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Create An Adorable Mini-Dessert Buffet for Thanksgiving

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.

Mini Thanksgiving Pies

Photo by Meredith

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.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

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.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Photo by Meredith

Mini Apple Pies

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.

Mini Apple Pies

Photo by Reb

Mini Southern Pecan Pies

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.

Mini Southern Pecan Pies

Photo by Sugarplum

Mini Cherry Pies

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.

Mini Cherry Pie

Photo by Meredith

d'Anjou Pear and Almond Tarts

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.

d'Anjou Pear and Almond Tarts

Photo by CoachJen

Apple Crisp Cups

The recipe calls for McIntosh apples, but other varieties work well, too. Check out tips to choose the best apples for baking.

Apple Crisp Cups

Photo by CC

Cookies and Cakes

Acorn Candy Cookies

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.

Acorn Candy Cookies

Photo by Sugarplum

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

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.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Photo by CookinBug

Mini Cheesecakes III

Top these two-bite cheesecakes with fruit compote, chocolate ganache, or anything else you like on your cheesecake.

Mini Cheesecakes III

Photo by Kim's Cooking Now!

Paul's Pumpkin Bars

Cut up this moist, pumpkin sheet cake into bite-size portions and pop a candy decoration on top of each slice. That was easy!

Paul's Pumpkin Bars

Photo by Wyattdogster

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!

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Vanessa Greaves

About Vanessa Greaves

Good food, friends, and fun are always on the menu. Check out things that make me go yum: foodelicious On Instagram On Twitter @vanessa_greaves