Put a fresh spin on your Thanksgiving feast by creating a dessert buffet filled with adorable bite-size treats. Try these recipe ideas and serving suggestions, but watch out—everyone might be tempted to eat dessert first.
Why Bite-Size is Wise
- Easy to Serve. Bite-size portions means no slicing required, and no slicing means a lot less fuss.
- Variety. Everyone gets to taste a little bit of everything.
- Adorability. Bite-size desserts have cuteness built right in.
Mini Pies and Tarts
Time-saving tips: Use the bottom of a shot glass or spice jar to press the pie crust into the muffin tins. And when it comes to decorating, use cut-out pastry leaves, press a pecan half into the filling, or pipe on a swirl of whipped cream or frosting.
It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, and these little beauties are 5-star winners. You can use an ordinary drinking glass to cut out the rounds if you don't have a cookie cutter that size, and bake them in muffin tins if you don't have mini pie dishes. That's what Hanna did, and she says they turned out great.
This tiny treasure can be topped many different ways. Here it is with a pastry top brushed with a beaten egg to give it gloss, and sprinkled with coarse sugar for that eye-candy effect. You could also finish it with pastry leaf cut-outs, or make a streusel crumb topping.
You know how everyone wants a slice of pecan pie but a lot gets left on the plate because it's just so sweet and rich? These minis are the perfect no-waste solution. One or two of these little bites might be just enough for some guests.
Instagram's going to love you if you weave a tiny lattice top for each pie. The ones you see here actually have a bit of frosting piped on to look like pastry. So clever.
Don't forget to add pears to your lineup of fall favorites. Premade tart shells makes this beautiful bite come together easily, and you could use Poire Williams pear brandy instead of pear-flavored vinegar to add extra oomph.
The recipe calls for McIntosh apples, but other varieties work well, too. Check out tips to choose the best apples for baking.
Cookies and Cakes
So cute! So easy! This could be a hands-on project to keep kids distracted while you're cooking or watching football. Serving idea: Display them in a basket like you just went out and gathered them in the forest.
A small cookie-dough scoop is your best friend for quickly and evenly portioning out the dough. For extra fall flavor, sandwich them with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.
Top these two-bite cheesecakes with fruit compote, chocolate ganache, or anything else you like on your cheesecake.
Cut up this moist, pumpkin sheet cake into bite-size portions and pop a candy decoration on top of each slice. That was easy!
A Feast for the Eyes
Decorate your dessert buffet with the same creativity you bring to your Thanksgiving table and the rest of your home. This is your opportunity to go all out to make it a celebration centerpiece using warm fall colors and natural elements like pumpkins, gourds, greenery, and flowers.
Dessert Decor Ideas
It might be tempting to lay everything out on a table and call it good, but if you really want to make a visual impact, raise the dessert bar by using cake stands and tiered dessert trays to elevate two or three sweet selections. Hacking a single-tiered cake stand is as simple as turning a wide bowl upside down and placing a plate or tray on it—the width helps create a stable base for the plate—and placing a heavy object in the center of the plate keeps it from tipping.
You can even DIY a multi-tiered tray by making two or three plate and bowl layers. Or, instead of bowls, you can use winter squashes with the tops and bottoms cut off and leveled.
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As a final flourish, hang a banner over your buffet table and label all of the desserts — this is especially helpful if you're hosting a potluck so you can tell who brought what, and help those with food allergies choose with confidence.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Related Thanksgiving Tips and Inspiration
- Here's an idea for your Thanksgiving appetizer array: Turn your cheese ball into a turkey.
- Explore our entire collection of Thanksgiving desserts and mini desserts.
- Take the stress out of the day by making Thanksgiving side dishes ahead of time.