10 of our best Southern Thanksgiving desserts to serve at the end of your feast

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

Serving Thanksgiving dinner without dessert at the end seems nearly sacrilegious. Few holiday activities are more satisfying and indulgent than sipping a cup of post-meal coffee or an after-dinner drink while nibbling on some pie or cake. Here, we've pulled together 10 recipes (plus two pie crusts) to add the perfect crowning touch to your Thanksgiving feast.

Pecan pie

Southern Pecan Pie

Also known as "We-Can't-Have-Thanksgiving-Without-This Pecan Pie," this is a classic recipe that comes together with just eight ingredients — that's if you count a pie shell as an ingredient.

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Speaking of pie shells, you buy one or try this recipe.

Apple cranberry crisp

This festive dish tastes just like fall. Pair the tart cranberries with sweeter baking apples, such as Braeburn, Honeycrisp or Jonagold, for the perfect contrast.

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Pumpkin skillet crumble

The original version of this recipe from cookbook author Anne Byrn has been a favorite for 20 years. It’s a nice change from pumpkin pie, plus it’s portable and so easy to make. It's made with packaged cake mix, which makes things extra easy. No one has to know.

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Pumpkin Pecan Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Biltmore Estate pumpkin pecan layer cake

Executive Chef Sean Eckman of the Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate created this modern take on a classic he found in a 1904 menu book in Biltmore’s archives. This project cake is filled with caramel and pecans and topped with cream cheese icing.

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Pumpkin-croissant bread pudding

This rich pumpkin bread pudding is made with buttery croissants and winter spices. White chocolate adds richness, sweetness and complements the pumpkin. Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream for an amazing autumnal dessert.

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Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan Crust

Butternut squash pie

This fresh take on pumpkin pie is baked in a gluten-free pecan crust, which comes together in minutes and adds texture to the sweet custard filling. You can easily jazz it up with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Tightly wrapped, the pie will keep for a week in the fridge.

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Nama’s apple cake

This heirloom cake recipe is cinnamon-scented, studded with apples and pecans, and topped with an old-fashioned caramel glaze. Eaten warm, the cake is almost pudding-like and is a big bowl of fall-scented comfort on a crisp, cool day. 

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Biltmore Estate's luscious pumpkin pie

Biltmore Estate pumpkin praline pie

The consistency of this luscious and rich pie will be somewhere between a traditional pumpkin pie and a pumpkin cheesecake. We recommend garnishing it with candied pecans and whipped cream.

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Chocolate chess pie

This chocolate-filled and cream-topped twist on classic chess pie is a decadent addition to any holiday table — or even your everyday dinner table. This recipe is courtesy of Kate Wood, of the blog Wood and Spoon.

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Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallows and Pecan Streusel

Sweet potato pie with marshmallows and pecan streusel

This pie captures the essence of sweet potato casserole with toasted marshmallows on top, all presented in a dessert format, as it should be.

Get the recipe for the pie here, and get the recipe for the cream cheese pie dough here


Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South Region. She's the editor of Southern Kitchen and a correspondent for The American South.

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