10 Non Traditional Holiday Desserts

Traditional Holiday Desserts

When you think of holiday desserts, what comes to mind? If it’s Thanksgiving, then you’re probably thinking of pumpkin pie, candied yams, and maybe a warm apple pie. If Christmas popped up, then you’re likely dreaming of delicious fudge, spicy gingerbread cookies, or something filled with peppermint and chocolate. Valentine’s day? Definitely chocolate and anything pink/red/white. In other words, you’re thinking of what would be considered traditional holiday treats.

So why not spice up your dessert table and try something new? There’s always going to be room for your pumpkin pie and sugar cookies, but some of these dessert ideas are sure to capture your heart. And even the pickiest eater is guaranteed to love some of these!

Traditional holiday desserts move over: there are some new tasty dishes in town. Plus a lot of these will pair nicely with your traditional recipes.

1. Maple Cream Pie

Maple Cream Pie

This pie was born to be a fall treat! The base of the pie is cake mix that is then combined with maple syrup, cinnamon, heavy cream, and rich brown sugar. The brown sugar, cinnamon and heavy cream perfectly accent the maple syrup making each bite truly decadent. Paired with a flaky crust, rich cinnamon cream cheese frosting and spiced sugared pecans, this is the perfect dessert to compliment any autumn dinner.

Oh and don’t forget the whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream! While the pie is good on its own, whipped cream and/or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream takes this dessert to a whole new level.

Which holiday does this best suit?

Thanksgiving is our personal opinion regarding this one since maple is so reminiscent of autumn.

2. No-Bake Mint Oreo Cheesecake

No-Bake Mint Oreo Cheesecake

If you’re looking for something that’s full of delicious chocolate and cool mint, perfect for Christmas and easy to make, then this dessert was practically made for you!

Cream cheese, powdered sugar, mint Oreo cookies, and Andes mint baking bits make every bite of this dessert taste cool, refreshing, and delicious. And that’s just the base of the pie! Topped with chopped mint Oreos, more Andes baking mints and cool whip make the pie not only look holiday festive, but also adds a perfect crunch to the soft base of the treat. 

As an added bonus, it only takes around 20 minutes to prepare then pie and then it just has to sit for 2 hours to set up. So you can spend your time watching Hallmark movies and wrapping presents instead of hours slaving away over a hot stove in the kitchen.

Which holiday does this best suit?

This dessert is perfect for Christmas time! The cool mint and sweet chocolate is perfect for the chilly holidays while opening presents under the Christmas tree.

3. White Chocolate Dipped Krispie Treats

White Chocolate Dipped Krispie Treats

If you have kids that want to help you make food in the kitchen, then this is perfect for you and your family! Rice krispie treats are super easy to make and kids really have a lot of fun making them; especially when it comes to the decorating part. Allowing your kids to participate can make for a really special family bonding experience and create lasting holiday memories that you will all remember for years.

Also the recipe can be changed to suit your needs. You can use white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or even color the white chocolate using food dye to create any color you want. There’s also a large variety of sprinkles/toppings available so you’re really only limited by your imagination!

Which holiday does this best suit?

This depends completely on the sprinkles/toppings you use. The picture we used would definitely make a really cute Christmas treat, but you can just as easily use red/pink sprinkles for Valentine’s Day, green ones for St. Patrick’s Day, and a festive orange blend for Thanksgiving.

They’re also perfect for birthday parties!

4. Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

Okay, so pumpkin spice is a fall staple and we couldn’t resist adding a recipe that incorporated a fan favorite.

For most of us, (or maybe we’re just speaking personally) as soon as the air starts to get cool and the leaves start changing, the pumpkin spice cravings start. Luckily, food and drink companies know this and you can find pumpkin spice flavored everything on every corner.

If you’re looking for something to make at home to satisfy your pumpkin spice craving, then this dish is perfect for you. Sheet cakes are incredibly easy to make and flavorful. So if you’re in the mood for a cake that truly tastes like pumpkin spice, then check this one out. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser!

5. Light Meringues with Pistachio and Pomegranate

Light Meringues with Pistachio and Pomegranate

Ok, this one probably sounds a little strange or too fancy, but bear with us; it’s a really delicious treat. Plus the look of it just screams Christmas.

When you think of meringues, you probably don’t think of pairing them with pistachio and pomegranate. It’s an odd combination we’ll admit, but the crunchy/salty flavor of the pistachios pairs well with the tart, sweet flavor of the pomegranates and both are perfectly balanced by the light, fluffy, sweet flavor of the meringue.

Keep in mind that meringues can be a bit of a pain to make, so prepare these ahead of time. It’s definitely not a dish you want to try to prepare an hour before guests arrive! But we promise this one is worth the effort and your guests will definitely agree!

Which holiday does this best suit?

Christmas is definitely the best time to break out this delicious dessert. And just look at the beautiful colors of the dessert! It looks like something out of a Christmas magazine and will look equally good sitting on your dessert table.

6. Chocolate Pudding Pies with Gingerbread Peeps

Chocolate Pudding Pies with Gingerbread Peeps

In all honesty, we think this is the easily the cutest dessert on our list. The Gingerbread Peep looks ridiculously cute with his candy cane standing atop a pile of delicious chocolate pudding with crushed peppermint. It reminds us of a Gingerbread house in a way and adds some uniqueness to the traditional gingerbread men treats.

This is also something that you can prepare with the kids or right before family arrives. All you’ll need to do to make this dessert is prepare chocolate pudding, put it into dishes, crush up some peppermint for the pudding, and place your Gingerbread Peep with his candy cane in the center. A simple festive and delicious dessert ready in minutes!

Which holiday does this best suit?

The mint and chocolate makes this dish a perfect accessory for Christmas dinners or even a cute little snack while you’re waiting for everything to finish cooking. Plus the little Gingerbread Peep is very reminiscent of gingerbread men, which is also another Christmas staple.

The Gingerbread Peeps also make this dessert perfect for Thanksgiving.

7. White Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

White Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

This white chocolate raspberry trifle is just as tasty to eat, as it is easy to prepare. The layered dessert is one of the easiest to make and you can change up the fruit/layers as desired. A quick Google search will land you 100s of results so feel free to get creative!

Raspberries, cherries, and strawberries are all perfect toppings or you can get creative and layer a combination of these fruits. For the base, you can use graham crackers, fruit, pudding, cream, or even shortbread chunks. In other words, you can make this dessert a number of ways for a truly tasty, customized dish.

Which holiday does this best suit?

This dessert makes for a cute addition to your Christmas menu and can also be used as a treat for Valentine’s Day. 

Pink food dye for the whipped cream/white chocolate layers will make this dessert look super cute and festive for Valentine’s Day! Although if you decide to serve the dish as is, the white and red layers without the pink additives are just as adorable.

8. Chocolate Pecan Pie Brownie Cheesecake

Chocolate Pecan Pie Brownie Cheesecake

Okay, so the title of this dessert (and a slice) is a mouthful and you probably won’t be able to write it out in calligraphy on one line for a cute menu option, but you definitely shouldn’t overlook this treat. And despite its long name, the dish is relatively simple and easy to make.

This dessert is prefect for those who don’t really care for graham or cookie crusts because the bottom layer is actually a brownie! This really makes for a delicious, rich experience and the dessert is definitely chocolate rich. A cheesecake layer helps balance out the tirade of chocolate (which comes in the form of chocolate chips, brownie bottom, and chocolate syrup) and the pecans add a saltiness as well as crunch to the cheesecake.

Which holiday does this best suit?

We definitely think this is a Thanksgiving treat but it would also fit in nicely with your Christmas desserts and Valentine’s Day sweets.

The chocolate and pecans really suit the Thanksgiving mood while the rich chocolate, brownie and cheesecake definitely fits the spirit of Valentine’s Day. So whether you’re preparing this for your lover on V-Day or looking for something different to add to your dessert menu for Thanksgiving, it’s sure to fit right in!

9. Watermelon Granita 

Watermelon Granita
Watermelon Granita topped with mint leaf, selective focus

You didn’t think we’d leave out the most American holiday did you? We figured that the summer holidays, especially the 4th of July, needed some love and this funky dessert is perfect for it.

Summer is all about watermelons, keeping cool, snow cones, and slushes; the same things that the Watermelon Granita is about too. The dessert uses watermelon puree that is combined with lime, salt and sugar to give it a bit of a margarita style flavor and is then combined with ice to make into a snow cone of sorts.

You can also add ground chile or Mexican spices to make it a truly unique, spicy relief from the scorching summer sun! 

Which holiday does this best suit?

This dessert is all about the 4th of July and summer holidays! Everything about this treat screams summer so it comes as no surprise that we’ve listed it as suiting the 4th of July.

However, it can be used to shake up traditional Valentine’s Day treats. While you might not think of watermelon or ice as being a V-Day treat, this dessert can oddly work; especially given the color.

10. Eggnog Tres Leches Cake

Eggnog Tres Leches Cake

All right, so this is a bit of a controversial dessert. Why? Well, people have strong opinions of eggnog and there’s typically no in between. People seem to either love eggnog or absolutely hate it. You probably won’t find anyone that says, “yeah, eggnog is ok”, it’s like liver; you either like it or don’t. However, on the off chance that you’re one of those who like eggnog, then this dessert is for you!

This dessert starts off as a traditional, moist tres leches cake but then gets supercharged by the addition of eggnog. The eggnog takes the role of the leches, or milks, and makes the cake super rich, moist, and decadent. The thickness of the eggnog also makes the cake dense and flavorful.

Which holiday does this best suit?

Eggnog is definitely a comfort drink for the later times of the year so this dessert will definitely fit right in for Christmas and Thanksgiving. It can also pull double duty as a unique birthday treat since tres leches cakes are often used as a birthday cake.

Will this list switch up your holiday dessert list?

While these desserts probably won’t replace your favorite holiday sweet treats anytime soon (or maybe they will, let us know), they do add a unique option to your dessert table. Plus many of these are super easy to make so if you’re like us and make a pumpkin pie from scratch every year (hello 3 hours of my life gone), it’s a  nice break.

Let us know what you think of the dishes we picked and which dessert is going to be added to your holiday table!

Do you have a tasty dish that we didn’t feature? Tell us all about it, we’d love to know what non-traditional treats you’re serving up during the holidays!

Vimal Lalani is senior correspondent for Ishli, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking news and health consumer reporting on

Written by Vimal Lalani

Vimal Lalani is senior correspondent for Ishli, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking news and health consumer reporting on


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