These Make-Ahead Pies, Cakes, and Tarts Are an Entertainer's Dream

Erin's Pumpkin-Pecan Pie
Photo: Blaine Moats

For dinner parties, potlucks, or a Sunday family dinner, these tasty make-ahead pies, cakes, and tarts will please family and guests (and you!) without adding to your dinnertime workload. With options like make-ahead pumpkin pie and cakes you can make in advance in a slow cooker, these desserts will allow you to keep your cool and focus on the savory elements of the meal—and kicking your feet up early.

01 of 23

Lavender-Honey Lemon Tart

Lavender-Honey Lemon Tart
Carson Downing

This make-ahead pie feels elevated but is not one bit fussy. "The lavender honey just complements the tart so perfectly, I don't know if I will ever make lemon tarts without lavender honey again," one BH&G home cook says. Fill the crust with the curd, then refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.

02 of 23

Erin's Pumpkin-Pecan Pie

Erin's Pumpkin-Pecan Pie
Blaine Moats

A make-ahead pumpkin pie is truly our sanity-saver come Thanksgiving. This rendition is a total crowd-pleaser since it also scores points with pecan pie devotees. Bake, cover, and chill the pie for up to 1 day before turkey time (or whatever entrée you're pairing this with if it's not that Thursday in November!).

03 of 23

Peanut Butter Blossom Cheesecake

Peanut Butter Blossom Cheesecake
Andy Lyons

Peanut butter blossoms are a classic holiday cookie. When paired with rich and creamy cheesecake, they're a delightful dessert recipe that's totally appropriate to devour year-round. A crushed-peanut crust adds even more yummy flavor to this cake you can make in advance. Assemble it all and chill for at least 4 hours before garnishing with the pièce de résistance: peanut butter-infused whipped cream.

04 of 23

Lemon Poppy Seed Dump Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Dump Cake
Andy Lyons

Mix, dump, set, and forget. That's all it takes to add this slow cooker dessert to your menu! Mix up the citrusy cornmeal batter and allow the cake you can make in advance to "bake" for about 2½ hours as you go about preparing the rest of your meal.

Buy It: Crock-Pot 4-Quart Cook & Carry Slow Cooker ($50, Bed Bath & Beyond)

05 of 23

Salted Almond Praline Tart

Salted Almond Praline Tart

Luscious cheesecake meets pecan tart in this uber-creamy and irresistible treat. The unique make-ahead tart features a cinnamon-almond crust filled with cream cheese and white chocolate. Bake then chill for at least 2 hours, then top with crunchy slabs of salty almond praline and fresh raspberries (or any seasonal fruit) before serving.

Buy It: Gobel Standard Traditional Tart Pan ($13, Williams Sonoma)

06 of 23

Crumb-Topped Apple Slab Pie

Crumb-Topped Apple Slab Pie
Steven McDonald

This streusel-topped make-ahead apple pie is easily one of our most popular dessert recipes ever. For the best results in this serves-a-crowd dish, use tart cooking apples, such as Rome Beauty or Granny Smith. Their firm texture holds up better than sweet apples, and they get sweeter as they bake.

07 of 23

Peppermint Dream Cake

peppermint dream cake
Blaine Moats

This frosty peppermint masterpiece is the perfect finale to any meal you want to feel like a special occasion. A standout from other dessert recipes, this cake you can make in advance has alternating red and white layers dressed with white chocolate frosting that are designed to hang in the refrigerator all assembled for at least 4 hours before serving. Bonus: If you really want to whip this up in advance, bake the cake layers and freeze individually for up to 4 months. When you're ready, simply thaw them for a few hours, frost, and feast!

08 of 23

Double-Chocolate Mascarpone Raspberry Pie

Double-Chocolate Mascarpone Raspberry Pie
Karla Conrad

Double the deliciousness of regular raspberry pie, and you've got this chocolaty dessert. Raspberry liqueur, a white chocolate topping, and mild mascarpone cheese add elegance to the make-ahead pie. Build it and let it chill up to a day ahead.

09 of 23

Grown-Up S'mores Torte

Grown-Up S'mores Torte
Jason Donnelly

Toasted marshmallows meet frosty ice cream in this better-than-scoop-shop make-ahead treat. With a cinnamon graham cracker crust and fudge-flavor sauce hiding under the ice cream and marshmallow layers, this frozen cake you can make in advance features the ooey-gooey flavors of your favorite campfire treat in each slice. Dulce de leche and coffee ice cream paired with marshmallow creme update the classic dessert.

10 of 23

Eggnog and Rum Fudge Pie

Eggnog and Rum Fudge Pie
Kritsada Panichgul

Mimic the flavor of your favorite Christmastime drink with this rich eggnog dessert. The fudgy ice cream cake is a fantastic make-ahead pie option to consider serving around Christmas. If your whole crew is 21+, spike this frozen dessert recipe with rum (or bourbon or brandy!) before chilling for 14 to 24 hours.

11 of 23

Apple Tart with Cheddar Cheese Crust

Apple Tart Cheddar Cheese Crust
Jason Donnelly

Get a double dose of cheddar cheese in this make-ahead apple pie with a twist: The savory add-in appears in both the flaky crust and the crunchy crumb topping. After a bite, you'll be craving the delicious flavor combo of sweet apples and sharp cheddar again and again. Prep the homemade pastry and crumb topping up to a day early and chill until you're ready to add the apples and bake.

12 of 23

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Triple-Raspberry Sauce

White-Chocolate Cheesecake with Triple-Raspberry Sauce
Andy Lyons

A buttery crust of shortbread cookies and toasted almonds only gets better once topped with a silky white chocolate and sour cream batter. The final element of this cake you can make in advance? A sweet raspberry sauce that's best once added after chilling 4 to 24 hours.

13 of 23

Pretzel-Crusted Lime Mousse Tart with Blackberry Sauce

Pretzel-Crusted Lime Mousse Tart with Blackberry Sauce
Scott Little

We adore dinner-party desserts to make ahead of time that are impressive, and this gorgeous tart certainly fits the bill. Key lime pie-lovers will adore our creamy blackberry-lime tart twist on the classic Floridian fave. Crushed pretzels add a hint of salty flavor to the bright, citrusy make-ahead pie. Cool it for 6 to 24 hours to make it easy to slice and share.

14 of 23

Peppermint-Fudge Pie

Peppermint-Fudge Pie
Blaine Moats

Take a break from ice cream cake (just for now, not forever!). This frozen peppermint dream pie ups the ante with fluffy meringue atop layers of peppermint ice cream and homemade fudge sauce. Freeze the showstopping make-ahead dessert for 6 to 24 hours after toasting the meringue to ensure the ice cream hiding underneath doesn't melt too much.

15 of 23

Triple-Citrus Pound Cake

Triple-Citrus Pound Cake
Andy Lyons

Packed with the zesty influences of grapefruit, lime, and orange, this cake you can make in advance combines richness and freshness in a party-perfect package. Finish the party-worthy pound cake with an easy powdered sugar drizzle. Bake it, allow to cool, cover tightly and thoroughly with plastic wrap, then freeze for up to 1 month, if desired.

16 of 23

Peppermint Cream Tart in a Chocolate Crust

Peppermint Cream Tart in a Chocolate Crust
Jason Donnelly

We're deeming this one a peppermint dream pie. A chocolate cookie crust is already a great start to the make-ahead dessert, and a creamy peppermint filling makes it even more tempting. Thanks to the pretty peppermint swirls, this recipe is a delightful Christmas dessert to whip up 2 days before the holiday.

17 of 23

Chocolate and Vanilla Red Velvet Cake

chocolate vanilla red velvet cake
Andy Lyons

Here's a cake you can make in advance that's as eye-catching as it is craveable. Silky chocolate ganache envelops a gorgeous red velvet cake with layers of mascarpone and vanilla bean filling. The entire dessert recipe can be made in advance and frozen for up to 3 months to cut down on pre-soirée stress.

18 of 23

Dulce de Leche Cake

Dulce de Leche Cake
Andy Lyons

The hint of citrus kissing this cake you can make in advance offers the ideal complement to the rich caramel. Can you guess the secret shortcut ingredient? Okay, we'll spill: It's a boxed white cake mix. Make the entire unfrosted confection the day ahead, chill overnight, then frost before bringing it to the table.

19 of 23

Rosemary Apple Pie

Rosemary Apple Pie
Andy Lyons

Fresh herbs aren't just for savory recipes, and one bite of this make-ahead apple pie will be all the delicious proof you need. A rosemary-flecked sugar syrup adds complexity to this autumnal favorite. The tantalizing aroma that fills the air as the apples and herbs bake together, then you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before serving (if you can wait that long!).

20 of 23

Berry Slab Pie

Berry Slab Pie
Andy Lyons

A bit of crystallized ginger adds mellow sweetness to this tender, flaky mixed-berry pie. We can't get enough of the variety of berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all work marvelously) that fills and tops the make-ahead pie recipe. Even better news? The filling calls for frozen fruit so you can enjoy this done-a-day-ahead pie no matter what season it is.

21 of 23

Frosted Apple Slab Pie

Frosted Apple Slab Pie
Blaine Moats

Part pie, part bar cookie, this tasty apple dessert recipe calls for more than 2 pounds of sliced apples. But the results are sooo worth all that peeling and slicing. Cool the make-ahead apple pie completely before drizzling with powdered sugar icing.

22 of 23

Tangy Grapefruit Tart

Tangy Grapefruit Tart
Blaine Moats

If you prefer your dessert recipes to have a little tang, this make-ahead tart is for you. There's no need to wait until grapefruits are in season, because this tart gets its flavor from over a cup of grapefruit juice instead of the fruit itself. Start with a store-bought graham cracker crust, fill with the grapefruit mixture, then refrigerate until set.

23 of 23

Brownie-Walnut Pie

Brownie-Walnut Pie
Andy Lyons

When you can't quite decide between a brownie recipe or pie, we say, "Have both!" A rich and chewy brownie-like filling tops flaky pastry crust in this decadent make-ahead pie recipe that can be baked several hours ahead and hang out at room temp. Hot fudge sauce and chopped nuts make tasty toppers.

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