53 Budget-Friendly Dessert Recipes

Updated: Jul. 08, 2024

Serve up something sweet without breaking the bank with these tasty cheap desserts. Each recipe is made with 6 ingredients or less, and you probably already have them in your pantry!

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Potato Chip Clusters

Just three offbeat ingredients add up to one unique, delectable, no-bake treat. These super easy, sweet-and-salty candy clusters make for merry munching during holiday trips or parties. They travel well in containers without melting or getting soft. —Donna Brockett, Kingfisher, Oklahoma

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Almond Cherry Fudge

Cooked in the microwave, this fast fudge is a sweet addition to any holiday gathering. I make it when I need a quick treat for a school party or to take to a neighbor. —Shellie Tucker, Hendersonvlle, Tennessee
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Lemon Snowflakes

You’ll need just four ingredients to make these delightful lemon snowflake cookies. Confectioners’ sugar highlights the cracked tops to give them their snowflake appearance. —Linda Barry, Dianna, Texas
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Chocolate Truffle Pie

I discovered a fast recipe for a delectable chocolate mousse some years ago and thought it might make a good filling for a pie. The chocolate lovers in our family endorse this scrumptious dessert, saying that it “melts in your mouth”! —Keri Scofield Lawson, Fullerton, California
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Apple Pan Betty

I found this apple betty recipe soon after I was married 47 years ago. It uses few ingredients, which are usually on hand, and takes little time to put together. It’s a favorite of ours in the fall and winter, when apples are at their best. —Shirley Leister, West Chester, Pennsylvania
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Chocolate Caramel Bars

Taking dessert or another treat to a church or school potluck is never a problem for me. I jump at the chance to offer these rich, chocolaty bars. —Steve Mirro, Cape Coral, Florida
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Lime Cheesecake Pie

This light citrus pie combines two of our favorite dessert flavors—lime and cheesecake. It’s the perfect treat on a hot day—and all the more inviting because you don’t have to heat up the kitchen to prepare it. —Vivian Eagleson, Lawrenceville, Georgia
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Berries with Vanilla Custard

What a simple, delectable way to enjoy fresh raspberries. For a change, also try the custard with strawberries or peaches. —Sarah C. Vasques, Milford, New Hampshire
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Easy Cake Mix Bars

I take this dessert to work for Friday pick-me-ups. It's one of my favorite yellow cake bar recipes. I love to share them because they're so easy to eat, easy to make and easy on the wallet. —Amy Rose, Ballwin, Missouri
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Crunchy Chocolate Mint Balls

Get a jump on the holidays by making these four-ingredient truffles and tucking them away in the freezer to save for gift-giving. Present them in mini cupcake holders for an extra-special touch. —Amanda Triff, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
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Mexican Wedding Cookies

As part of a Mexican tradition, I tucked these sugar-dusted Mexican wedding cookies into small gift boxes for the guests at my sister's wedding. Most folks said the cookies never made it home! We bake them around the holidays too. —Sarita Johnston, San Antonio, Texas
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Easy Ice Cream Sundae Dessert

In summer, nothing's better than ice cream sundaes. We kids couldn't wait to dig into this tempting dessert. It's cool and smooth with a ribbon of fudge inside. Whenever I make it for my family, I think of Mom. —Anne Heinonen, Howell, Michigan
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Cranberry Pecan Cookies

These are so tasty and simple to prepare! Each delightful little cookie is loaded with cranberries, nuts and vanilla, giving them the taste of a treat that’s been slaved over. —Louise Hawkins, Lubbock, Texas
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Maine Potato Candy

Years ago, folks in Maine ate potatoes every day and used leftovers in bread, doughnuts and even candy. This chocolate potato candy recipe captures the old-school flavors. —Barbara Allen, Chelmsford, Massachusetts
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Dipped Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

You’ll love to give tins of these chocolate-coated cookies to your lucky friends. The shortcut holiday recipe is almost too simple to believe! Here's how to make peanut butter cookies without eggs. —Jackie Howell, Gordo, Alabama
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Macaroon Ice Cream Torte

My family loves frozen treats. With chocolate four ways, this one is so beautiful, people think it came from an ice cream shop. —Barbara Carlucci, Orange Park, Florida
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Peach Cobbler Dump Cake

This is one of the best peach dump cake recipes in the world. It's sweet, tender cake with a beautifully crisp cobbler topping. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, and dessert's golden. —Keri Sparks, Little Elm, Texas
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Kipplens

My Great-Aunt Hilda makes this recipe every Christmas, and everybody loves them! Kipplens taste a lot like Mexican wedding cakes, but I like my aunt's version better. —Susan Bohannon, Kokomo, Indiana
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Haystack Cookies

My grandmother used to make this haystacks recipe to give to my cousin Vonnie and me when our parents didn't want us to have any more sweets. —Christine Schwester, Divide, Colorado
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Chocolate Toffee Crunchies

From the buttery crust to the golden toffee, melted chocolate and chopped pecans, these bars are filled with Noel flavor. —Joni Crans, Woodhull, New York
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Almond Pear Tart

I had never seen a "pie without a pan" until my daughter brought back this wonderful pear almond tart recipe from a Rotary Club exchange program in Belgium. It's still a family favorite after all these years. —Sherry LaMay, Capitan, New Mexico
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Frosty Watermelon Ice

Here's a fun twist on watermelon. It's so refreshing on a summer day, and you don't have to worry about seeds while you're enjoying it. —Kaaren Jurack, Manassas, Virginia
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Caramel-Pecan Apple Slices

Here's a warm, decadent side dish for fall or winter brunches. Ready to eat in only 15 minutes, the apples are also good alongside a pork entree or spooned over vanilla ice cream. —Carol Gillespie, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
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Easy Pistachio Tube Cake

Mixes make this light cake easy, and a fluted tube pan gets it holiday party-ready. Go for the pistachios on top—the extra crunch is worth it. —Dina Crowell, Fredericksburg, Virginia
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Grandma Pruit’s Vinegar Pie

This historic pie has been in our family for many generations and is always served at our get-togethers. —Suzette Pruit, Houston, Texas
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Creme de Menthe Truffles

I found this in a box of recipe clippings and decided to give them a whirl. I'm so glad I did! The minty flavor is perfect for Christmas. —Joe Mattes, Amana, Iowa
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Coffee Bean Bark

Chopped coffee beans add a yummy crunch to this pretty two-toned bark. Coffee lovers won’t be able to resist pieces of the chocolaty candy treat. —Anne Addesso, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
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Slow-Cooker Baked Apples

Coming home to this irresistible dessert on a dreary day is just wonderful; it’s slow-cooker easy. —Evangeline Bradford, Erlanger, Kentucky
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Berry, Lemon and Doughnut Hole Trifle

After my son called and said he was bringing home his college roommates, I was able to whip up this quick yet impressive dessert in only a few minutes. It's been a family favorite ever since. —Ellen Riley, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
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Church Window Cookies

These church window cookies are a hit with kids—the little ones just love the colored marshmallows! —Emmilie Gaston, Wabash, Indiana
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Strawberry Pillows

Make cookie trays extra special with these mini pie look-alikes stuffed with sweet strawberry preserves. Yum! —Amy Sauerwalt, Columbia, Maryland
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Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

My secret to these rich no-bake bites? Pretzels in the crust. They add a salty crunch to the classic peanut butter and chocolate pairing. —Jennifer Beckman, Falls Church, Virginia
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Ice Cream Cookie Dessert

Our family loves dessert, and this chocolaty, layered treat is one of Mom's most-requested recipes. It's so easy to prepare this Oreo ice cream cake! —Kimberly Laabs, Hartford, Wisconsin
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Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

I’m a busy schoolteacher and pastor’s wife and I wouldn’t dare show my face at a church dinner or bake sale without some of these tempting peanut butter treats. They’re quick and easy to make and always a hit. —Kristi Tackett, Banner, Kentucky
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Mom's Fried Apples

Mom often made these rich cinnamon-sugar apples when I was growing up. I swear the folks at Cracker Barrel copied her recipe! —Margie Tappe, Prague, Oklahoma
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Matzo Toffee

Once you start eating matzo toffee, you may not be able to stop! Matzo crackers are topped with buttery caramel, chocolate and slivered almonds and then baked to perfection. —Sharalyn Zander, Jacksonville, Alabama
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Icebox Cake

You don’t have to bake to serve a wonderful dessert! This icebox cake is made from chocolate wafers and whipping cream. It is so delicious. —Cindy Hawkins, New York, New York
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Pinwheel Mints

Both my grandmother and my mom used to make these eye-catching confections as a replacement for ordinary mints. When I offer them at parties, guests tell me the candies are wonderful, and then ask how I created the pretty swirl pattern. —Marilou Roth, Milford, Nebraska
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Chocolate Peanut Treats

When I was in high school, I took these sweet and crunchy squares to bake sales—and they were the first to sell out. I still make them for family and friends who love the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter. —Christy Asher, Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Apple Pie Bites

These apple pie bites are fun for kids to make. Simply wrap strips of pastry around apple wedges and shake on some cinnamon-sugar. Then just bake and watch them disappear! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Scottish Shortbread

My mother, who is of Scottish heritage, passed this shortbread recipe, along with other favorite recipes, on to me. When I entered this treat at our local fair, it won a red ribbon. —Rose Mabee, Selkirk, Manitoba
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Fruity Cereal Bars

With dried apples and cranberries, these crispy cereal bars are perfect for snacks or brown-bag lunches. —Giovanna Kranenberg, Cambridge, Minnesota
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Semisweet Chocolate Mousse

A friend shared this rich, velvety, chocolate mousse recipe with me. I love to cook and have tons of recipes, but this one is a favorite. Best of all, it’s easy to make. —Judy Spencer, San Diego, California
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Marshmallow Pops

Making these pops is a fun activity for a children's party because any age can participate. Customize them for holidays or special occasions by rolling them in coordinating colored sprinkles. —Marcia Porch, Winter Park, Florida
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Cranberry Bog Bars

Sweet and chewy, these fun bars combine the flavors of oats, cranberries, brown sugar and pecans. I like to sprinkle the squares with confectioners’ sugar before serving. —Sally Wakefield, Gans, Pennsylvania
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Angel Food Christmas Candy

It was my dad who inspired me to first try making this candy. He remembered it from when he was a boy. The ultimate compliment was when he told me my version tasted even better! My husband is a driver with a parcel service, so he works long hours around the holidays—which gives me time to make treats! —Shelly Matthys, New Richmond, Wisconsin
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Pear Bundt Cake

Next time you make cake from a mix, try my easy and delicious recipe. The pears and syrup add sweet flavor and prevent the cake from drying out. And since there's no oil added to the batter, this tender fall-perfect cake is surprisingly low in fat. —Veronica Ross, Columbia Heights, Minnesota
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Apple Yogurt Parfaits

Get the morning started right with this super simple four-ingredient parfait. Try chunky or flavored applesauce for an easy variation. —Rebekah Radewahn, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
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Gooey Chocolate-Peanut Bars

These are so easy to make and take no time at all. They’re great to package up for those college kids looking for something from home. Everyone will want this recipe. —Elaine Grimme, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Cream Cheese Cookie Cups

Need a quick dessert? Try these yummy cookie bites. For a pretty look, use an icing bag to pipe the filling into the cups, then top each with mini M&M's. —Rachel Blackston, Mauk, Georgia
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Coconut-Layered Pound Cake

If you love chocolate, almonds and coconut, this cake is for you. It comes together in a flash and tastes just like an Almond Joy candy bar! —Linda L. Nichols, Steubenville, Ohio
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No-Bake Cereal Bars

With two kinds of cereal and peanut butter, these bars taste almost like candy. —Pauline Christiansen, Columbus, Kansas
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Grasshopper Pie

I only need six ingredients to whip up this fluffy and refreshing grasshopper pie. I usually make two of the minty treats for our family, since we're never satisfied with just one slice. —LouCinda Zacharias, Spooner, Wisconsin