80+ Christmas Desserts to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

updated Dec 15, 2023
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Head on shot of a spatula picking up a piece of the Biscoff cookie tirmisu, showing all of the layers inside.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

It doesn’t really feel like Christmas to me without sweet smells drifting out of the kitchen, and someone cheekily trying to sneak treats before they’re out on the table.

Some years, I feel like pulling out all the stops and making super elegant, festive desserts that are time consuming but so worth it (looking at you, croquembouche!), and some years Christmas desserts are last on my priority list. I also find it pretty overwhelming trying to comb through all of the recipes online to find something that feels right for the occasion.

To make life a little easier when it comes to Christmas desserts, we’ve compiled more than 80 of our favorite recipes that are perfect for the holiday. This list ranges from traditional Christmas desserts to extra-elegant desserts to super easy sweets — and, of course, Christmas cookies. So, there’s something for everyone depending on what kind of mood you’re in this year.

Traditional Christmas Desserts

These are some of our favorite classic Christmas recipes — full of peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog, and more.

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Easy, Impressive Gingerbread House
Building a gingerbread house is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. It’s a fun and festive family activity, and the finished creation doubles as both dessert and decor.
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2 / 9
Sticky Toffee Pudding

Another delicious pudding, but make it draped in sticky toffee sauce. Baking in a square cake pan ensures the moist slices of steamed cake are lofty enough to soak up the generous layer of toffee sauce. Be sure to serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or custard.

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3 / 9
Peppermint Red Velvet Cake Roll
Searching for a festive, whimsical dessert to serve a crowd? This red velvet cake roll is not only surprisingly easy to put together during the busy holiday season, but it will look stunning on any dessert table.
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4 / 9
Chocolate Bundt Cake with Peppermint Glaze
With deep, dark chocolate flavors from lots of coffee-enhanced cocoa powder, this chocolate bundt cake is whisked together in a single bowl (no mixer needed!) and takes just minutes to get into the oven.
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5 / 9
Peppermint Cream Squares
Settling down with a glass of cocoa and one of these peppermint cream filled bars at the end of the day is a very happy thing indeed.
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6 / 9
Gingerbread Bundt Cake
This cake — full of warm-yet-citrusy coriander; heady notes from the allspice, clove, and cinnamon; and depth of sweetness from molasses — delivers all the cozy, familiar tastes of the season with a bit of heat and pizzazz thrown in the mix.
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7 / 9
Baked Eggnog Custards
This one is far from your usual baked custard. It’s surprisingly light, it’s smooth, and the flavor is subtly sweet. The brandy or rum is optional, but if you’re making these for adults we’d recommend it.
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8 / 9
Traditional Christmas Pudding (Figgy Pudding)

In Britain, puddings - the steamed cake variety - are a key part of Christmas dinner. This boozy, opulent, steamed pudding is heavily studded with brandy-soaked dried fruits, nuts, candied orange, and lemon peel.

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9 / 9
Classic Rugelach
This decadent cookie starts with a cream cheese-based dough and whatever filling you can dream up. Honey-walnut or chocolate are good places to start!
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Elegant Christmas Desserts

If you’re looking to wow this year, this list of sophisticated desserts is perfect for you.

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Biscoff Cookie Tiramisu Recipe
This twist on the classic pairs the iconic spiced cookies with an orange-laced mascarpone cream.
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2 / 20
Croquembouche, a spun sugar tower of cream puffs, is French for “crunch in the mouth.” Of course it’s French – who else would concoct such a perilous pile of pastries?
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3 / 20
Fancy No-Bake Chocolate Caramel Tart
It couldn't be easier to make this chocolate caramel tart that looks as fancy as anything you would find at a restaurant, thanks to two very clever shortcuts.
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4 / 20
Classic Crème Brûlée
No torch or special equipment required, and you’ll only need five or six ingredients to get that sweet, creamy custard with a shattering sugar crust.
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5 / 20
Chocolate Trifle Recipe
This tiered dessert is equal parts elegant and easy, thanks to store-bought pudding, whipped cream, cake, and crushed cookies.
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6 / 20
Limoncello Bars
Spiked with limoncello liqueur, this twist on classic lemon bars is packed with bright, citrusy flavor.
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7 / 20
No-Bake Banana Pudding Pie Recipe
With a buttery Nilla wafer crust, a whipped mousse-like filling, pecan caramel, and fluffy whipped cream, this sky-high pie is a major upgrade to classic banana pudding.
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8 / 20
Raspberry Cheesecake
With a simple 3-ingredient topping, this dreamy raspberry cheesecake is the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
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9 / 20
Caramel Banana Cake
The key to this rich, moist banana cake is the homemade caramel sauce that is swirled throughout.
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10 / 20
Cardamom Crème Brûlée Pie
Get ready - when you slice into this pie, the shards of caramel combine with the creamy custard and the crisp crust, and it’s heavenly.
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12 / 20
Classic Chocolate Soufflé
We believe that everyone — each and every one of you — should try making a chocolate soufflé at least once in their lives. Not only are they one of the most heavenly things you can eat with a spoon, but they are a total confidence booster.
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13 / 20
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
A bowl of chocolate mousse is a decadent treat, but a double-layered chocolate mousse cake with a cookie crust is next level.
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14 / 20
Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
With a toasty graham cracker crust, rich cheesecake filling, lemon custard, and an airy meringue crown, this stunner rivals the viral dessert from Costco.
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15 / 20
Nutella-Pumpkin Praline Swirl Pie Recipe
This Nutella-swirled pumpkin pie with crunchy candied hazelnuts will be your new go-to at Thanksgiving.
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17 / 20
Chocolate Sponge Cake with Ganache Frosting
This simple chocolate sponge cake with a rich ganache frosting can be turned into a birthday cake or an after-dinner dessert.
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18 / 20
Pear Tart with Walnut Crust & Frangipane
This tart is made with a rich walnutty tart crust, filled with creamy golden frangipane and topped with tender slices of spiced poached pears. And it holds a little gift for those of us baking for a diverse group: it just happens to be gluten-free.
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19 / 20
Citrus-Cranberry Tart
This festive tart features a spiced speculoos cookie crust, a citrus-cranberry curd, and a sweet-tart cranberry glaze.
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20 / 20
Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes
With just five ingredients, this classic restaurant dessert is surprisingly easy to whip up at home, and thanks to their surprise-inside center, they're guaranteed to delight whoever you're serving.
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Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies are a holiday staple, and make the best treats to share with friends.

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Boozy Holiday Cookie Truffles
Blend store-bought butter cookies with cream cheese, nutmeg, cinnamon, and rum for a boozy no-bake treat.
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2 / 29
Cocoa Ribbon Cookies
Keep a log of these chocolate-orange-flavored cookies in your freezer to bake at a moment’s notice.
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3 / 29
Glazed Maple Gingerbread
These snappy gingerbread cookies call for an easy glazing technique to make the prettiest swirls.
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4 / 29
Mom’s Apricot Jammies
These buttery cookies use apricot jam and finely chopped pecans, and come together in a muffin tin.
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5 / 29
Snow Globe Cookies
These slice-and-bake cookies reveal a snowy Christmas tree decked out with twinkly lights.
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Snickerdoodle Meltaways
Buttery, cinnamon-scented cookies with a meltaway powdered sugar coating.
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7 / 29
Brown Butter Raspberry Shortbread
They’re buttery, crumbly, and perfect with a cup of tea.
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8 / 29
Strawberry-Mint Candy Cane Shortbread

If you're going for nostalgia meets new classic, you just can't beat minty strawberry candy cane cookies.

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Sourdough Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Use up your discard sourdough starter in these thick and chewy cookies.
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10 / 29
Alfajores de Maicena (Sandwich Cookies with Dulce de Leche) Recipe
This variation of Alfajores from Chef Gaby Melian is filled with dulce de leche and coated in shredded coconut.
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11 / 29
Rainbow Sprinkle Cookies Recipe
These eye-catching cookies come together easily with ingredients you already have on hand.
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12 / 29
“Aperol Spritz” Spritz Cookies
This cocktail cookie gets its zest from oranges and extract.
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13 / 29
Miso Caramel Cardamom Thumbprints

Fans of salty-sweet baked goods will rejoice over the way funky miso paste steals the show in this chewy thumbprint cookie.

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14 / 29
Rainbow Cookies
A mainstay of any cookie platter, rainbow cookies are layered perfection.
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15 / 29
Christmas Tree Cookies
The act of decorating and munching on Christmas tree cookies is an easy-peasy way to spark holiday cheer.
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Strawberry-Rose Almond Linzers
Rose-scented raspberry jam makes these nutty, just-sweet-enough cookies extra special.
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Red Velvet Cookies
Inspired by the classic layer cake, these are impossibly soft and fudgy.
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Snowball Cookies
Mixed with toasted nuts and coated with powdered sugar, these five-ingredient cookies are a holiday classic.
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Super Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies
While snickerdoodle cookies are usually on the crunchier side, these ones are super soft and guaranteed to stay that way.
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Pistachio and Milk Cookies Dipped in White Chocolate
Milk-based cookies speckled and fragranced with bright green pistachios, and dunked halfway into melted white chocolate to achieve a spectacular look fit for any holiday cookie spread.
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Shortbread Cookies Recipe
This classic shortbread is made with just butter, sugar, flour, and salt.
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22 / 29
Anise Cookies
The soft, tender crumb paired with the cookie's gentle scent of anise are guanteed to delight the senses of everyone at a holiday function.
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23 / 29
Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
Everyone loves a swirled sugar cookie, especially when it’s infused with a touch of peppermint. Brush one side of the finished cookies with melted chocolate and sprinkle them with crushed peppermint candies for something extra festive, extra minty, and extra delicious.
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24 / 29
Caramel-Stuffed Amaretti Cookies
Store-bought soft caramels make the process for these caramel-stuffed amaretti cookies surprisingly simple. Bonus: they're gluten-free.
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25 / 29
Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Holidays
Yes, chocolate chip cookies. A decidedly non-holiday cookie. But hear us out: these cookies make great gifts for friends and loved ones.
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26 / 29
Coconut Macaroons
As long as you have some shredded coconut in your pantry and a few eggs in the fridge, a batch of sweet macaroons can be yours in less than half an hour.
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27 / 29
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
They're soft, tender, and just a little bit chewy, with a delicate exterior that's coated with a thick layer of powdered sugar.
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28 / 29
Fruitcake Cookies
The beauty of fruitcake cookies is that you’re able to get classic fruitcake flavors without needing to wait weeks to dig in.
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29 / 29
Cara Cara Crinkle Cookies
A simply dazzling crinkle cookie with bursts of fresh citrus and fragrant vanilla flavor throughout.
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Christmas Desserts to Make Ahead

Christmas Day is hectic enough as it is — these desserts can be made ahead so that you don’t have to stress the day of.

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Buckeye Cheesecake Bars
Bake up a batch of these triple-layer bars with an Oreo cookie crust, layer of peanut butter cheesecake, and a chocolate ganache topping.
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2 / 14
Boston Cream Pie
With three delicious layers of sponge cake, pastry cream, and chocolate ganache, this nostalgic dessert is a stunner.
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3 / 14
Hot Milk Cake
Meet the foolproof hot milk cake, a fluffy and not-too-sweet sponge cake. that will be the life of the party.
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4 / 14
Pecan Pie Brownies
Boxed brownies topped with an easy pecan pie filling will be your favorite fall dessert mash-up.
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5 / 14
Perfect Cheesecake
Cheesecake should never be a source of anything except pure bliss. Not distress. Not frustration. Certainly never tears. Just dreamy, decadent, nonstop bliss. This recipe walks you through it step-by-step.
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6 / 14
Flan con Queso with Cranberry Jellies
This holiday twist on creamy flan features the addition of sweet-tart cranberry sauce.
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7 / 14
Texas Sheet Cake Recipe
This classic Texan cake is rich in chocolate flavor with a delicious, gooey texture from warm frosting melding with the warm cake.
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8 / 14
Peanut Butter Chocolate Icebox Cake
The most over-the-top ode to peanut butter & chocolate comes to life in this stunning no-bake cake. If you love Reese's cups or buckeyes, this is for you.
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9 / 14
Candied Walnuts

Candy-coated walnuts do it all: They’re the perfect last-minute dessert to gift and a great make-ahead snack or appetizer. As an added bonus, they're good to have around for making holiday dinner salads more festive and fun.

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10 / 14
Famous Chocolate Icebox Cake
This towering black and white confection of stacks upon stacks of chocolate layers is nestled between blankets of snowy-white whipped cream. It's simple and impossibly delicious.
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11 / 14
Pecan Pie Cheesecake
This luscious, creamy cheesecake with a caramel pecan pie topping will wow any crowd, making it perfect for any holiday dessert spread.
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12 / 14
Dutch Apple Pie
Our Dutch apple pie recipe features a homemade butter crust that gets filled with spiced apples and topped with a cinnamon-y streusel. It’s everything you love about apple crisp in pie form
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13 / 14
Pantry Cocoa Brownies
You’ve got some cocoa powder, flour, and sugar in the pantry, and just a few eggs in the fridge. Enter: these decadent pantry cocoa brownies that are so delicious, you may find yourself making them even when you have a kitchen packed with groceries.
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14 / 14
Pumpkin Icebox Cake
Layered with graham crackers and pumpkin whipped cream, this no-bake dessert will impress everyone this fall.
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Easy Christmas Desserts

If you’re looking for something easy to whip up, here are some of our favorite quick and effortless recipes.

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Classic Peppermint Bark
One of our holiday obsessions is a rich and bright peppermint bark, only available in December and eaten in small pieces over hot chocolate while wrapping presents or trimming the tree.
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2 / 11
No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Whipped Cream
All three components of this pie — the crust, the filling, and the topping — are made in the food processor, meaning it's all prepped and assembled and ready to chill in the fridge in just 10 minutes.
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3 / 11
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
We took all the best parts of pumpkin cheesecake—the light-as-air spiced pumpkin filling, the crumbly graham cracker crust, the swoosh of whipped cream—and packed them into miniature single-serve treats.
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4 / 11
Peppermint Mocha Snack Cake
This coffee-spiked chocolate cake topped with a sea of crushed peppermint candies is a holiday staple that's easy to whip together.
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5 / 11
Funfetti Rice Krispies Treats
This colorful twist on classic Rice Krispies treats is festive and fun for kids and adults alike.
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6 / 11
Christmas Bark
This saltine toffee is easier than the real deal and so much more tasty. Perfect for last minute holiday gifting.
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7 / 11
5-Ingredient Mini Pumpkin Pies
Ready for an adorable dessert that is so easy your kids can make it? These five-ingredient mini pies are just as sweet, creamy, and warmly spiced as their full-sized friends, but they bake up faster and keep you from having to slice pie at the end of the night.
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8 / 11
Frozen 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter-Pumpkin Bites
If you’re one of those people who buys Girl Scout cookies and then immediately sticks them in the freezer because you like to eat them cold, these snack bites are for you.
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9 / 11
Easy Pumpkin Pie
Is there anything more quintessentially Thanksgiving than a good old-fashioned pumpkin pie? So classic, so beloved, and yet … so stressful. Luckily we've got a 5-ingredient recipe that make things a lot easier.
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10 / 11
Cream Cheese Pie
This sweet pie is made with a handful of basic ingredients you probably already have tucked away in your pantry.
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11 / 11
Dark Chocolate Walnut and Cherry Holiday Bark
When grocery store shelves are piled high with peppermint bark around the holidays, it might be tempting to grab a tin, but that bark was probably made awhile ago with ingredients you might not recognize. This year, go the extra mile without the extra effort and make your own instead.
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