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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!

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Christmas around the world, focus on USACatLane/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!

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Alabama: Lane Cake

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.

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Alaska: Baked Alaska

It may be called “the Last Frontier,” but Alaska has always been on the cutting edge of meringue indulgence. Baked Alaska is exactly that—ice cream and sponge cake topped with melt-in-your-mouth meringue.
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Arizona: Hot Chocolate

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.

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Arkansas: Divinity

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.

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California: Doughnuts

The Golden State has a delicious obsession with doughnuts. LA alone has 1,500 independent doughnut shops! For some hole-y fun of your own this holiday season, whip up a batch of buttermilk doughnuts or use the rings to assemble a doughnut snowman.
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Colorado: Bread Pudding

Long days on the slopes call for a warm, comfort-food dessert. Bread pudding perfectly plays the part. For a recipe that’s a holiday hit, try this Christmas bread pudding that’s spiced with nutmeg.
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Connecticut: Snickerdoodles

They may have the dessert world’s silliest name, but snickerdoodles are serious business in Connecticut, where legislation has declared them the state’s official cookie. We’d like to declare them an ideal offering for Santa.
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Delaware: Holly Berry Cookies

These decorative double-decker cookies aren’t just Christmasy, they’re also mini odes to the second-smallest state. Delaware’s state tree is the American holly. Sub in strawberry jam for your holly berry cookies and you’ll also honor the state fruit.
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Florida: Key Lime Pie

Unlike most of the country, Floridians enjoy sun, sand and surf during the holidays, and Key lime pie is always in season here.
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Georgia: Fruitcake

Georgia may be best known for peaches, but it’s also home to the fruitcake capital of the world. The tiny town of Claxton bakes more than four million pounds of fruitcake between two bakeries each year.
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Hawaii: Macadamia Nut Snowballs

Aside from being a snowball substitute, these cookies feature a major state crop: macadamias. Hawaii has more than 700 macadamia nut farms.
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Idaho: Potato Candy Clusters

Yesterday’s potato chips are today’s potato clusters. That’s right, this chocolate-covered treat really is made with taters. It’s easy to see why this recipe is a hit in spud-loving Idaho.
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Illinois: Polish Kolachkes

Chicago is proud of its Polish roots, and with that comes plenty of pint-sized, jam-filled pastries. Kolachkes can be found in Czech and Hungarian kitchens, too. For a rich, easy-to-make dough, this recipe calls for mixing in vanilla ice cream.
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Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie

Hoosiers hoot and holler for this cinnamon-sprinkled, custardy confection year round, and even more so during the holiday season. In fact, sugar cream pie is so adored here, it’s Indiana’s unofficial state pie.
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Iowa: Sugar Cookies

There’s no place like the heartland for heartwarming traditions, which is why Iowa gets a shoutout for the sugar cookie. Across the Hawkeye State, bakers turn out dozens of hand-decorated delights for annual cookie walks.
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Kansas: Christmas Sweet Rolls

Believe it or not, cinnamon rolls and chili are a classic combo in Kansas. Seriously! For the holidays, these eggnog-frosted sweet rolls are a tasty twist on the pairing. Still not convinced? The rolls are delicious on their own, regardless.
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Kentucky: Dark Chocolate Bourbon Balls

We’d like to propose a toast: Here’s to the Bluegrass State, which produces 95% of the world’s bourbon. And to you, for the strength it’ll take to resist eating 95% of the dark chocolate bourbon balls you make. Cheers!
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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.
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Maine: Yule Log

A Christmas cake shaped like a tree limb is fitting for the most forested state in America. About 90% of Maine is covered in woods. As for this yule log, it’s 90% covered in chocolate frosting.
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a close-up photo of a slice of smith island cake on a plate with a forkLauren 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

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Massachusetts: Christmas Trifle

A UK tradition that landed in New England kitchens, the trifle is relatively easy to make for such an eye-catching confection. This Christmas trifle includes a merry mix of eggnog and gingerbread cake, plus gingerbread man cookies.

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

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Michigan: Holiday Fudge

Whoever said “good things come in small packages” must have been a fudge fan. They may also have been from Michigan, which is widely considered the fudge capital of the US. Don’t miss these giftable Christmas fudge recipes.
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Minnesota: Bundt Cake

In 1950, H. David Dalquist, owner of the Minneapolis-based Nordic Ware company, invented the Bundt pan. Since then, the Bundt has been baked into Minnesota state history. For some festive flavor, try this winning cranberry Bundt cake.
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Mississippi: Christmas Molasses Cookies

Turning sugar cane into molasses is a Mississippi tradition. Now, make turning syrupy dough into Christmas molasses cookies a family ritual of your own. Plus, these work well with festive cutters for an alternative to standard sugar cookies.
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Missouri: Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

Missourians love a good scoop—the state dessert is the ice cream cone. Enjoy this wintery flavor solo or with pie à la mode. You might even pull off serving it with the main meal…
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Montana: S'mores Bars

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.

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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.
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Nevada: Sunday Sin Cake

Naughty, nice…or maybe just a fan of Sunday sin cake. This dessert is so sinfully chock-full of chocolate, it may seem wrong to indulge. It seems right at home in the land of Sin City.
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New Hampshire: Pumpkin Pie

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.

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New Jersey: Italian Rainbow Cookies

Bakeries in Italian-American neighborhoods, especially in New Jersey and New York, serve these tri-colored treats all year, but they’re particularly popular at Christmas. The color scheme is a nod to Italy’s flag, but it has a festive flair, too.
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New Mexico: Biscochitos

New Mexican through and through, biscochitos—shortbread-style cookies flavored with anise—came to be when the area was still a Spanish colony. Today, they’re the state cookie. (Fun fact: New Mexico was the first state to pick a signature cookie!)
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New York: Cheesecake

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.

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North Carolina: Sweet Potato Pie

The gift that keeps on giving? Eating your veggies in a dessert. In North Carolina, that means mouth-watering slices of sweet potato pie. It’s a Southern pastry tradition that features the official state vegetable.
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North Dakota: Chippers

Chippers, a North Dakota delicacy, are potato chips dipped in chocolate. Carol Widman’s Candy in Fargo has found fame for their chippers, but you can make your own, like these kettle chips drizzled with melted chocolate.
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Ohio: Christmas Candy Cane Cookies

Candy canes made their American debut in Ohio in 1847 when a German immigrant decorated his Christmas tree with the treats. Today, the state is home to top candy cane producer Spangler. Pay tribute to Ohio’s sweet past with Christmas candy cane cookies.
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Oklahoma: Pecan Pie

Some states have an official dessert; Oklahoma has an entire meal. And among these signature dishes—alongside fried okra, cornbread and barbecue pork—is pecan pie. Peruse our top pecan pie recipes for sweet-and-salty recipes sure to dazzle.
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Oregon: Peppermint Bark

Oregon is a peppermint paradise, growing 35% of the country’s crop. So what to do with all that mint? Mix it with chocolate, of course! Here’s a peppermint bark recipe that’s easy to make.
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Pennsylvania: Linzer Cookies

Like tiny edible stained-glass windows, Linzer cookies are the star of any holiday spread. They’re originally from Austria and named after the city of Linz, but you’ll find them in Philly’s most beloved bakeries, such as Bredenbeck’s and the Night Kitchen.
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Rhode Island: Tiramisu

‘Tis the season for the Italian classic tiramisu. That’s particularly true in Rhode Island, which is proud to have the highest population of Italian-Americans per capita in the U.S. Make it ahead of time for stress-free entertaining.
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South Carolina: Coconut Cake

The most famous example of this snow-white sweet is the 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake at Peninsula Grill in Charleston. If you can’t make it down South, whip up your own incredible coconut cake at home.
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South Dakota: Kuchen

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.

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Tennessee: Banana Pudding

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.

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Texas: Gingerbread House

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the gingerbread houses. The Guinness World Record for largest gingerbread house belongs to a group in Bryan, Texas who, in 2013, built a sweet structure about the size of a tennis court. Find more adorable gingerbread house ideas.
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Utah: Christmas Cherry Pie

A group of second-graders helped make cherries the official state fruit of Utah in 1997. The prized produce plays a starring role in Christmas cherry pie. You’ll find cinnamon, coconut and almonds in there, too!
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Vermont: Maple Syrup Pie

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.

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Virginia: Chocolate Chess Pie

A Southern holiday staple, chess pie is a custardy confection with a mysterious history. One theory says it was originally called “chest pie” because it didn’t need to be refrigerated. “Chest” eventually became “chess” with a Southern drawl.
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Washington: Apple Crisp

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.

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West Virginia: Chocolate Eclairs

“Hot dogs” at Spring Hill Pastry in South Charleston, West Virginia refer to the shop’s legendary eclairs. Making your own custard-filled, chocolate-covered eclairs for holiday brunch is sure to be just as memorable.
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Wisconsin: Christmas Kringle

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.

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Wyoming: Cowboy Cookies

Saddle up, sweet-tooth scoundrels. Wyoming cowboy cookies are a wild ride through coconut-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-flavored territory. Double the size of the dollops you drop on your baking sheet for oversized treats that’ll fuel snowball wrangling all afternoon.

Amelia Mularz
Amelia is a writer who covers both food and travel. Her favorite pilgrimages include Mexico City for the mole, Tel Aviv for the hummus and Wisconsin for the curds. She lives in Los Angeles, where she can be found forever exploring the city's street taco scene.