40 Lightened-Up Christmas Desserts
While there's no end to delicious food to eat around Christmas, it doesn't all have to be heavy and calorie-laden! These lighter Christmas desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth without weighing you down.
Cornmeal adds a rustic quality to this delicate dessert flavored with citrus and almond. It’s sure to be a staple in your Christmas desserts collection and also makes a great holiday party hostess gift. —Roxanne Chan, Albany, California
This recipe is special to me because it allows me to treat my dinner guests to a special, unusual dessert. The bright, vivid colors are perfect for the holidays. Omit the Prosecco when serving to children. —Jerry Gulley, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
The best of both worlds, I combined my grandmother’s gingerbread recipe with my aunt’s special brown sugar meringue to make these lovable dessert bars. —Eden Dranger, Los Angeles, California
A friend of mine, who is known for her excellent cookies, shared this recipe with me. The mix of cranberries and cherry preserves is so refreshing. —Lisa Kilcup, Gig Harbor, Washington
What a great make-ahead dessert! This cake log is perfect for the holidays because you can make it when you have time, store it in the freezer and scratch dessert off of your to-do list. —Brenda Sinclair, Princeton, Missouri
These are fun, refreshing and low in fat! —Lynn Bernstetter, Lake Elmo, Minnesota.
End the meal with a flourish with this easy and elegant dessert. A hint of orange lends just enough sweetness to temper the wine’s bold taste. —Julianne Schnuck, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
These little cakes have become a favorite of our guests. They are always surprised that such chocolaty desserts are so light—less than 200 calories apiece! —Kissa Vaughn, Troy, Texas
I always keep fat-free frozen yogurt on hand. By combining it with just four other ingredients, I can quickly whip up this great-tasting treat.—Anne Smithson, Cary, North Carolina
This is the perfect guilt-free version of a classic Christmas dessert. My friends even say that they prefer my lighter recipe over other tiramisu.—Ale Gambini, Beverly Hills, California
Are you ‘sweet on’ someone who’s counting calories? Show them you care with this light and refreshing dessert. It’s sinfully creamy and so pretty with the tart raspberry sauce. No one would ever guess that it’s fat-free! —Judi Janczewski, Berwyn, Illinois
These fanciful sugar cubes are sure to make a splash at your next holiday tea. They’re sweet additions to your table and are also fabulous holiday food gifts.—Kara Cashion, Ottawa, Ontario
Classic dessert bar meets good-for-you ingredients in this updated recipe. If you have the patience, after the bars are cool, store them in a tin for a day to allow the flavors to meld…I think they taste even better the next day.— Heidi Lindsey, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin
Hints of orange and coffee lend standout flavor to this elegant cannoli-inspired cake. A variation of this cake was a finalist in the Best Cake in Michigan contest. —Mary Bilyeu, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Off-the-charts cuteness makes it nearly impossible for guests to resist these fluffy, coconutty treats. Luckily, they’re really easy to make—no oven needed. Merry Christ-mouse to you! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
I come from a big Italian family where my mom cooked and baked many delicious meals and desserts from scratch. Now I like to do the same for my family. This cake is my finale to our Italian Christmas Eve dinner. —Cathy Banks, Encinitas, California
Taste autumn aromas—apples, cinnamon and spices—in this delicious recipe. It’s even better with a scoop of vanilla or homemade pumpkin ice cream! Whipped cream is always an option. —Holly Battiste, Barrington, New Jersey
Instead of traditional pumpkin pie, try this flavorful light holiday dessert. My husband’s aunt shared the recipe after she brought this treat to a family party. —Nancy Zimmerman, Cape May Court House, New Jersey
This is a traditional recipe I make for the holidays. My close friend and I used to bake together until she moved 1,300 miles away. Now when I make this dish, I’m reminded of our time together. —Eileen Wolf, Abington, Pennsylvania
This pudding is exactly what its name promises—light and creamy. Because it uses soy milk, it’s a smart dairy-free milk alternative if you’re lactose intolerant. —Deborah Williams, Peoria, Arizona
The creamy filling in these dessert bars will surely please! So many cheesecake recipes can be hard to make, but this recipe is easy and doesn’t require many ingredients. —Mary Wilhelm, Sparta, Wisconsin
Making cheesecake doesn’t have to be hard. Check out our ultimate guide for making cheesecake.
Whole wheat flour gives a rustic look to little tassies that are big on flavor. The velvety, rich filling is a delectable contrast to the cookie cup.—Rebekah Radewahn, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
I was determined to make a healthier version of this pumpkin and spice-laden cake. Judging by the compliments, it worked. Even a picky 4-year-old eater asked for more.—Krista Frank, Rhododendron, Oregon
I’ve been making these for several years as I really enjoy the combination of flavors and the relative ease of preparations. They’re not only great for the holidays, but year round if you have cranberries in your freezer. —Virginia Anthony, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
These individual pudding pies would be irresistible to Santa himself! An excellent light dessert, and an adorable food gift in a jar. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Brown sugar gives these spritz cookies a lovely light caramel tint. This variation has a rich buttery shortbread taste and texture with a hint of orange flavor. They are a delightful addition to my holiday cookie tray. -Sean Fleming, St. Charles, Illinois
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
Enjoy this holiday dessert without worrying about calories. Plus it is so luscious that no one will guess that it is light! —Jean Ecos, Hartland, Wisconsin
Even after your favorite turkey dinner, you’ll find room for this perfect pudding dessert—a treat served hot or cold. Mildly spiced, it will leave you sweetly satisfied, but not overly full, assures Gerri Saylor from Graniteville, South Carolina.
Start with a spice-rich batter poured atop apples and cranberries in a creamy caramel sauce, then invert when done baking for a topsy-turvy dessert that’s a real beauty. The old-time holiday taste will delight family and friends! —Jeanne Holt, Mendota Heights, Minnesota