Make ahead Thanksgiving desserts that travel well are essential if you're the one bringing the dessert to the holiday feast! These easy dessert recipes can be made in advance and then packed in your car and transferred safely to the Thanksgiving dessert table.
Thanksgiving weekend is the biggest travel week of the year for good reason.
If you're visiting family and want to bring a make ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will travel with you well, these are the recipes you need.
From portable dessert bars, easy cakes, and yummy treats filled with fall flavors, you're sure to find the perfect match.
- Thanksgiving Dessert Bars
- Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake Bars
- Shortbread Pecan Bars
- Apple Crisp Bars
- Apple Crumble Bars
- Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Treats
- Crescent Roll Cheesecake Bars
- 9x13 Thanksgiving Cakes
- Fresh Apple Cake
- Freezer Friendly Apple Crisp
- Tres Leches Cake
- Almond Cake
- Thanksgiving Pies
- Pumpkin Pie
- Pecan Pie
- Apple Pie
- Cherry Pie
- No Bake Desserts
- Snicker Salad
- Banana Pudding (No Bananas!)
- Cheesecake with Toppings
- Salted Caramel Sauce
- More Thanksgiving Ideas
- 💬 Comments
Thanksgiving Dessert Bars
I think an easy dessert bar is one of the best portable desserts to bring to Thanksgiving because they can travel right in the baking pan that made them.
Be sure to wait to slice and serve the dessert bars until just before adding them to the table so they arrive safe and sound.
Be sure to pack a pretty platter to put them on so that the Thanksgiving host has one less thing to worry about.
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake Bars
These easy pumpkin gooey butter cake bars taste even better when you make them ahead and chill them.
Shortbread Pecan Bars
Bake a batch of shortbread pecan bars the day before and then just keep them in an airtight container before your trip.
Apple Crisp Bars
Don't want to risk an apple pie? Try baking a batch of apple crisp bars, they can travel in a covered container.
Apple Crumble Bars
If you're looking for apple pie flavor but in a portable dessert bar, you'll love these apple crumble bars with a buttery pie crust crumble topping.
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Treats
Want a no bake treat you could make with the kids? These ooey gooey Pumpkin Spice Cheerios treats take everyone's favorite marshmallow treats and turns them up with melted caramel and white chocolate drizzle.
Crescent Roll Cheesecake Bars
These cinnamon coated crescent roll cheesecake bars can easily be turned into a make ahead Thanksgiving dessert if you add chopped pumpkin spice pecans to the cream cheese filling or canned apple pie filling.
9x13 Thanksgiving Cakes
Thanksgiving and "cake" may not be the first thing you think of together but you're seriously missing out.
These 9x13 cakes can travel right in their baking pan and arrive safe and sound to the holiday table.
They'll taste better when you make them ahead since the flavors have a chance to really mingle!
Fresh Apple Cake
My fresh apple cake recipe is amazing with brown butter frosting and chopped pecans on top. Make it ahead the day before and keep it chilled in the fridge. It can be transported to the feast right in the baking pan.
Freezer Friendly Apple Crisp
While not a cake, my freezer friendly apple crisp does travel well in a baking pan.
You should definitely ask the host whether it is ok to bring it ready to bake or if you should bake it before you arrive. The recipe will work great either way!
Tres Leches Cake
Tres leches cake is soaked in three sweet milks and has a cinnamon sprinkle on top of the whipped cream frosting. It absolutely must be made ahead the day before so the cake can soak up all that sweet goodness.
My favorite almond sheet cake with almond icing on top is a blank palette just waiting to be turned into a simple Thanksgiving dessert. While in the summertime I top it with fresh berries, for fall you could add blackberries or even just some pretty toasted almonds.
I think part of the reason Thanksgiving and pies are such a solid partnership is that pies travel well if you choose the right ones.
These classic Thanksgiving pies are the perfect make ahead travel-friendly desserts to bring.
If you're looking for the totally traditional Thanksgiving dessert, my easy pumpkin pie is perfect for making ahead the day before and taking on the go.
Perhaps even more portable than pumpkin pie, a sturdy easy pecan pie is even easier to travel with. Bake this the day before and just let it sit at room temperature on the counter, I usually cover mine with foil to keep it fresh.
When you need a pie to feed a feast, my apple slab pie is a perfect pick. Baked in a rectangular pan, this one is easy to travel with.
A fun alternative to apple pie, my cherry slab pie can be made with fresh or frozen cherries. You can assemble the whole pie in advance and freeze it and just bake it the day before Thanksgiving.
No Bake Desserts
If you've got your hands full with other Thanksgiving prep, a no bake dessert is a solid solution for saving time.
These easy recipes travel well and definitely work best as make ahead desserts. They taste best after being chilled.
When I was driving across state for our first Thanksgiving with my husband's family, my Minnesota mother-in-law told me to bring snicker salad as my holiday contribution. For good reason! This sweet treat serves as a no bake Thanksgiving dessert or even a funny side dish to add to the feast.
Banana Pudding (No Bananas!)
If you've been to any gathering in the south, you know how important the banana pudding is. If you're not sure bananas belong at Thanksgiving, I have good news. My banana pudding has NO bananas! This sweet vanilla dessert has crispy Chessman cookies on top and would be just right for the holiday.
Cheesecake with Toppings
The easiest make ahead dessert for Thanksgiving? Go grab a plain vanilla cheesecake from the grocery store or Costco and prep ahead my triple berry sauce or one of these other delicious cheesecake toppings for the holiday.
Salted Caramel Sauce
My homemade salted caramel sauce keeps for a week or longer in the fridge (if your family doesn't gobble it up before then!) This would be a thoughtful hostess gift to bring to the Thanksgiving host family. It's easy to travel with right in its own mason jar. Use it for drizzling over practically any Thanksgiving dessert on the buffet table or stirring into your after dinner coffee.
More Thanksgiving Ideas
Now that you've got your make ahead Thanksgiving desserts all picked out, what about the rest of your meal plan?
Don't miss my other easy Thanksgiving recipes for your family feast: