How To: No-Stress Thanksgiving Desserts That Don't Require an Oven

No-Stress Thanksgiving Desserts That Don't Require an Oven

Oven space is scarce on that fated fourth Thursday of November. Even if you can find a spare space for pumpkin pie on the bottom shelf, you risk turkey drippings overflowing from above and ruining your beautiful dessert — not to mention a burnt crust from different temperature requirements. The bottom line is: oven real estate is valuable, and it's tough to multitask cooking for Thanksgiving when every dish requires baking or roasting.

With that in mind, here are a few ways to still include traditional Thanksgiving dessert flavors in your meal without compromising your kitchen's hottest commodity!

1. Recipes That Use a Slow Cooker

There are few kitchen tools more convenient than a slow cooker. All it really involves is chucking some ingredients in, pressing a button, and serving up a delicious result a few hours later. If it isn't already, the slow cooker should be an essential part of your Thanksgiving prep: it's stress-free, requires no attention, and cooks consistently every time.

Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks

This spiced cranberry apple pudding will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside while, at the same time, echoing the sweet and tangy cranberry flavors of a standard Thanksgiving side dish.


  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 4 Granny Smith apples (peeled and chopped)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt


  1. Whisk the zest and juice of a lemon with the cornstarch until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Add the cornstarch mix to the dry ingredients and stir to mix.
Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks
  1. Toss the mixture into a slow cooker pot along with fresh cranberries and the peeled/chopped apples.
Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks
  1. Cover with lid and set the slow cooker on low for 4–5 hours, letting the fruit tenderize and thicken.
Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks
  1. Divide into individual servings and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks

Or, for another gloriously rich, no-fuss dessert, use your slow cooker to make a delicious pumpkin rice pudding; it brings warm autumnal flavors to a comforting classic.

Image via Not Without Salt

2. Recipes That Use a Stovetop

Put the gravy on the back burner and make room for these sweet treats! Sydney of The Crepes of Wrath has an excellent recipe for vanilla spice poached pears; they're a light and relatively healthy dessert that make for a gorgeous presentation.

Image via The Crepes of Wrath

Or, you can make a quick chocolate pecan ganache pie filling to perfectly dress up a pre-baked crust!


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pre-baked or graham cracker crust


  1. Melt the heavy cream, butter, and chocolate chips over a double boiler, occasionally stirring until smooth. Set aside.
Melt chocolate chips into heavy cream for a rich ganache. Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks
  1. In a dry saucepan over medium heat, toast pecans until nutty aromas are drawn out. (Alternatively, you can microwave the pecans to toast them as well.)
Toast pecans to bring out their intense nutty flavors. Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks
  1. Pour the chocolate into a store-bought graham cracker crust, then sprinkle pecans on top.
  2. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the ganache to set.
  3. Serve at room temperature.
Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks

Honestly, the possibilities are endless when it comes to oven-free pie fillings. You can really toss any of your favorite fruits into a store-bought crust, or even make an oven-free crust from scratch! Both Just Eat Love's recipe for pear tart with vanilla cream and Oh Lady Cakes' raw caramel apple pie boast unique non-cook crusts made primarily of nuts and figs. Yum!

Images via Just Eat Love, Oh Lady Cakes

3. Recipes That Use a Fridge

Keep your cool with these chilled-out turkey day treats.

Creamy no-bake Bailey's pumpkin cheesecake incorporates all the glorious flavors of a baked cheesecake without the stress of water baths, gentle heat, and — of course — oven space! And this way, you don't have to worry about a cracked or bubbly surface on the cheesecake itself.


  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 packet (1 oz.) gelatin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature


  1. Bring water and Bailey's to a boil.
  2. Turn off heat and stir in gelatin, sugar, and salt.
  3. Whisk until everything has dissolved.
  4. In a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, whip cream cheese with vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly add in the gelatin mixture and mix until smooth.
  6. Pour into individual ramekins or a large dish and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  7. Dust with cocoa powder and powdered sugar to serve!
Image by Laura Holman/Food Hacks

You could also end Thanksgiving dinner with A Dash of Compassion's non-cook cinnamon pecan truffles. Just make them in advance and tuck them away until after dinner. Additionally, you can stun your guests with Crazy for Crust's decadent peanut butter pumpkin fudge: their no-cook, no-chill recipe couldn't be easier.

Images via A Dash of Compassion, Crazy for Crust

Keep Calm & Stay Away from the Oven

These delectable desserts are so yummy, you may be tempted never to use the oven for your future Thanksgiving sweets. And with some of the wacky ways to cook your turkey, you may not need the oven at all for any of your entrées. Period.

Let us know if you've got any other fantastic dishes — dessert or otherwise — that don't require an oven in the comments below. Sharing is caring, and everyone knows that Thanksgiving hosts need every bit of care they can get on the big day.

More Terrific Turkey Day Hacks:

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Cover photos by Laura Holman/Food Hacks


Your chocolate pecan ganache pie filling recipe has butter listed in the directions, but not as an ingredient. How much should one use?

Hi Barbara - sorry about that! You should use 2 tbsp of unsalted butter to help keep the chocolate from burning when you melt it.

The no-bake Bailey's pumpkin cheesecake does not list pumpkin in the ingredients or recipe.... how much pumpkin is supposed to be added?

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