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40 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts

If you're in charge of dessert for this year's feast, look no further! These make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert recipes are easy to transport and can help relieve holiday stress.

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Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

For our first Thanksgiving with my husband's family, I wanted to bring a special dish and decided I couldn't go wrong with a dessert that combines cheesecake and pumpkin pie. It was a huge success!—Jodi Gobrecht, Bucyrus, Ohio
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Cranberry-Carrot Layer Cake

This moist cake smothered with rich cream cheese frosting makes any dinner festive. Every autumn, I go to a cranberry festival in Wisconsin and load up on fresh cranberries to freeze for year-round cooking. —Nellie Runne, Rockford, Illinois
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Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

These yummy pecan bars start with a homemade pastry crust and pile on lots of semisweet chocolate. They’re perfect for a holiday bake sale or casual get-together.—Heather Biedler, Martinsburg, West Virginia
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Spiced Pumpkin Tiramisu

I added pumpkin and subtracted some of the coffee flavor in a tiramisu I developed for a special holiday dinner. A new holiday tradition was born! —Heather Clary, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
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The Best Sweet Potato Pie

I love this recipe's rich sweet potato flavor and irresistibly buttery crust. Sour cream makes the filling super smooth, and the brown sugar and spices make it extra cozy. There's no doubt that this is the best sweet potato pie! —Shannon Norris, Cudahy, Wisconsin
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Pecan Goody Cups

These miniature tarts feature whole pecans, a caramel-like filling, and a butter and cream cheese crust that melts right in your mouth. —Janice Hose, Hagerstown, Maryland
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Festive Holiday Cheesecake

Looking for some show-stopping Christmas cheesecake recipes? Look no further! Each slice of this holiday cheesecake is overloaded with fun candy toppings. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Frozen Pumpkin Dessert

This frozen pumpkin ice cream dessert can be prepared and frozen weeks in advance. I've found it has more mass appeal than traditional pumpkin pie. —Susan Bennett, Edmond, Oklahoma
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Pecan Kringle Sticks Exps Fbmz19 50671 B05 02 7b 8

Pecan Kringle Sticks

My family loves that the kringle is flaky and not too sweet—it just melts in your mouth. This makes a beautiful presentation on a cookie platter along with other holiday sweets. —Connie Vjestica, Brookfield, Illinois
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Dutch Apple Cake

My husband and I came to Canada from Holland more than 40 years ago. This traditional Dutch recipe is a family favorite and has frequently gone along with me to potluck suppers and other get-togethers. —Elizabeth Peters, Martintown, Ontario
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Chocolate Gingersnaps

When my daughter, Jennifer, was 15 years old, she created this recipe as a way to combine two of her favorite flavors. They're perfect with a glass of milk. —Paula Zsiray, Logan, Utah
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Fresh Pear Ginger Crisp

Gingersnaps lend crunch to my heartwarming cool-weather classic, featuring the season's juiciest fruit—pears.—Linda Robertson, Cozad, Nebraska
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Sweet Potato & Marshmallow Swirl Cheesecake

I make a sweet potato souffle that I’ve always thought tastes like a dessert. I finally decided to use that idea for an actual dessert, and the result was a smooth, rich cheesecake.
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Pumpkin Icebox Cake

This tube cake is a fun, simple way to make a quick dessert. Pumpkin, chocolate and spice are very nice. —Juli Meyers, Hinesville, Georgia
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Spiced Devil's Food Cake

One of my mom's friends gave her this recipe when I was a child, and it has been a family favorite ever since. When your chocolate sweet tooth acts up, this really hits the spot! —Linda Yeamans, Ashland, Oregon
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White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies

Friends sometimes ask me to make these for wedding receptions. For a fancier presentation, I cut the bars into triangle shapes and drizzle white chocolate over each one individually. —Erika Busz, Kent, Washington
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Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream Puffs Exps Pcbz19 48093 E04 26 4b 2

Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream Puffs

This extraordinary dessert showcases homemade pumpkin ice cream and cream puffs. The effort is worthwhile...and you can make the parts ahead of time for easy assembly later.—Richard Lasher, Stuarts Draft, Virginia
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Glazed Maple Shortbread Cookies

Whenever I visit friends in Lutsen, Minnesota, I make sure to buy maple syrup there because I think it's even better than in Quebec. These delicious cookies can be decorated with sprinkles but they're just fine as is.—Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario
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Contest-Winning Pumpkin Cheesecake Dessert

With its gingersnap crust and maple syrup drizzle, this rich and creamy spiced pumpkin dessert never fails to get rave reviews. It cuts nicely, too. —Cathy Hall, Phoenix, Arizona
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Apple Butter Cake Roll

This is a new take on a pumpkin roll. Her spicy gingerbread cake might make you think back fondly to Christmas at Grandma's! —Debbie White, Williamson, West Virginia
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Apple Cranberry Slab Pie

My husband loves pie, so I made one with apples, raspberries and cranberries. It’s so good, I bend the rules and let the grandkids have it for breakfast. —Brenda Smith, Curran, Michigan
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Sweet Potato Cranberry Cake

This convenient recipe uses items you have in your pantry, like sweet potatoes, cranberries, coconut and chocolate chips. Everyone will enjoy this delicious dessert! —Amie Valpone, New York, New York
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Chocolate Maple Bars

Chocolate Maple Bars

My family runs a maple syrup operation, and I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate maple syrup into my cooking and baking. These bars are delicious! —Cathy Schumacher, Alto, Michigan
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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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Fig, Walnut & White Chip Cookies

I use figs from my own tree to make these cookies. The white chips add a touch of sweetness.—Michaela Rosenthal, Woodland Hills, California
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Deep-Dish Apple Pie

This recipe is a winner! The crust is so flaky and the filling is sure to please everyone. —Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, Massachusetts
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Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Bars Exps Thso17 202421 D04 14 3b 1

Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Bars

If you're looking for something other than pumpkin, these sweet potato bars are a yummy alternative. Make them ahead—they're even better refrigerated overnight. —Debbie Glasscock, Conway, Arkansas
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Potluck German Apple Cake

My mother made this German apple cake for my brothers and me when we were kids. It's an excellent choice for a Christmas potluck or actually any time of year. —Edie DeSpain, Logan, Utah
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Cranberry Cheesecake

Every year when the cranberries are harvested, my family looks forward to eating this cheesecake. —Nairda Monroe, Webberville, Michigan
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Spicy Applesauce Cake

This picnic-perfect cake travels and slices very well. With chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins, it's a real crowd pleaser. —Marian Platt, Sequim, Washington
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Chocolate Pecan Torte

This impressive dessert looks lovely on a buffet table. It takes some time to prepare, but it’s worth the effort. —Lois Schlickau, Haven, Kansas
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Moist Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

I saw this recipe in a free booklet I got at the supermarket a few years ago and decided to try it, adding a few twists of my own. It’s pretty and so delicious. —Elmira Trombetti, Gulfport, Florida
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Cranberry Chocolate Cookies with a Kick

Here's a cookie that makes you stop in your tracks to figure out what that delicious flavor is on the back of your palate. —Shalana Patout, Lafayette, Louisiana
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Maple Walnut Cake

This maple-flavored cake with candied walnuts honors beloved my grandpa, who made maple syrup when I was a child. It honors his memory and has proven to be a favorite with family and friends throughout the years. —Lori Fee, Middlesex, New York
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Lattice-Topped Pear Slab Pie

A lattice top serves as a charming frame for this special holiday dessert filled with fresh pears and candied fruit. Add a dollop of whipped cream if you like. —Johnna Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona
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Cranberry Cake With Almond Butter Sauce Exps Sdon17 50682 B06 29 4b 2

Cranberry Cake with Almond-Butter Sauce

Make room for this recipe in your collection. Tart cranberries and sweet almond glaze turn this potluck cake into something truly special. —Betsy King, Duluth, Minnesota
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Caramel Apple Bars

These bars make an excellent fall dessert. We like to warm individual servings in the microwave and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It quickly became a family favorite; maybe it'll become one of your family's, too. —Carol Stuber, Osawatomie, Kansas
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Pumpkin Pie Bars

These bars taste like a cross between pumpkin pie and pecan pie—yum! If you can't find butter cake mix, yellow cake mix works. —Sue Draheim, Waterford, Wisconsin
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Butter Pecan Layer Cake

Pecans and butter give this cake the same irresistible flavor as the popular butter pecan ice cream flavor. —Becky Miller, Tallahassee, Florida
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Gingerbread & Pumpkin Cream Trifle

We wait for these flavors all year long. Stack up the layers in a big trifle bowl, or make minis for everybody at the table. —Amy Geiser, Fairlawn, Ohio

Grace Mannon
Grace is a full-time mom with a Master's degree in Food Science. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and writes about her hits (and misses) on her blog, A Southern Grace.

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