A creamy pumpkin pie is a tried-and-true way to end the Thanksgiving meal. You can, of course, stick to tradition, with a classic take. Or … you could live a little. This Melissa Clark recipe benefits from the addition of brandy, and you can even use canned squash in place of the pumpkin.
Recipe: Brandied Pumpkin Pie
Not everyone loves pie. And that’s OK. There are many ways to satisfy a sweet tooth. For those who like a bit of crunch with their tender apples, there’s this skillet caramel-apple crisp from Yossy Arefi. The recipe yields a good amount of caramel sauce — for sweetening the apples, for serving alongside and for devouring later.
Those who love cake at any occasion should try this carrot cake from Dorie Greenspan. It’s warmly spiced with cinnamon, packed with coconut, raisins and nuts and finished with a tangy cream cheese dressing.
Recipe: Carrot Cake
For some, there is little finer in life than a slice of pecan pie. This version, from Julia Reed, is a classic: The alcohol evaporates, leaving behind a filling that’s equal parts tender and crunchy. “The goo,” one commenter wrote, “is excellent.”
Recipe: Bourbon Pecan Pie
A radiant beauty, David Tanis’s cranberry curd tart makes an elegant statement on the Thanksgiving table. Make it a few days in advance and wow your loved ones by breaking it out on the holiday.
Baking powder makes this version of the Southern classic from Amanda Hesser extra light and fluffy. Commenters recommend baking the potatoes instead of boiling them, and using cream in place of evaporated milk. You do you.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie
Falling somewhere between pecan pie, rum balls and a traditional truffle are these sweet little treats, which Tara Parker-Pope adapted from the food writer Hannah Kaminsky.
Recipe: Pecan Pie Truffles
“I am not the biggest fan of apple pie … until now.” The commenters have spoken. Sam Sifton’s recipe, adapted from the pastry chef Kierin Baldwin, has thousands of five-star reviews.
Recipe: Apple Pie
You don’t need a water bath or a springform pan for this creamy dessert from Erin Jeanne McDowell. The recipe yields 15 bars, but leftovers keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Make them in advance, or save them for a week of sweet snacking.
Some items on the Thanksgiving shopping list are obvious, but there are several other ingredients that will prove invaluable to have on hand. See our full guide on How To Cook and Plan Thanksgiving and our list of staples below.
- Butter, lots of it. Choose European-style high-fat butter for pie crusts, and regular unsalted butter for everything else.
- Stock. If you haven’t made your own, look for homemade stock at the same butcher shop where you buy your turkey, or in the freezer section of your supermarket. The canned and boxed stuff should be a last resort.
- Fresh herbs. Not only do they add freshness and flavor across your Thanksgiving table, but they’re also pretty, lending a touch of green to a meal heavy on earth tones.
- Garlic, onions, leeks, fresh ginger, shallots. An assortment of aromatics keeps your cooking lively and interesting. You’ll need them for the stuffing, for stock and gravy, and for many side dishes.
- Fresh citrus. Lemon, lime and orange juice and zest contribute brightness to countless Thanksgiving dishes, from the turkey to the gravy to the cranberry sauce to the whipped cream for pie.
- Nuts. These go a long way to give crunch to otherwise texturally boring dishes. (Ahem, sweet potato casserole.)
- White wine/vermouth/beer. Even if you’re not drinking any of these spirits before or during the meal, they can be splashed into gravy or vegetable dishes, or used to deglaze the turkey roasting pan. (Bourbon and brandy work well as deglazers, too.)
- Fresh spices. If you can’t remember when you bought your spices, now is a good time to replace them.
- Light brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup. These sweeteners are more profoundly flavored than white sugar, and they have an autumnal richness.
- Heavy cream, sour cream, crème fraîche, ice cream. You’ll need these for topping pies and cakes.
- Please, wear a mask. It protects both yourself and others from coronavirus, and aim to maintain several feet of distance from other shoppers in stores whenever possible. If you opt for grocery delivery, tip as generously as you can.
- See all of our Thanksgiving recipes.
Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
It may come as a disappointment to some, but this pie from Jerrelle Guy does not require a blowtorch. It’s finished under the broiler, just before serving. That said, it still maintains the (other) best parts of crème brûlée: the crack of a sugary shell and a delicate filling.
Recipe: Crème Brûlée Pie
Here’s something no one at your table can argue with: Yossy Arefi’s cake is a stunning way to end the meal. A caramel sauce is tucked between the cake layers, as well as ladled on top. You can make your own, or use store-bought, but note that the latter may be a bit sweeter.
Recipe: Pumpkin Layer Cake With Caramel Buttercream
Lemon lovers: This pie, from Erin Jeanne McDowell, is just for you. It uses nearly 2 cups of lemon juice, and is topped with rows of striking triangle cutouts. But finish it with circles, hearts, leaves — whatever shapes you like.