25 Best Dessert Recipes

From cookies to cakes, any of these decadent treats will end your meal on a high note.

Chocolate-Mint Bars Recipe

Chocolate-Mint Bars

Indulge in any of these all-time favorite delicious treats from a home-style cobbler to decadent brownies for the perfect ending to your meal. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we compiled a collection of our editors' and readers' favorite dessert recipes from the past 25 years. Based on research from MyRecipes.com, we pulled the Cooking Light recipes that received the most votes and highest star ratings.

First up: You'll love these Chocolate-Mint Bars if you're a big fan of the thin chocolate-mint Girl Scout cookies or Andes candies. Refrigerating the bars allows the mint layer and glaze to set properly. For a more grown-up taste, you can substitute dark chocolate chips for some or all of the semisweet chocolate chips in the glaze.

View Recipe: Chocolate-Mint Bars

Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes Recipe

Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

Studded with plump, juicy fresh berries, these cupcakes are fun for birthdays and special occasions. Be as creative as you want when frosting the cupcakes. For a more homespun look, use a small, flat spatula. Want to be fancy? Pipe frosting onto cupcakes with a pastry bag fitted with a star tip for a fun, swirled appearance.

View Recipe: Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle Recipe

Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

Pecan pie is often purely sweet with no undertones, but the bourbon, molasses, and chocolate in this beautiful centerpiece dessert all add complexity of flavor. It's also somewhat thinner than a pie, meaning you get more buttery, flaky crust in each bite. Tip: Make the tart a day ahead, and store it in the refrigerator. You can use a 9-inch pie plate instead: simply roll the dough to a 13-inch circle, fold the edges under, and flute.

View Recipe: Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

Raspberry-Rhubarb Pie

Photo: Randy Mayor

Raspberry-Rhubarb Pie

Though a beloved pie classic, rhubarb has a strong tartness that sometimes needs moderating. Sweet raspberries do that job perfectly here, while a splash of crème de cassis adds even deeper berry flavor. A slice of this pie absolutely screams for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

View Recipe: Raspberry-Rhubarb Pie

Classic Fudge-Walnut Brownies Recipe

Photo: Francesco Tonelli

Classic Fudge-Walnut Brownies

Decadently rich, this top-rated recipe was crowned the winner of our best chocolate recipes. Large chocolate chunks create big, luxurious pockets of melty chocolate in the brownies, but you can always substitute chocolate chips.

View Recipe: Classic Fudge-Walnut Brownies

Nathan’s Lemon Cake Recipe

Photo: Randy Mayor

Nathan’s Lemon Cake

This is a namesake because the recipe developer’s mom baked it for his birthday every year. We've adapted this recipe to trim the fat and calories, and it's still a moist, lemony treat.

"WOW! I've tried a lot of lemon cakes since I'm lucky enough to have my own lemon tree, but this one is tops," praises diane32922. "Wonderful texture, assertive lemon flavor, just enough richness and just enough icing. I'll be making this recipe for a long time."

View Recipe: Nathan’s Lemon Cake

Healthy Blueberry-Peach Cobbler Recipes

Photo: John Autry

Blueberry-Peach Cobbler

Our Blueberry-Peach Cobbler is like a blueberry muffin canoodling with fresh peaches. Be sure to use peaches that aren't superripe for this recipe so they'll hold their shape when cooked. The baking dish will be brimming with fruit and topping, so it's a good idea to place it on a foil-lined baking sheet before putting it in the oven.

View Recipe: Blueberry-Peach Cobbler

Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter–Pecan Frosting Recipe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter–Pecan Frosting

Put those ripe, speckled bananas to good use. This dish starts with roasting bananas which adds caramelized notes to their tropical sweetness. The bananas flavor the light-and-fluffy bars, which are topped with cream cheese icing and chopped pecans for the perfect amount of tanginess and crunch.

View Recipe: Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter–Pecan Frosting

Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart Recipes

Photo: Lauren Rubinstein

Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

Nestled in a creamy filling and crumbly graham cracker crust, strawberries shine in this delectable tart.

"OUTSTANDING!!!" said MegLee. "I made this as a birthday treat for my mother, everyone loved it, especially her!!! I can't wait for an occasion to make this again."

View Recipe: Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

Hello Dolly Bars Recipe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Hello Dolly Bars

These bar cookies—also known as seven-layer bars—take less than 30 minutes to make and call for just 8 ingredients, making Hello Dolly Bars the perfect dessert for taking along, well, just about anywhere!

Reviewer dmpeace received a little help with these in the kitchen: "These were a fabulous treat and fun to make with my 2 1/2 year old. She got a kick out of sprinkling the toppings. Very rich, and very sweet."

View Recipe: Hello Dolly Bars

Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

Texas Sheet Cake

With a presence as large as its namesake state, this humble, easy-to-prepare cake made it all the way to the finals for our best chocolate recipe bake-off. Since it first appeared in the magazine 12 years ago, it's been a staff and reader favorite. This recipe uses butter and buttermilk in quantities that give it the right indulgently moist texture and rich flavor, but keep a serving's fat at just 10 grams and calories at about 300.

View Recipe: Texas Sheet Cake

Espresso Crinkles Recipe

Photo: Randy Mayor

Espresso Crinkles

Unsweetened chocolate and instant espresso powder give depth of flavor to these sophisticated cookies. A dredge in powdered sugar before baking ensures sweetness, and also gives them a unique cracked surface and snow-covered look.

Reviewer swimkev gave these cookies the highest 5-star rating: "I made these for a cookie exchange and they are outstanding! No modifications, and they came out looking just like the photograph. Highly recommend."

View Recipe: Espresso Crinkles

Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies Recipe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

This reader recipe was developed by Marcie Dixon of Arlington Heights, Illinois, who recommends using bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate for these decadent cookies. "Not only does it have less sugar," she said, "but it has a deeper flavor, too." Double the recipe and keep these 94-calorie cookies in the freezer for when you're in need of a healthy treat.

View Recipe: Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping Recipe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

In this rich cheesecake, we use the entire vanilla bean, so none of it is wasted: The seeds flavor the cheesecake, and the bean halves flavor the topping.

User sarate gave this recipe the ultimate praise: "I've never made a better cheesecake, low fat or otherwise. The texture was creamy perfection - silky, substantial, and, as my guests put it, DECADENT."

View Recipe: Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes Recipe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes

Top tender apple cupcakes with a sweet and crunchy topping of brown sugar and almonds, then drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze. The amaretto adds an even more distinct almond flavor to the cupcakes, but if you don't have it, you can use almond extract instead.

User debrajjohns raved about the cupcakes and even gave some tips of her own: "Oh so good...a perfect cupcake with a perfect crumb. I did weigh my flour, subbed plain yogurt for the sour cream and added a handful of flaked coconut. This one is a keeper!"

View Recipe: Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Recipe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

It's hard to beat the sweet-salty goodness of this indulgent yet light caramel ice cream. Light ice cream has evolved from its watery ice-milk days and in the Test Kitchen, we like to get creative with ingredients and flavors, but we hold fast to settling for nothing less than smooth, creamy, rich results.

View Recipe: Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Tiramisu Recipe


Tiramisu is Italian for "lift me up." And its indulgent creamy, mocha-tinged flavor is indeed uplifting. With layers of ladyfingers, coffee, mascarpone cheese, and shaved or grated chocolate, traditional tiramisu is a cross between a trifle and bread pudding. Our lightened version is less than 300 calories per serving, and makes for a sophisticated dinner-party treat.

View Recipe: Tiramisu

Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie Recipe

Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie

Warm, cinnamon apples combine with a creamy custard for a fun twist on apple pie. Tip: The key to both a flaky piecrust and crisp streusel topping is to keep them as cold as possible before putting them into the oven.

View Recipe: Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie

Rum-Spiked Grilled Pineapple with Toasted Coconut Recipe

Photo: John Autry

Rum-Spiked Grilled Pineapple with Toasted Coconut

Perfect for a backyard cookout with friends, just six ingredients make one delicious dessert in less than 10 minutes. Grilling caramelizes the sugars in the fruit for a light treat that is delicious on its own or served with low-fat vanilla ice cream.

View Recipe: Rum-Spiked Grilled Pineapple with Toasted Coconut

Cinnamon-Apple Cake Recipes

Cinnamon-Apple Cake

Originally appearing in an issue from 1997, this Cinnamon-Apple Cake is one of our most loved recipes and can be served as dessert or a breakfast coffee cake. The cream cheese in the batter gives the cake lots of moisture. We recommend using mild-tasting Rome apples.

View Recipe: Cinnamon-Apple Cake

Pumpkin Pie Pudding Recipe

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

No time to make pumpkin pie? Try this pudding instead—a faster, easier, and healthier alternative.

"Tastes just like the inside of pumpkin pie!" raves dtougas. "My husband and I both loved it and I'll definitely make it again."

View Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Carrot Cake Recipe

Photo: Randy Mayor

Carrot Cake

This lighter twist on traditional carrot cake features a tender cake packed with grated carrot, juicy pineapple, flaked coconut, and chopped pecans. Cream cheese frosting and a garnish of grated carrot tops the cake.

MyRecipes.com user psychedlife called this cake "superbly simple. I never made a carrot cake without raisins but nothing was amiss."

View Recipe: Carrot Cake

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe

Photo: Colleen Duffley

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Cool off on a hot day with a big bowl of creamy homemade ice cream. Perfect for entertaining, this top-rated recipe makes enough for a crowd.

mbeezie called this recipe, "an annual favorite that we make after picking blueberries."

View Recipe: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Pie

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Peanut Butter Pie

The reader who submitted this for the Reader Recipe column compared its flavor to a chocolate peanut butter candy bar. We agree, and also think this uncomplicated pie is such a snap to prepare that it's perfect for any occasion, from a birthday to an I-just-feel-like-pie day.

View Recipe: Peanut Butter Pie

Bittersweet Chocolate-Cherry Sorbet Recipes

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Bittersweet Chocolate-Cherry Sorbet

Tart-sweet cherry and strong dark chocolate flavors meld beautifully in this surprisingly rich sorbet crowned with juicy fresh cherries. Use a high-quality jam for the sorbet, and be sure to start the process a day ahead for the best flavor and texture.

View Recipe: Bittersweet Chocolate-Cherry Sorbet

Printed from: