a real show-stopping dessert that everyone will remember. 

Or maybe you think pie crust is a total pain to mess with. (I’ve been in this faction before. I. Get. It.)

Don’t worry — it can still be Thanksgiving without pie, and we’ve got several easy Thanksgiving desserts for you to try. 

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    Need more Thanksgiving food inspration? Check out The Best Thanksgiving Drinks (Cocktails + Mocktails), The Best Thanksgiving Appetizers and The Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes for more ideas.

    A slice of cranberry upside down cake garnished with a dollop of whipped cream and a cranberry on a white pottery plate with other slices behind it
    Upside Down Cranberry Cake

    Why do we eat pie on Thanksgiving? 

    Pie for dessert on Thanksgiving is a tradition. But why pie? According to Martha Stewart, there are a few reasons for pie’s place on the table. 

    In the late 18th century, Thanksgiving stopped being a church-based holiday and became a holiday associated with friends and family. Around the same time, there was a wave of immigrants from the United Kingdom arriving in the United States. 

    Brits are famous for their pies and tarts — they love anything in a crust or pastry shell, from meat to fish to fruit. Many Britons settled in New England, so pie recipes abounded in that area. 

    Also, baking powder wasn’t invented until the 1940s, and it wasn’t readily available then as it is now. This made baking cakes more challenging, because you had to beat a lot of eggs to get the batter to rise. As a result, home bakers didn’t make a lot of cakes until chemical leaveners reached the shelves. 

    The last reason pie is beloved at Thanksgiving is thanks to one person: Sarah Josepha Hale, the “godmother of Thanksgiving.” Hale worked as a writer and magazine editor in the early 19th century. 

    For 17 years, Hale wrote letters to the U.S. presidents, members of Congress and the governor of every state and territory, requesting they make Thanksgiving a national holiday to help unite Americans. 

    In 1983, President Abraham Lincoln finally declared the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Hale responded by publishing recipes we still love today: for turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. 

    Types of Non-Pie Desserts

    If you’re ready to think outside the box about Thanksgiving dessert, here are some types of Thanksgiving desserts — that aren’t pie — to consider: 

    • Cakes — those who vote for cake in the great Pie vs. Cake debate will be delighted in a slice of fluffy cake with a delicious frosting at Thanksgiving. 
    • Tarts — are they pies? Maaaaaaybe. Some have traditional pastry crusts, and some don’t. Usually they have a baked or unbaked custard filling. 
    • Cheesecakes — another thing you can slice into wedges is a cheesecake, but it’s not really a pie. These creamy desserts are baked in a springform pan — and sometimes they are no-bake, too. You can always buy one store-bought and top it with sugared cranberries or cranberry sauce.
    • Cookies — cookies make a great addition to dessert tables, especially for anyone who is too full for a slice of pie. 
    • Dessert bars — think brownies, blondies and, well, pie bars. These are hand-held slices of heaven that are as great for serving on a dessert table as they are on a plate with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream
    • Puddings & trifles — desserts with layers of creamy puddings, custards, cookies and crumbles of cake are show-stopping desserts everyone will want a scoop of. 
    • Candy — who said we stop eating candy at Halloween? Fall candies like ____ are great for dessert tables or sending guests home with a sweet snack.
    • Fresh fruit — this is an easy dessert when paired with homemade whipped cream. It takes little time and adds just a bit of sweetness at the end of your meal.
    A Toasted Pecan Old Fashioned sits in a fancy glass on a blue and gold background with the ingredients
    Toasted Pecan Old Fashioned

    Pie-themed Drinks

    You can also bring in some pie vibes with drinks that are flavored like pie. Plus, many drinks are sweet so they can also work as dessert. 

    These drinks go well with pie or any of the below Thanksgiving desserts that aren’t pie. 

    The topping drips down the side of a Praline Pumpkin Upside Down Cake before serving
    Pumpkin Upside Down Cake with a Bourbon Praline Topping

    Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

    Who doesn’t love offering more than one dessert for Thanksgiving dinner that celebrates fall flavors? This time of year is all about sharing, and what better way than with delicious Thanksgiving desserts?

    Here are some thoughts for you if you’re hosting this year:

    • Offer a range of desserts. Everyone has different preferences, so be sure to have a variety of apple, pecan, pumpkin and cranberry choices. 
    • Consider your guests’ dietary preferences. Many desserts contain dairy and gluten, so take caution for anyone with serious allergies or intolerances. 
    • Whipped cream and ice cream pair well with many desserts, so be sure to stock up ahead of time. These are the perfect way to finish many dishes. Drizzles of caramel sauce and chocolate sauce can be a nice garnish, too.

    The Best Thanksgiving Desserts that Aren’t Pie

    If you’re skipping the pecan pie and chocolate pudding pie this year, I can’t blame you because there are really so many great options. 

    Cakes and Cupcakes

    Cakes and cupcakes for Thanksgiving may seem strange, but they’re actually a great way to infuse seasonal flavor in a non-pie format. 

    The topping drips down the side of a Praline Pumpkin Upside Down Cake before serving
    Praline Upside Down Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
    Serve Praline Pumpkin Upside Down Cake for Thanksgiving. It fuses seasonal pumpkin flavors and praline sweetness to offer a unique twist on a classic dessert.
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    Garnished, complete Bourbon Maple Bacon Cupcakes sit on a cake stand before being eaten
    Bourbon Maple Bacon Cupcakes
    Bourbon Maple Bacon Cupcakes are a great Thanksgiving dessert because they combine the rich flavors of bourbon and maple with the smoky, salty goodness of bacon, creating a memorable and indulgent treat.
    Get the Recipe
    Overhead of three plates holding slices of Cranberry Cake
    Upside Down Cranberry Cake
    Upside-Down Cranberry Cake is a fitting addition to any fall feast, as it features the tartness of cranberries and a caramelized topping, which complements the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
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    Fresh Apple Cake
    This Fresh Apple Cake celebrates the harvest season with the warm, comforting taste of apples, making it a delightful and homey dessert option for Thanksgiving.
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    Cheesecakes offer the same elegance as a Thanksgiving pie, but in a creamy and delicious format. 

    A sliced Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar on a wooden board with other bars
    Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie Bars
    These creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie Bars are an ideal Thanksgiving dessert, as they combine the beloved flavors of pumpkin and cheesecake with a rich brownie base. This recipe is a delightful twist on traditional pumpkin pie.
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    Pumpkin Cheesecake
    This beauty of a Pumpkin Cheesecake is that it is a perfect choice for your fall feast because of its seasonal pumpkin flavor and creamy texture. This cheesecake is the ultimate alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving dessert.
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    Mini Pecan Pie Cheesecakes
    Mini Pecan Pie Cheesecakes are a great addition to a Thanksgiving menu. This dessert merges the classic flavors of pecan pie with a rich cheesecake in one bite-sized treat. And as an added bonus, these cheesecakes are grain- and gluten-free!
    Get the Recipe

    Brownies & Bars

    These brownies, blondies and bars have all the best flavors of Thanksgiving pie, but you can eat them with your hands. You could serve them warm with ice cream for a delicious Thanksgiving sundae, too!

    Sliced Bourbon Pecan Pie Bars sit on wax paper
    Drunken Pecan Pie Bars
    Elevate your Thanksgiving dessert table with these boozy Pecan Pie Bars, which infuse the classic pecan pie with a spirited twist — in a non-pie, bar format.
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    Cranberry crumb bar on plate with milk and baking pan
    Cranberry Crumb Bars
    Add a zesty touch to your Thanksgiving dessert spread with Cranberry Crumb Bars. This recipe combines tart cranberries and sweet crumbly layers for a pie alternative bursting with flavor.
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    Stacked snickerdoodle bars on a silver tray
    Snickerdoodle Bars
    Snickerdoodle Bars will delight your guests. They bring the comforting cinnamon sugar treat to your Thanksgiving spread, but as a bar, not a cookie.
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    Dairy free Cranberry Orange Bars make a scrumptious seasonal dessert! A twist on the classic Lemon Bar, this sweet start with a crunchy homemade Graham cracker crust. Drizzle silky orange filling on top of the pre-baked crust, then sprinkle on fresh cranberries before baking. When these Cranberry Orange Bars come out of the oven, let cool, then dust with powdered sugar for the finishing touch. What a festive Christmas treat for the whole family! #sweetestseasoncookies
    Orange Cranberry Bars
    Change up your Thanksgiving dessert menu with a batch of vibrant Orange Cranberry Bars. These bars weave together zesty orange and tangy cranberry flavors in a bar that perfectly complements the traditional holiday menu.
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    Brownies stacked on top of each other on a plate with nuts
    Classic Brownies
    Savor the deliciousness of Classic Brownies as they grace your Thanksgiving dessert selection, boasting rich and decadent chocolate flavors that will satisfy every chocolate lover. You can give this classic dessert a fall twist by adding a layer of pumpkin frosting, mixing a pinch of cinnamon into the batter or adding your favorite nuts to the batter!
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    Overhead of Pumpkin Blondies with a Cream Cheese Caramel Swirl
    Pumpkin Blondies with Caramel Cream Cheese Swirl
    These Pumpkin Caramel Cream Cheese Swirl Blondies fuse the festive warmth of pumpkin with the richness of caramel and cream cheese, a fresh take on holiday treats.
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    Who said you can’t have cookies at Thanksgiving? Try adding them to your Thanksgiving dessert spread… I bet they’ll be gone in no time at all. 

    a bitten-into pecan tassies sits on a purple tiled surface in front of a white plate of more
    Bourbon Pecan Tassies
    You’ll love these Bourbon Pecan Tassies! They’re an excellent choice for Thanksgiving cookies due to their rich and nutty flavor. A hint of bourbon adds warmth and depth to these pie-like cookies.
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    A small plate stacked with Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting with a blue towel in the background
    Pumpkin Drop Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
    Pumpkin Drop Cookies make a great addition to the Thanksgiving menu. Filled with warm pumpkin and finished with a creamy frosting and a sprinkle of spices, they are a delightful alternative to traditional pie.
    Get the Recipe
    Crackly snickerdoodle cookies on a baking sheet
    Snickerdoodle Cookies
    Snickerdoodle Cookies are a classic option for the holidays. Their signature, comforting cinnamon-sugar coating complements the warm and cozy atmosphere of the Thanksgiving holiday.
    Get the Recipe

    Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Desserts

    These are desserts the kids can help to make. From no-bake recipes to ones they can help decorate, these kid-friendly desserts are great for any occasion throughout the fall season, too. 

    A stack of three Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats on a white plate
    Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats
    Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats combine the fun and chewy crunch of the classic cereal treats with seasonal pumpkin spice flavors. Kids can help make these with adult supervision, but they’ll love eating them more.
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    A scalloped plate holds a stack of Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
    No Bake Peanut Butter Bars with Pretzels
    Peanut butter pie lovers should serve these No Bake Peanut Butter Bars. They’re a convenient and child-friendly dessert for Thanksgiving, as they offer a simple and tasty treat that requires no baking.
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    A marble platter holds several decorated Spiced Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
    Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies
    Kids will love rolling out and decorating these colorful Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies. They capture the essence of the season in a familiar and easy-to-enjoy cookie form, perfect for children to eat with their hands and participate in the holiday baking fun.
    Get the Recipe

    Tarts & Crisps

    Who wouldn't love a tart or a crisp at their Thanksgiving dessert table? Serve these with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a healthy dollop of whipped cream to really bring them over the top.

    Close up of a bowl of apple crumble with ice cream on top
    Apple Crumble
    This classic Apple Crumble has the most delicious pecan crumble topping and would fly off the table when warm at the Thanksgiving dessert able. This comforting dessert combines a seasonal favorite flavor and irresistable crunch.
    Get the Recipe
    A fork, holding a bite of Creamy Cranberry Tart, sits next to a slice on a gold and white plate
    Creamy Cranberry Tart
    This delicious and colorful Creamy Cranberry Tart makes a festive addition to Thanksgiving. With its rich cranberry flavors, creamy texture and beautiful pink color, it offers a unique twist on traditional pie for the holiday.
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    A stack of plates holds a serving of Vegan Apple Crisp with Pomegranates on a dark blue background with the serving dish behind it
    Vegan Apple Crisp
    Apple Crisp is a perfect choice for Thanksgiving because it features the comforting taste of baked apples and apple pie. With a crumbly topping, it really delivers as a classic and heartwarming dessert. Serve it with ice cream for the ultimate presentation.
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    Puff Pastry Apple Tarts
    Puff Pastry Apple Tarts are a delightful option for Thanksgiving. They’re easier than apple pie, while still showcasing sweet, spiced apples with the flakiness of puff pastry.
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    Pudding, mousse & trifles

    Who doesn't love a cool and creamy dessert for the holidays? These offer unique, creamy flavors and texture to the Thanksgiving dessert table.

    Bread pudding in a turquoise baking dish on a striped towel, after baking
    Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
    Caramel Bread Pudding is a great non-pie Thanksgiving dessert. It offers a comforting, custardy treat with a rich caramel sauce, providing a warm and indulgent option for the holiday.
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    Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse
    These individual servings of Nutella Mousse make a great addition to the dessert table. This luscious, creamy, chocolate hazelnut mousse is a delightful departure from traditional pies.
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    Pumpkin Trifles
    No pumpkin pie? Pie not try Pumpkin Trifles instead? With layers of pumpkin goodness, whipped cream and pumpkin bread, these are a superb alternative to regular pie. Guests will love this festive and adorable dessert.
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    Mini Pies and Hand Pies

    Perhaps you aren’t here for making a big ol’ pie, but your party might be into these miniature versions. I thought I’d include them in case you want something pie-adjacent. 😉

    Mini Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pies, after baking, on a white platter.
    Mini Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pies
    These Mini Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pies are perfect Thanksgiving desserts because they are a delightful and bite-sized twist on a traditional favorite.
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    A Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Hand Pie is sliced in half and sits with two other hand pies on a white platter before serving
    Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Hand Pies
    Hand pies are pies you can hold in your hand! The best kind, if you ask me. These Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Hand Pies infuse the essence of bourbon and chocolate into a hand-held, pastry-encased pecan pie. These will go fast.
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    Apple Roses Recipe
    These mini Apple Roses are a lovely option for Thanksgiving desserts. Apple slices are coiled in a muffin tin to make an elegant, rose-like presentation. Serve them with ice cream or whipped cream.
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    Other Thanksgiving desserts that aren’t pie

    More ideas for you here, in case the previous ones aren't what you are looking for…

    If you're in the market for a melt-in-your-mouth decadent side dish for the holiday table, you're in luck! Bacon Streusel Stuffed Baked Apples are a THING! Stuff apples with a sweet, spiced bacon fat streusel. Bake until the apples soften and the streusel browns, then serve warm alongside turkey or ham. These Bacon Streusel Stuffed Baked Apples are the ultimate sweet-savory-salty combination for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any winter dinner party!
    Baked Apples
    Baked Apples are a traditional Thanksgiving side, but they are a great dessert too. They offer a warm and comforting treat, stuffed with bacon streusel, providing a unique twist on traditional autumn flavors.
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    Spiced Cranberry Ice Cream
    Instead of pie, serve Spiced Cranberry Ice Cream for Thanksgiving dessert. This recipe combines the tangy essence of cranberries with creamy, dreamy ice cream, delivering a refreshing non-pie option for the holiday.
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    Rose Poached Pears
    These Rosé Poached Pears are an elegant, sophisticated holiday dessert. Infusing the sweet, wine flavor of rosé into soft, delicate poached pears creates a flavorful alternative to traditional pies.
    Get the Recipe
    No-Churn Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
    This smooth and creamy Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream is a great non-pie dessert option for Thanksgiving. It captures the classic flavor of pumpkin pie in a cool and creamy ice cream form, an icy twist on the traditional holiday dessert.
    Get the Recipe
    Close up of ingredients on a hot chocolate charcuterie board
    Hot Chocolate Board
    Instead of or alongside dessert, set up a Hot Chocolate Board. This creative dessert station offers a customizable experience for every guest, making it a festive and interactive treat for the holiday gathering. Be sure to add lots of seasonal mix-ins, like cinnamon whiskey, pumpkin pie spice or Nutella.
    Get the Recipe
    collage of four desserts that aren't pie with the text the best non-pie thanksgiving desserts

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why do we eat pie at Thanksgiving? 

    Pie became a Thanksgiving tradition due to various historical factors, including the influence of British immigrants who loved pies, limited cake-making ingredients in the late 18th century, and the efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, along with her publication of beloved Thanksgiving recipes, including pumpkin pie.

    What are some Thanksgiving desserts that aren’t pie? 

    For Thanksgiving, you can make a wide range of desserts that aren’t considered pie, including cakes, cookies, brownies, bars, tarts, crisps, cobblers, puddings, mousse and trifles. Choose desserts with traditional Thanksgiving flavors like pumpkin, pecan, cranberry, sweet potato, ginger, cinnamon, caramel or chocolate.  

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    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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