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20 Best Holiday Sweets Recipes

We have both classic options and out-of-the box ideas!
platter of christmas cookies gingerbread

The holidays are often filled with baking, candy making, and trying out some new sweet treats with your family. Whether you're looking for a new cookie recipe, something to use up the leftover popcorn from movie nights, or an easy dessert to whip up for your family, here are 20 of the best holiday sweets recipes to try out this festive season.

And for more, check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.

1

Apple Crumble

Apple crumble
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Apples are often thought of as a fall fruit, but they are still very much in season during winter. While many people will serve apple cider of some kind this holiday season, why not get some fresh apples and make the best apple crumble recipe? The best part about this recipe is that you make individual apple crumbles for everyone, so there's not a big dish of leftovers sitting in your refrigerator for days after serving.

Get our recipe for Apple Crumble.

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2

Molten Chocolate Cake

Molten chocolate cake
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

A dessert that's sure to impress is a molten chocolate cake. These cakes will make anyone feel like a trained pastry chef, without the expense of culinary school in Paris. The outside of the cakes look like a regular chocolate cake, but when you break into them, the lava flow of chocolate makes this dessert hard to resist.

Get our recipe for Molten Chocolate Cake.

3

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy oatmeal–chocolate chip cookies
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

There's nothing better than a warm cookie right out of the oven. This cookie recipe combines everything that's good about oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies into one perfect bite. The oatmeal gives the cookie a great texture, while the melty chocolate chips add sweetness and gooeyness to the cookie. In fact, this is the perfect cookie to take to any cookie exchanges or to drop off at a friend's as a gift (while practicing social distancing, of course).

Get our recipe for Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

4

Southern-Style Banana Pudding With Vanilla Wafers

Low-calorie banana pudding
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

You might think of banana pudding as a summer cookout dessert, but it works as a holiday sweet, too. With so much chocolate, toffee, candy, and sweets, this pudding brings a little fresh, fruity taste to the dessert buffet. The process of making your own pudding may seem daunting, but if you follow the directions exactly, it will come out perfect every time.

Get our recipe for Southern-Style Banana Pudding With Vanilla Wafers.

5

Two-Step Affogato

Affogato
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Easy sweets and desserts are a necessity during the holiday season. No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen baking a whole pie while your family is enjoying each other's company. The best and easiest dessert to serve to a crowd of hungry people is affogato, which is just strong coffee or espresso poured over high-quality vanilla ice cream. As Ina Garten says, "How easy is that?"

Get our recipe for Affogato.

6

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

two bowls of pumpkin bread pudding with spoons on wire rack and wooden background
Jason Donnelly

Bread pudding is a great holiday dessert option because it can be made up ahead of time. This bread pudding combines pumpkin, orange zest, cranberries, and maple syrup to make a cozy dessert that everyone will love.

Get our recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding.

7

Sticky Toffee Date Cake

sticky toffee date cake
Jason Donnelly

If you've ever wanted to combine a sticky toffee pudding with a fruit cake, that's what this dessert is, in the best possible way. The cake is moist with a buttery, toffee-like taste, and it's bursting with fresh pears and dates. It's perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or as an after-dinner treat with a cold glass of milk.

Get our recipe for Sticky Toffee Date Cake.

8

Poached Pears with Spiced Chocolate Sauce

poached pear with spiced chocolate sauce in white bowl with fork
Jason Donnelly

Poached pears are a classic, but dipping them into a spiced chocolate sauce brings the dessert up to the modern era. The pears are poached in a dry red wine, making them a beautiful, pinky-red color. Warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves are combined with chocolate to make a dipping sauce that complements the pears perfectly.

Get our recipe for Poached Pears with Spiced Chocolate Sauce.

9

Apple Cranberry Crisp

apple cranberry crisp in while bowls with spoons and red gingham napkin on wooden background
Jason Donnelly

This apple cranberry crisp is a taste of the holidays in a bowl, with sweet apples and tart cranberries. The best part about this dessert is that it's made in a pressure cooker, meaning there aren't a ton of extra dishes to clean up after assembling everything. Just set the pressure cooker for 30 minutes and forget about it until the timer goes off.

Get our recipe for an Apple Cranberry Crisp.

10

Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding with Pistachios

chocolate cherry bread pudding with pistachios in baking tray with spoon
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Whole-grain bread makes this sweet bread pudding have a more chewy texture, instead of the typical soft and airy bread pudding you might be used to. The addition of frozen cherries and roasted pistachios make this an ideal dessert to throw together for any holiday gatherings or as a sweet breakfast.

Get our recipe for Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding with Pistachios.

11

Cinnamon-Orange Lava Cake

cinnamon orange lava cakes on white plates with forks and coffee and cinnamon pinch bowl
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

After you've mastered a standard chocolate lava cake, why not try boosting the flavor profile by adding in orange and cinnamon? Think of this dessert as the best chocolate orange candy you've ever had, with a touch of cozy cinnamon. While the cakes do take a little time and patience, you'll be rewarded when the middle oozes out onto your plate.

Get our recipe for Cinnamon-Orange Lava Cake.

12

Warm Mocha Tart

warm mocha tart with espresso cups and napkin
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Anything with coffee is our idea of a perfect treat. The gooey, pudding-like filling combines chocolate and instant espresso powder for a classic flavor combination. The tart takes a while to prepare, but it's worth making this holiday season.

Get our recipe for a Warm Mocha Tart.

13

Dark Chocolate-Covered Almond Clusters with a Coconut-Matcha Sprinkle

Dark Chocolate-Covered Almond Clusters with Coconut Matcha Sprinkle
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Making candy might seem daunting to some, but these almond clusters are super easy. The hardest part is melting the chocolate, which is done in the microwave, to just the right temperature so it doesn't break or seize. The coconut tossed in matcha powder adds an unexpected flavor to the clusters that will have your family asking how you made these.

Get our recipe for Dark Chocolate-Covered Almond Clusters with a Coconut-Matcha Sprinkle.

14

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

peppermint chocolate cookies on a holiday plate
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Peppermint is one of the biggest flavors of the holiday season. These peppermint chocolate cookies need to be on your baking list this year. The cookies taste like rich chocolate peppermint bark in cookie form. The best part about these is getting the kids in your family to help decorate them with peppermint candies before popping them in the oven to bake.

Get our recipe for Peppermint Chocolate Cookies.

15

Peanut Butter Blossoms

peanut butter blossoms on a marble counter
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

These classic cookies might be something you ate growing up, and you might have even helped someone in your family unwrap the chocolate kisses that go on top of the cookie. If you've never tried making these, this easy recipe is the place to start. You can use crunchy or smooth peanut butter for the cookie dough, but be sure it's at room temperature so it's easy to mix in with the other ingredients.

Get our recipe for Peanut Butter Blossoms.

16

Snickerdoodle Cookies

plate of snickerdoodle cookies
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Snickerdoodles are a holiday favorite. The cookies are light and fluffy even after they are baked, making for a yummy treat to dunk into a glass of cold milk. One signature that makes these cookies stand out among others is that they are rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking, giving them even more sweetness with a slight crunch from the sugar coating.

Get our recipe for Snickerdoodle Cookies.

17

Gingerbread Cookies

gingerbread cookies
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This. Not That!

There are a few holiday staples that you should always have on your sweets table, like toffee, peppermint bark, and these gingerbread cookies. The recipe for these cookies is easy to follow, and you can get the whole family involved in cutting them out and decorating each cookie after they get done baking.

Get our recipe for Gingerbread Cookies.

18

Toffee Popcorn

whole30 toffee popcorn
Posie Brien/Eat This, Not That!

Getting tins of popcorn is a holiday tradition that many families have. But why buy the tin when you can make your own toffee popcorn? The coating uses date syrup, which is a perfect substitute for super sugary toffee. This popcorn makes a perfect bar snack or a nice gift for friends and family.

Get our recipe for Toffee Popcorn.

19

Amaretti Almond Cookies

keto amaretti cookies
Beth Lipton

Amaretti almond cookies are the hidden gem of many cookie trays during the holiday season. The cookies are rolled in powdered sugar that gives way to immense almond flavor. This particular recipe swaps out regular sugar for sugar alternatives, making them keto-friendly.

Get our recipe for Amaretti Almond Cookies.

20

Espresso Granita

Low-calorie espresso granita
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Sometimes after eating cookies and sweets all night long, you're craving something a little bit bitter that's not doused in sugar. That's where this espresso granita steps in. A granita is just a fancy way to say Italian shaved ice, but you make this in your own freezer with just a few cups of strong coffee or espresso and a little bit of sugar. After scraping the granita a few times, the resulting dessert is one that will please anyone after a hearty holiday meal.

Get our recipe for an Espresso Granita.

For more, don't miss these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.

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Megan duBois
Megan duBois is a food and travel journalist with bylines at Forbes, Insider, Delish, Popsugar, SmarterTravel, Travel and Leisure and more. Read more