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The Best Desserts of 2021

We've collected our very best dessert recipes just for you. Discover the highest-rated, most-popular desserts that came out on top this year.

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Apple Pie

I remember coming home sullen one day because we’d lost a softball game. Grandma, in her wisdom, suggested, “Maybe a slice of my homemade apple pie will make you feel better.” One bite, and Grandma was right. If you want to learn how to make homemade apple pie filling, this is really the only recipe you need. —Maggie Greene, Granite Falls, Washington

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(Psst! Check out our 2021 Recipe of the Year finalists.)

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Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

We don’t want to brag, but as far as vanilla ice cream recipes go, this one is the best recipe. And with only four ingredients, it just might be the easiest, too. No ice cream maker? No problem. Just follow the directions below to learn how to make homemade ice cream by hand. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert

The desserts of my dreams have both chocolate and peanut butter. So, when I came up with this rich chocolate peanut butter dessert, it quickly became my all-time favorite. It’s a cinch to whip together because it doesn’t require any baking. My family loves this chocolate peanut butter cup lasagna! —Debbie Price, LaRue, Ohio
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Strawberry Trifle

I won first prize in a dairy recipe contest with this tasty strawberry trifle. You can double the recipe and make two for large groups. —Norma Steiner, Monroe, Wisconsin
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Sugar Cream Pie

I absolutely love Indiana sugar cream pie; especially the one that my grandma made for me. Here, we serve it warm or chilled and call it “Hoosier” sugar cream pie. —Laura Kipper, Westfield, Indiana
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Leftover Rice Pudding

This rice pudding with leftover cooked rice is a delicious classic. We also like to dress it up with English toffee bits, chocolate and toasted coconut. —Laura German, North Brookfield, Massachusetts
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Lemon Tiramisu

I created this lemon tiramisu to please everyone in my family. It’s a cross between cheesecake and tiramisu with a refreshing lemony flavor. Garnish with fresh berries if you have them on hand. —Monica Marolt, Willowick, Ohio
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First-Place Coconut Macaroons

These coconut macaroons are my husband’s favorite and earned me a first-place ribbon at the county fair. I especially like the fact that this recipe makes a small enough batch for the two of us to nibble on without lots left over. —Penny Ann Habeck, Shawano, Wisconsin
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French Silk Pie

I first made French silk pie when I was in high school. Years later, I tinkered with the recipe until I was happy with it. Now it’s one of my husband’s favorites. —Lisa Francis, Elba, Alabama
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Butterscotch Pudding Torte

We wanted a butterscotch-flavored pudding dessert. After searching many cookbooks, I came up with this version. —Judith Kuehl, Merrill, Wisconsin
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Mom’s Fried Apples

Mom often made these fried apples for me while I was growing up. The recipe is very dear to me. —Margie Tappe, Prague, Oklahoma
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Vanilla Meringue Cookies

Want to learn how to make meringues? These meringue cookies are super light and airy. They’re the perfect fat-free treat. —Jenni Sharp, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Sweet Potato Pie

This creamy sweet potato pie is subtly spiced and slices beautifully! We suggest baking up a few sweet potato pies around the holidays to give to friends and family. — North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission
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Dirt Dessert

Grab your spoon! This sweet dirt pudding recipe is just so good! —Kristi Linton, Bay City, Michigan
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Hot Milk Cake

This simple, old-fashioned milk cake tastes so good it will surprise you! As I remember my mom’s delicious meals, this dessert was always the perfect ending. Mom always used “a dash of this and dab of that” to come up with what we thought was “the best”! —Rosemary Pryor, Pasadena, Maryland
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Sweetheart Cookies

These rounds filled with fruit preserves were blue-ribbon winners at the county fair two years running. A family favorite, they never last beyond December 25! —Pamela Esposito, Smithville, New Jersey
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Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A pleasingly moist cake, this treat is the one I requested that my mom make each year for my birthday. It’s dotted with sweet carrots and a hint of cinnamon. The fluffy buttery frosting is scrumptious with chopped walnuts stirred in. One piece of this homemade carrot cake is never enough—better than all the other carrot cakes recipes I’ve tried!—Kim Orr, West Grove, Pennsylvania
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Big Soft Ginger Cookies

These nicely spiced, big soft ginger cookies are perfect for folks who like the flavor of ginger but don’t care for crunchy gingersnaps. —Barbara Gray, Boise, Idaho
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Strawberry Shortcake

I grew up helping my mom make a lot in our farmhouse kitchen; strawberry shortcakes, roasts, soups and pies. This sunny strawberry shortcake recipe brings back memories of family summers on the farm. —Janet Becker, Anacortes, Washington
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Shortcut Tres Leches Cake

My mom’s favorite cake is tres leches, a butter cake soaked in three kinds of milk. I developed a no-fuss version that’s rich and tender. —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California
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Peanut Butter Fudge

This peanut butter fudge is a favorite “never fail” quickie recipe. —Eleanore Peterson, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
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Peach Pie

I acquired this delicious peach pie filling recipe some 40 years ago, when my husband and I first moved to southern Iowa and had peach trees growing in our backyard. It's been a family favorite since then and always brings back memories of both summer and those happy early years. — June Mueller, Sioux City, Iowa
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Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the ultimate fall treat. But my family likes them so much, they ask me to make them all year long! —Brenda Keller, Andalusia, Alabama
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Lemon Pudding Cake

My husband, Lloyd, loves this cake because it tastes like lemon meringue pie. The cake is no-fuss and makes just enough for the two of us.—Dawn Fagerstrom, Warren, Minnesota
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Mamaw Emily’s Strawberry Cake

My husband loved his mamaw’s strawberry cake recipe. He thought no one could duplicate it. I made it, and it’s just as scrumptious as he remembers. —Jennifer Bruce, Manitou, Kentucky
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Homemade Chocolate Pudding

This delightful chocolate pudding is always a treat and easy to whip up. I usually top the pudding with M&M's. My husband likes whipped topping on his and our daughter loves to dip fresh strawberries in hers. —Carrina Cooper, McAlpin, Florida
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No-Cook Coconut Pie

This creamy No-Cook Coconut Pie proves that a quick meal doesn’t have to go without dessert. —Jeanette Fuehring, Concordia, Missouri
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Grandma’s Rice Pudding

My sisters and I always loved the recipe for rice pudding our grandma made. After she passed away, I took it upon myself to try and find the secret to her rice pudding. It took quite a bit of experimentation, but I finally got it right! And I’m glad to share this easy recipe here. —Margaret DeChant, Newberry, Michigan
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Scottish Shortbread

Scottish settlers first came to this area over 150 years ago. My mother herself was Scottish, and—as with most of my favorite recipes—she passed this shortbread recipe on to me. I make a triple batch of it each year at Christmas, to enjoy and as gifts. —Rose Mabee, Selkirk, Manitoba
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Easy Fresh Strawberry Pie

For my mother's birthday, I made this strawberry pie recipe instead of a cake. Since it was mid-May in Oklahoma, the berries were absolutely perfect. It was a memorable occasion for the whole family. —Josh Carter, Birmingham, Alabama
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Frosted Banana Bars

These banana bars are always a hit. I also like to provide them for coffee hour after church. They’re so moist and delicious that wherever I take them, they don’t last long. —Karen Dryak, Niobrara, Nebraska
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Peanut Butter Pudding Dessert

Here’s a fun layered dessert that will appeal to all ages. If you want it even nuttier, you can use chunky peanut butter, and if you’re not a fan of cashews, substitute your favorite nut. This peanut butter lasagna is one of my favorite pudding desserts. —Barbara Schindler, Napoleon, Ohio
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Upside-Down Peach Cake

Folks have been flipping over this peach upside-down cake for generations. This dessert is very popular with my family and guests. —Terri Kirschner, Carlisle, Indiana
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Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake

This biscuit strawberry shortcake is the perfect ending to any meal. Homemade biscuits and fresh berries shine in this classic dessert. —Stephanie Moon, Boise, Idaho
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Key Lime Cream Pie

I am very proud of this luscious no-bake beauty. It’s so cool and refreshing—perfect for any summer party or get-together. Wherever I take this pie, it quickly disappears, with everyone asking for the recipe. —Shirley Rickis, Lady Lake, Florida
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Sour Cream Pound Cake

Because I'm our town's postmaster, I can bake only in my spare time. I especially like this sour cream pound cake recipe. It tastes amazing as is, or tuck it under ice cream and chocolate syrup like a hot fudge sundae! —Karen Conrad, East Troy, Wisconsin
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Carrot Sheet Cake

We sold pieces of this to-die-for carrot cake at an art show. Before long, we sold out of all the 10 cakes we had made! —Dottie Cosgrove, South El Monte, California
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Tennessee Peach Pudding

This out-of-this-world is one of our favorite, easy peach recipes. I was raised in Oklahoma, and we used Elberta peaches right off our trees when we made this outstanding cobbler. —Virginia Crowell, Lyons, Oregon
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Amish Sugar Cookies

These easy-to-make, old-fashioned sugar cookies simply melt in your mouth! I’ve passed this recipe around to many friends. After I gave it to my sister, she entered the cookies in a local fair and won best of show. —Sylvia Ford, Kennett, Missouri
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Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

This make-ahead strawberry pretzel salad will disappear quickly. —Aldene Belch, Flint, Michigan
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Root Beer Float Pie

This is the kind of recipe your kids will look back on and always remember. And you don’t even need to use an oven. —Cindy Reams, Philipsburg, Pennsylvania
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Funnel Cakes

This funnel cake recipe is simpler to make than doughnuts, and it's just as good. Funnel cakes have been a favorite of ours since we came across them living in the Ozarks. —Mary Faith Yoder, Unity, Wisconsin
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Fluffy Key Lime Pie

For a taste of paradise, try this no-bake Key lime pie recipe. It’s low in fat, sugar and fuss. It truly is one the best dessert recipes ever! —Frances VanFossan, Warren, Michigan
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Rhubarb Custard Bars

Once I tried these rich, gooey bars, I just had to have the recipe so I could make them for my family and friends. The shortbreadlike crust and the rhubarb and custard layers inspire people to find rhubarb that they can use to fix a batch for themselves. —Shari Roach, South Milwaukee, 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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Favorite Banana Cream Pie

Homemade banana cream pie recipe is my mom’s specialty. This dreamy dessert has a wonderful banana flavor, looks pretty and cuts easily, too. —Jodi Grable, Springfield, Missouri
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Lemon Oatmeal Sugar Cookies

This is an especially fun recipe to make with kids because they can roll the dough into balls and flatten them on the baking sheets. The lemon and oatmeal add a nice twist to traditional sugar cookies. —Susan Marshall, Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Blue-Ribbon Butter Cake

I found this buttercake recipe in an old cookbook I bought at a garage sale and couldn’t wait to try it. I knew it had been someone’s favorite because of the well-worn page. —Joan Gertz, Palmetto, Florida
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Pineapple Pudding Cake

My mother used to love making this easy pineapple sunshine cake in the summertime. It’s so cool and refreshing that it never lasts very long! —Kathleen Worden, North Andover, Massachusetts
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Pecan Pie Bars

These pecan pie bars are rich and delicious—just like pecan pie! They’re perfect for taking to parties and other gatherings…I always come home with an empty pan. They’re the perfect snack while watching the races. —Carolyn Custer, Clifton Park, New York

Sue Stetzel
Sue has been working with Taste of Home since 2011. When she isn’t writing, she’s answering your burning cooking questions and working with our team of Community Cooks. She spends her free time cooking, crafting, and volunteering for various organizations in her home town.
Christina Herbst
Christina is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in content creation and SEO optimization. She enjoys trying out local foodie restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on.

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