12 of Grandma's Best Thanksgiving Desserts

overhead view of Apple Pie by Grandma Ople recipe topped with a lattice crust and decorative pastry cutouts
Photo: Joy Dambek Smith

No one dishes up nostalgic Thanksgiving desserts like grandmas can. And generous Allrecipes home cooks love to share their family heirloom recipes passed down through generations, including favorites like apple pie and chocolate cream pie to cupcakes and everything made with pumpkin. Start a new tradition in your family with these timeless Thanksgiving dessert recipes that are good enough to earn grandma's stamp of approval.

01 of 13

Butternut Squash Pie

overhead view of homemade Butternut Squash Pie recipeembellished with decorative pastry cutout
Deb C

Take a break from pumpkin and stuff your pie crust with warmly-spiced butternut squash. Ginger, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla lend similar flavors to the classic Thanksgiving favorite, just with a twist. "My grandmother taught me how to make this recipe while I was a teenager working on her farm in the summers. For people that find the taste of pumpkin a little strong or just want a change, this is a milder but still delicious pie," blaze says.

02 of 13

Apple Butter Spice Cake

Apple Butter Spice Cake on a white plate topped with sauce

For a fall-flavored cake recipe, consider this coffee cake-like option that Shirley scored from her grandma "years ago." Sour cream makes the crumb dense yet tender, while apple butter lends loads of fall flavor in seconds. "Very moist, delicious cake. Would make a good breakfast cake," says one Allrecipes member. Translation: Thanksgiving day brunch menu, solved!

03 of 13

Granny Kat's Pumpkin Roll

Granny Kat's Pumpkin Roll topped with powdered sugar

No need to be intimidated by the prospect of making a cake roll (AKA jelly roll). Angela's Granny Kat will walk us through it! After baking the pumpkin cake in a 9x13-inch jelly roll pan, the secret lies in timing and temperature. Wrap the warm cake in a damp clean kitchen towel, carefully roll it into a shape similar to how you plan to serve it, and allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes as you mix up the filling. This will keep it from splitting once you re-roll the cake with the luscious cream filling slathered on top.

04 of 13

Nana's Cranberry Kuchen

cranberry bread
Chef Mo

Cranberry recipes for Thanksgiving shouldn't stop at sauce. Keep a couple extra cups of the sweet-tart fruit handy to toss into this kuchen (German for "cake") that was "Nana's famous holiday bread," according to shogren. The buttery streusel top gets crunchy as the cranberry dessert bakes, which acts as a lovely complement to the bursting berries and tender cake hiding underneath.

05 of 13

Grandma's Iron Skillet Apple Pie

close up of Grandma's Iron Skillet Apple Pie in a cast iron skillet

Passed down by grandmas for generations, a cast-iron skillet can bake up a picture perfect pie. For this nearly-mile-high pie, TL Dixon's grandma calls for three layers of pie pastry: one at the bottom, one in the middle, and one on top. Think of this cinnamon-spiced apple creation as the Thanksgiving dessert cousin of a triple-decker sandwich.

06 of 13

Grandma's Sweet Hubbard Squash Custard Pie

Grandma's Sweet Hubbard Squash Custard Pie recipe cooling on a stove top.
Erin Siobhan Griffith

"This recipe was handed down from my Grandma. I have tweaked it to spice it up some," Colleen Mitchell explains. "It is a unique addition to any Thanksgiving celebration and holds its own against pumpkin pie any day!" Delivering similar flavors to a mash-up of sweet potato and pumpkin, no wonder this is one of the top-rated Thanksgiving desserts on Allrecipes. Its lightly sweet, custardy filling is a delightful match for a dollop of whipped cream.

10 Easy Tips to Make the Best Pies

07 of 13

Apple Harvest Pound Cake with Caramel Glaze

apple cake baked in a bundt pan and topped with caramel glaze

"This is a fantastic Bundt cake that my grandmother used to make for Thanksgiving. It has been a family favorite for years," says recipe contributor Dani. Allrecipes home cook Jillian made it and says, "OMG! This apple cake is so moist and so delicious! It's the perfect fall dessert. I used half white sugar and half brown sugar and next time I would probably cut back on the oil because it was almost too moist. I did add just a splash of vanilla to that to give it more of that 'caramel' flavor."

08 of 13

Grandma Gudgel's Black Bottom Cupcakes

chocolate and vanilla black bottom cupcakes

Keep the peace by serving already-portioned mini cakes rather than fighting over the largest slice of cake or pie this Thanksgiving. These cute cakes are like a cupcake version of cookies and cream ice cream — just made better with double the chocolate (cake and chips). "My husband's Grandmother used to make these cupcakes every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas," says NANCYSTANFIELD, where "they became a family favorite. I was asked this year to make these in honor of her memory. They are very delicious with a nice cream cheese surprise in the center!"

Get recipes for mini Thanksgiving desserts.

09 of 13

Grandma Carol's Pumpkin Roll

pumpkin roll cake on a white dish

SusieQ says of this pumpkin dessert: "My mom always makes her pumpkin roll around Thanksgiving and takes one to work where everyone asks her if she can make them one and they all want the recipe. You may want to halve the recipe unless you are making for a crowd or to give away. It is without a doubt the best pumpkin roll I've ever had!" No need to halve it if you ask us, SusieQ — we'll gladly have seconds and thirds of this moist cake and its nutty pecan-studded cream cheese icing.

10 of 13

Anna's Custard Pie

slice of Anna's Custard Pie on a plate

We bet you already have everything you need to make this easy pie recipe that was developed by Anna's German grandma. Vanilla extract stars in the simple flan-like filling, which can be spiced up with cinnamon and/or nutmeg. "I found this recipe delightfully easy to make, but absolutely delicious and eggy. I did add a little more nutmeg as it is a holiday favorite flavor in my family," one baker who tried it herself says. "I also served it with homemade whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg."

11 of 13

Chocolate Cream Pie I

homemade Chocolate Cream Pie I topped with whipped cream in a springform pan

This silky smooth pudding pie can be made in a pastry pie shell or on a chocolate crumb crust, as shown. Top with plenty of whipped cream for a show-stopping dessert. "Absolutely delicious pie," says REESIE2. "I have made it many times and want to thank you for sharing the recipe. Tastes just like the old fashioned ones my Mom-in-Law made. Unfortunately Mom never wrote much down so I am stuck with lots of ingredient lists and not many instructions!"

12 of 13

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

overhead view of Apple Pie by Grandma Ople recipe topped with a lattice crust and decorative pastry cutouts
Joy Dambek Smith

MOSHASMAMA generously shared her grandma's twist on the beloved apple dessert, and admits "I have never seen another one quite like it. It will always be my favorite and has won me several first place prizes in local competitions." What makes it stand out? Partially cooking the fruit-free portion of the pie filling, then pouring it over the sliced apple-topped pie crust. The results are "A++ decadently delicious" according to other home bakers who have tried this at home.

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