17 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts
Brown Sugar-Cranberry Tart
The sweet-and-tart berries in the creamy custard pop when you take a bite.
Clay-Pot Tarte Tatin
Flameware is perfect for preparing this French tart, as an ordinary clay pot may not be able to withstand the high heat required to caramelize the apples.
Macaroon Sandwiches with Poached Pears and Devon Cream
Devon (also known as Devonshire) cream is a specialty of Devonshire, England. It’s the thick layer of cream that's spooned off the surface of heated and cooled unpasteurized milk. It’s very traditional at English tea, served with scones. Here it adds a creamy, slightly tangy dimension to the dessert.
Gingerbread with Quark Cheesecake
This clever recipe combines two cakes in one: gingerbread and cheesecake. The cheesecake half is light and creamy, with a pleasant tang from quark (a soft, unripened cheese that’s similar to sour cream), while the gingerbread half is fragrant, moist and delicately spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
Skillet-Baked Pear-and-Apple Crisp
In the fall, chef James Boyce picks the apples and pears for this cinnamon-spiced crisp.
Maple Custards with Sugared Pecans
One of José Andrés’s favorite American sweets is pecan pie. This twist was inspired by tocino de cielo, a rich, eggy cousin of flan.
Make-Ahead Tip: The custards can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, while the sugared pecans can be stored overnight in an airtight container.
Warm Apple Cider Cake with Pumpkin Seed Brittle
The cake and cider sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Almond Cake with Pears and Crème Anglaise
For a simple but elegant dessert, a basic sponge cake is baked with fragrant almond flour, split in half and filled with a layer of tender pears. Cooked in butter in a covered pan, the pears steam in their own juices, releasing a syrupy sauce all their own.
Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Pie
To create a crisp crust on the bottom, Grace Parisi partially bakes the pie shell before adding the filling. If the edge starts to darken too much, cover it with a pie shield or strips of foil.
Make-Ahead Tip: the pie can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight.
Three Babes Bakeshop in San Francisco offers this fun, portable pie: They bake the pastry in a jar, then fill it with fig-and-pear syrup, mascarpone cream, fruit and toasted walnuts.
Make-Ahead Tip: The pie crusts, fruit filling, syrup and cream can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days.
Frozen Maple-Mousse Pie with Candied Cranberries
Pastry chef Kathleen Callahan makes delicious desserts like this frozen pie topped with slow-simmered cranberries.
Flaky Pear Pie
Grant Achatz’s pie, inspired by his mom’s, is as straightforward as it gets, with a melt-in-your-mouth all-shortening crust and a lightly sweetened pear filling with just a hint of spice.
Three-Layer Thanksgiving Cake
To celebrate the myriad flavors of autumn, Food & Wine’s Laura Rege layers three separate cakes—pumpkin, candied pecan and cranberry cornmeal—into one giant cake, all finished with a luscious cream cheese frosting. It’s got a little something for everyone at the Thanksgiving table.