Chef John's Best Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

pumpkin pie with pastry leaf cutouts on top
Pictured: Chef John's Pumpkin Pie. Photo: Vanessa Greaves

Chef John is here to help put the finishing touches on a perfect Thanksgiving feast. These signature Chef John recipes feature all of the classic Thanksgiving desserts, including pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies, plus a few inspired takes on seasonal holiday flavors, like pumpkin crème brulee, carrot cake, and more.

01 of 12

Pumpkin Pie

a slice of pumpkin pie garnished with pastry leaves and a dollop of whipped cream
with Bourbon Whipped Cream. foodelicious

We'll start with the essential Thanksgiving pie. After years of experimenting, Chef John perfected his pumpkin pie formula. Rich and custardy with ideal texture, it's also much less likely to crack in the oven. Be sure to watch his video, which features the semi-famous "sexy dollop" scene. Anyone can drop a dollop of whipped cream onto a slice of pie, but a sexy dollop? Chef John shows you how it's done.

02 of 12

Chef John's Pecan Pie

slice of pecan pie on a white plate, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
Chocolate Pecan Pie. Chef John

Another Thanksgiving classic, this rich, nutty pie combines a sugary crust, a gooey-sweet filling, and a healthy splash of bourbon. And that's only half the good news. Because one of the most delicious pies ever is also one of the easiest to prepare.

03 of 12

Chef John's Pumpkin Creme Brulee

top-down view of an oval ceramic ramekin of torched sugar over pumpkin custard

Spooned into individual ramekins and baked in the oven in a water bath (which helps them cook evenly), these simple but spectacular seasonal desserts make perfect holiday treats. All you need to make them are egg yolks, brown sugar, cream, canned pumpkin puree, and classic pumpkin pie spices. You can also make this with butternut squash puree. Watch the video, to see Chef John work his magic with a kitchen blowtorch, turning the sugary tops into thin, hard-as-rock-candy layers above the sweet and creamy pumpkin goodness.

04 of 12

Pumpkin Cheesecake

a slice of cheesecake topped with whipped cream sprinkled with pepitas, on a white plate with a fork on the side
Chef John

Chef John's creamy, custardy pumpkin cheesecake features a ginger snap crust. It's the perfect hybrid between a pumpkin pie and a traditional cheesecake—and the ideal dessert for Thanksgiving dinner. The cream cheese and pure pumpkin puree are spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla extract, and the secret ingredient is a splash of bourbon. Serve completely chilled with a dollop of whipped cream if you like.

05 of 12

Easy Homemade Pie Crust

close up of easy homemade pie crust with apple designs cut out from the pie crust dough

Here's Chef John's essential crust recipe for pie season. "This pie crust is my personal favorite and is made using a food processor, which makes cutting the butter into the flour very simple," says Chef John. "By the way, you can make a double batch of this, and freeze the individually wrapped dough for future pie-related adventures."

06 of 12

Southern-Style Baked Banana Pudding

Southern-Style Baked Banana Pudding
Chef John

"If you like banana cream pie, you'll absolutely love baked banana pudding," says Chef John. "Not only is there no pie crust to mess with, but I think the vanilla wafer cookies pair even more perfectly with the fruit and custardy pudding."

07 of 12

Chef John's Carrot Cake

Chef John's carrot cake on a white plate with frosting
Chef John

Here's a great seasonal cake to serve alongside the pumpkin and pecan pies. This one uses a couple cups of finely grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and coconut oil. For a moister cake, Chef John recommends using more carrots. "You can substitute vegetable oil for the coconut oil," says Chef John. "If you do go with the coconut oil, you can use a 'virgin' coconut oil, which will have a fairly strong coconut aroma, and identifiable flavor, or you can go with a more refined coconut oil, which is virtually odorless and flavorless."

08 of 12

Chef John's Caramel Apple Pie

a lattice-topped apple pie
Chef John

This intensely flavorful apple pie recipe features a quick caramel sauce made with sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and salt. "The interesting thing about this recipe is the way the caramel sauce is poured over the apples and the lattice crust," says Chef John. "You know how with a traditional apple pie some of the apple juices will caramelize as it bakes and bubble out of the pie and bake into and onto the flaky crust? That's how this whole pie is."

09 of 12

Chef John's Buttermilk Pie

slice of buttermilk pie garnished with raspberries
Chef John

"This is sort of like a vanilla custard meets lemon meringue pie meets a very light cheesecake — except better," says Chef John. "Not only is this buttermilk pie easy to make and beautiful to look at, it's also bursting with the kind of bright, tangy flavor that no other custard-style pie can touch."

10 of 12

Mini Croissant Crust Pecan Pies

Mini Croissant Crust Pecan Pies
Chef John

Fresh store-bought croissants are the secret to these simple individual pecan pies. You'll fill muffin cups with the croissants and then spoon in the sweet pecan-pie filling. "The croissants bake up into a crisp, flaky, buttery crust with a baklava-like texture," says Chef John. "Serve topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or just pick them up and eat them like muffins."

11 of 12

Apple Walnut Canadian Butter Tarts

Apple Walnut Canadian Butter Tarts
Chef John

"After Poutine, Canadian butter tarts are Canada's second greatest culinary invention." Chef John puts an apple-infused twist on a traditional butter tart. "These have a wonderful texture and flavor and are a perfect small dessert."

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