Alternatives to pie at Thanksgiving dinner

There are pie lovers and pie haters, and regardless of which you are, you likely know at Thanksgiving dinner there is going to be pie. When it comes to pie, I sit somewhere near the middle, I don’t love pie, but I also don’t loathe it. I also get a little tired of the routine around Thanksgiving. Because of this, I often look to put a new spin on the old favourites, and dessert is a great way to do that.

An easy way to approach your Thanksgiving dessert is to be inspired by the season. The ingredients you’d typically put in your pie (i.e., apples and pumpkin) can also be easily applied to other desserts. Dark chocolate with cranberries is also a great combination along with dates, oranges and cinnamon.

When it comes to dessert don’t cut corners and substitute with processed ingredients. Use fresh pumpkin, apples and don’t skimp on the fat, if it says use whole milk, use it! Thanksgiving dinner is a special occasion, which makes it a great time to eat those tempting desserts you wouldn’t normally enjoy.

No matter what you do with your Thanksgiving dessert, remember that much of what we eat around holidays is about tradition and comfort. Keeping with the flavours we recognize at the holidays might help your guests not miss the pumpkin pie as much.

Caramel Apple Cupcake

CottageLife Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of the-girl-who-ate-everything.com

Fall is a great time to incorporate a little whimsy into your desserts. If you have kids, cupcakes can be a great alternative. Kids love anything they can eat with their hands, and if you’re hosting a big group like I am, you may be out of cutlery by the time dessert comes, so cupcakes are a great way to cap off a dinner, and also limit the amount of dishes you dirty.

Caramel Corn Cupcake

CottageLife Candy Corn Cupcake

Photo courtesy of pinlavie.com

Even though you can adapt traditional cake recipes to cupcakes, you can also take the standard cakes and make them more fun by adding decorations like fall leaves, designs in icing or making them look like other sweets we enjoy like caramel candy or candy apples.

Butterscotch Cheesecake

CottageLife Butterscotch Cheesecake

Photo courtesy of piarecipes.com

It may still have a crust, but there is something so much more decadent about a cheesecake. A lot of people like the old stand by New York cheesecake; it is easy to incorporate fall flavours into a luscious cheesecake.

Chocolate stout cake

CottageLife Chocolate Stout Cake

Photo courtesy of mybakingaddiction.com

For the chocoholics out there, leaving it out of the Thanksgiving feast may not be an option. There are great ways to add a seasonal and special feel to a seemingly traditional chocolate cake. If you’re a craft beer lover, you’ll notice during the fall and winter months that stouts and porters become more abundant. While their smooth, rich flavour pairs nicely as a beverage for your Thanksgiving meal, it also tastes great in your chocolate cake.

Salted Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake


Photo courtesy of pinchofyum.com

While some of us may long for a bit a completely different take on Thanksgiving desserts, others may want more tradition. Apple cakes are a great way to stay true to the flavours of an apple pie while adding a little variation for those looking for something new.


Megan Cole is an award-winning Victoria, B.C.–based journalist and freelance writer. She most enjoys writing about food and music, and when she isn’t behind a keyboard or camera, you can find her in the kitchen or at a concert. Visit her other blogs at:victoriaculinaryunderground.wordpress.com.