The Comforting One-Bowl Dessert Recipes We All Need Right Now

All the sweetness, with minimal cleanup and fuss.

Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
Photo: Antonis Achilleos

When the urge to bake hits, the number-one deterrent that's keeping you out of the kitchen is most likely the prospect of cleanup. Baking projects and sweet treats often feel relegated to weekends or the holidays exclusively. Thankfully, there's an assortment of friendly recipes that only require a single bowl and won't have you scrubbing dishes for the rest of the night.

From nostalgia-inducing favorites like crispy rice cereal treats to a comforting one-bowl chocolate cake with warm spices, these recipes will have you making crowd-pleasing desserts any day of the week — not just on the one-off special occasion — because we all deserve a little more dessert in our lives. A carrot cake with all of the fixings; a crowd-pleasing Dutch baby, a halvah-inspired shortbread cookie: It's all possible with zero stress and minimal cleanup.

The recipe that'll make carrot cake easy enough for a weeknight

Carrot-Almond Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Antonis Achilleos

The trickiest part of this speedy dessert? Grating carrots. This super tender version has every craveable element you'd want from a carrot cake: warm spices, a thick layer of cream cheese frosting, and crunchy pecans throughout. And thanks to the tolerant nature of snack cakes, it can all be mixed in just one bowl with minimal cleanup afterward. It's casual, approachable, and a fuss-free baking project perfect for when you're looking to get something sweet and crowd-pleasing onto the table without a hassle.

The skillet dessert that you'll want to eat for breakfast

Mixed-Berry Dutch Baby
© Hallie Burton

A Dutch baby always makes for a stunning presentation — and it's easier than making pancakes since you cook it up all at once. For a dessert that fits right in at both the breakfast table and as a seasonal after-dinner treat, you only need a handful of simple ingredients for it to all come together. This recipe calls for raspberries and blackberries, but you can easily use whatever fresh berries are in your kitchen. Serve warm with scoops of good vanilla ice cream and a dusting of powdered sugar.

The cookies that you'll always want stocked in your freezer

Lemon-Tahini Cookies Recipe
Gregory DuPree

Inspired by the Middle Eastern treat halvah, these nutty cookies are the ideal one-bowl treat. Bright, tart lemon zest adds a fragrant, floral note that pairs well with the earthy tahini and optional cacao nibs. You'll want quality butter and tahini on-hand for these shortbread-style cookies — the flavor really comes through. They're delicious enjoyed warm out of the oven but also travel well and are perfect to share. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you're looking to stash a few logs of dough in your freezer.

The fudgy brownies that go above and beyond

Salted Fudge Brownies
Maldon salt stars in these rich, chocolaty brownies. © Tina Rupp

You could actually call this recipe one-pot brownies, since you melt the chocolate in a saucepan and then whisk the cocoa, sugar, eggs, flour, and vanilla right into the molten chocolate. Pour the batter into a lined 9-inch square pan, sprinkle generously with Maldon salt (or another sea salt, or just a bit less table salt), and use a knife to swirl that salt right into the batter. When baked, these brownies are a bit less sweet than the average salted-caramel dessert and even more irresistible.

The speedy dessert that'll remind you of your childhood

Peanut butter Rice Krispie treats

For a sweet snack that's just as welcome in a lunchbox as it is an after-dinner indulgence, it doesn't get any easier than speedy, nostalgia-inducing Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats. You only need four simple ingredients and just a little time on the stove, and these kid- and adult-friendly bars are ready to be enjoyed. The best part: you can riff on and customize this recipe with whatever nut butter or crunchy cereal you have on hand. Wrap the treats in plastic and store them at room temperature where they'll keep for a few days on your counter.

The snack cake that'll be a family favorite

Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
Antonis Achilleos

Banana and peanut butter are already a winning duo, but this cake takes each ingredient to new heights. Browned butter adds a caramel-like richness to the banana in the batter, and a good amount of salt in the frosting makes the peanut butter taste nuttier, balancing out the sweetness. Aside from a brief step on the stove to brown the butter, the whole dessert comes together in one bowl — you can whip up the frosting while the cake bakes and cools. Using whole-wheat pastry flour instead of white flour adds a nutty nuance that enhances the deeper flavors of brown sugar, browned butter, and peanut butter.

Your new favorite chocolate cake recipe

Applesauce-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

This simple yet rich cake is full of warming spices like cardamom, cloves, and black pepper that put it in a league of its own from your standard chocolate cake. The addition of applesauce makes it extra tender, and the simplicity of it (one bowl, minimal cleanup, only 15 minutes of assembly) makes it approachable enough for whenever you need a chocolate fix. This'll become your new back-pocket chocolate cake recipe, and the crème fraîche and powdered sugar eliminate the hassle of whipping up a frosting. No crème fraîche? It's just as good with whipped cream or ice cream.

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