11 Non-Cake Desserts That’ll Feed a Bunch of Kids

updated Jan 16, 2024
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ice cream sandwiches piled
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Cake is great, but sometimes the limitations of your venue or the palate of a particular six-year old requires something else. Or maybe you’re just looking for something different than your go-to box mix or grocery store cupcakes. Despite what the pages of Pinterest may be telling you, dessert for a party of any theme requires little more than liberal application of sprinkles and some love. 

It’s no surprise that many of these recipes are retro throwbacks—our moms knew the power of a bar cookie or make-ahead icebox dessert. Tiers of fondant and cakes disguised as bowling balls are better suited for reality TV. Put down the piping bag, cancel the bakery order, and pull out that sheet pan. 

1. Birthday Cake Blondies

Bar cookies are a really easy way to make lots of treats at once, and serving a handheld treat makes things a lot easier as well. These sprinkle-studden blondies are the perfect way to celebrate with ease.

Get the recipe: Birthday Cake Blondies at Milk and Cardamom

2. Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

This updated classic is almost its own classic at this point. Deb Perelman’s twist on the birthday party favorite comes together in mere minutes with ingredients you can source at the corner store. Consider a shower of sprinkles over the top to make things extra festive.

Get the recipe: Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats at Smitten Kitchen

3. Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Bars

My mother has a soft spot for that clamshell of soft, pillowy cookies. I ate a lot of them growing up. This version has you press the dough into a sheet pan. You frost the whole thing at once and then cut the whole tray into cookies instead of rolling, shaping, and frosting each one. Saves so much work!

Get the recipe: Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Bars at Something Swanky

4. Chocolate Birthday Cake Butter Mochi

Classic butter mochi is typically seen at potlucks in Hawaii, but has become popular on the mainland as chewy treats like boba and mochi ice cream become more mainstream. This version is packed with chocolate and topped with peanut butter frosting and sprinkles. Bonus: it’s naturally gluten free.

Get the recipe: Chocolate Birthday Cake Butter Mochi at The Little Epicurean

5. Fruit Pizza with Sugar Cookie Crust

This is just so fun. Top the tangy cream cheese frosting with the birthday kid’s favorite fruits, or whatever looks especially good at the store right now. It’s easy to customize!

Get the recipe: Easy Fruit Pizza with Sugar Cookie Crust at Kitchn

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

6. Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

The only thing better than a chocolate chip cookie? A giant chocolate chip cookie! I always wanted one of these for my birthday growing up. No time like the present to push your own childhood desires onto your own kids!

Get the recipe: Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake at The Kitchn

7. Oreo Funfetti Ice Box Cake

Ice box cakes aren’t cakes at all, but cookies layered with whipped cream, set aside in the “ice box” until it softens into a cake-like consistency. One of the best parts about them is that they’re perfect to make ahead, no oven required.

Get the recipe: Oreo Funfetti Ice Box Cake at Delish

8. Old-Fashioned Graham Cracker Cookies

Really pressed for time? These “cookies” are the same concept as the ice box cake in a smaller format. Sandwich some frosting between two graham crackers and let them soften in the fridge until ready to serve. Roll the exposed edges in some sprinkles for some birthday party flair. 

Get the recipe: Old-Fashioned Graham Cracker Cookies at Real Mom Nutrition

Credit: Molly Yeh / Food52

9. Homemade Dunkaroos

This recipe from Sprinkle Queen Molly Yeh includes homemade graham crackers, but no one is stopping you from just ripping open a box of Teddy Grahams. Add some pretzels and an array of fruit for some variety with the dip. 

Get the recipe: Homemade Dunkaroos at Food52

10. Funfetti Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Another throwback, this recipe has you whip up a homemade funfetti cake batter, but you can totally reach for a box of cake mix if you don’t have the time (and/or energy). 

Get the recipe: Funfetti Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes at A Classic Twist

11. Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Making your own ice cream sandwiches may seem like a lot of work, but they’re simpler than you think. These come together in less than an hour. Just bake one big cookie in a sheet pan, cut it in half, sandwich some softened ice cream in the middle, and cut them into individual sandwiches. Bonus: you can make them an entire month ahead, saving you from a last minute scramble. 

Get the recipe: Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches at The Kitchn

This post has been updated from its original publication in June 2022.