Trifle is the ultimate easy, no-bake, showstopping holiday dessert

Holiday baking is fun, but it’s also fussy. That’s why no-bake recipe search is up 250 percent on Pinterest, and that includes trifle recipes. Why trifle? For starters, you can make enough to feed a crowd super-quickly using mostly store-bought ingredients. I mean, take a look at the dessert splendor on this board.


Now, for those of you who aren’t yet familiar, here’s a debriefing. Trifle is a layered dessert, usually consisting of cake, custard or pudding, whipped cream and fruit or jam. The cake can be soaked in liqueur or sherry for extra flavor if only adults will be eating it.

More: Boozy triple chocolate trifles take the stress out of dessert

It’s a super-simple treat, and one that’s easy to customize to your preferences. It also gives a great presentation, making it an ideal choice for a showstopping holiday dessert, finicky iced cookies be damned.

To make an easy, basic trifle, here’s what you need to pick up from the store:

  • Un-frosted sponge cake, pound cake or angel food cake
  • Vanilla pudding
  • Whipped cream or whipped topping
  • Raspberry jam
  • Sweet sherry (not cooking sherry)
  • Macrons or amaretto cookies, crushed

More: No-bake gingersnap pumpkin cheesecake trifle

All you have to do now is assemble:

  1. Cut the cake into large chunks.
  2. Add 1/3 of the cake cubes to a large trifle bowl and sprinkle with sherry, then add a layer of jam, a layer of pudding and a layer of whipped cream, repeating twice and ending on the whipped cream layer.
  3. Put the trifle in the fridge and let it sit for at least 4 hours so the ingredients have time to meld.
  4. When ready to serve, you can garnish the trifle with fresh berries, jam that’s been heated up enough that it can be drizzled on top or crushed macrons or amaretto cookies.

You can pick up a trifle bowl for $15 or $20 at places like Target and Amazon. Crate & Barrel has some cute single-serve trifle dishes. Or you can just use a plain glass mixing bowl.

Once you have the basics down, it’s easy to experiment. Swap your cake, jam or pudding flavors. Add a layer of fresh fruit, crushed cookies or candy — basically, you can make any trifle your little heart desires (hold the beef!) with ingredients from the store — no baking required.

More: No-bake peach cobbler trifle — an insanely easy dessert in 20 minutes

Want some more ideas? Try these trifle recipes.


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