15 Make-Ahead Christmas Desserts to Sweeten Your Holidays

peanut brittle tied together with ribbon
Photo: The Comfort of Cooking

There are lots of good reasons to spend a little time ahead of the holidays to make and store a stash of Christmas desserts and treats. For one, you'll be able to spend more holiday time enjoying your family and less time stuck in the kitchen. And for another, you'll have plenty of homemade treats to give away as gifts from your kitchen. Here are 15 top-rated Christmas desserts you can make ahead of time, complete with tips for freezing or storing in the fridge.

01 of 15

Aunt Teen's Creamy Chocolate Fudge

Aunt Teen's Creamy Chocolate Fudge on a white dish
My Hot Southern Mess

Homemade fudge just might be the perfect make-ahead dessert, no matter what the season. Rich, smooth, and creamy, it can be tightly wrapped and kept in the freezer for a few months. Reviwer HSMOM26 says, "The secret is to use a candy thermometer to be sure the fudge reaches the soft ball stage (234 degrees F)."

02 of 15

Sweet Potato Pie I

Sweet Potato Pie I on a white and blue plate
Mackenzie Schieck

This top-rated recipe calls for using freshly cooked sweet potatoes, which you'll have time to do since you're not in a time crunch. (OK, you can substitute canned sweet potatoes if you need to.) Once the pie has been baked and cooled, wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, and then freeze it for up to one month. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and serve at room temperature, or warm it in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes. Top it off with freshly whipped cream before serving.

03 of 15

Soft Christmas Cookies

Soft Christmas Cookies in gingerbread man, candy cane, and tree shapes on a white plate

No Christmas would be complete without soft, tender, and adorably decorated sugar cookies. Several bakers, including TARA1972, say the cookies are even better made with butter instead of margarine, only 3 cups of flour, and baked at 350 degrees F until just set in the center. Learn the best tips and tricks to freezing cookies and cookie dough, like rolling the dough into logs and freezing for up to three months before baking.

04 of 15

Best Toffee Ever – Super Easy

Pieces of the Best Toffee Ever Super Easy

When stored in an airtight container at room temperature, homemade toffee can be kept for up to two weeks. If your kitchen runs warm, pop it in the fridge to keep it a little while longer. Making toffee can be a bit tricky, so Megan Orsini always tests her candy thermometer in boiling water (212 degrees F) to make sure it is accurate.

05 of 15

Milk Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Milk Chocolate Peppermint Bark on a white dish
Esmee Williams

This recipe will keep for several weeks before the holidays if you wrap it and store it in the fridge. To prevent your chocolate from seizing up, use oil-based peppermint flavoring, suggests Susan V. (Water and melted chocolate don't mix.) And, don't forget to finely crush some candy canes for a festive (and tasty) topping.

06 of 15

Favorite Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

closeup of gingerbread cake

Gingerbread is always a super popular recipe during the holidays. Home cook dee dee likes to make her gingerbread with unsulphured molasses (the sweetest flavor) and avoids blackstrap molasses (a stronger flavor). Bake it, cool it, and freeze it whole, then let it defrost at room temperature for a few hours before slicing and serving. If you're feeling extra decadent, top each slice with whipped cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce.

07 of 15

White Fruit Cake

White Fruit Cake on a red napkin

Whether you love it or hate, there is nothing more quintessential at Christmas than fruitcake. Packed with dried fruit soaked in orange juice, this alcohol-free cake can be bakes, cooled, and frozen for up to a year. Simply defrost it on the counter overnight, slice and serve. Home baker Wanderer cools their fruitcake in the tin to retain as much moisture as possible before wrapping and storing.

08 of 15

Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread Men

decorated gingerbread men

Don't worry that this holiday staple cookie will be too spicy for the little ones. Baricat says, "they have a pleasant, mildly spiced flavor." There are several options when preparing these ahead of time. You can freeze the unbaked cookie dough and defrost it for about 20 minutes before baking, or bake the cookies and keep them in an airtight container for several days, or wrap them well and freeze them. For best results, wait to decorate your gingerbread men until a few hours before serving.

09 of 15

Mom's Best Peanut Brittle

peanut brittle tied together with ribbon
The Comfort of Cooking

Wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature, homemade peanut brittle will stay fresh for up to 2 months. ANTILOPE notes that if you use roasted peanuts instead of raw be careful not to heat the mixture past 300 degrees F, otherwise the peanuts will taste burnt.

10 of 15

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake decorated with raspberries on top
Alberta Rose

Cheesecakes keep great in the freezer and defrost easily overnight in the fridge. But hold off on decorations until right before serving, so they don't get smudged. To save time and money during the busy holiday season, CLEMSONMAV uses seedless raspberry jam for this recipe instead of cooking fresh raspberries on the stove.

11 of 15

Cranberry Bars

three bar cookies with a cranberry filling on a plate

Home baker Jeanette says the trick to getting these sweet/tart bars out of the pan is to "let them cool for at least an hour." Once they are cooled, you can put them in an airtight container and keep the bars refrigerated for several days, or pop them in the deep freeze for several months. Simply bring them to room temperature about 30 minutes before serving and they are ready to go!

12 of 15

Eggnog Crème Brûlée

eggnog creme brûlée

Eggnog crèmes brûlées can be prepared up to three days ahead of time, to save you time and effort when you're making a special holiday dinner. Remove them from the fridge about an hour before serving to take off the chill, then finish them with a heavy sprinkling of fine, white sugar and set them under the broiler until a golden crust forms. If you're going for more grown-up flavors, try swapping out the vanilla extract with rum, like cookin kathy does.

13 of 15

Eggnog Cheesecake III

cheesecake with whipped cream and peppermint Kiss on top

This unfussy cheesecake can be frozen until the day you're ready to eat it. Top it with whipped cream, candy canes, strawberries, or anything that dresses it up for the holidays.

14 of 15

Cake Balls

Cake Balls on a white plate
"Made with strawberry cake and strawberry frosting and dipped in semi-sweet chocolate.". Dianne

To keep cake balls moist, wrap them individually in plastic and then in a layer of aluminum foil before storing them in a sealed container for up to a month in the freezer. The container will safeguard them from other foods in the freezer that might crush them. If you take your cake ball game seriously, vacuum seal them and you can keep the batch frozen for several months.

15 of 15

Russian Tea Cakes I

Russian Tea Cakes I sprinkled with powdered sugar
Philly Ry

Russian tea cakes also freeze well. As with cake balls, you'll want to freeze them in a sealed container. Separate them with wax paper to keep them from clumping together!

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