Rarely a night goes by that I don’t find myself searching the kitchen for that little something sweet after dinner. However, there’s nothing worse than getting into bed feeling like I’ve just consumed a dessert bomb. As the years go by, the harder it is to get a good night’s sleep after I’ve had a lot of sugar. Thankfully, there are plenty of light desserts to choose from that satisfy my sweet tooth without weighing me down. Many of these light desserts are fruit-based, and most of them skip the heavy cream for lighter dairy options. That said, if you’re someone who loves a cake or a pie, we’ve got you covered with plenty of ways to indulge, guilt-free.
While most of us tend to go for light desserts during the hot summer months — think popsicles, sorbet, and granita — these recipes do the trick beautifully all year long. Sometimes, you just need something on the refreshing side, no matter the season. Be sure to bookmark these tasty treats, because each and every one of them is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser, even if the crowd in question is simply you and a good book.
Read on for 22 Delicious, Light Desserts!
Piña Colada Italian Ice Pops from Spoon Fork Bacon
Why We Love It: I can’t get enough of this tropical and grown-up take on the Otter Pops of my youth! And you’ll be glad to know they’re as easy to whip up as they are delicious.
Hero Ingredient: Add coconut rum for a boozy treat, or keep it a virgin for the whole family to enjoy. Either way, these are guaranteed to upgrade any pool party to a full-on summer celebration.
Get the recipe for Piña Colada Italian Ice Pops.
Raw Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake
Why We Love It: It doesn’t get much better than this sumptuous pumpkin cheesecake. Best part? It’s raw, vegan, and gluten-free, so those with dietary restrictions can also indulge.
Hero Ingredient: Dates! They’re equally delicious on their own as they are stuffed with goat cheese or wrapped in bacon. But here, mixed with coconut and fall spices, the sticky fruit lays the groundwork for a decadent and divine reinvented pumpkin cheesecake.
Get the recipe for Raw Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake.
Lemon Key Lime Pie Bars from Half-Baked Harvest
Why We Love It: Upgrade your everyday key lime pie with these salty, sweet, tangy, and oh-so luscious bars.
Hero Ingredient: The crust is made of Ritz cracker crumbs, salted butter, and a hearty splash of vanilla — how much better can it get? The secret here though is a touch of brown sugar that drives that salty / sweet balance home. Absolutely divine.
Get the recipe for Lemon Key Lime Pie Bars.
Almond Joy Stuffed Dates from Minimalist Baker
Why We Love It: Like I said before, dates are truly one of life’s greatest treats. Even if you’re not a fan of Almond Joy candies, you’ll likely find these stuffed dates to be absolutely swoon-worthy.
Hero Ingredient: Don’t even think about not toasting those almonds. The extra-nutty flavor is a must for these yummy bites.
Get the recipe for Almond Joy Stuffed Dates.
Almond and Blackberry Cream Pavlova
Why We Love It: If you’re intimidated by a pavlova, then use this scrumptious recipe as an entry point. It’s as easy as it is delicious, promise!
Hero Ingredient: Orange zest and juice in the berry cream brings all kinds of fresh, citrusy goodness to the table.
Get the recipe for Almond and Blackberry Cream Pavlova.
Quick and Easy Raspberry Fool from Foodie Crush
Why We Love It: Quick and easy is definitely an understatement here. This elevated raspberry and cream fool makes the perfect treat for any time of year. Although it tastes exceptionally good in the sunshine.
Hero Ingredient: When there are only six to choose from, the hero ingredient takes quality into consideration. In this case, be sure to use good vanilla. Believe me, it makes all the difference.
Get the recipe for Quick and Easy Raspberry Fool.
Creamy Mocha Custard from Half-Baked Harvest
Why We Love It: I love any excuse to sneak coffee into a dessert, and this one is no exception. Is it a custard? Is it a pudding? Why not both? Either way, it’s a scrumptious and surprisingly light dessert that pairs perfectly with a cup of your favorite warm beverage.
Hero Ingredient: Honey is the sweetener for this yummy custard / pudding, so you can enjoy it without feeling sugared-out.
Get the recipe for Creamy Mocha Custard.
Blueberry Ginger and Coconut Cream Parfait
Why We Love It: Take this as confirmation that parfaits aren’t just for breakfast. Here, they sport patriotic colors — making them the perfect feature for your Fourth of July dessert spread.
Hero Ingredient: Ginger snaps bring just the right amount of texture and crunch to these creamy concoctions.
Get the recipe for Blueberry Ginger and Coconut Cream Parfait.
Cookie Coated Mango Lassi Frozen Yogurt Bars from Spoon Fork Bacon
Why We Love It: You do not need an ice cream machine to make these delectable yogurt bars. They’re positively dreamy all on their own.
Hero Ingredient: Crispy rice cereal gets mixed into that cookie coating for the perfect crunch in each bite. These give major Nestle Crunch bar vibes.
Get the recipe for Cookie Coated Mango Lassi Frozen Yogurt Bars.
Roasted Grapes With Sweet Labne from My Name is Yeh
Why We Love It: Labne is basically an extra-strained Greek yogurt that’s very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and is absolutely delicious. In the case of this light dessert, it’s topped with roasted grapes and sprinkled with shortbread crumbs. There’s just something romantic about this unexpected, simple, and truly delicious dessert.
Hero Ingredient: Once again, orange zest is perfectly fragrant.
Get the recipe for Roasted Grapes With Sweet Labne.
Lavender Pistachio Madeleines
Why We Love It: Lavender and pistachio add a bit of summer-y flair to these classic French cakey cookies. Make them for school lunches, after-dinner dessert, or anytime-snacking. They truly are a madeleine of all trades.
Hero Ingredient: A simple lemon glaze sends these over the edge.
Get the recipe for Lavender Pistachio Madeleines.
Easy Baked Pears from Minimalist Baker
Why We Love It: There’s something elegant about pear desserts and this dish is definitely one of my favorites. It’s beyond delicious, easy to make, and aromatic to boot.
Hero Ingredient: The acids in this recipe allow the pears to retain some of their structure, which is a requirement for fruit desserts in my book. Too much mush does not have a yummy dessert make.
Get the recipe for Easy Baked Pears.
Peanut Butter Fluff Cups from Budget Bytes
Why We Love It: Fluff cups! The name alone warrants a second look. They’re a tasty, simple, and adorable option for dessert lovers of all ages.
Hero Ingredient: Chocolate graham crackers top the cloud-like fluff and act as a graham cracker crust. Just the right amount of texture.
Get the recipe for Peanut Butter Fluff Cups.
Blood Orange Amaretto Mascarpone Trifles
Why We Love It: Once you try this absolutely decadent dessert you’ll be shocked to find that A) it is surprisingly light, and B) it was born of a cake disaster. You have to taste it to believe it!
Hero Ingredient: Three words: whipped amaretto mascarpone.
Get the recipe for Blood Orange Amaretto Mascarpone Trifles.
Elderflower Apricot Yogurt Popsicles from Sugar Salted
Why We Love It: Elevate the everyday popsicle experience with this fancy concoction.
Hero Ingredient: I feel like apricot doesn’t get enough attention. In these popsicles, it provides a tart counterpart to that deliciously creamy yogurt layer. Mmm…
Get the recipe for Elderflower Apricot Yogurt Popsicles.
Real Strawberry and Sparkling Rosé Gummy Hearts from Spoon Fork Bacon
Why We Love It: Talk about fun! These chewy, sweet, and a little bit boozy gummies are just perfect for your next brunch or girl’s night.
Hero Ingredient: When has sparkling rosé ever been a bad idea?
Get the recipe for Real Strawberry and Sparkling Rosé Gummy Hearts.
Raspberry and Pistachio Cake With Lemon Glaze
Why We Love It: If you think a cake can’t be light, then think again! This gorgeous option has a seriously light vibe.
Hero Ingredient: I just love when cakes are infused with pistachio flavor. The nut will give your cake a distinctly buttery bite with just the right amount of crunch.
Get the recipe for Raspberry and Pistachio Cake With Lemon Glaze.
Gluten-Free Lemon Bars
Why We Love It: With only ten steps, this lemon bar recipe is absolutely perfect in every way. It uses a thicker crust, which I’ve always preferred, and boasts a perfectly zesty lemon flavor to complement the buttery base. It’ll make your taste buds tingle in the best way possible.
Hero Ingredient: The great thing about powdered sugar is that it’s capable of covering mistakes. But how many mistakes can a dessert really have? Either way, it’s sweet and pillowy and just plain delicious. Plus, it’s so fun to sift over the top.
Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Lemon Bars.
Roasted Stone Fruit With Amarena Cherry Syrup from Valerie Rice
Why We Love It: Amarena sour cherries make the most delicious syrup for these stone fruits to bake in. If you’re team fruit in a crumble or cobbler, this recipe is tailor-made for you.
Hero Ingredient: A big scoop of vanilla ice cream is a must.
Get the recipe for Roasted Stone Fruit With Amarena Cherry Syrup.
Grain-Free Strawberry Snacking Cake from The Defined Dish
Why We Love It: This snacking cake is exactly what you want on your kitchen countertop — at least I know I do. Walk by, cut yourself a sliver… or a slice… or two. It’s dangerous in all the best ways.
Hero Ingredient: One thing I love about this recipe is that its ingredients are on the lighter side. With almond milk, almond flour, dairy-free cream cheese, avocado oil, and more, there’s no room for feeling guilty about that second piece.
Get the recipe for Grain-Free Strawberry Snacking Cake.
Flourless Fallen Chocolate Cake from The Defined Dish
Why We Love It: This flourless dark chocolate cake is deliciously rich and would be perfect for a special occasion or simply an anytime treat. With flavor notes from the coffee, orange zest, and maple syrup, it checks all the boxes.
Hero Ingredient: Again, a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be so yummy here.
Get the recipe for Flourless Fallen Chocolate Cake.
Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies from Feasting at Home
Why We Love It: You probably have all of these eight ingredients in your pantry, so there’s really nothing stopping you from a nutty dessert to brighten up your day!
Hero Ingredient: Whether it’s organic, homemade, or old-fashioned, feel free to use your favorite peanut butter here. Everyone has one.
Get the recipe for Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies.
This post was originally published on May 10, 2021, and has since been updated.