18 Classic Desserts That Are Easy to Make but Always Impress

Any meal can be improved by ending it with a delicious dessert, but our busy modern lives don’t always allow extra time for hours of food preparation. Luckily, plenty of simple and quick desserts are just as delicious and satisfying as more time-intensive creations. This article explores 18 impressive desserts that can be whipped up without much time or effort.

Apple Crisp

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Cadbury Dessert Corner states, “Apple crisp has roots in American culinary history from the early colonial period, when settlers altered recipes to use local apples, creating a simple yet tasty dessert.” Sliced, spiced apples are layered with a crumbly oat topping and then baked until golden and bubbling, making a satisfying dessert that’s great for using up apples.

Banana Bread

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If you have ripe bananas instead of apples, this moist and flavorful bread is a delicious way to use them for a warm dessert served with ice cream. It also doubles as a great breakfast or snack. The King Arthur Baking Company asserts that similar breads originated in Asia, but the traditional version we know and love evolved from necessity during the Depression.

Peach Cobbler

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Peaches don’t last long, so this dessert is perfect if you have several to use up. The fruit is baked in a sweet, buttery sauce and topped with a flaky biscuit topping. A popular summer dessert, cobbler takes minutes to prepare and is often served at spontaneous potlucks or summer gatherings.


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Rich, fudgy, and oh-so-chocolatey brownies are a beloved dessert with surprisingly few ingredients and minimal prep time. Store-cupboard staples like cocoa powder, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter are combined in a single bowl and baked for around 15 minutes, creating a decadent cake that can be served as dessert or enjoyed as a treat.

Fruit Salad

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Refreshing and healthy, fruit salad is a colorful dessert that can be very sophisticated with the right combination of fruits. Berries, melons, bananas, kiwi, citrus, or stone fruits make great additions, and you can add a touch of decadence with honey, yogurt, or cream. The earliest recorded recipe dates back to the Roman Empire, where it was served with a honey dressing.

Chocolate Mousse

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This chilled and chocolatey dessert might look and taste decadent, but it is simple and easy to make. Simply fold whipped cream into melted chocolate to create a light, airy mousse guaranteed to impress your guests. The BBC recommends topping your mousse with shaved chocolate, cocoa powder, cream, or fresh berries for extra elegance.

No-Bake Cheesecake

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Unlike American cheesecake, Italian cheesecake requires chilling only (not baking). The result is a creamy, delicious dessert that pairs well with citrus or berry flavors like lemon and blackcurrant. Simply make a buttery graham cracker crust filled with cream cheese, cream sugar, and your chosen flavoring—simple!

Poached Pears with Spiced Wine

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This French dessert is simple to make; combine red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise in a saucepan and simmer with whole, peeled pears. Poach the fruit until tender and infused with the flavorful liquid before serving warm with a dollop of mascarpone cheese or whipped cream.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

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This dessert only requires quality, fresh ingredients to make a centerpiece that looks and tastes impressive. Wash and dry fresh strawberries, melt dark chocolate in a double boiler, and then dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate, allowing them to cool on a parchment sheet in the refrigerator. Your guests will be awed, even if they’re watching their waistlines.

Angel Food Cake

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This simple sponge cake originated in the United States in the late 19th century and is named for its heavenly light and fluffy texture. You’ll need only egg whites, sugar, flour, and a touch of cream of tartar to make this airy cake, and it can be dressed with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or a light glaze for an impressive dessert.

Apple Pie

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Fancy serving up this all-American classic? Making the pastry from scratch can be time-consuming and require more advanced cooking skills, but the ready-made pastry is cheap, quick, and easy to use, so you can whip up this homely, filling treat that is an ideal way to use up apples that are past their prime. Delicious served with ice cream, cream, or custard!

Rice Pudding

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This creamy and comforting dessert is made with rice, milk, sugar, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla. You can customize it easily depending on what you have on hand, with additions like raisins and other dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, or almond extract, and it can also be served warm or chilled.

Panna Cotta

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This blanche-like dessert is aptly named; panna cotta means “cooked cream,” and that’s how it was prepared before the days of refrigeration. Light and refreshing, the pale-colored custard is now made with chilled cream, sugar, and gelatin and flavored with vanilla or other subtle flavors. You can serve it as it is, but it’s better topped with berry coulis, fresh fruits, or purees.

Fruit Skewers

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Like fruit salad, this dessert is a healthier and more low-calorie option than many on the list. Push seasonal fruits (berries, melon, banana, grapes, pineapple, etc.) onto wooden skewers and serve them with a dip of plain yogurt, honey, and vanilla extract. Although they’re simple to prepare, they look impressive and exciting.

Baked Apples

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Apples are very adaptable and feature in many easy dessert recipes. Try coring large apples and filling the cavities with chopped nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter before baking in the oven. Once tender and bubbling, serve the softened, spiced fruits with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for a delicious treat.

Yogurt Parfait

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Homemade yogurt is preferable, but you can make a parfait with store-bought yogurt as well, making this recipe simple and easy. Layer yogurt with granola and fresh fruit in a jar or glass, and add optional extras like nuts, seeds, or honey, depending on what you have and your personal preferences. Parfait makes a healthy yet delicious sweet treat to end any meal.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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While not technically a dessert when served alone, these timeless cookies can be easily made into something more decadent. Try serving them warm with ice cream or crumbling them between layers of cream, ice cream, and chocolate sauce to make your own cookie-based sundae. You can even add strawberries or grated chocolate on top!


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These individual-sized cakes can easily be made ahead of time and decorated in various ways, offering your guests a choice when it comes to dessert. If you make simple vanilla-flavored cupcakes, you can top them with anything from jam and vanilla frosting to lemon icing or chocolate—there are endless possibilities!

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