Our round-up of the best low calorie desserts includes a range of delicious puddings that are not only lower in calories, but lower in fat and sugar too. Recipes from the popular Pinch of Nom cookbook, Slimming World, and Weight Watchers, as well as creations from famous chefs Gino D'Acampo and Gizzi Erskine.
Whether you're trying to cut down on sugar, shift the pounds, or be mindful of keeping a healthy weight, these low calorie desserts are great choices to round off a low calorie family meal or treat yourself after a low calorie lunch. There's everything from homemade low calorie brownies and deliciously moist cakes that can be served warm (with our low-fat custard, should you fancy) as a dessert. And don't forget, most of these recipes you can cook in an air fryer, to save time, money, and calories.
"Eating healthily doesn’t mean missing out on desserts! There are so many delicious desserts that can still be enjoyed whilst on your weight loss journey," says Click2Pharmacy's Dr Hussain Ahmad who regularly provides support, advice, and treatments for patients looking to lose weight.
"If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s important to make sure you’re still getting all of the protein, carbohydrates, and fat your body needs. So if you adjust your calories, be sure to do so carefully, not creating too large of a deficit and ensuring that you’re still getting a well-balanced diet. Dropping your calories too low can be hugely problematic and can cause problems such as insomnia, difficulty ovulating, and even depression, so it’s important to do this in a healthy, more gradual way. This also tends to be far more sustainable than an extreme deficit."
Low calorie desserts
1. Healthy sticky toffee pudding
Makes: 4 | Calories per serving: 224 | Total time to make: 25 mins
The Pinch of Nom women are the reigning Queens of calorie-cutting recipes, creating a raft of best-selling books crammed with recipes filled with clever hacks to reduce the fat and sugar – that taste amazing and don't make you feel bereft of taste and flavour, to boot.
This sticky toffee pudding is right up there. Using a minimal amount of syrup and treacle, they swap butter and oil for low-cal spray and reduced fat spread and sugar for sweetener. Serve with our low-fat custard or a small scoop of skinny ice cream (we love Halo Top).
Get the recipe: Healthy sticky toffee pudding
2. Weetabix chocolate brownies
Makes: 12 | Calories per serving: 74 | Total time to make: 35 mins
A warm brownie with a scoop of ice cream is a joy to behold, though it may not be the friendliest thing for the old waistline. This calorie smart recipe is to the rescue, then.
Using low-fat cherry yogurt, eggs, and cocoa powder for that chocolatey hit, the Weetabix provides a satisfying crunch. Serve with a dollop of frozen-yogurt and some fresh cherries on the side, and it's practically a healthy food.
Get the recipe: Weetabix chocolate brownies
3. Chocolate and sultana brownies
Makes: 12 | Calories per serving: 112 | Total time to make: 45 mins
Another soft-gooey brownie choice with the added sweetness and chewy texture of sultanas. Reduced-fat cream cheese brings a creamy texture and the cocoa powder, sweetener, and dark choc deliver a sweet yet rich flavour. Serve with Gizzi Erskine's low-fat ice cream recipe – your sweet spot will be well and truly hit.
"Believe it or not, when eaten in moderation, dark chocolate has some excellent health benefits. Not only does it contain an impressive source of iron, but it also contains magnesium which has been found to help improve sleep, making this a great option before bed. With just 112 calories per brownie and 3g of fat, this is an excellent choice for those trying to watch their weight, reduce sugar intake or reduce their intake of saturated fat," says Dr. Ahmad.
Get the recipe: Chocolate and sultana brownies
4. Low-fat strawberry cheesecake
Serves: 6 | Calories per serving: 295 | Total time to make: 55 mins
It might be low calorie, but it's so damn good that this recipe is the most popular cheesecake on our website, we'll have you know. A great one for summer, it can be adapted with whatever berries you can get at whatever time of year – blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, all of them nutritious and non-calorific.
Using low-fat cottage cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest, it's sweet but not too sweet, thanks to the sharpness of the citrus fruit. The biscuit base is made with crushed digestives (reduced-fat variety) and melted low-fat spread. Enjoy. Just don't go back for seconds.
Get the recipe: Low-fat strawberry cheesecake
5. Low-fat lemon posset
Serves: 6 | Calories per serving: 184 | Total time to make: 30 mins
It's simple, it's elegant, it's sharp and it will provide a sweet kick while cleansing your palate after a nice dinner and not making you feel over faced.
Using only three ingredients – reduced fat crème fraîche, sugar and lemons - it's an easy one to make when you're having people over. Serve with fresh blueberries or raspberries to add colour, flavour and vitamins, too.
Get the recipe: Lemon possets
6. Raspberry panna cotta
Makes/Serves: 4 | Calories per serving: 110 | Total time to make: 20 mins
Who doesn't love a good panna cotta? The simple, creamy, satisfying Italian pud that surely is too, well, creamy, when you're cutting the cals? Not with this clever recipe which makes use of half fat crème fraiche for texture, and sweetener and raspberries for, well, sweetness.
You'll need some gelatine leaves to achieve the classic consistency and ramekins for the individual portions. Why not decorate with fresh mint leaves too for a nice finishing touch?
Get the recipe: Raspberry panna cotta
7. Frozen yoghurt smoothie pudding
Makes/Serves: 8 | Calories per serving: 186 | Total time to make: 10 mins, plus freezing time
It could be a healthy breakfast, but here your morning smoothie has been cleverly transformed into pudding, and it's healthier than your average low-cal dessert too, with the nutritional benefits of Greek yogurt, bananas, berries, and tropical fruits.
There's absolutely zero added sugar, either – the sweetness comes purely from the fruit and honey. Just pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours and remember to take it out 20 mins before you want to eat. A dessert to feel decidedly smug about.
Get the recipe: Frozen yogurt smoothie pudding
8. Low-fat gluten-free roulade
Makes/Serves: 12 | Calories per serving: 150 | Total time to make: 32 mins
This delightful roulade is swanky enough to serve at a dinner party, and it's even suitable for the gluten intolerant amongst us. Made with fat-free Greek yogurt in place of cream, the starchy element comes from a small amount of corn flour, which is free from gluten.
It's light and fresh and perfect for bright sunny days, with plenty of added vits from the fresh berries (though if you were to make during the winter months, frozen berries work well so long as you drain them of excess juice).
Get the recipe: Low-fat gluten-free roulade
9. Plum and amaretto pudding
Makes/Serves: 6 | Total time to make: 1 hr 10 mins
Weight Watchers know a thing or two about low calorie puddings. Here, they make plums the star of the show, pairing beautifully with the almond liqueur (though should you have a Marsala wine or sweet sherry in the cupboard leftover from Christmas, they work well in place of amaretto).
There's no butter and only minimal sugar involved, which we think means you can treat yourself to a decent dollop of low-fat custard on top.
Get the recipe: Weight Watchers plum and amaretto pudding
10. Gino D'Acampo's chocolate and pineapple cake
Makes/Serves: 8 | Total time to make: 35 mins
Gino has created beauty with this choc cake. The sweetness of the pineapple means less sugar, and the creaminess comes from low-fat yogurt and low-fat spread in place of butter.
If you're not a pineapple fan, try that other retro classic, tinned peaches, instead. There's something lovely and nostalgic about a slice of this after dinner, or with a strong cup of tea in the afternoon.
Get the recipe: Gino D'Acampo's chocolate and pineapple cake
11. Fruit and nut baked apples
Makes/Serves: 4 | Total time to make: 45 mins
Baked apples might sound a bit dull – like the sort of thing you'd make in a home economics class at school – but these ones are next-level baked apples. The contrasting colours of the apples with the blackberries and flaked almonds are visually striking, and the centers of the fruits are filled with a delicious raisin and cinnamon concoction that will have your whole house smelling of winter spices. A delight.
"These are great for those with a sweet tooth and are also packed with fiber, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and – thanks to the nuts – vital minerals, such as iron, potassium, selenium, magnesium, zinc, and copper. What’s more, this recipe also contains honey which has some great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, such as helping the body to deal with inflammation, which can be great for those suffering from IBS," says Dr. Ahmad.
Get the recipe: Fruit and nut-baked apples
12. Star spiced pears
Serves: 4 | Calories per serving: 266 | Total time to make: 55 mins
Another retro classic, a poached pear is a great way to get your sweet fix, while also getting one of your five a day in the bag. Simmer the whole fruit in a syrup made from citrus fruit and zest, cinnamon, and star anise.
Serve as they are or with a little low-fat crème fraîche on the side. Perfect when you have friends over for dinner so you look tres sophisticated.
Get the recipe: Star spiced pears
13. Gizzi Erskine's vanilla and raspberry ice cream
Serves: 4 | Calories per serving: 167 | Total time to make: 3 hr 20 mins (including freezing time)
Made with zero-fat Greek yogurt and reduced fat crème fraîche, well-known chef Gizzi has created a deliciously creamy homemade ice cream, with a fraction of the calories. Amaretti biscuits bring nuttiness and crunchy texture, and real vanilla and custard powder add depth of flavour. Don't forget to add fresh raspberries on the side as well as in the mix.
"Just 100g of raspberries contains 8g of fiber, which is much higher than most other fruits. As we know, fiber is really important when it comes to maintaining healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels, and what’s more, foods high in fiber tend to be more satisfying and keep us feeling fuller for longer," says Dr. Ahmad.
Get the recipe: Gizzi Erskine's vanilla and raspberry ice cream
14. Coconut pancakes
Makes: 16 | Calories per serving: 68 | Total time to make: 30 mins
Classic pancake batter with a twist, this recipe swaps out half of the regular (semi-skimmed) milk with coconut milk, and the trick here is that it is so tasty as it is that there's no need to top it with calorific accessories.
A squeeze of lime and perhaps some toasted coconut is all you need for a super satisfying dessert. Pour your batter nice and thin and you'll keep the calories even lower too.
Get the recipe: Coconut pancakes
15. Chilli chocolate mousse
Makes: 6 | Total time to make: 30 mins
Rich, decadent, pleasingly low on sugar, and with no saturated fat, this mousse is easy to put together and tastes incredibly grown up and posh, so yes, you can serve it when you have folks over for dinner.
Don't forget the fresh cherries on the side – though, out of season, swapping them for blackberries or raspberries works perfectly well too.
Get the recipe: Chilli chocolate mousse
16. Spanish orange cake
Serves: 10 | Total time to make: 1 hr
This moist cake with a glossy syrup topping is perfect served warm with a spoonful of reduced fat crème fraîche, transporting you straight to the warm streets of a sunny Seville (even if it's February in Doncaster). It's free from saturated fat, swaps sugar for sweetener, and is an all-round crowd pleaser, whether you're calorie counting or not. The recipe could be adapted using lemons for added zing.
"Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and are also naturally low in calories and high in fiber, making them an excellent choice of ingredient for those looking to lose weight," says Dr. Ahmad.
Get the recipe: Slimming World Spanish orange cake
17. Banoffee pie
Makes/Serves: 10 | Total time to make: 30 mins
Now we're really talking. Banoffee pie without a complete calorie overload? Sure. Using a Slimming World staple – Muller Light yogurt – to bring the toffee flavour, the recipe also uses Quark, thought you could switch to low-fat cream cheese.
Bananas, cocoa powder, sweetener, and a base made from reduced fat digestives, and you've got a winning pudding without the excess of fat and calories.
Get the recipe: Slimming World Banoffee pie
18. Cherry and vanilla brûlées
Makes: 4 | Total time to make: 20 mins
Cracking the top of a crème brûlée to reveal the silky creamy interior is almost as pleasing an activity as eating it is. This one keeps the calories low by using a fat-free Greek yogurt in place of the cream, which is flavoured with vanilla and fresh cherries, a wonderful source of vitamins and antioxidants.
It's also a great excuse to get the blow torch out to create your 'burnt cream' (literal translation, there) effect.
Get the recipe: Slimming World cherry and vanilla brûlées
19. Low-fat Maltesers mousse
Serves: 4 | Total time to make: 25 mins
Anything that contains Maltesers is good for us. And this recipe is rich and creamy without containing any cream, butter, or even any egg yolks, making it low calorie as well as delicious.
It also gets the thumbs up from Dr. Ahmad. "As well as being low in fat, this recipe also contains an impressive amount of protein, thanks to the egg whites. Protein is great for helping you feel fuller for longer, as well as encouraging muscle growth and repair," he says.
Get the recipe: Low-fat Maltesers mousse
20. Low-fat custard
Serves: 4 | Calories per serving: 122 | Total time to make: 10 mins
OK, so you've got your low-calorie dessert, but it's missing something. Because what, pray to tell, is a pudding without custard? The issue here is that it adds to the calories, of course, but never fear, we are here with the best recipe for a low-fat custard.
A few calorie hacks, like swapping the whole milk for skimmed and the sugar for sweetener, and you've got that comforting, warming topping for your sweet treat. You're welcome.
Get the recipe: Low-fat custard
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Lara Kilner is a writer and editor with two decades of experience in national newspapers, magazines, and websites. She writes about food, lifestyle, travel, health and wellness, and entertainment, and regularly interviews celebrities and people with interesting life stories and experiences. Her foodie content has included interviews with Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, the Hairy Bikers, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc, Andi Oliver, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and Nadiya Hussain.
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