The Best Desserts in NYC

As a well-known cookie fiend and former New Yorker, I consider myself an expert in this category! Although I left the city 7 years ago, when I come back to visit, I like to hit all my old favorites, while still mixing in new spots I’ve had on my list to try, and this is a curated guide to the truly can’t-miss sweets in the city. I’m always updating this list since I go back to New York at least twice a year, and eat many cookies with each visit. If you want the recs for all things restaurants, click here for that article!

Radio Bakery (BK)– This is my ideal bakery, and it looks straight out of a movie of what you’d picture for an almost hipster and low-key yet legit New York City bread and dessert shop that’s pumping out the most delicious croissants, focaccia sandwiches, laminated pastries, and more. You’ll always wait in line in NYC for the best, and 20 min on a Saturday morning is literally nothing, goose egg, zilch. I love that the delectables are all placed on baking pans or drying racks and you can see the team baking with smiles on their faces behind the glass. My favorite items are the Twice Baked Pistachio Croissant, Burrata Focaccia Sandwich, and Giant Cinnamon Bun, which was more available on the weekday. I tried the Triple Chocolate Croissant, but wish I tried the Peanut Butter one instead, and while their chocolate chip cookie is good, you should put all your bets on the laminated pastries! That cinnamon roll is truly the best one I’ve ever had with every ounce of cinnamon goo coating each layer and a perfect icing ratio. They also have Brown Butter Corn Cake, Cheesy Pretzel Bear Claw, Blueberry Cheesecake Croissant, Scallion Sesame Twist, Early Grey Morning Buns, etc.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop (Nolita) – I lived across the street from this cake shop for years, and I’d always grab a slice for friend’s birthdays or other special events. I actually can’t say if I’ve ever had a cupcake, but I used to get the Banana Nutella Cake, and on my most recent visit, I had the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cake, which had the best icing and ganache layers. I feel like they’ve upgraded their recipes lately — it’s better than it used to be! They have pies, cookies, cheesecakes, and probably the largest flavor cake selection I’ve seen.

Caffe Panna (Gramercy) – This is my favorite gelato or ice cream in all of New York. Besides the fact that I love the creative flavor options, it’s just the right amount of creamy-to-frozen texture. It’s not as milky or heavy as Bambina Blue Gelato, and they have Oreo and pretzel crumbs as toppings! It doesn’t hurt that the founder’s father is the most esteemed restaurateur in NYC, Danny Meyer. Go team!

Daily Provisions (Multiple Locations) – Daily Provision’s Sea Salt Caramel Cookie is soft in all the right places, might even break as you handle the package, and has huge chunks of sea salt and melty chocolate with just enough space to taste the actual cookie part, too. LOVE THAT CARAMEL sliding through but not taking over enough to not be able to call it a chocolate chip cookie. Yes, that’s how passionate I am about chocolate chip cookies.

From Lucie (EV)This small East Village shop reminds me of Paris. It’s high-end with their fresh flower-topped cakes and uncommon flavors with a sunny yellow exterior and about 2 window seats. Otherwise, the space is mostly for baking and coming and going. It’s beautiful and feels like a gift to be able to eat this delicate cake. I’ve had the decadent Chocolate, which was fantastic, but it’s the VEGAN Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Rose jam and Orange Blossom Buttercream that made me swallow the whole slice in seconds on a bench outside. The thin Chocolate Chip Cookie with multiple chocolates and sea salt topping is a winner, too!

Peter Pan Doughnuts (BK) This is truly the only doughnut shop I’ll mess with. Made fresh daily in what feels like a classic doughnut diner, with employees wearing teal polo chore coats with pink baseball caps and tying up your boxes with string, this place just feels old school and how it should be with the goods lined up behind them and cash only. I’m only here for the blueberry cake doughnut as I’m not into yeast ones.

Breads Bakery (Multiple Locations) – Two words — Chocolate Babka.

Nuts Factory (Multiple) – I go out of my way to make sure I have multiple trips here during any visit. It’s THE best roasted nut, dried fruit, chocolate store on the planet.Open your paper bags, grab a tong, select AS MANY samples as you like, and dig in. I go for the Pretzel Cashews, Dried Strawberries, and Dried Cantaloupe. You’ve NEVER had dried fruit like this — it’s plump and gummy like candy. They have every type of nut, mixes, and flavors, even a Tiramisu, Halva, and Cookies n’ Cream but I stick to the raw or pretzel-dusted.

ALF Bakery (Chelsea Market) — This Chelsea Market spot comes from owner and head baker Amadou Ly, who’s making breads, laminated pastries, and sandwiches in his own place after working for Arcade Bakery’s Roger Gural for 5 years. I had the Lemon Poppyseed Babka and a savory leek pastry and recommend both!

La Mercerie (SoHo) Since City Cakes closed, this is my new favorite gourmet cookie in NYC with its brown butter, Valrhona dark and blonde chocolate, and sea salt! They’re not as big as Levain or Lunny Face (I actually don’t like Funny Face), as they’re actually more flat and super flavorful. Located inside Roman and Williams, go to La Mercerie a weekday before they open for lunch to have a really fancy cookie in a beautiful space — it’s bougie, but worth it. 

Red Gate Bakery (East Village)– This is one of the newer bakeries from the last few years where you walk in and see everything on display before your eyes in a quiet little room with the bakers behind the case rollin’ away. It’s one simple room, yet they have SO many options that it was a bit overwhelming if you have a super sweet tooth like me because of the array of cookies, bars, brownies, etc. I ended up with the Midnight Banana Bread, which tastes like a rich chocolate cake with a thin layer of icing and chocolate chips that add great texture in each bite. I also got the Iced Oatmeal Cookie as I wanted to explore other flavors instead of sticking to my usual Chocolate Chip addiction. They also sell cookies such as: Choco Toffee, Kitchen Sink, Oreo, and Everything Bagel, as well as Miso Apple Crumble Bars, Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars, and Brownies.

The Pastry Box (EV) – This unassuming bakery is worth the visit, so walk on in. While I came hunting for the fluffy looking Black and White Cookie, the owner had just pulled them out of the oven so they weren’t ready to be iced yet, so I grabbed a Yuzu Olive Oil cake loaf that I LOVED. I got a mini Chocolate Chip Cookie that I saw her salt to life on top so I loved that. She also sells Coffee Cake, Matcha Swirl Loaf Cake, Brown Butter Brownie, Madeleines etc.

Chip City vs. Levain (Multiple Locations) – It’s quite silly to say such a thing, but I feel like I discovered Levain Bakery’s giant chocolate chip cookies before the internet. My first visit was the summer I interned in NYC in 2009. I ate two monstrous cookies from the only location at the time in the UWS on my last day living there. When I moved back, I made the trek up there monthly to get my fix. Over the last few years, people would text me every time they ate one because they knew they were my favorite. Then my favorite switched to City Cakes when I felt like they weren’t as consistent (it was really two times that I had more walnuts than chocolate chips in my cookie….). Anyway, I love their chocolate peanut butter cookies as well, but I was just fooled with a taste test at a friend’s dinner party, and I actually like Chip City better now. While they don’t have as good of a background story or emotion in their stores, I choose Chip City now! Same chunky cookie style, but a little better flavor with no nuts.

Morgenstern’s Bananas (LES) I used to get Salted Caramel Pretzel from Morgenstern’s on Rivington pretty regularly even though they had lines out the door. They reinvented this location to be called Bananas with a bright yellow awning with the same counter seats inside across from the mirror. However, now they only offer dairy-free soft serve in flavors: Banana Vanilla (duh), Salted Peanut Butter, Coconut Thai Tea, Mango, Ube Cookies n’ Cream, Strawberry, plus some dips and toppings. Since they don’t offer samples (rude!), I indulged in my safest bet — Salted Peanut Butter and Chocolate. WOW, this Salted Peanut Butter blew my mind, and next time, I’d just get a whole cup of that. I love this soft serve as it’s super cold, textured, and not whippy or milky like Mister Softee.

Ceremonia Bakeshop (BK) – When my friend Mike and I get together, we hardcore talk about food for the first 30 minutes before even getting close to talking about our daily lives. If Mike tells me he wants to take me to try a cookie, I don’t ask any questions, I leap. I didn’t read anything about Ceremonia Bakeshop really anywhere or hear about it from anyone else which is a crime! This was the best cinnamon roll, a thin sea salt chocolate chip cookie filled with lots of chocolate, a mochi muffin, and beautiful looking sprinkle cookies and mini sweet bread loaves. Don’t miss it if you are in the Williamsburg hood.

Anita Gelato (Multiple) This Israeli-owned gelato shop in New York actually has locations all around the world, and I love the interiors with beautiful gold, green, and pink colors that are tasteful and not tacky or cheesy. The flavors blow your mind, and my all time favorites are the Salted Cashew, Pistachio, and Milk Chocolate Pretzel. It’s so soft and delicate, unlike any other gelato I’ve had outside of Italy. They also have Cheesecake Caramel Cookies, White Chocolate Cookies, White Chocolate & Pistachio Cream, Bueno Cream, Banana Split, Nougat Wafers, etc.

Win Son Bakery (BK) – Every food person I trust has been telling me to go here for years, especially for the mochi donut. At this Taiwanese-American bakery and coffee shop, we shared the Millet Mochi Donut which had sugar dusted all over the outside, red date cake (which I’d skip next time), and the one and only scallion pancake egg and cheese sando with raclette cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. This needs to be on a menu somewhere in Austin! Chef Calvin Eng from Bonnie’s used to work here.

Martha’s Country Bakery (BK) – This is a typical “deli style” New York spot, where you see the glass cases full of food, except this one is just dessert. I have never seen a never ending row of every single dessert you could possibly imagine as wild as this insane place. I giggled nonstop as soon as I set foot in (it was also my 2nd day back after a year so the sugar excitement spilled out quickly). Cakes, cookie jars, cheesecakes, fruit pies, mini tarts, cake pops, danishes, pound cake, ice cream. I’m serious, this place is CRAZY. I got the toffee chocolate chip cookie and it did me just fine.

Ample Hills Creamery (UWS) – An ice cream shop with the most creative flavors and more mix-ins that you know what to do with. For example: The Munchies, pretzel-infused ice cream with pretzels, Ritz crackers, potato chips, and M&M’s; Salted Crack Caramel; Morning in Paris, flaky, butter croissant infused ice cream with swirls of raspberry jam; and more! They also ship on Goldbelly.

Butterfield Babka + Soft Serve (UES)—This fancy grocery store on the Upper East Side, is New York’s answer to Central Market. Grab a babka slice, Caffe Panna pint, or their famous soft serve in between all the snacks and prepared foods.

Librae Bakery (EV) – This seems to be everyone’s favorite bakery but I like Radio the best, maybe because they have more sweet options. They also have a Pistachio Croissant and Strawberry Rhubarb pastry. I liked their Chocolate Croissant, and the Chocolate Chip cookie sneaks in Tahini! It’s melty and a perfectly sized cookie vs. some of those monsters out there.

Bambina Blue Gelato (Nolita) – From the owners of Israeli restaurant next door, 19 Cleveland, this gelato spot is colorful, instagramy, and almost feels like a kids birthday party show. The flavors are out of this world and unlike anywhere else with huge mounds of toppings. It’s very creamy, milky, and extra rich compared to Caffe Panna. Flavors include: Cotton Candy, Halva Fistuk, Kindless Bueno, Miso Brownies, Movie Night (Salted Popcorn Gelato + M&M’s), Big Fat Greek Wedding (Greek Yogurt Gelato, Blueberries, Olive Oil), Brown Butter & Co.

Milk Bar (Multiple Locations) – I spent every weekend walking a mile to the only location of Milk Bar in the East Village back in the day. Each treat was fresh in the bakery case or in a cookie jar. They’d cut a slice of their pies and cakes. Now, Christina Tosi has flourished and found a way to grow the business especially through the famous naked layered Birthday Cake! Right now, I like the birthday cake truffles more than the cookies, and the ice cream that they sell at grocery stores is also WOW.

L Appartement 4F (BK) – Now this is a good story. My friend Sarah sent me the Instagram for this place saying this was a couple that make mini croissants out of their house and blew up on TikTok. They were about to open a brick-and-mortar bakery and I perused the Instagram seeing the gooeyest looking raspberry almond croissants + tahini chocolate chip cookies. It was too far from my apartment and I was planning on seeing my new friend Lyznie that day who just so happened to live right next to the bakery! This blessed soul picked up some treats for me and made my dream come true. Apparently, now the line is ages long so you have to get there early. The croissant is worth it!

Mister Dips  – The original location is at the top of the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg, but I finally snagged a peanut butter hard shell soft serve cone at the South Street Seaport location.

Serendipity (UES)– This just has to be on the list because it’s every child’s dream to eat a piece of cake that can barely fit on the table or a frozen hot chocolate that is somewhere between a milkshake, icey, and ice cream. Go for the cookies ‘n cream Frozen Hot Chocolate as I like that better than the Chocolate Cake which is a bit dry but the fudge on it rocks. This place is a sugar zoo with kids, and it made me giddy and such a delight to eat with my friend Juliet and her daughter, Avie, who likes food just as much as us! Also, the Caesar Salad, Chicken Tenders, and Fries are actually good.