Short on Time? Turn to These Easy, Festive Holiday Baking Recipes All Season Long

easy fudge bites in paper cups
Photo: Alpha Smoot

Looking for quick homemade baked goods to gift or to serve this Christmas? Our collection of easy baking recipes includes options with a short ingredient list, ones to make ahead, and sweets that don't require any special equipment at all.

Plus, we rounded up desserts that are suitable for every occasion, whether it's a dinner party or a family meal. There are cakes to pair with tea, cookies to share with friends, and confections that make perfect edible gifts. Not only are these sweets simple to make, they are sure to be enjoyed throughout the festive season.

01 of 15

Spiced Snacking Cake

Spiced Snacking Cake
Lennart Weibull

Not the usual gingerbread, this lighter-spiced snacking cake includes spices like cinnamon and cardamom.

02 of 15

Apple-Raspberry Pandowdy

apple-raspberry pandowdy served in pan
Dana Gallagher

A pandowdy is the perfect alternative to a cobbler or crumble if you're looking for something a bit different for the holidays. This one-pan recipe is just as easy as those other apple desserts, but the delicious batter-like topping spread over apple wedges and raspberries is what really sets it apart.

03 of 15

No-Bake Chocolate Eggnog Crème Brûlée

No-Bake Chocolate-Eggnog Crème Brûlée
Lennart Weibull

You'll need to make these easy custards ahead of time, so they can chill and set—the payoff is that you won't be tempted to leave everything to the last minute!

04 of 15

Butter-Pecan Cookies


These melt-in-your-mouth cookies use little more than a handful of ingredients and don't require any complicated shaping techniques. They're a great holiday recipe to make with kids since they will be able to help with pressing the cookie dough into discs.

05 of 15

Cinnamon-Sugar Ragamuffins

Cinnamon-Sugar Ragamuffins
Kate Sears

A simple biscuit dough is transformed into individual swirls of sugar-and-spice treats; they're a great choice for a brunch dessert or afternoon snack with a warming cup of tea.

06 of 15

Spice-Cookie Parfaits

spice-cookie parfaits topped with berries
Dana Gallagher

Parfaits combine all of our favorite treat textures (jammy, creamy, crunchy, etc.) into one delicious dessert. Here, seasonal fruit is turned into a compote and layered with whipped cream and store-bought spice cookies.

07 of 15

Plum Skillet Cake

Tara Donne

Looking for an easy, crowd-pleasing dessert for a cozy dinner? Try this Plum Skillet Cake. If you can't find plums, use apples or pears for this simple cake that's baked in a cast-iron skillet.

08 of 15

Rustic Apple Tart

Apple tart
Christina Holmes

The base for this elegant dessert is made from frozen puff pastry. All that's needed from you is a few turns with a rolling pin and you'll have the perfect foundation for layering sliced apples on top.

09 of 15

Pound-Cake Tiramisu


It isn't just easy—this decadent dessert is also make-ahead. Carve out just 15 minutes to assemble the tiramisu-flavored layers of store-bought pound cake, coffee, a light cream-cheese mixure, and a touch of rum. Then refrigerate—you can enjoy it up to a week later.

10 of 15

Easy Fudge Bites

easy fudge bites
Alpha Smoot

These one-bite-wonders are a cinch to make and yield enough for a whole neighborhood's worth of edible gifts. Decorate with an array of festive toppings like crushed peppermints, chopped pistachios, and shredded coconut.

11 of 15

Spiced Fruitcake Bars

fruitcake bars
Johnny Miller

This recipe is very versatile; you can use whatever dried fruits and nuts you like. Plus, the bars can be made up to a week ahead. You'll have about four dozen, so there's plenty for sharing.

12 of 15

Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Cereal Bars

chocolate-peanut-butter-caramel cereal bars topped with flaky sea salt
Nico Schinco

Easy and fun to make, rice cereal forms the base for these crunchy-and-creamy dessert bars.

13 of 15

Cranberry-Swirl Cheesecake

round cranberry cheesecake with slice cut
Justin Walker

Simple cheesecake gets decked out for the holidays with a ruby red cranberry sauce. Make it extra festive by adorning the cake with sugared cranberries.

14 of 15

Granola Bark

Granola Bark
Lennart Weibull

Skip the chocolate bark this year and gift your loved ones a healthier treat that can be eaten all day long. This granola is specially designed to break apart into large clumps (so it's easier to grab a handful as you pass by the jar, of course.)

15 of 15

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake
Brett Stevens

Bundt cakes may look hard to make, but they aren't. They're as easy as a basic sheet cake and way easier than a layer cake. The intricate Bundt pan creates a pretty presentation, no decorating needed. All that will be left for you to do is dust a thin layer of powdered sugar over the top before serving.

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