10 irresistible Christmas desserts to wow your guests

From classic pavlovas to decadent trifles.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of year and Christmas dessert is the most wonderful part of Christmas dinner – for the sweet tooths, anyway! It doesn’t matter whether you’ve presented the most succulent Christmas ham, perfected your pork crackling or tossed together a tangy summer salad, all of the magic and drama of a Christmas feast really rests on the finale, that is, a beautiful and crowd-pleasing dessert. 

In our roundup of the best Christmas dessert recipes, we’ve done away with old-fashioned fruit cakes and plum puddings, in favour of fresh, summery creations the whole family can enjoy. So whether you’re feeling a classic pavlova topped with summer berries, or a modern twist on an old favourite, this list is sure to inspire. 

Best Christmas dessert recipes

Celebration pavlova wreath with strawberries and pomegranate
(Photography: Cath Muscat)

Pavlova Wreath

A stunning, wreath-shaped dessert

Pavlova is the quintessential Australian Christmas dessert. It’s light, it’s sweet and can be topped with any combination of delicious summer fruits. One way to make your pav stand out from the rest is to make it in the shape of a wreath. Now that’s a dessert worthy of Christmas table centrepiece status.

White forest pavlova with raspberries and strawberries.
(Photography: Cath Muscat/The Interiors Edit / Styling: Imogene Abady)

White chocolate pavlova

Featuring strawberries steeped in Chambord

For Selling Houses Australia presenter Wendy Moore, Christmas is all about family traditions, and this elegant pavlova featuring white chocolate and strawberries steeped in sugar and Chambord is one of them.

Gingerbread and whisky bomb alaska
(Photography: Con Poulos / Styling: Steve Pearce)

Gingerbread and whiskey bombe alaska

A dazzling dessert

With a delicate base, cold ice cream inside and toasted meringue peaks on top, this bombe alaska is lip-smackingly yummy and a complete Christmas table showstopper.

Black forest pavlova

A moody twist on a classic favourite

In Australia, cherries are only in season for about 100 days – and those days happen to coincide with Christmas. Take advantage of a bounty of cherries by teaming them up with a classic pavlova to create a decadent dessert everyone will love.

Christmas wreath stollen recipe
(Photography: Cath Muscat)

Traditional spiced stollen

An edible Christmas wreath

Candied fruit and nuts plus the uplifting aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest make this traditional stollen the perfect Christmas treat. Shaping the dough into a wreath before baking it invites everyone gathered around the table to take a piece.

Eton mess cheesecake recipe
(Photography: Chris Warnes / Styling John Mangila)

Eton mess cheesecake

Topped with a fluffy meringue layer

Can’t decide whether to make a pavlova or a cheesecake this year? Why not have both? This decadent cheesecake is topped with a fluffy meringue layer, and combined with fresh summer berries equals the ultimate Christmas dessert.

Christmas fruit trifle in a clear trifle dish on a table decorated according to a navy and red Christmas colour scheme.
(Photography: John Paul Urizar | Recipe & Styling: Michele Cranston | Food preparation: Dixie Elliott)

Panettone trifle

Served with grilled fruit and sugared almonds

The magic of this summery fruit trifle is in the assemblage. Why bake a sponge cake from scratch when there’s an abundance of Panettone? Soak pieces of Panettone in Cointreau and layer with grilled fruit and dollops of mascarpone.

Rose and vanilla zabaglione trifle recipe
(Photo: Cath Muscat / Styling: John Mangila)

Rose and vanilla zabaglione trifle

Decadent and delicious

Three distinct layers of rose jelly, zabaglione and gently singed Italian meringue make this trifle especially picturesque. Everyone will be dying to dig into it!

(Photography Chris Warnes / Styling John Mangila)

Limoncello sponge finger trifle

Easy to prepare in advance

Trifles have many favourable qualities: they look great and taste even better, but one thing that makes them invaluable the busy Christmas host is that they can be prepared ahead of time. This fresh and zesty trifle (featuring a hit of limoncello) can be completely prepared and assembled the day before.

Cassata ice-cream sandwiches

Perfect for a hot summer’s day

On a hot summer’s day, nothing beats ice-cream. This dessert takes ice-cream to the next level, sandwiched between two shortbread biscuits and topped with fresh summer berries and pistachios. A delicious crowd-pleaser.

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