There are so many classic American desserts. All you have to do is head to a diner and scan the dessert menu to see a range of desserts that have that all American feel.
You can recreate these delicious and decadent desserts in your own kitchen with this list of simple recipes.
Next time you are hosting a dinner party or a family gathering, give everyone a treat with one of these traditional desserts.
1. New York Cheesecake
New York Cheesecake is a simple dessert that is much loved by people all over America, and the rest of the world. It is baked to give it the perfect texture and a caramelized taste.
The vanilla flavoring is basic but pairs well with lots of different flavors, which means you can serve the cheesecake with whatever you like – fresh fruit and cream, chocolate shavings, salted caramel sauce.
2. Apple Pie
Whether it’s your Granny’s homemade apple pie or a traditional diner dessert, America is well known for fantastic apple pie.
You can use a store bought pie crust or make your own depending on how much time you have. The apples are nice and tender but not too mushy- the perfect texture.
3. Pecan Pie
Pecan pie is a Southern dessert that is the perfect blend of sweet and salty flavors. Pecans grow in abundance in the Southern states, particularly in Texas.
This pie is best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to introduce some moisture and counteract the dry pastry.
The nuts are crunchy and the pie filling is smooth, creating a lovely contrast of textures as you bite into the pie.
4. Peach Cobbler
Peach cobbler is another classic Southern dessert. It is a popular dish to bring to a potluck dinner, and can be enjoyed at any time of year.
If the peaches are frozen when picked then you can make this dessert even when the fruit is out of season.
You can also use canned peaches, and this recipe provides measurements for both fresh and canned peaches (see also ‘18 Delicious Canned Peach Recipes You Need To Try‘).
5. Chocolate Chip Cookies
These chocolate chip cookies have the perfect consistency – soft and a little chewy with a nice crunch around the edges.
If you want to be super indulgent, enjoy them warm out of the oven with a scoop of your favorite ice cream on top.
6. Oreo Fridge Cake
Fridge cakes are a layered dessert of whipped cream and biscuits that is left in the refrigerator overnight.
The cream partially soaks into the biscuit and softens it, creating a cake-like texture. This recipe uses oreos to create a delicious fridge cake.
The great thing about this cake is that it only takes 20 minutes to prepare all of the ingredients before the cake chills in the refrigerator.
7. Bananas Foster
This dessert originated in New Orleans in the 1950s and it is often associated with Father’s Day.
The bananas are cooked in a buttery rum sauce and served warm with vanilla ice cream. The sauce can be strong or weak depending on how much rum you like to use.
8. Texas Sheet Cake
This cake has an interesting backstory. It was first discovered when the recipe was sent in to the Dallas Morning News.
People started making it, and it grew in popularity in the Dallas area. From there it spread, until it became a staple American dessert.
It is a fluffy cake with a rich, sweet frosting, sprinkled with pecans. It is usually made in a large sheet pan then cut into squares.
9. Classic Chocolate Brownies
These chocolate brownies are super gooey and indulgent. They are often served warm with a scoop of ice cream, but they can also be enjoyed cool.
They keep for several days in an airtight container, and go really nicely with a mug of coffee. This recipe includes a few variations that you might like to try such as chopped nuts. Chocolate chunks and mini marshmallows.
10. Angel Food Cake
A lot of American desserts are rich and heavy, but not Angel food cake. This is a light, fluffy cake that is often described as ‘cloud-like’. It is also really moist.
It is best served with fresh cream and fruit such as strawberries. It doesn’t last for very long once it is made, but it is so tasty that it’s unlikely there will be any leftovers! The cake is thought to date back to the late 19th Century.
11. Cookie Dough Dip
There are lots of ways that you can incorporate classic American style cookie dough into a dessert, such as putting it in ice cream or a pie, but this cookie dough dip is a great way to truly make the most of the sweet and salty flavor (see also ‘35 Delicious, Sweet Dips For Dessert‘).
It’s really quick and easy, and is great for sharing. Imagine making this sweet cookie dough dip for your next movie night – it is the perfect indulgent snack.
12. French Crullers
French crullers are a type of donut shaped patisserie that is very popular in American bakeries and coffee shops. They aren’t actually French in origin, but get their name from the choux pastry that is used to make them.
They are crispy on the outside but soft and light on the inside. When it comes to the glaze, you can get creative and come up with lots of different flavors.
These crullers are so tasty, enjoyed with a coffee, and they make a great breakfast to eat on the go.
13. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Pineapple upside down cake is a fun and traditional recipe that has been enjoyed for decades. It originated out of a baking competition held by the company that is now ‘Dole Company’.
The Hawaiian pineapple company held the competition to find the best recipe for cooking pineapples, and the upside down cake was created!
You can use this method to make different types of upside down cakes including apple, pear, and peach. However, the sweet yet tangy flavor of the pineapple is perfect in this recipe.
14. Hershey’s Chocolate Cake
Hershey’s chocolate is a classic American sweet treat, and it used to make this indulgent, rich chocolate cake.
This cake is moist, full of chocolate flavor, and it looks irresistible. This is the perfect dessert to make for a celebration or gathering as it will really impress your family and friends.
You can add extra decoration in the form of chocolate chips or shavings if you want to – white chocolate would work well to contrast the dark chocolate sponge and frosting.
15. PB&J Blondies
Peanut butter and jelly is a classic American combination which is often used in sandwiches (see also ‘28 Classic All-American Appetizers‘). The flavors work really well together in this blondie dessert, providing a balance of sweet and salty flavors that is extremely addictive.
The buttery, vanilla sponge of the blondies is sweet and soft, in contrast to the crunchy peanuts.
This is a rich dessert but it is one that everyone will enjoy. The smell of the blondies baking will fill your kitchen and make your mouth water.
16. Buckeye Balls
Buckeye balls are a peanut flavored biscuits confectionery item that is dipped in chocolate. When finished, they look a lot like buckeye nuts which is where their name comes from.
They are simple to make and make an ideal snack for sharing. They pair very nicely with a cup of string coffee.
These treats look very eye-catching when they are lined up on a plate, which makes them a great addition to a buffet table at a party.
They are very simple to make and can be made a day in advance if you store them in an airtight container (and refrigerate them if the weather is warm or the chocolate will melt).
17. Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut based desserts are very popular in America, and these peanut butter cookies are no exception. This is a tried and tested recipe that comes out perfectly every time.
Once you have made it for the first time you will whipping up a batch every weekend. These cookies are perfect when enjoyed with a mug of milk, or even with a milky coffee.
You can also use them as a lunchbox snack for your children.
18. Hummingbird Cake
Hummingbird cake is traditionally a Jamaican recipe. It is a spiced sponge cake with pineapple and bananas, enjoyed with a cream cheese frosting and plenty of pecans and walnuts.
The recipe became popular in the Southern states in the 1970s, and has been adopted as an American dessert.
The combination of sweet banana, tangy pineapple, and the warm spices in the sponge is a unique but beautiful taste.
The cream cheese frosting cuts through the sweetness of the fruit and adds a lovely moistness to the dessert. The addition of the nuts introduces a crunchy texture and an earthy flavor.
19. Watergate Salad
Watergate salad, also known as pistachio pineapple delight, is a chilled dessert that is very popular in America.
It is made with pistachio flavored instant pudding mix, layered with canned pineapple, glace cherries, marshmallows, chopped nuts and whipped cream. It’s very sweet, but is very refreshing on a cold day as it is kept in the refrigerator.
You can make it in individual sundae glasses, or in one big dish like a trifle. You could also experiment with different types of canned fruit and various flavors of pudding mix to make your own version of watergate salad.
20. Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding
This recipe has three simple ingredients that come together to create a delightful pudding – nilla wafers, bananas, and rich custard.
It was made popular by a New York establishment and became a big hit on social media, making it a modern American classic.
It’s really easy to recreate this dessert for your family and friends and it makes a very nice summer treat. This dessert is very popular with children as it is soft, easy to eat, and the flavors are mild.
21. S’mores Chocolate And Salted Caramel Pots
S’mores are considered a traditional American dessert associated with camping and family evenings spent round a fire (see also ‘26 Campfire-Perfect Pie Iron Recipes For You To Try‘).
This recipe takes all the elements of s’mores but puts them together in an easy dessert that you can recreate even if you don’t have a fire.
This is a lovely dessert to serve at a dinner party as you can make most of it ahead of time and you can serve them in individual pots.
22. Cherry Pie
The image of a freshly baked cherry pie with a lattice pastry lid is a very American picture. It is the type of dessert that reminds you of home and brings instant comfort.
This recipe uses fresh, pitted cherries for the best possible flavor, but you can use canned if you need to.
You can serve this delicious pie warm with vanilla ice cream, or you can let it cool and eat it on its own (see also ‘28 Amazing Icebox Cake Recipes You Have To Try‘). You could also serve it with custard or pouring cream.
23. Ice Cream Cake
Dairy Queen is a very popular American establishment, and they are well known for their ice cream cake.
This recipe for a copycat Dairy Queen ice cream cake allows you to enjoy the classic dessert from the comfort of your own home.
You can impress your family and friends by recreating this show stopping ice cream cake for your next party or gathering.
Make sure you don’t leave it out in the sun – this isn’t the best dessert to serve at a garden party or a BBQ!
24. Red Velvet Cake
Red velvet cake is one of the most popular cakes in coffee shops and diners all over America. The classic combination of chocolate flavored sponge and cream cheese frosting with the beautiful, deep red color is just irresistible.
The rich chocolate is balanced out by the tangy cream cheese to create a mouthful of cake that is perfectly moist.
Red velvet cake is one of those desserts that looks instantly appetizing, especially when there is a slice missing and you can see the layers of soft sponge. The contrast between the white frosting and the red sponge is very striking.
25. Lemon Bars
Lemon bars are simple but so delicious. The buttery biscuit base is topped with a soft, tangy lemon mixture and then baked to perfection.
Once they are cooled they are topped with icing sugar and cut into squares. This is a wonderful dessert to eat on a summer day, or to take on a picnic.
You can buy packet mixes to make this dessert, but nothing beats making it yourself from scratch – the flavors are more intense and the textures are even more enjoyable.
26. Whoopie Pies
A lot of American desserts are also eaten in other parts of the world, but Whoopie pies are rarely found outside of the United states. The chocolate sandwich is soft yet crispy, filled with a light and fluffy sweet filling.
These little pies are easy to eat with your hands which makes them ideal for including on buffet tables at parties or BBQs.
They also look very appetizing when they are piled up on a plate as the white cream filling contrasts with the brown chocolate.
27. Buttermilk Chess Pie
Buttermilk chess pie is one of many recipes that arose as a result of poverty caused by the Great Depression and World War Two.
When money and food was scarce, people had to find inventive ways to create delicious food with what they had.
This pie has a thin crust and a simple yet creamy filling made with buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, flour and butter. The ingredients for this pie may be cheap, but the flavor is surprisingly indulgent.
Beignets originated in France (although there is some speculation that a similar thing was eaten in ancient Rome), but they have now been adopted in New Orleans culture.
Cafe Du Monde is a famous open air restaurant in New Orleans that is known for making the best Beignets in America, but with this recipe you can recreate the magical dessert in your own home.
The smell of the beignets cooking will make your mouth water!
29. Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie is often associated with the state of Florida, though it is enjoyed all over America. It is sweet yet zingy and very refreshing, and is the ideal dessert to eat when the weather is warm.
If you can’t get hold of key lime juice then you can use the juice of a normal lime instead, but the flavor will be ever so slightly different.
You can enjoy this pie with whipped cream, ice cream, or fresh fruit like pineapple or strawberries.
30. Mississippi Mud Pie
Mississippi mud pie is probably one of the most famous American desserts.
It is a decadent and impressive layered dessert with a crunchy crust, chocolate brownie, chocolate pudding and whipped cream. It’s very sweet, but the sweetness is balanced out by the richness of the dark chocolate.
This is best served in a large, glass bowl and dished up at the table so everyone can see the different layers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do All Of These Recipe Originate From America?
America is a diverse and multicultural country. Some of these recipes originated from America, but others have been adopted in American culture as a result of immigration or the sharing of knowledge across different communities.
Can These Recipes Be Modified?
You can experiment with these recipes to change the flavors and see what works for you. You can also swap out some ingredients to make the recipes suitable for vegans, or for people with lactose intolerance or nut allergies.
Are These Recipes Easy To Make?
A lot of these recipes are surprisingly simple, but they taste very impressive. You will be amazed at how easily these desserts come together.
There are lots of exciting, modern recipes that are available online, but you cannot beat the old classics.
These American desserts have history and they are part of family traditions. Each bite brings back a memory and the smell makes you feel at home, wherever you are when you eat the dessert.
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