11 Healthy Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Thanksgiving dinner is, without a doubt, one of the largest meals most of us will eat all year. According to some reports, the average American takes in 3,000 calories at dinner on Turkey Day.

After you've eaten some appetizers, and enjoyed the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and (perhaps) the bird, finishing off with something on the lighter side for dessert can prevent you from feeling overly stuffed. And with the right ingredients, it may offer some health benefits, too.

Looking for a healthier way to give thanks post-dinner? Look to these 12 healthy Thanksgiving dessert recipes to add to your menu this year

Healthy Apple Crisp

Healthy Apple Crisp
Dana Angelo White

Nothing says fall like a warm, hearty apple crisp. This Verywell Fit recipe for healthy apple crisp manages to pull off the flaky texture of the crumble topping you know and love without a ton of butter. Nestled beneath this crispy layer are tender, cinnamon-spiced apples. For easy serving (and perfect portioning), this autumn dessert bakes in individual ramekins.

Easy Vegan Sweet Potato Pie

Vegan sweet potato pie
 

Too often in sweet potato desserts, the orange veggies get lost under heaps of marshmallows and brown sugar. There’s nary a marshmallow in this lightened-up sweet potato pie from The Spruce Eats, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sweet! Canned sweet potatoes in syrup add a bit of extra sugar (while conveniently eliminating the need to peel and cook potatoes).

To keep this treat 100% vegan, be sure to check for animal product ingredients in your store-bought pie crust. Mrs. Smith’s and Marie Callender’s brands both offer vegan versions.

Sautéed Pears with Yogurt, Honey, and Pistachios

Sauteed Pears with Yogurt, Honey and Pistachios
Anita Schecter

Mediterranean desserts commonly complement a meal with fruit and nuts. This sautéed pears with yogurt, honey, and pistachios recipe from The Spruce Eats does just that, pairing juicy seared pears with colorful chopped pistachios (and a swirl of sweetened Greek yogurt). As written, with two Bosc pears, this recipe serves two—but for a more portion-controlled dessert (at 150 calories), opt for half a pear.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

Low carb pumpkin cheesecake mousse

Pumpkin cheesecake may be a show-stopping Thanksgiving dessert, but it’s nearly always packed with carbs in the high double digits—if not more. With heavier dishes like stuffing or cornbread on the dinner menu, a lighter mousse might be just the thing for your final course.

This diabetes-friendly pumpkin cheesecake dessert from Verywell Fit uses part-skim ricotta cheese for creaminess and just 1½ tablespoons of maple syrup for sweetness. Plus, it takes only five minutes to whip up and 30 minutes chilling time in the fridge.

Warm and Chewy Ginger Orange Cookies

ginger orange cookies
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD

Who wouldn’t want to end their meal with these warm and chewy ginger orange cookies from Verywell Fit? Even gluten-free Thanksgiving diners can nosh on these aromatic nibbles after dinner, as they’re made with a mix of tapioca, gluten-free oats, and brown rice flours.

These wheat alternatives, while free of gluten, still contain hefty doses of fiber and B vitamins. Meanwhile, a quarter cup of candied ginger in these crispy treats may lend some of the spice’s anti-inflammatory effects.

Baked Apples

Baked apples

It doesn’t get much easier (or more wholesome) than these baked apples from Simply Recipes! The simple goodness of the fall fruit shines through in this traditional recipe. Thanksgiving guests with special diets, such as gluten-free, low-sodium, low-fat, and Mediterranean should be in the clear to enjoy these spiced jewels at the end of the meal.

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Vegan chocolate pumpkin cake recipe
The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Every dessert spread needs a little chocolate—and at Thanksgiving, it only makes sense to pair your chocolate with pumpkin. That's why we love this vegan chocolate pumpkin bundt cake from The Spruce Eats.

It's a beautiful cake that will satisfy vegans and omnivores alike. A mixture of canola oil, pumpkin puree, and DIY soy buttermilk holds the cake together in place of butter and eggs. With 12 to 16 slices, this one will feed a crowd.

Mini Chocolate Caramel Apples

chocolate caramel mini apples
Samantha Merritt

Portion control is a no-brainer with these mini chocolate caramel apple bites from The Spruce Eats! Use a melon baller to scoop out bite-sized balls of Granny Smith or Gala apples, then spear with a skewer and dip into melted caramel and chocolate. Their fun-sized proportions may make them the hit of your Thanksgiving feast. Plus, apples’ fiber and vitamin C content make them surprisingly healthy. 

Skillet Peanut Butter Cinnamon Spice Cookie

Skillet peanut butter cinnamon cookie

Peanut butter may not be a traditional Thanksgiving ingredient, but put it in this cinnamon-dusted skillet cookie from Verywell Fit and you’ve got an irresistible Turkey Day dessert. No one will guess this rich treat contains under 130 calories and just 8 grams of carbs per serving—or that it’s gluten-free.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, then transfer to a skillet and pop in the oven. In 10 to 12 minutes, a skillet of ooey-gooey deliciousness will emerge. Let cool before slicing and serving (perhaps with an optional dollop of vanilla ice cream). 

Baked Olive Oil Donuts

Baked olive oil donuts

The secret to these donuts’ tender crumb: olive oil! A quarter cup of the heart-healthy oil adds moisture and good-for-you monounsaturated fats to this bakery-quality treat from The Spruce Eats. You might just surprise your friends and family—because who expects donuts at Thanksgiving?

Not only are these donuts dairy-free, they also require no yeast or lengthy rising times. In fact, from start to finish, they take just over 30 minutes. However, you will need a mini donut pan to prep them.

No-Bake Chewy Cranberry Chocolate Treats

No bake cranberry chocolate treats

Are they cookies? Are they granola bites? The name of these no-bake treats from Serious Eats won’t matter when guests bite into their chewy forms, studded with dark chocolate and dried cranberries. In addition to rich chocolate and tangy cranberries, this recipe uses protein-rich almond butter to hold together a puffed whole grain cereal mixture. No-bake prep takes just 10 minutes, leaving you more time to mingle with Thanksgiving guests.

 

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