20 Easy Dessert Recipes for When You Want Something Sweet and Fuss-Free

From simple cakes and cookies to no-churn frozen desserts

Dessert comes in many forms, from a scoop of ice cream to sandwich cookies to a multi-tiered croquembouche or cake. While we all love a showstopping layer cake or a weekend project, sometimes we just want something sweet that is quick and easy. Our staff favorite brownies are ready in under an hour—if you don’t have that much time, our no-bake chocolate-oat cookies will be ready in 20 minutes. Snickerdoodles come together with less than ten ingredients, and our skillet cookie doesn’t require portioning dough. If you are oven-averse, opt for a refreshing granita that requires little more than fruit juice, sugar, and a lot of hands-off freezer time. Chocolate mousse, a chilled blend of chocolate and cream, is simple and foolproof. If pie is what you’re after, but you don’t have the time (or patience) to roll out a crust, try one of our crisps or cobblers—just as delicious, and so much easier. We’ve collected our very best easy desserts, with something for everyone at every skill level.

Todd’s Snickerdoodles

Cinnamon-sugar dusted snickerdoodles are always one of the most-requested holiday cookies. Get the recipe for Todd’s Snickerdoodles »

The Ultimate Fudgy Brownie Recipe

Fudgy and moist, these sweet bites are made from an easy brownie recipe that appears in Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers by Nick Malgieri (HarperCollins, 1998). Get the recipe for The Ultimate Fudgy Brownie Recipe
The oldest and most popular dessert at San Francisco’s legendary Zuni Café, this gluten-free chocolate cake boasts a fine, tender crumb and bold chocolate flavor. Get the recipe for The Best Flourless Chocolate Cake »

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

Lemon Granita

Like a frozen lemonade, this refreshing dessert is achieved with little more than lemon juice, sugar, and time. Get the recipe for Lemon Granita »

Blackberry Flummery

This sweet pudding-like dessert from Sickles Market in Little Silver, New Jersey, gained popularity in the United Kingdom during the 17th century. You can discard the solids after straining the berries, but we love eating them on top of it along with freshly whipped cream.

Chocolate Mousse

This simple yet sophisticated, airy yet intense concoction has been a hit with home cooks in America at least since the New York Times published its first recipe for the dessert in 1955. Get the recipe for Chocolate Mousse »

Blueberry Pie Milkshake

A scoop of vanilla ice cream and a hefty slice of pie go into the blender together, and out comes the ultimate dessert: A creamy shake with buttery crumbles of pie crust and ribbons of gorgeous fruit filling throughout. Get the recipe for Blueberry Pie Milkshake »

Burnt Peaches and Plums with Mascarpone and Hazelnuts

At once rustic and refined, this technique amplifies the inherent sweetness of the fruit. The mascarpone-mint leaf combo brings a rich yet uplifting twist. The more ripe your fruit, the better it will caramelize. Look for freestone peaches that will let you remove the pits easily. Mallmann says: “Let them burn a bit without touching them. Don’t flip and flop.” Get the Recipe for Burnt Peaches and Plums with Mascarpone and Hazelnuts »

Honey-Roasted Apples with Sesame and Calvados

Sweet apples are roasted until caramelized in honey and butter, then marinated in their cooking juices along with Calvados and sesame for a simple but surprisingly complex quick weeknight dessert. Get the recipe for Honey-Roasted Apples with Sesame and Calvados »

Grilled Strawberries

Almond Granita

Nutty, sweet almonds are used four ways in this super-simple frozen dessert. Get the recipe for Almond Granita »

Roasted Cherries

Roasting cherries caramelizes their sugars and gives them a deeper flavor; they’re perfect on ice cream, cheesecake, or yogurt, or even mixed into cocktails. Get the recipe for Roasted Cherries »

Dark Chocolate Matzo Brittle

You can tailor this crisp kosher dessert by using white, milk or dark chocolate, sliced almonds or dried cranberries, or even omitting the chocolate all together. Get the recipe for Dark Chocolate Matzo Brittle »

Mango Sherbet

Mango Sherbet

Blueberry Sauce

Pastry chef Emily Luchetti makes this simple sauce for topping pancakes, waffles, or a scoop of ice cream. Get the recipe for Blueberry Sauce »

Grilled Cantaloupe with Peach Agrodolce

In this elegant dessert, cantaloupe is grilled until it caramelizes and is then dressed with agrodolce, a sour-sweet Italian sauce made by reducing vinegar and sugar. Get the recipe for Grilled Cantaloupe with Peach Agrodolce »

Brigadeiros (Brazilian Fudge Balls)

You can find many versions of brigadeiros, but chocolate is the traditional flavor for these dense, chewy fudge balls rolled in sprinkles, a treasured treat in Brazil. Get the recipe for Brigadeiros (Brazilian Fudge Balls) »

Mexican Bread Pudding (Capirotada)

This satisfying dessert uses piloncillo, a type of brown sugar used in Mexican cooking. Get the recipe for Mexican Bread Pudding (Capirotada) »

Apple Crumble with Hot Custard

We enjoyed this warm and comforting dessert while visiting a sheep farm in new Zealand. Get the recipe for Apple Crumble with Hot Custard »