While we all know that the holidays are supposed to be a relaxing time away from work — spent with good food, friends and family — that isn’t always the case. Between visiting, prepping and parties, the holidays can be a super hectic time. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious desserts out there that can all be made well in advance of your big dinner and kept fresh either at room temperature or in the fridge or freezer. To help save a little bit of sanity this holiday season, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite make-ahead dessert recipes.
Chocolate Butterscotch Swirl Cheesecake
If you love blondies, you will definitely love this riff in cheesecake form. Plus the delightful swirls are so pretty that your family will inevitably praise your artistic baking skills… all while licking their plates clean, of course.
Dutch Apple Pie
Sweet, crunchy and full of delicious fall apple flavours, this pie is bound to satisfy everyone at the table. Sure, there are a few steps to follow in order to achieve that perfect streusel crust, but this pie will keep up to four days in the fridge which makes the effort totally worth it to us.
Peppermint Nanaimo Bars
Turn this nostalgic treat into a fancy holiday dessert with this simple recipe. A chewy cocoa graham base is topped with a creamy custard filling, a chocolate glaze hit with a splash of peppermint, and dotted with crushed peppermint candies or candy canes to complete the festive look.
Chocolate and mint are a classic flavour combination that not only reminds us of the holidays, but they’re a great way to zest up a palate post-dinner. This pie is pretty and unique, and can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated. Now that’s what we call smart, young grasshopper.
Cherry Cheesecake Pizza Pie
We all love pizza, so why do most of us only think of it as a dinnertime option? This fruity “pizza” pie comes with a rich, cinnamon pie dough that’s then topped with mounds of prepared cherries. With a dollop of whipped cream and some almonds on top, it’ll definitely have you reimagining your old pizza pie game.
Peanut Rocky Road Bark
Peanuts and marshmallows combine with white and semisweet chocolate to create this pretty spread of bark that breaks into bite-sized pieces of heaven. Not only is this simple to make and impressive to crowds, but you can also send your guests home with a small parcel of it as a thank you gift. Now that’s what we call a host with the most.
Convert fruitcake haters with this wintery dessert, packed with dried, candied and fresh fruit, plus juice and zest, as well as pecans and a hefty splash of sweet sherry. On the off chance that you don’t get enough takers, these fruitcakes keep for up to eight weeks in a cool place.
Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding
We don’t know what it is about the melding of chocolate and hazelnut that makes it so darned delightful, but we love that we get an explosion of that flavour with every bite thanks to this brilliant, creamy and chocolatey make-ahead pudding.
Cookies N’ Cream Brownies
Can’t decide between cookies and brownies? This chilled dessert is the best of both worlds, guaranteed to satisfy all the chocolate lovers at your table. Pick the cookies of your choice and envelope them into a brownie batter of goodness that will have you salivating for more.
Tiramisu Icebox Torta
Just because it is chilly outside, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a flavourful icebox dessert. Make this coffee-flavoured torte ahead of Christmas and store in the fridge until after Christmas dinner for a lovely light, layered dessert.
Get the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis’ Tiramisu Icebox Torta
Spiced Blueberry Coffee Cake with Cornflake Crumbs
Cereal for dessert? You’ll totally believe it atop of this spiced coffee cake, which combines all of fall’s warm flavours — cinnamon, allspice and ginger — into one celebratory dessert. That aforementioned cereal? It adds the perfect bit of crunch in every bite.
If you’re looking to keep the party going well past the main course, we highly recommend this brilliant, mulled wine-inspired dessert. Berries are soaked in a spiced red wine concoction and then chilled before being served with a dollop of vanilla frozen yogurt. Cheers!
Apricot Almond Bars
The one-two punch of apricots and almonds in these delicious bars pair well with post-dinner coffee or tea, and sound all fancy when you mention the addition of almond liqueur. The best part is you can serve them either as bars or as little “cake squares,” and your guests will be none the wiser.
Anna Olson's Chocolate Truffles
If you think about it, truffles are pretty much the perfect dessert. They’re cute, dainty and darned impressive — and guests will always nibble on at least one or two. Here’s the big secret though: they aren’t that hard to make. All you need is a little time and patience. Before you know it, you’ll have truffles for days.