20 Fun and Festive Holiday Desserts That Aren’t Pie

published Nov 8, 2022
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A piece of banana pudding on plate, with a caramel sauce being poured over top

They say old habits die hard. Try as I might every holiday season, I’ve never been much of a pie person. While I won’t turn down a slice of warm apple pie upon offer, there’s a bevy of other scrumptious bakes that satisfy my sweet tooth and get me giddy for the holiday season.

Perhaps, like me, you’re indifferent to pie, or maybe you are a lover of many different types of pie, but simply yearn for something different in this year’s dessert spread. We’ve got some seriously incredible options for you. So put your pie plates to the side — this list of 20 cookies, bars, cakes, candies, and more warrant your full, undivided attention.

Holiday Baking Guides

1 / 20
Sweet Potato Cheesecake

This dreamy cheesecake features velvety sweet potato filling, a lightly sweetened whipped sour cream on top, and a buttery graham cracker crust at the bottom.

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2 / 20
Chocolate Éclair Cake

You only need five main ingredients to make this no-bake chocolate éclair cake, and all of them are easily found at most grocery stores.

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3 / 20
Fruitcake Cookies

Here's a pie alternative that takes another holiday classic — fruitcake — and delightfully turns it on its head. Dried fruit gets steeped in a modest amount of alcohol before being folded in with nuts to the cookie dough, providing that classic flavor (without the weeks of having to wait!).

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4 / 20
Pecan Pie Rugelach

Pecan pie, but make it a cookie. Swirling inside a buttery dough is a warm layer of cinnamon and brown sugar pecans.

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5 / 20
Banana Bread Pudding

This banana bread pudding is an oh-so-tasty dessert made with day-old bread and ripened bananas.

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6 / 20
Eggnog Rice Krispies Treats

With a little help from sweetened condensed milk and jazzy ingredients like brandy and warm baking spices, the Rice Krispies treats we all know and love get a holiday glow-up.

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7 / 20
Pumpkin Dessert Lasagna

Pumpkin dessert lasagna is an easy make-ahead recipe that's perfect for when you and your holiday guests want to have an unconventional yet satisfying dessert, versus just another pie.

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8 / 20
Pie Crust Cookies

These pie crust cookies are buttery and flaky, just like you'd expect from a pie crust, and kissed with a shower of cinnamon-sugar that gives each bite the most irresistible crunch.

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9 / 20
Blood Orange Bars

If you love citrus pies, you need this recipe. Blood orange bars meld bright, fruity custard with chewy, buttery crust into one irresistibly sweet-tasting holiday dessert.

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10 / 20
Toffee Recipe

Crunchy butter toffee topped with melted chocolate and finely chopped nuts is the easiest homemade confection to gift to others or simply to yourself.

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11 / 20
Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

Swooshed with vanilla ice cream and dressed in a shiny DIY magic shell, this fun, inventive ice cream cake is what you need to put a twist on your holiday dessert traditions.

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12 / 20
Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Crumb Cakes

Says Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand: "If you’re looking for one more way to get your pumpkin fix, may I suggest these pumpkin crumb cakes?" Pumpkin (or sweet potato) purée makes these cakes ultra-tender. And the pecan or roasted hazelnut streusel crown takes takes them to the next level.

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13 / 20
Sucre à la Crème (Maple Fudge)

This French Canadian confection starts with one set of ingredients: heavy cream, maple syrup (or light brown sugar), granulated sugar, and light corn syrup. But in the end, it offers you two desserts: a biteable fudge or a creamy spread to eat by the spoonful.

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14 / 20
Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)

Fresh, hot doughnuts stuffed with sweet jelly — need we say more? Sufganiyot is a Hanukkah treat that everyone can enjoy and anyone can make.

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15 / 20
Cranberry-Glazed Chewy Almond Cookies

They're nutty, they're chewy, they're even blushing with a sweet-tart cranberry glaze — and they just so happen to be gluten-free.

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16 / 20
Chocolate Trifle

What's easier than pie? This elegant and breezy chocolate trifle, tiered sky-high with store-bought pudding, whipped cream, cake, and crushed cookies.

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17 / 20
Frosted Snickerdoodle Bars

These frosted snickerdoodle bars have crispy edges with soft bellies, and are finished off with an airy American buttercream frosting. One bite, and even the traditionalists will forget they ever wanted pie for holiday dessert.

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18 / 20
Chocolate-Covered Shortbread Sticks (Pocky)

In lieu of taking a stab at another pie recipe, learn how to make Joanne Lee Molinaro's homemade version of a quintessential store-bought chocolate shortbread treat.

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19 / 20
Cream Horns

Frozen puff pastry to the rescue once again! Spiral tubes are stuffed with a luxurious, mousse-like lemon-vanilla whipped cream.

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20 / 20
Christmas Chex Mix

This sweet and savory mix is guaranteed to provide fun and festive vibes at parties or packaged as gifts for Christmas.

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