Delicious International Desserts to Add to Your Thanksgiving Menu

You can’t make everyone happy. You’re not dessert.


Thanksgiving just isn’t complete with dessert. If you’re already sick of pumpkin (especially pumpkin spice) and are bored with the same ole pie that gets baked every year, why not serve up something different. Even better, why not serve up international desserts?

These desserts all scream fall and ooze comfort food vibes. Bake one or all of them or just enjoy these pictures. The good thing about dessert is there’s always a good time to eat it. You don’t have to limit yourself to eating these incredible desserts from around the world just at Thanksgiving. You’ve got all year, so put on your stretchy pants and get chomping. Better yet, try baking them at home and plan your next vacation around your favorite desserts.

Oliebollen from the Netherlands

These fried balls of dough are similar to a donut, but much smaller. Bite-sized treats means you can eat more, right? These are traditionally filled with raisins and dusted with powdered sugar. More modern variations have them filled with berries and I NEED to try both!

Sombi from Senegal

Calling all rice pudding lovers! I bet you haven’t had one like this before. This rice pudding is made with coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt, making it a super simple dessert to make. It is typically served hot in the winter to keep you warm and cool in the summer to cool you off. It’s perfect for any time of the year! I love me a multi-season, versatile dessert.

There are so many ways to personalize this dish too which is why there are SO many different recipes you can try. I linked the traditional recipe, but have as much creativity with yours as you want!

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Churros & Hot Chocolate from Mexico

Fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar? NOM. Hot chocolate mixed with chili powder and cinnamon? Also NOM. What happens when these two delicious desserts combine? Magic, that’s what.

Imagine it’s a cold day. You’re sitting outside by a fire pit to escape the family drama. You have a straight from the fryer churro that is crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside in one hand. In the other, you have a perfectly hot, creamy, spiced hot chocolate. You collide both worlds by dipping that perfect churro into the chocolate bliss. Then you see your life flash before your eyes because nothing will ever top this culinary moment again.

Well.. that probably won’t happen, but it’s a damn good scenario to day dream about and the combo will always be ridiculously tasty.

Hotteok from South Korea

If you love breakfast, oh man do I have the dessert for you. Hottoek, sometimes called Hoeddeok, is a super popular street food in South Korea and for good reason. These aren’t your average breakfast pancakes though. Hotteok is a sweet pancake that is often filled usually with cinnamon sugar syrup inside. It’s basically an inside out version of the pancakes we know and love. So much les mess and an explosion of flavor in every bite. Get in my belly.

This would be an epic way to either start your thanksgiving day OR reuse the cranberry sauce and use that as filling instead.

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Alfajores from Argentina

It’s cookie time! Ditch the traditional chocolate chip cookie for one holiday in favor of these decadent cookies. Alfajores are two shortbread cookies sandwiching a dulce de leche caramel dollop in its center. To top it off, the sides are rolled in coconut flakes. Dulce de leche is the national dessert of Argentina, so you know a cookie featuring this beloved dessert is going to be next level.

These also make the perfect gift for friends and family. Make a giant batch, keep some for yourself (obviously) and bag some up to share for the holidays! Since they are small they are great for a Thanksgiving dinner table featuring lots of varieties of desserts.

Apfelstrudel from Austria

Did you know the oldest known apple strudel recipe dates to 1697? With such a long history of being devoured, it’s no surprise that you should make this for thanksgiving. The apples are the perfect addition to your dinner since apple picking season lands right around this time.

The dough is a simple phyllo pastry, so it’s pretty simple to make from scratch which will impress family and friends. The filling is made with sweet apples, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, and raisins soaked in rum. Say hello to your replacement for the traditional apple pie.

Baklava from Turkey

If you’re in the mood for a rich, flavorful, flakey dessert, you might want to consider baklava. Each layer of light phyllo dough is brushed with butter and layered with, spices, nuts, and raisins. It’s then topped with a honey syrup that oozes into the layers giving it an even richer taste.

While this dessert may have originated in Turkey circa the 8th century BCE, it has been popular in many countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East for centuries. Each country has its own twist on this dish and every single one of them is worth making. Choose your favorite and go to town!

Black Forest Cake from Germany

Black Forest cake is the English name for Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, one of the most popular desserts in the country and is very well-known around the world. It looks complicated, but is relatively simple to make. It’s one of those desserts you break out to impress people without having to stress yourself out in the kitchen.

How can anyone not love layers of yummy chocolate sponge cake in between layers of whipped cream and cherries? You can also go extra fancy on the decorations with chocolate, cherries, and more whipped cream! The Black Forest region of Germany was already known for its cherries, but with the introduction of chocolate to Europe in the 1500s this new cake emerged and has been devoured ever since.

Cardamom Buns from Sweden

Think of these as the piney, aromatic cousin of the cinnamon bun mixed with pull apart bread. These are extremely popular in Scandinavian countries and I’m honestly sad these haven’t become super popular in the USA. These buns are great with any meal or even as a snack with coffee. They’re basically perfect any time of the day on Thanksgiving.

When they come out of the oven they look a lot like cinnamon buns but are coated in cardamom instead for a different flavor profile. They’ve also got their own unique shape to set them apart. Preferences vary, but you’ll often find these either topped with sugar and cardamom after baking or glazed after baking with the cardamom and sugar infused into the dough.

Dan Tats from Hong Kong

Hear me out, egg custard doesn’t sound like the most decadent dessert, but don’t rule it out. If you’re ever in Hong Kong, getting an iconic egg custard/dan tat is a must. They are a dessert perfect for people who don’t have a massive sweet tooth, but want something delicious after a meal. Plus, they’re nice and small so you won’t feel too full after eating them… that is IF you can eat just one.

Crisp crust encases a warm custard with the wonderful aroma of eggs and a little sweetness. The pastry is a shortbread similar to a wonderfully crumbly shortbread cookie. There is a Portuguese version with a crust more like puff pastry, so experiment with the crust of your choosing. The filling is made with egg, milk, and vanilla extract for a great balance between breakfast taste and sweetness.

Sweet Potato Spice Cookies from Malawi

Shredded sweet potatoes, butterscotch chips, pecans, spices, and more all combine to create what I feel like is the perfect cookie for Thanksgiving. It hits so many of the iconic flavors of the holiday that this is naturally why I saved the best fitting dessert for last.

Mbatata cookies as they are known in Malawi are actually pretty healthy as far as cookies go. They come out soft and cakey and packed with the nutrients of sweet potatoes. If ever there was a guilt-free cookie, this is it. Looking for more sweetness? Add some cinnamon and raisins to spice things up!


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