Home Desserts 30 Best Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts

30 Best Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts

The holidays are busy enough, so why not try these make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts?

They’re ideal for crowds and should save you a ton of time on the big day.

Homemade Pumpkin Cookies with Sugar Glaze
Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox.

Whether you’re feeding your whole extended family or just your nearest and dearest, the holidays can be stressful.

That’s why I prefer to save on time and stress with a few make-ahead recipes.

Having a few things ready to go means you’ll have more oven space for dinner. Plus, you can actually enjoy the day instead of just spending it in the kitchen.

So, here are 30 delectable make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts everyone will love. 


30 Easy Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

1. Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust

If fall flavors make you happy, then prepare to be delighted! These delectable cheesecake bars are the epitome of fall goodness. 

Not only that, but they’re incredibly creamy and soft.

The crust is super buttery and full of warmth. Meanwhile, the blend of pumpkin, maple, and brown sugar is divine. 

These scrumptious bars will keep in the fridge for up to three days. And the flavors are like a good wine: they get better with age.

Better yet, they also freeze well. So go ahead and make them as early as you need to!

2. Pumpkin Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a simple blend of sweet milk and gelatin. So, it always needs time to set in the fridge, making it a great make-ahead option.

As you can see, this one is extra special with those pumpkin layers – and it’s surprisingly easy to recreate.

Make them a day or two in advance and keep them in the fridge. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox.

For a bit of crunch, add some gingersnap crumbles right before serving.

3. Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding is one of those warm desserts that gets better with each bite.

It’s rich, sweet, dark, and deeply flavorful. Plus, it gets more flavorful the longer it sits in the fridge!

Make the cake as many as four days ahead. As for the toffee sauce, that’ll be fine in the fridge for a week (if you can resist)!

4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

After a big feast, you might not want anything too big for dessert. That’s why I love these muffins!

They’re super soft and loaded with pumpkin spice goodness. And you can make them as big or small as you like.

Better still, they’re just the right amount of sweet to end the day with.

5. Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

This recipe was literally designed to be made ahead of time! So it’s a terrific way to impress your guests with minimal effort. 

But even though it’s easy, it’s pretty darn tasty!

Loaded with spices, pumpkin, pecans, cranberries, and caramel sauce, it’s seriously drool-worthy. 

As with any bread pudding recipe, you’ll need to cover the bread with custard for at least 12 hours. The longer it sits, the more flavor it soaks up!

Just keep it in the fridge until you’re ready and warm it in the oven.

And you can make the caramel ahead too. Just heat it on the stove before serving.

6. Pumpkin Pie

Is it really Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? I don’t think so.

So, make it easy on yourself and prepare this a day (or two) before the feast. It’ll hold fine in the fridge and can even be frozen if need be! 

7. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite way to enjoy pumpkin is with chocolate. So, these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are right up my alley. 

They’re super chewy, chocolatey, and everything you want in a cookie with a fun fall twist.

And did you know you can freeze pretty much any cookie dough for up to six months? It’s true! Read this post to find out how!

8. Easy Pumpkin Trifle

Unless you’re Rachel Green, making trifle is incredibly easy. And this quick recipe is no exception! 

It comes together with layers of whipped cream, pumpkin cheesecake filling, and gingersnap cookies.

Every bite is like no-bake pumpkin cheesecake with even less work. And there’s no ground beef in sight!

Make the cookies and pumpkin filling a few days ahead. Then assemble the day of with freshly whipped cream or Cool Whip.

9. Pumpkin Roll

Thanksgiving is all about the rolls. I’m talking bread rolls, tummy rolls (hello, food baby), and this delicious pumpkin cake roll

It’s hard to beat moist pumpkin sponge and cream cheese frosting. 

The only thing that makes this roll better is time. It gets super fudgy and soft, and the pumpkin flavor comes out even stronger after a few days in the fridge. 

Keep it whole and well-wrapped in the fridge until you need to serve it. 

10. Pumpkin Dump Cake

On Thanksgiving, you want simple desserts that make your life easier. And it doesn’t get much easier than a dump cake

Make it up to five days early, then just warm it up after dinner. Or eat it cold because it’s absolutely scrumptious that way too. 

Every bite is sweet, soft, buttery, and loaded with pumpkiny goodness. 

11. Dark Chocolate Pecan Bars

Between the chocolate shortbread crust and chocolate and pecan filling, you’ll have a hard time resisting these bad boys.

Seriously, make them ahead at your own peril!

I had to remake them after a couple of days because they somehow vanished…weird, huh?

Layered Nanaimo Bars on White Ceramic Plate

12. Nanaimo Bars

Not only can these stunning Nanaimo bars be made up to a week in advance, but you can even change the flavors to make them festive

Add some gingersnaps to the base for a bit of warmth, and throw some cinnamon in the filling too.

Heck, throw some pumpkin in there if you like! Just remember to adjust the recipe to account for the added moisture.

13. Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

You know those nostalgic, soft, sweet, and colorful frosted sugar cookies everyone loves?

Well, let’s just call these the official fall version. 

Make the dough and fridge or freeze it as needed. Then, make the frosting up to four or five days ahead.

Bake, cool, and frost on the big day or the day before. Easy peasy!

14. Pumpkin Icebox Cake

Icebox cakes are meant to sit in the fridge by design. That makes them the perfect make-ahead dessert for any occasion.

But this creamy pumpkin creation is just what you need for Thanksgiving.

It’s layered, delicious, and tastes like fall. What more could you ask for?

15. Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Bites

Here’s another fabulous sweet treat to serve after a big meal.

They’re small enough to enjoy just one or two but easy enough to make that you can have a big bowl for everyone to share.

Serve them with your after-dinner coffees and cocktails!

16. Paula Deen Carrot Cake

This carrot cake is my go-to recipe. It’s sweet, moist, and delicious to the max!

Plus, it becomes more flavorful and fudgy the longer it sits.

Make and bake the cakes, then make the frosting. But keep them separate if it’s more than a day or two ahead.

17. Best Sweet Potato Pie

If you’re a little over the whole pumpkin thing, try this delicious deviation from the classic.

Don’t be fooled: it might look like pumpkin pie and shares some spices, but it’s all sweet potato!

Sweet potato custard becomes soft, sweet, and wonderfully caramelized in the oven. And then those flavors mix and mingle as it cools. Yum!

18. Paleo Vegan Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

These may look and taste like a TWIX bar on steroids, but they’re vegan and paleo-approved, so they’re not nearly as unhealthy as some other desserts.

They feature a shortbread crust, silky caramel, nutty pecans, and rich vegan chocolate.

The caramel and chocolate pecan filling turns seriously gooey in the fridge. Make them a few days ahead, and try not to snack!

19. Dutch Apple Pie (Apple Crumb Pie)

It’s apple pie, but better. And a whole lot easier because you don’t need to fuss with a lattice crust.

I prefer pies with a crumb topping anyway, but this one is especially scrummy.

In case you didn’t know, you can make and freeze raw pies months in advance. And then bake them from frozen when needed!

That includes crumble-topped pies like this!

20. Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies

Chewy and chocolatey, with an unexpected dark and spicy twist, these molasses cookies will be a hit at any holiday table.

You’ll use fresh ginger here for best results. And yes, you can absolutely freeze the dough ahead.

You can even freeze the ginger! I like to buy the root and shave off the skin, then wrap and freeze it for later. (It grates better from frozen, too!)

Date Cake

21. Easy Date Cake Recipe With Raisins and Nuts

Moist, sticky, and naturally sweet, thanks to the dates, this cake is a lot like sticky toffee, only it’s got so much more texture!

There’s chewy raisins and dates, along with buttery, crunchy walnuts.

The top is a fun caramel-like glaze that coats the whole top and seeps inside, so every bite is sweet and tasty.

Serve this warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Homemade Bundt Cake with Dates and Orange Slices

22. Orange Slice Cake

If you want something fresh and fruity, try this gorgeous orange slice cake!

Studded with nuts and dried fruits, it’s loaded with chewy orange slice candies for added flavor and texture.

Finally, the orange glaze ensures every bite is sweet and citrusy. Make this a few days ahead, and add the glaze a few hours before serving.

23. Gingerbread Cake

From the dark, spiced sponge to the bright and creamy frosting, this is one make-ahead dessert everyone will go nuts for!

Since the gluten-free cake features coconut oil, brown sugar, applesauce, and molasses, it’s insanely soft and tender.

Seriously, it’ll be fine for at least a week in an airtight container in the fridge.

Make the frosting the day before serving, and get ready to devour the whole thing.

Kraft Fantasy Fudge

24. Kraft Fantasy Fudge

I’ve said a few things on this list are incredibly fudgy. Well, this fudge is probably the fudgiest of them all.

It’s in the name, after all!

Plus, fudge can be made well in advance of any dinner or party. Just be sure it’s in an airtight container – and out of reach!

25. White Chocolate Bark

If you want an easy and totally customizable dessert, this is it!

All you need is good-quality white chocolate and whatever you want to top it with. 

This stuff will last up to three weeks in an airtight container at room temp. So you can make it well in advance of Thanksgiving. 

26. Chai Creme Brulée

If you love chai lattes and can’t get enough of sweet and creamy creme brulée, prepare to fall in love.

Lightly spiced and wonderfully rich, this dessert couldn’t be easier to make at home.

Prep and bake them a couple of days ahead and keep them covered in the fridge. Then, sprinkle some sugar and brulée right before serving.

How easy is that?

27. Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut butter, chocolate, Oreos, Reese’s… need I say more?

Probably not, but I will anyway. 

It’s luxuriously creamy and mouthwateringly delicious. It’s also impossible to resist, so if you make it ahead, try to keep it secret!

28. Easy Coffee Mousse

I had to include this grown-up mousse because it’s too good to miss!

Super light and silky smooth, it’s rich and jam-packed with robust coffee flavor in every spoonful.

It’s a real mousse, which means it contains eggs. But there’s gelatin in there too, so it’ll last a good few days in the fridge.

29. Kentucky Derby Pie

This might be my new favorite kind of pie.

It’s basically a chocolate pecan pie, but it’s buttery, rich, sweet, and fully loaded with deep bourbon flavor!

Plus, the filling ends up being so incredibly ooey-gooey and caramelized.

This is a great recipe to prepare early because the filling needs time to set. It’s a bit runny directly out of the oven.

The longer it chills, the more impressive the texture becomes.

30. Butterscotch Budino

Here’s another custard-based dessert that’s best made a few days ahead so it can set.

Full of butterscotch and dark rum, it’s pretty much to die for.

I like to add a layer of crushed butterscotch candies to the middle (or chocolate-covered crisp pearls) for a bit of crunch.

And it’s extra special with some caramel corn right on top. Add that just before serving, so it doesn’t go soggy!

30 Best Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts

The holidays are busy enough, so why not try these make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts? They’re ideal for crowds and should save you time on the big day.


  • Select your favorite recipe.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a delicious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert in 30 minutes or less!
Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts

Did you like the recipe?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


Share on social media:

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

author avatar
Haley van der Ploeg
Haley van der Ploeg is a food writer and content creator for Insanely Good Recipes, where she authors blog posts, creates recipes, and crafts tantalizing photos.

Haley is passionate about food and its ability to gather people across cultures, languages, and generations. She believes everyone can learn to cook.

Most days, you can find Haley reading, baking elaborate cakes, and hosting get-togethers for friends and family. If Haley isn't home, she’s probably on a plane jetting off to exciting adventures and new cuisines.

She lives with her husband in the Netherlands and has taught him that vegetables *can* taste good.

Leave a Comment