Rocky road cheesecake bombe topped with sparklers

Make-ahead Christmas desserts

Prep these spectacular Christmas puds days in advance, then spend more time with your family on the big day. Choose from our 10 best alternative festive desserts, from cheesecake to brownies.

Nobody wants to be slaving away in the kitchen following a hearty Christmas lunch. Our impressive make-ahead desserts will take the stress out of Christmas preparations, and allow you to spend more time enjoying the festive frivolities.

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Whether you’ve missed the boat on Stir-up Sunday or just fancy a departure from a traditional Christmas pudding, why not mix it up with exciting new flavours, such as rocky road cheesecake, retro white forest roulade or a next level trifle. These indulgent desserts can be kept in the fridge for several days before serving, allowing you to sit back and relax on the big day.

Want to get ahead with more of your festive meal prep? Check out our collection of make-ahead Christmas recipes.

1. Rocky road cheesecake

Dome of rocky road cheesecake with slice taken out

Nothing merits the ‘Christmas showstopper’ title more than this majestic mash-up of three popular sweet treats in one chocolatey bombe. Marbled chocolate sponge walls give way to a surprise cheesecake-and-rocky-road filling and a delightful array of tastes and textures. Although the hard work will have been done ahead of time, you’ll still need to decorate this cheesecake before serving by covering it in a chocolatey glaze and toppings of your choice. We’ve gone with white chocolate drizzle, edible sprinkles and chocolate truffles.

Rocky road cheesecake pudding

Choose from more cheesecake recipes.

2. Coconut custard tart with roasted pineapple

Whole coconut custard tart with slice taken out

Temperatures may be plummeting outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a taste of the tropics to your festive spread. This artistic tart combines the fruity flavours of a pina colada with a touch of Christmas spice. Chill the baked custard tart for up to two days, then serve with a moreish topping of warm rum-roasted pineapples and crunchy coconut shavings.

Coconut & custard tart with roasted pineapple

Find more sweet tart recipes.

3. Irish cream tiramisu

Oval bowl of tiramisu

We’re all for combining cultural influences in food – and this tempting twist on a classic Italian dessert does just that. Flavour tiramisu with Irish cream liqueur for a brilliantly boozy pudding to round off a dinner party or Christmas Day meal. This light dessert can be prepared in under half an hour before chilling, making it a speedy saviour. Sprinkle with a dusting of cocoa powder and you’re ready to go.

Irish cream tiramisu

Try more creamy tiramisu recipes.

4. White forest meringue roulade

White forest roulade topped with cherries in sauce

When it comes to retro dessert favourites, it’s sometimes hard to break with tradition – but once you’ve tried our snowy spin on a black forest gateau, you won’t be going back. This luxurious roulade combines white chocolate, meringue and cream with a velvety clove-spiced cherry sauce for a striking Christmas centrepiece. It can be frozen for up to a month. Defrost overnight and serve with cherries and a drizzle of melted white chocolate.

White forest meringue roulade

Discover out more roulade recipes.

5. Mince pie brownies

Combine two Christmas classics in these satisfyingly rich brownies with a hidden mince pie centre. These simple treats take only 30 minutes to prep and are best enjoyed warm with ice cream – they’re sure to be an instant crowd-pleaser. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Mince pie brownies

Check out more gooey brownie recipes.

6. Winter berry & white chocolate pots

After a lot of heavy food over the festive season, these light, delicate chocolate pots will be a welcome change. A layer of sweet white chocolate balances well with a layer of tart berries. The individual pots can be made up to two days ahead, then topped with  crunchy pistachios and cranberries before serving. Make your own pistachio shortbread to go alongside, and everyone will be super-impressed.

Winter berry & white chocolate pots

7. Retro trifle

Take the classic trifle to a new level with our all-out indulgent makeover. Layers of raspberry jelly and rich clotted cream custard are topped with custard creams, double cream, sprinkles and maraschino cherries. This dazzling dessert will keep in the fridge for up to three days, saving you all the hassle of assembling it at the last minute.

Retro trifle

Check out our chocolate-orange mini trifle for a delicious boozy alternative, and find even more ideas in our collection of Christmas trifle recipes.

8. Christmas pudding cheesecake

Can’t choose between a Christmas pudding or cheesecake? Then why not try a mouth-watering combination of both. With a boozy orange filling and crunchy gingerbread base, this simple chilled dessert is sure to become a festive favourite. For an extra flavour boost, caramelise some clementine slices using a kitchen blowtorch and arrange over the cheesecake. It will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

Christmas pudding cheesecake

See more of our gorgeous Christmas cheesecake recipes.

9. Jamaican ginger sponge pudding

If you aren’t a fan of traditional Christmas pudding, this decadent, sticky, spiced ginger pudding makes a great alternative. The sponge can be made up to a week ahead, so all you need to do is heat it on the day, and whip up a luscious rum caramel sauce to pour over. We recommend serving with a generous dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Jamaican ginger sponge pudding

10. Chocolate biscuit wreath cake

Looking for a festive showstopper? This stunning chocolate biscuit fridge cake is full of exciting textures, and can be served straight from the fridge as an alternative to Christmas cake. The ‘cake’ is made from a gorgeous combination of dark chocolate, biscuits and spices, and is topped with a beautiful arrangement of gingerbread holly biscuits and fondant icing poinsettia flowers. It may seem a little complicated, but this bake is well worth the effort and can be made up to a week in advance.

Chocolate biscuit wreath cake

Discover more festive dessert showstoppers…

Our best Christmas desserts
Easy Christmas desserts
10 ways with leftover Christmas desserts
Our most indulgent vegan Christmas desserts
Festive dessert collection
Christmas chocolate recipes
5 ways with mince pies

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What’s your favourite make-ahead Christmas dessert? Leave a comment below…