Thanksgiving is next week! Have you planned your menu yet?

I’m just starting to figure out our small family plans for the year. While most of the dishes will be traditional and family favorites, I’m ready to try something new for dessert.

Sure, I will likely buy a large pumpkin pie, but since I’ve never been a pumpkin pie fan, I’m looking for a few alternative ideas for a fun-yet-festive sweet conclusion to our turkey dinner.

Luckily, there are dozens of ideas for great fall-flavored desserts that would be a great complement to that traditional meal. Previously, I’ve loved making Paula Deen’s favorite Not Yo Mama’s Banana Pudding that has always been a hit. This year, I’m thinking it might be fun to consider cake, bar cookies or even a cobbler.

Here are a few of my top possibilities for this year. For even more ideas, check out our Thanksgiving Ideas board on Pinterest.


A beautifully decorated cake would be a sure showstopper for any Thanksgiving dinner. And with a variety of fall-themed flavor options like apple, pumpkin and cranberry, the cake possibilities are endless. An apple spice cake decorated with an adorably colored fondant turkey would be a pure delight for all your turkey day guests. Or, you could opt for a maple streusel pumpkin cake.

Try a Caramel Apple Dump Cake. Whisk 1 packaged white cake mix with 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla and 3/4 cup melted butter. Pour half the mixture into a greased 9x13-inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. In a saucepan, heat together 1 package (11 ounces) of caramel bits and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Remove cake from oven, top with 1 can (20 ounces) of apple pie filling and the caramel mixture. Crumble remaining batter on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Bar cookies

If you’re looking for a super simple dessert that is sure to wow your family, a seasonal bar cookie is a great option. And, the best part, is that a good bar cookie can be made ahead of the big feast day. Bar cookies are also a great way to satisfy the cravings of many people, too. You can easily combine favorite dessert flavors into one bar. For example, chocolate, coconut, pumpkin, maple, pecan, cheesecake, caramel and more.

Try Pecan Pie Bars. For the crust, beat 1 1/4 pounds of butter and 3/4 cup sugar. Add 4 large eggs and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Sift in 4 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Press into an uncreased 18x12x2-inch baking sheet, making an edge. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. In a saucepan, combine 1 pound butter, 1 cup light corn syrup and 3 cups brown sugar. Boil for 3 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2 pounds chopped pecans. Pour on crust, bake for 24-30 minutes.


Cooler weather is always a great time to bake up a delicious fruity cobbler. Sure, you could bake up a delicious caramel apple cobbler or a traditional cherry cobbler or even peach, but to really embrace the flavors of the season you could also create a creamy pumpkin pecan pie cobbler, a pear pecan cobbler or even a simple pecan pie cobbler. There’s even a recipe for a gooey, rich chocolate cobbler.

Try this Cranberry Cobbler. For the filling, combine 12 cups fresh cranberries with 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, zest and juice from two oranges, and 2 teaspoons corn starch. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. For the topping, mix 1 1/2 cups flour with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cups sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix in 1 stick cubed butter until crumbly. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over flour mixture and spoon over cranberries. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees.

— Jennifer Durrant