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California’s Easy Thanksgiving Desserts to Make This Year

California’s Easy Thanksgiving Desserts to Make This Year

Even after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, there's always room for dessert. Whip up these easy sweet treats from California bloggers.


8 min read

November 20, 2020

‘Tis the season for simple Thanksgiving desserts featuring California ingredients and fall flavors; is there anything more divine? Even after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, there's always room for something sweet. With so much to clean, cook, and sort out on the last Thursday of November, having a few easy Thanksgiving dessert recipes on hand is very useful. After all, less time spent alone whipping up elaborate recipes in the kitchen means more time spent with family—a true win-win situation if you ask us.

Thanksgiving Treats for Kids

Unleash your inner child and get the kids involved this Thanksgiving by making unicorn cookies. Photo courtesy of bakers royale.

Unicorn Cookies

This easy Thanksgiving treat for kids is a dessert and a distraction all in one—and we have Bakers Royale to thank for that. The range of customizable toppings in this recipe gives the little ones a chance to make their cookie dreams come true.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Servings: 28 cookies


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon honey

3 ½ cups rolled oats

Optional toppings


Dried fruits

Chocolate chips

Mini peanut butter cups

Caramel popcorn



1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture is creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. Then, add the vanilla and honey. The mixture should still be creamy in consistency. 

4. Gradually add in flour and continue to mix until creamy consistency. Stir in the oats until combined.

5. Roll the dough into balls and press on desired toppings.

6. Place balls onto a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

For a fall twist on a classic treat, whip up these crispy pumpkin churros. Photo courtesy of A cozy kitchen.

Pumpkin Churros

Crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside—these simple churros with a fall twist from A Cozy Kitchen will definitely be a hit with kids of all ages this Thanksgiving dinner.

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes



¾ cup water

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup pumpkin puree

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 quart oil

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 


1. Combine the water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, mix in the pumpkin puree and salt.

2. Add the flour and mix until it begins to form into a ball and pulls away from the pan. Once the mixture is completely cohesive, immediately transfer to a separate bowl. Cool for 10 minutes.

3. Add one egg at a time, mixing the dough each time.

4. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Then, transfer the dough to a piping bag.

5. Bring oil to 350 degrees. Lower the heat to medium-low. Pipe the churros directly into the hot oil.

6. Cook on the first side for about one minute before flipping and cooking for an additional minute.

7. Combine the sugar and pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt. Toss the cooked and hot churros in the mixture until thoroughly coated. Serve immediately.

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Easy Thanksgiving Cupcakes

Looking to cut some calories this year? These healthy yet delicious maple cupcakes have you covered. Photo courtesy of Amy's Healthy Baking.

Maple Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting

The ultimate quick Thanksgiving cupcake recipe comes from the San Diego based-blog Amy’s Healthy Bakingrejoice, because all of our fall-favorite California ingredients are featured in this treat.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 18–20 minutes

Total time: 33–35 minutes

Servings: 12 cupcakes



2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon maple extract

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

½ cup maple syrup

½ cup nonfat milk


1 cup pumpkin puree

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ servings instant vanilla pudding mix

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon ground ginger


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and extracts. Add in the Greek yogurt and maple syrup, stirring until smooth.

4. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture, stirring just until incorporated.

5. Divide the batter into the paper liners and bake for 18 to 21 minutes.

6. Prepare the frosting while the cupcakes bake: Add all of the frosting ingredients to a medium bowl and beat until thick, for about two minutes. Chill for two hours before piping onto the cupcakes.

Vegans don't have to feel left out on Thanksgiving with these dairy- and egg-free carrot cake cupcakes. Photo courtesy of kitchen confidante.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

These simple Thanksgiving cupcakes from the Bay Area's Kitchen Confidante are fluffy, moist, ready in 30 minutes, anddrum roll please—vegan and dairy-free. Who said adopting a vegan diet means giving up tasty Thanksgiving desserts?

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 12 cupcakes



2 ½ cups carrots, grated

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup canned chickpeas

¼ aquafaba liquid (from canned chickpeas)

¼ cup coconut, shredded

¼ cup pecans

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1 ¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon baking powder


8 ounces non-dairy cream cheese

8 tablespoons vegan butter

2 cups powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12 paper liners with non-stick spray.

2. Mix carrots, sugar, coconut oil, chickpeas, aquafaba, coconut, and pecans until just combined.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder. Add the carrot mixture, and stir until well combined.

4. Divide the batter into paper liners and bake for about 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, make the frosting: Whisk the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla together. If the frosting is too thin to spread or pipe, chill it in either the refrigerator or freezer until it reaches your desired consistency.

6. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes and serve.

Easy Thanksgiving Pie Recipes

Craft this beautiful and tasty cranberry pie in 30 minutes or fewer—no baking required. Photo courtesy of white on rice couple.

No-Bake Cranberry Pie

This Thanksgiving, we're thankful for White on Rice Couple, a California-based blog run by Todd and Diane, who have blessed us with this no-bake, fruity, tasty, and easy Thanksgiving pie.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 10 



1 ½ cups graham crackers 

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, melted


1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

½ ounce cream cheese

¼ cup sugar

1 (14-ounce) can cranberry sauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of 1 orange


1. Mix together all of the ingredients for the crust until thoroughly combined. Evenly distribute and press into a 9-inch pie pan.

2. Beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

3. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the cranberry sauce, vanilla, and orange zest. Add the whipped cream and continue to fold gently until everything is well combined.

4. Pour the filling into the crust and let it chill for about six hours or overnight, until firm.

Savor the flavors of pecan pie in bar form by making these tasty treats. Photo courtesy of just a taste.

Pecan Pie Bars

These chewy pie bars from San Diego-based Just a Taste are an ideal quick Thanksgiving dessert. Featuring all of the classic pecan pie flavors we know and love—minus the difficult baking steps—these pecan pie bars will take you to seventh heaven.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Servings: 12–16 bars



2 sticks unsalted butter

⅔ cup packed brown sugar

2 ⅔ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt


1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

⅓ cup honey

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 cups chopped pecans


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

2. Whisk together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the flour and salt, and mix until combined. Press the crust into the pan, and bake until golden brown, for about 20 minutes.

3. While the crust bakes, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, and heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix well and simmer for one minute before adding in the pecans.

4. Remove the crust from the oven, and pour the pecan mixture into the crust, covering the entire surface. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.

5. After cooling, use the foil overhang to lift out the bars. Slice into desired shapes and sizes, and serve.

Easy Thanksgiving Cakes

With a classic combination of apples and caramel, this cobbler is hard to resist. And why should you? Photo courtesy of the kitchy kitchen.

Apple Caramel Cobbler Cake

Apples, caramel, and cake—what’s not to love? This easy Thanksgiving dessert comes from The Kitchy Kitchen. Indulge in this Los Angeles-based blogger's cobbler cake recipe for the ultimate dessert; oh, and make sure to serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30–35 minutes

Total time: 45–60 minutes

Servings: 6–8 


2 cups apples, cored and sliced

⅔ cup salted caramel

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

 2 eggs

⅔ cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pan with non-stick spray.

2. Combine the apple slices and caramel; make sure the slices are well coated.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

4. In a separate bowl, whip the eggs on high until frothy, for about one minute. Slowly add in sugar. Add in vanilla, beating on low. Add in dry ingredients, also beating on low.

4. Pour the batter into the pan, top with the apple and caramel mixture, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

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