8 Holiday Desserts for When Your Sweet Tooth Needs a Break

Need a break from all the rich holiday cakes and sugary cookies?! Try one of these desserts! They're plenty festive while giving your sweet tooth a break.

Christmas cookies have an enduring appeal. And then there are all the showstopper cakes, pies, and other sweets that make everyone at your holiday party ooh and ahh.

But what about when your sweet tooth needs a break? What if you love the holidays, but you prefer your sweets just a little less, well, sweet?

Here are a few desserts for when you realize that the holidays are a marathon not a sprint, culinarily speaking. They make a lovely end to a festive holiday meal, but they won’t leave you feeling too full to get up from the table.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

If you’ve never made an upside-down cake, this one with cranberries is a stunner. It's not at all hard to make—and the tartness of the cranberries keeps it from being too sweet.

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Paleo and Gluten-Free Apple Tart

This beauty is both gluten-free and paleo, with an almond flour and arrowroot starch crust. Make sure you use the best, most flavorful apples you can find. They are the star of the show, after all.

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Almond Pound Cake with Orange Glaze

My kids know that when clementines and other citrus show up in the grocery store, it’s Christmas. This unassuming cake is dense and light, with an orange glaze and orange zest.

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BEST Cherry Frozen Yogurt

The hue in this frozen yogurt is electric! You can use fresh or frozen cherries—more likely the latter this time of year—and the yogurt keeps things pleasantly tart. Try it alongside a slice of chocolate cake, if you must.

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Poppy Seed Kolache

This poppy seed filling isn’t too sweet, nor is the pastry that keeps it all together. The assembly can be pulled off with lots of kitchen helpers to make the process more fun.

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Pear Cranberry Rustic Tart

Something freeform like a “rustic tart” is just what you want when time is short and precision might not be so easily summoned. Homemade crust is not something to fear—and you only need to make one of them for this tart. Score!

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Applesauce cake, frosted and with a piece removed.

All the best spices of the winter season come to life in this easy snacking cake. It uses a combo of sugar and applesauce to sweeten and moisten each piece.

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Easy Lemon Pudding in three cups topped with berries

Lemons are so good in the winter—they certainly add a much-needed respite and lightness to the palate. These puddings are so easy (just three ingredients!) and make a nice change when you're tired of baked goods.

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Carrie Havranek

Carrie Havranek is a former Associate Editor of Simply Recipes and the author of the cookbook Tasting Pennsylvania (2019). She lives in Easton, Pennsylvania and goes out of her way for farmers' markets, new ingredients, yoga, and walks in nature.

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