I always think of Christmas dinner as the final sprint of the holiday entertaining race. (New Year’s Eve has never been a big deal to The One and me.)

Because of that, Christmas dessert–the last part of the last meal–sometimes gets short shrift at our house. A simple chocolate cake, some 36-hour chocolate chip cookies, a lemon-blueberry cake. Even a pint of store-bought ice cream.

I’m curious. What about you? By the time Christmas–and, this year, Hannukah–rolls around, are you over entertaining and cooking? Does dessert get shrugged off or do you go all out?

Let me know in the comments how you put a sweet ending to one of the last big holidays of the year.

David Leite's handwritten signature of 'David.'
Dried fruit and nut cake in slices on a wooden cutting board with parchment paper, beside a red and white dish towel.
Leigh Beisch
1 of 8

Dried Fruit and Nut Cake

Now that there are so many more dried fruits with which to create variations, this is an even more treasured recipe. (For the cake in the photograph, I used dates, dried Angelino plums, and dried pears.) And now, why not add some homemade (and really delicious) candied citrus peel? Please be inventive with this fantastic recipe. Add slices to the cheese tray, or serve with after-dinner liqueurs. Or keep some in your desk for an emergency burst of energy.
Recipe

Wow! This fruit and nut cake is so delicious. I jam-packed mine with a little extra fruit and nuts and it still held together well — great to have a forgiving and versatile recipe. It’s the first fruitcake-style dessert I’ve ever made and I will definitely make it again!

COCO M.
Fifteen brownies, frosted with white frosting and speckled with crushed peppermint candies.
David Leite
2 of 8

Peppermint Brownies

If you love chocolate and mint, then these festive holiday brownies are for you. They're bursting with mint flavor from the cakey brownie, fluffy peppermint frosting, and crushed candy canes on top.
Recipe
A round white plate with six slices of eggnog pie and a dish of whipped cream.
Steve Painter
3 of 8

Eggnog Pie

Eggnog pie is as easy to make as eggnog and bears much likeness to its rich namesake custard spiked with rum. It’s just in a graham cracker crust. Think of it as a slightly tipsy-inducing cheesecake—and the most quintessential holiday dessert we can imagine when it comes to Christmas.
Recipe

Thanks so much for this delicious, so–easy and so seasonally-appropriate eggnog pie! It was a nice, not-so-rich dessert which presented beautifully as the final act of Christmas Eve dinner. I loved that I could make this the day before, stick it in the refrigerator, and not worry about it again until we were ready for dessert.

Lynn
A whole frosted white Christmas cake topped with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs on a white cake stand.
Sarah Kieffer
4 of 8

White Christmas Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

This is my favorite white cake, and while I’d eat it perfectly plain, adding cranberry jam, white chocolate buttercream, and sugared cranberries is not a bad idea, either.
Recipe
A swirled gingerbread Bundt cake with a lemon glaze on top, all on wire rack over a sheet pan.
Suech and Beck
5 of 8

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

This gingerbread Bundt cake has all the warm spicy goodness of gingerbread cookies. As if that weren’t enough, it’s gilded with a sassy and sweetly tart lemon glaze.
Recipe

I just finished making this gingerbread Bundt cake, and while it was still warm, I cut a small “tasting“ section. Oh my! It’s moist, spicy, and wonderful.

I loved that I had all the ingredients in the house. It came together easily and would be a perfect cake for a beginning baker. Now I can’t wait till dessert!!

nancy
Cranberry upside-down cake with a large piece missing, on a white plate with a serving knife beside it.
Zoë François
6 of 8

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

The Grand Marnier (an orange liqueur) gives the cake a pleasant kick that plays beautifully with cranberry. Making this tender, buttery cake provides a perfect excuse to share a slice over the backyard fence, maybe with someone who’s short on their own cranberry source.
Recipe
A plate with a slice of pound cake with currants, and a cake stand in the background with the remaining cake.
Scott Peterson
7 of 8

Eggnog Pound Cake

This eggnog pound cake, made with rum, nutmeg, eggnog, and studded with currants, is the perfect Christmas Bundt cake or hostess gift.
Recipe

This pound cake recipe (dare I say it) “takes the cake!” With a super moist crumb and all of the traditional flavors of homemade eggnog, this recipe is one I will be dog-earring for holiday menus to come.

The recipe calls for rum-soaked currants and a rum glaze, but I had brandy on hand so I used that instead. I highly recommend this eggnog pound cake to anyone looking for a scrumptious and festive holiday dessert or brunch dish!

Anna
A whole gingerbread cheesecake on a white platter with a slice missing from it.
Sang An
8 of 8

Gingerbread Cheesecake

This gingerbread cheesecake tastes like classic Christmas spices—cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove—in each and every bite. A simple yet stunning holiday dessert.
Recipe

I made this over the weekend and it is a winner. This will become part of my yearly Christmas baking routine. Thanks for sharing!

Gillian

FAQs

What’s the most popular Christmas dessert?

This can vary by region. Cheesecake is a common favorite, but many people prefer gingerbread or even an assortment of cookies. For a classic favorite, a yule log dessert also remains popular.

How many desserts should I serve at Christmas?

It depends on the number of people at your table, but we suggest at least two, even for a small gathering. To be safe, plan on two slices of dessert per person.

How should Christmas desserts be stored?

If they contain eggs, milk, or cream, store them in the fridge before and after serving. Other desserts can usually be stored at room temperature.

The collection of holiday dessert recipes above will ensure a spectacular finish to your meal, but if you’re hosting a casual gathering, feel free to just put out some plates of Christmas cookies and call that dessert. You’ve already worked hard enough!




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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