As my teeth sank in and I closed my eyes, everything around me melted away. “Is it good?,” Esther asked, but all I could think about was the chocolate and marshmallow melting in my mouth with chewy texture of the warm churro. I knew I wanted s’more.’ (Sorry, I had to).
Last month, we were on the search for the best desserts in NYC
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Last Updated: January 2, 2023
17 Best Desserts in NYC
New York City is no stranger to inventive and delectable desserts, but it can be hard to decide what is worth the visit with so many dessert shops hoping to invent the next big craze. We’ve had a lot of desserts in the city, many of which were beautiful to photograph but disappointing in taste. These are the ones that stood out and are the best dessert places in NYC in our book.
To create our list of places to try, we referenced a ton of articles, and asked our local friends for all their favorites. Soon my list grew to over 150 spots for desserts alone (you don’t want to see my other NYC lists). Even with all that info, we had to try them ourselves. We first started with desserts that were referenced 3 or more times and then started moving down the list. We still have quite a few to try, so we’ll update this as we eat our way through the city.
We love our doughnuts, so if anyone asks us about the best dessert in NYC, we always mention Doughnut Plant. All their doughnuts are good, but the Coconut Creme and Brooklyn Blackout are our favorites. Dare I say it’s my favorite doughnut in the US? We’ve been to a LOT, and it’s been a toss-up between the Coconut Creme here and the Strawberry Donut at Donut Man in California.
This is our favorite cheesecake in New York. Not only are there a ton of different options, but they’ve found the perfect blend of fluffy and dense. Jacob’s favorite is the chocolate marble. The salted caramel, cookies and cream, and strawberry shortcake are also scrumptious.
If you don’t want to venture out, they also deliver.Just give them a call or visit their website to see what areas are available for delivery.
I’ll start off by saying that I am not a fan of s’mores. Never have, and probably never will be, with one exception the Churro S’mores from Boqueria. The chewy warm churro is everything that the s’more has been missing. The chewy texture perfectly compliments the classic s’more filling.
You should also try something else from their churro-filled dessert menu. The classic churros with chocolate are exactly how they do like they do in Spain, and the churros stuffed with Nutella, and churro ice cream sandwich are a must try. Unlike most the places on this list, they have a full menu of tapas to balance out the sweet with salty making it one of the best dessert restaurants NYC has to offer.
How cute are the Totoro macarons? We visited Bibble and Sip a few years ago when we were visiting and didn’t care much for it. But I had a change of heart after a recent visit where I ate a Totoro and tried the cream puffs again.
Levain Bakery seems to be the local favorite for cookies. Eat them while they are warm and gooey for the best experience and remember they are massive and best shared.
One would have been enough to share between the two of us, but instead, we ordered four: the chocolate chip cookie, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chip, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. We still need to go back for the chocolate chip walnut next time we’re in the UWS.
If you can’t make it out to NYC, they also ship within the US or you can try this copycat recipe here. Let me know what you think.
It’s hard to say if the cookies at Chip NYC or Levain Bakery are better. The cookies at both are really dense and the texture feels like a hybrid of a cookie and a scone. After trying a few, we loved the regular chocolate chip the best, but they also have more creative concoctions like butterscotch toffee, apple pie, and blueberry cheesecake.
Dominique Ansel barely made our list. We’ve tried their Cronut (one of the most popular NYC dessert trends), DKA, and cookies shots, but weren’t impressed with any of them. All their desserts were more gimmicky than tasty, but they did create the original Cronut which makes food history. I wouldn’t go out of the way to visit, but if you’re in Soho, drop in and let us know what you think of all the creations by the pastry chef here.
Note: The good news is cronuts no longer have ridiculous lines. We were able to order some at noon, but it depends on how busy it gets. Go earlier if you want to make sure you get them. Also, if you don’t take your cookie shot fast, the milk will leak out the bottom.
If you’re looking for beautifully crafted cakes then head to Lady M. Everything we tried was pretty good. They are best known for their Green Tea Mille Crepe, which they ran out of while we were there, but we got to try the Chocolate Mille Crepe instead.
Local Tip: If you visit the shop near Bryant Park and the wait is long for a table, grab it to go and sit at table in the park.
We tried some of the cakes and didn’t love them, but the Banana Bread Pudding from Magnolia Bakery is something else. It’s so good, and with so many locations throughout the city, it’s easy to pick up to take home or back to your hotel making is one of the best dessert places in Manhattan. They serve them in convenient cups too so it’s easy to eat wherever you are and we can’t resist dropping in if they’re open.
This bakery / pastry shop has earned a name for itself among the locals. It made our list of best cheesecakes, but there is so much more we have to try. Our friend who lives in the neighborhood goes daily and told us it’s easier to point out ones to skip than which ones to get, since they’re practically all good. Everyone seems to have their favorite item, so ask one of the locals when you visit. Next on our list is the Brioche Braid.
These bouncy and fluffy cheesecakes are just as fun as they are to jiggle as they are to eat. We loved watching them package the cakes in the window, and if you’re shooting photos and video, they know how to shake it just the right way to get maximum jiggle. Just remember that as time passes, it will jiggle less.
We tried the ube cheesecake and absolutely inhaled it. It doesn’t really taste like cheesecake since it’s so light but you get a hint of the cheesecake flavor at the end. We liked it so much we brought one home with us.
See the reel here.
We visited Alimama when we lived in NYC, and while we tried the mochi donuts, we completely missed the cream puffs, During our recent trip, we went back because we needed to try them. We’re not huge cream puff fans but these were so good that they were the most memorable thing we ate on our trip.
See the reel here.
Spot Dessert Bar NYC creates fun and creative desserts, like the Harvest, where you water your plant before eating it. Everyone also raves about the Matcha Molten Lava Cake, which was fine, but we actually liked the Sesame Cookies more when we visited the East Village location.
You’ve probably seen these fish cones on Instagram. They stack them high with soft serve flavors, likes matcha and black sesame, making it a great photo op before you dive in.
They also serve Souffle Pancakes now but only on Saturdays and Sundays for the first three hours. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out for us during our last visit but we definitely want to try it next time!
Temporarily Closed – moving to a new location in 2023!
This was our favorite until it got bumped to #2 by Eileen’s. It’s still worth the visit if you’re in the UES and don’t want to make it all the way downtown. We forgot to take pictures, but it’s in our best cheesecake in NYC video, if you want to see it.
We did try some of the other items like the red velvet cupcakes, but the cheesecake has been the only thing we’ll order again.
Needs a Second Visit
We see some dessert spots consistently pop up on other lists, but we either didn’t love our first experience or maybe we ordered the wrong menu item.
- Big Gay Ice Cream – We ordered the regular vanilla with rainbow sprinkles like an idiot, and I immediately regretted it. Next time I have to try only the Salty Pimp or Bea Arthur.
- Dough – This Hibiscus Doughnut makes the list for a lot of people, but we tried it plus 3 others and thought they were just okay. We also prefer yeast over cakey doughnuts unless they are just that good.
- Doughnut Project – We tried others I wouldn’t rave about but need to try the Everything Bagel Doughnut.
- Olmstead – Need to try the lavender frozen yogurt here.
- Max Brenner – It was okay but nothing really stood out.
- Maison Kayser – On our move-in day, our friend brought us a bag of goodies from here. I remember loving the chocolate croissants, but we haven’t tried it since.
- Momofuku Milk Bar – We aren’t fans of the cereal milk soft serve, but we also don’t love leftover cereal milk. We still need to try the Crack Pie, Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies, Klossies, Cereal Milk Shake Soft Serve, and Birthday Cake Truffles before we completely write this place off.
- Pasticceria Rocco – We didn’t like their NY cheesecake (too much vanilla), but we haven’t tasted their Italian style cheesecake, pistachio-laced cannoli, black-and-white cookies, and chocolate chunk cookies.
- Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream – This is a popular ice cream shop. It just wasn’t anything special and our ice cream was gummy, which we learned happens if the scoopers only scoop from the outside. Maybe it was just an off day.
- Wafels & Dinges – We went to the Bryant Park location, and I have to say it was nothing special. We want to give one more location and something sweet and savory a try.
Desserts You Can Skip
Don’t waste your time at these spots.
- Bouchon Bakery – The original is in Yountville, CA, which is roughly an hour outside of San Francisco. But since they have multiple locations throughout the US, we recommend visiting places more unique to NYC before eating here.
- Black Tap is known for over the top and therefore instagrammable milkshakes. It’s more for photos, since it doesn’t taste especially great.
- Buca di Beppo – The Brownie Sunday was on a lot of people’s list, but this is a nationwide chain, so find a place close to home to try it.
- Junior’s Cheesecake – You can really taste the cheese in this NY cheesecake. If you like dense cheesecakes and don’t mind touristy spots, then it’s worth a try. We’ve tried it twice and still don’t like it. Some friends who visited us from Atlanta loved Junior’s, but they were obsessed with finding the densest cheesecakes.
- Laduree – The macarons are a great souvenir to take back to friends, but they have locations all over the world.
- Sprinkles – This is another nationwide spot that started in Beverly Hills. They’ve always been just okay.
Running a food business in NYC is rough. When we were doing research, a lot of these spots were still featured but have closed. Check back, because some of the above may also end up here.
- Cocoa V
- Yes Please Bar
- Lula’s Sweet Apothecary
- Play J
- Pops by Haley
- Sugar and Plumm
- Ice and Vice
Best Places to Stay
Anytime you’re walking around asking yourself where the best desserts near me are, use this map!
We still have a huge of list of to check out. Next on our list is Ample Hills Creamery which consistently makes the lists of best dessert Brooklyn has to offer, Alimama for their mochi donuts, Cosme for their Brown Butter Tamal, and Schmackary’s for the Cookie Dough Cookie.
What’s on your NYC food bucket list? Any famous New York desserts or secret ones we left out?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust