The Most Iconic Christmas Dessert in Every State

We've rounded up the can't-miss Christmas desserts from coast to coast. Head to South Dakota for kuchen or New Mexico for biscochitos!

1 / 51
Christmas around the world, focus on USA
CatLane/Getty Images

Visions of sugarplums are only the beginning. We found cakes and cookies, pies and pralines, divinities and doughnuts waltzing clear across the country. Pick up your Christmas baking supplies and bake the most iconic holiday dessert from a neighboring state!

2 / 51

Southern Lane Cake

I just love this southern-style dessert, and so do dinner guests. With pecans, cherries and raisins in the filling and topping, this version reminds me of a fruitcake—only so much better! —Mabel Parvi, Ridgefield, Washington

Made with pecans, cherries and raisins, Southern Lane cake might remind you of another seasonal staple (fruit cake!), but the Lane’s layers of vanilla-butter batter set it apart. Alabama resident Emma Rylander Lane first made her namesake cake in 1898.


3 / 51

Spumoni Baked Alaska

For a dazzling yet refreshing end to a rich holiday meal, try this freezer finale. It's bound to garner oohs and aahs. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
4 / 51

Fluffy Hot Chocolate

This is our daughter's favorite hot chocolate recipe. It may look like ordinary cocoa, but a touch of vanilla sets it apart from the rest. And the melted marshmallows give it a frothy body you won't get from a cocoa packet. —Jo Ann Schimcek, Weimar, Texas

Desert dwellers enjoy a toasty treat when temperatures dip and hot chocolate hits the spot. In fact, Phoenix even hosts an annual hot chocolate run. For a frothy take, try fluffy hot chocolate, or spice up your mug with cinnamon-flavored Mexican hot chocolate.


5 / 51

Orange-Pistachio Divinity

Old-fashioned divinity candy is even yummier with a hint of refreshing orange zest and bits of crunchy pistachios. Store-bought versions just can’t compare! —Lorri Reinhardt, Big Bend, Wisconsin

December is divinity season in the South, and making these nougat-like candies with family is as much a tradition as eating them. This holiday divinity calls for a festive nod to Christmas with refreshing orange zest.


6 / 51

Buttermilk Doughnuts

It doesn't take long for a platter of these buttermilk doughnuts to vanish. Our grandkids go for them in a big way! They're great for munching at breakfast or brunch. —Betty Rauschendorfer, Sidney, Montana
7 / 51

Bread Pudding with Nutmeg

I always make this bread pudding recipe for my dad on his birthday and on holidays. He says it tastes exactly like the bread pudding with nutmeg he enjoyed as a child. —Donna Powell, Montgomery City, Missouri
8 / 51


The history of these whimsically named treats has been widely disputed, but their popularity is undeniable. Help yourself to one of our soft cinnamon-sugared cookies and see for yourself. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
9 / 51

Holly Berry Cookies

What would Christmas be without overflowing tins of cookies? These festive filled cookies are the all time favorites of my family. Back when our children were small, we began baking them the day after Halloween and put them away in the freezer. —Audrey Thibodeau, Gilbert, Arizona
10 / 51

Key Lime Pie

We created this refreshing mini pie with a homemade crumb crust and a pudding-like lime filling. If you can’t find Key lime juice, regular lime juice works just fine. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
11 / 51

Upside-Down Fruitcake

I get tired of people bad-mouthing holiday fruitcakes. It's one of my favorite holiday flavors and I look forward to it every year. This year, I decided to combine it with everyone's favorite, upside-down cake. Try to say no to this fruitcake; I dare you! —James Schend, Dairy Freed
12 / 51

Triple Nut Snowballs

This super-crunchy, not-too-sweet cookie is a fun update on the classic snowball. I used cashews, macadamia nuts and pecans, but you can mix and match other nuts to your liking. —Thomas Faglon, Somerset, New Jersey
13 / 51

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
14 / 51

Ice Cream Kolachkes

These sweet pastries have Polish and Czech roots and can also be spelled "kolaches." They are usually filled with poppy seeds, nuts, jam or a mashed fruit mixture. The ice cream is a unique twist on traditional kolachkes, and it's simplest to use a square cookie cutter to cut the dough. —Diane Turner, Brunswick, Ohio
15 / 51

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
16 / 51

Christmas Sugar Cookies

This is my all-time favorite Christmas sugar cookie recipe. The addition of sour cream makes them extra moist. To dress them up, I drizzle or dip the cookies in tinted white chocolate, then sprinkle them with crushed candy canes. —Lisa MacLean, Winslow, Arizona
17 / 51

Christmas Morning Sweet Rolls

These make-ahead rolls have been a holiday tradition for years. The eggnog in the frosting makes them extra special on Christmas morning. —Kimberly Williams, Brownsburg, Indiana
18 / 51

Bourbon Balls

Remember the days at Grandma and Grandpa's house when you made these wonderfully traditional treats? We love these Kentucky Derby bourbon balls—the blended taste of bourbon and pecans is irresistible! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
19 / 51

Louisiana: Pralines

Perfect for packing into holiday tins, pralines actually have a history rooted in gifting. Story has it that a chef who worked for Cesar du Plessis Praslin, a French diplomat, created the nutty candies for his boss to give to love interests.
20 / 51

21 / 51
a close-up photo of a slice of smith island cake on a plate with a fork
Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Maryland: Smith Island Cake

In the 1800s, women on Maryland’s Smith Island sent these layer cakes with their husbands on long fishing trips to remind them of home. Bake one for your own crew and they’ll appreciate family with every fudge-frosted bite.

Go to Recipe

22 / 51

Christmas Gingerbread Trifle

Trifle desserts make eye-catching centerpieces. I garnish mine using candy canes and red and green M&M's. Think of the merry possibilities as a kid-friendly project. —Cheryl Tompkins, Kingsville, Missouri

Believe it or not, trifle is also on our list of new Christmas dessert ideas!

23 / 51

Peppermint Swirl Fudge

Indulge in candy-shop flavor with these rich swirled squares. For Christmasy color, I add crushed peppermint candies and red food coloring. —Suzette Jury, Keene, California
24 / 51

Cherry Chocolate Marble Cake

Cherries and chocolate are natural partners that make desserts such as this simply scrumptious! The marbled effect is easily achieved by layering the two contrasting batters. —Sandra Campbell, Chase Mills, New York
25 / 51

Giant Molasses Cookies

My family always requests these soft molasses cookies. These chewy cookies are also perfect for shipping as holiday gifts or to troops overseas. —Kristine Chayes, Smithtown, New York
26 / 51

Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

My mother's family owned peach orchards in Missouri. I live in Tennessee, a top consumer of buttermilk. This summery ice cream combines my past and present. —Kim Higginbotham, Knoxville, Tennessee
27 / 51

S'more Bars

These great-tasting bars will bring back sweet campfire memories, whether they're served as an after-school snack or for dessert. —Lisa Moriarty, Wilton, New Hampshire

Cozy up with a toasty treat and pretend you’re stargazing in Big Sky Country. S’more bars—graham cracker crust topped with chocolate bars and ooey-gooey marshmallow creme—are an ideal indulgence for the great indoors.


28 / 51

Nebraska: Holiday Milkshakes

Nebraska doesn’t have a state dessert, but it does have an official state beverage: milk! Toast to the season with holiday milkshakes. Blend cookies, peppermint or eggnog, or mix up a green shake, complete with a sprinkle rim.
29 / 51

Sunday Sin Cake

Chocolaty in six different ways, this treat is practically sinful. We joke that if we indulge in a slice on Saturday night, we'll have to pray for forgiveness on Sunday! —Jennifer Osborne, Greensboro, North Carolina
30 / 51

In 2006, a group of third and fourth graders in New Hampshire successfully lobbied to make pumpkin the state fruit. If you think traditional pumpkin pie should be reserved for Thanksgiving, try eggnog pumpkin pie for a wintery twist.


31 / 51

Italian Rainbow Cookies

My family has made these classic Italian rainbow cookies for generations, and this homemade version is so much better than the bakery version. They are always a special treat during the holidays or any time of year! —Cindy Casazza, Hopewell, New Jersey
32 / 51

Cherry Biscochitos

I discovered the wonderful anise flavor of biscochitos, which are traditional cookies of New Mexico. I created my own version with maraschino cherries and fresh cranberries. —Mary Shivers, Ada, Oklahoma
33 / 51

Snickerdoodle Cheesecake

My maternal grandmother preferred sewing and quilting to cooking and baking, but there were some things that she cooked and baked really well. She was the only person I knew who made snickerdoodles, simple but yummy cookies that I've always enjoyed. Since cheesecake is my very favorite dessert, I couldn't resist coming up with one that re-creates those flavors. I think of my grandmother each time I make it! Sometimes I'll drizzle the slices with maple syrup. —Lisa Varner, El Paso, Texas

Cheesecake is a staple in New York’s Jewish delis and diners…and plenty of family dessert spreads, too. For the holidays, try gingerbread cheesecake, a snickerdoodle variation or peppermint cheesecake on a stick—they’re all here in these Christmas cheesecake recipes.


34 / 51

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
35 / 51

Chocolaty Chips

My two little guys can't get enough of this sweet and salty snack that uses just three ingredients and is ready to eat in 15 minutes. The boys like to drizzle on the melted chocolate. Sometimes we replace the potato chips with apple slices. —Jami Geittmann, Greendale, Wisconsin
36 / 51

Christmas Candy Cane Cookies

These cookies were a holiday tradition in my family since I was a young child. Now my own family requests them before any others at Christmas. —Pat Schmeling, Germantown, Wisconsin
37 / 51

Honey Pecan Pie

Looking for a sweet ending to a special meal? This attractive pecan pie is bound to please with its traditional filling and honey-glazed pecans. —Cathy Hudak, Wadsworth, Ohio
38 / 51

39 / 51

Linzer Cookies

This specialty cookie takes a little extra effort, but the results are sweet! They really help to make the holidays feel special. —Jane Pearcy, Verona, Wisconsin
40 / 51

Make-Ahead Tiramisu

This variation of the popular Italian dessert is so easy to assemble. It's convenient, too, since you can make it the day before your dinner party or potluck. —Linda Finn, Louisville, Mississippi
41 / 51

Incredible Coconut Cake

I found this coconut cake recipe in a newspaper many years ago and modified it to suit my taste. This is my all-time favorite cake, and my family and friends absolutely love it. —Lynne Bassler, Indiana, Pennsylvania
42 / 51

Rich Fruit Kuchens

This German classic is such a part of our reunions, we designate a special place to serve it. Five generations flock to the "Kuchen Room" for this coffee cake. —Stephanie Schentzel, Northville, South Dakota

We have Germany to thank for mulled wine, eggnog, gingerbread and kuchen! It’s the German word for “cake,” and the official state dessert of South Dakota. For more European inspiration, check out these German Christmas recipes.


43 / 51

Banana Pudding

I didn’t see my son, Lance Corporal Eric Harris, for more than two years after he enlisted in the Marines after high school. And when I saw him arrive at the airport, I just grabbed hold of him and burst out crying. When we got home, the first thing he ate was two bowls of my easy banana pudding recipe. He’s a true southern boy! It’s a dessert, but you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. —Stephanie Harris, Montpelier, Virginia

Tennessee hosts the National Banana Pudding Festival each October, complete with tastings and a Banana Bash Concert. The timing is ideal for home cooks to gather inspo for this beloved dish ahead of the holidays.


44 / 51

45 / 51

Macaroon Cherry Pie

I use homegrown cherries in this bountiful pie with its unique crunchy coconut topping. But I've found that purchased tart cherries yield a dessert that's nearly as delicious. I always bake this pie around Presidents Day or Valentine's Day, but it's popular with my family in any season. —Lori Daniels, Beverly, West Virginia
46 / 51

Maple Syrup Pie

Folks in New Hampshire apparently appreciate maple syrup almost as much as we do in Vermont. When my husband and I took a road trip through New Hampshire, we discovered this pie at a number of diners and restaurants. We loved it so much we created our own version. —Laurie Herr, Westford, Vermont

Vermont is the country’s top maple syrup producer, turning out over two million gallons a year. One way to make use of that scrumptious sap: maple syrup pie. Want more inspiration? Check out these maple desserts, too.


47 / 51

Chocolate Chess Pie

This is one of my mother's go-to recipes. It's a yummy spin on classic chocolate chess pie. — Ann Dickens, Nixa, Missouri
48 / 51

Winning Apple Crisp

I live in apple country, and making a delicious apple crisp is one way to use the fruit. This treat doesn’t take a lot of time to assemble. —Gertrude Bartnick, Portage, Wisconsin

Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith—they’re all grown in Washington, the country’s top apple state. For a top apple dish, try apple crisp—the cinnamon-soaked apples baking will instantly fill your house with seasonal cheer.


49 / 51

Chocolate Eclairs

With creamy filling and fudgy frosting, this chocolate eclair recipe is extra special. —Jessica Campbell, Viola, Wisconsin
50 / 51

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

Originally a Danish dessert, in the late 1800s immigrants brought kringles to Racine, Wisconsin, where they’re still proudly baked today. For holiday brunch, make a classic kringle to share.


51 / 51

Wyoming Cowboy Cookies

These cookies are very popular here in Wyoming. Mix up a batch for your crew and see why! —Patsy Steenbock, Shoshoni, Wyoming

Amelia Mularz
Amelia is an L.A.-based travel and lifestyle writer who has contributed to dozens of blogs, brand websites and magazines, both online and print. As a writer at Taste of Home, Amelia is the go-to resource if you’re wondering where to find the best Tex-Mex restaurant or the most iconic dessert in every state, or how many types of burritos there are in the U.S. and Mexico. You’ll find more of her writing across a range of publications, from LonelyPlanet and Travel + Leisure to Thrillist and Eater.