Below you'll find must-try desserts in NYC including the classic, quintessential NYC desserts, some over-the-top fun treats and all sorts of sweets in between. This is the ultimate guide to New York City desserts. You'll find over 30 mouthwatering, drool-worthy must-try NYC desserts in NYC in this list. Plus, a Google Maps at the very end so you can save a copy of all the locations for your NYC dessert crawl!
Must-Try Desserts in NYC
Classic New York City Desserts
First, let's start with the classic New York City Desserts. These are the ones that are synonymous with the city and that you've likely seen in movies, TV shows or other storIes about NYC. These include Black and White cookies, New York style cheesecake, cupcakes and the classic chocolate chip cookie. And then you'll find my suggested must-try desserts for NYC like our pastries, ice cream and more!
best Black and White Cookies in New york city
Black and White cookies were originally the result of bakeries using up leftover cake batter at the end of the day, which means they are more like a cake than a cookie in terms of texture. They are topped off with half chocolate and half vanilla frosting. Get more history on the story of Black and Whites.
Some classic options can be found at:
- William Greenberg Desserts - William Greenberg has been in business since 1946 and they're known famously for their black and white cookies served up the traditional way.
- Zabar's - Zabar's is an NYC institution. They also offer a mini version of the Black and White that is perfect for dunking into your coffee.
- Russ & Daughters - What makes this version unique is that they are topped with chocolate vs. fondant or a frosting glaze. They claim this keeps the cookie from getting dry and is meant to balance out the sweetness so it's not overly sweet or sticky. While you're there pick up a bagel with cream cheese and lox too.
And for a unique twist that I am personally obsessed with...
- Breads Bakery - Their version is quite a departure from the original in that they are using a flaky laminated dough as it's base (instead of a cake base) and then nestled within the layers you'll find buttery breton cookies. The white side is made using a vanilla-bean glaze and the black side is colored by dark cocoa powder. It's unlike any cookie I've ever had and is SO good. Currently, it is only available at their Third Ave location in the Upper East Side. Watch my review of the Black and White from Breads Bakery.
Must-Try Desserts in NYC: The classic New York Style Cheesecake
A New York style cheesecake will most drastically differ from other styles of cheesecake in its texture. A good New York cheesecake is going to be dense and very rich. It's an indulgent dessert and it's tough to have more than one slice since it's so rich and heavy, but it's worth trying.
Regular cheesecake uses heavy cream and sour cream for the batter, but NY style instead goes heavy on the cream cheese and includes extra eggs for that super rich and dense texture. Yum!
- Eileen's Special Cheesecake - named the "Best Cheesecakes in America, 2019" by Food & Wine, you can basically guarantee that the cheesecake here is going to rock your socks off. This women-owned family business does not skimp on the quality of ingredients and is going to be my top choice for cheesecake in the city.
- Breads Bakery - You really can't go wrong with anything at Breads Bakery including their version of a classic New York style cheesecake, available by the slice or an entire cake.
- Junior's Cheesecake - Junior's is likely the most well-known outside of NYC, as it's been around since 1950 when they opened their first location in Brooklyn, and they've been popular ever since. They now have two locations near Times Square which makes it a convenient stop if you're in the area and craving a classic NY style cheesecake.
Must-Try Desserts in NYC: Cupcakes!
If you're a cupcake lover, there are plenty of options to satisfy your cravings here in NYC and in basically every neighborhood. A few of the most popular options include -
- Sprinkles Cupcake - Sprinkles was the first bakery devoted to just making cupcakes and they launched the cupcake ATM, that is now sadly, no longer in use. However, there are still several Sprinkles locations throughout the city serving up fresh cupcakes.
- Magnolia Bakery - You may have heard of Magnolia Bakery thanks to Sex and the City. They really started the big cupcake craze and serve up a variety of rich, flavorful cupcakes topped with thick frosting. If you love cupcakes, by all means, go for the cupcakes, but below you'll see what I really recommend from Magnolia Bakery.
- Little Cupcake Bakeshop - A more recent favorite, the Little Cupcake Bakeshop, in Soho and Brooklyn offers delicious cupcakes like Brooklyn Blackout and Pistachio Grape Jam, along with other treats like Caramel Pecan Cheesecake and Banana Chocolate Coconut Cookies.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in New York City
We have some serious cookie competition here in NYC with one of my personal favorite treats - the chocolate chip cookie. Here are the top contenders -
- Levain Bakery - My personal favorite from the bunch is the world-famous Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie. These are thick cookies with a soft center. The outside has a nice crunch with semi-sweet chocolate chips throughout along with a gooey center.
- Chip City - Chip City cookies are similar to Levain in their size - these are also big cookies that are almost a meal with a soft center. Where Chip City differs is that you'll find many more flavor options, including some really unique ones.
- Maman - The Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookie was one of "Oprah's Favorite Things" - and they definitely deliver. They are salty, crunchy and sweet - one of the best in the city.
The Best Ice Cream in New York City, plus other Frozen Treats
- Caffe Panna - This is some of the best ice cream I've ever had. You can tell they are using the highest of quality ingredients for their ice cream and fun flavors. Red Flag is a delicious option with sweet cream, a strawberry swirl and homemade graham crunch. You can also pick up a pint of Caffe Panna at Butterfield Market on the Upper East Side along with some other goodies and have a picnic at Central Park.
- Milk & Cream Cereal Bar - If you're looking for a unique take on a nostalgic flavor you'll love Milk & Cream. They infuse your childhood favorite cereal into ice cream so it has that "cereal milk" flavor and will top it with other treats and an extra sprinkle of a cereal of your choice. They've got Lucky Charms, Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes and 15 more cereal options to start with! Watch my video review of the Milk & Cream collab with Rugrats!
- Ralph's Famous Italian Ices - The story of Ralph's begins almost 100 years ago in 1928, when Ralph Silvestro came to the US from Italy and began making his soon-to-be famous Italian Ices and began selling them in Staten Island. They serve dozens upon dozens of flavors of Italian Ices, sherbets, milkshakes, soft-serve and regular ice cream and more. There's something for everyone and even though they're so popular they've always kept this vibe as your local ice cream spot.
- Serendipity's Frozen Hot Chocolate - If you're close to my age or older then you've likely heard of this NYC landmark as Serendipity was a celebrity hot spot when it first opened and has been featured in several films including One Fine Day and, of course, Serendipity, starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. The famous treat is the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate that tastes more icy than creamy (unlike a regular milkshake) and has that classic cocoa flavor. The decor is funky and whimsical and makes for a fun visit.
Plus, they're now offering a vegan coconut version!
Even More Must-Try New York City Ice Cream
- Sugar Hill Creamery - SHC has several locations throughout Harlem as well as the Time Out Market in DUMBO Brooklyn. They are scooping up handmade, small batch ice cream and other non-dairy frozen desserts in classic and unique flavors. Many of the flavors are inspired by the founders' Caribbean and Midwestern culture, plus their neighborhood of Harlem. One of their seasonal flavors, Pon De Replay, is a vegan treat inspired by Rihanna with flavors of passionfruit, tamarind and coconut. Their location on Malcom X Boulevard is just a 10 minute walk to the northern end of Central Park which is beautiful to stroll through, especially during the summer.
- Taiyaki NYC - For a mini history lesson, taiyaki is a fish-shaped pastry that originated in Japan that is typically filled with red bean paste and enjoyed during weddings and festivals. It represents good luck, prosperity and happiness. Taiyaki NYC uses it as a delicious cone for soft-serve ice cream flavors. Yes, it's extremely cute and very instagrammable, but also delicious! I highly recommend doing a food crawl of Chinatown and including a stop here for dessert.
- Whipped Urban Dessert Lab - Head to Whipped Urban Dessert Lab for an indulgent, creamy, dreamy vegan dessert. They offer an oat-milk based ice creme that is dairy free, egg free nut free, soy free and gluten free. You can top the base with a variety of sauces and tons of toppings that work for many dietary allergies and restrictions. This dessert is a full experience and so delicious, plus you'll be supporting a Black, female-owned business with every visit.
Must-Try Desserts in NYC: Pastries and Sweets Galore!
From unique croissants to layered cakes and adorably-shaped pastries, there is something for everyone.
- 75 Degrees Cafe and Dessert - 75 Degrees is a Japanese-inspired cafe in the East Village offering a wide selection of sweet treats along with some amazing artisanal coffee. I adore the ube "sleeping bear" pastry.
- Alimama Tea - Located in Chinatown, Alimama offers the most tantalizing cold brew teas that are topped with beautiful flowers and more. And, in addition to the must-try teas, they offer delicious cream puffs and mochi donuts in unique flavor combinations.
- Dominique Ansel Bakery - Yes, I know the Cronut first gained popularity with it's invention back in 2013, but it is iconic and so damn delicious that I knew I'd be including it on this list. The cronut perfectly balances its many flaky layers with its sweet filling. The flavor changes monthly so you can try it again and again. In addition to the cronut, there are many other unique treats you can enjoy like the Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot, Frozen S'mores, Kiwi Sorbet Bar and more. This is my favorite of the must-try desserts in NYC.
- From Lucie - From Lucie is one of the newer spots on this list. The dessert shop grew a following on social media from the founder sharing snaps of her cakes covered in fresh flowers and other whimsical details. Recipes are inspired by childhood favorites of Lucie and the atmosphere of where she grew up in the France countryside.
- Julien Boulangerie - Julien Boulangerie offers many great treats and some buttery, French sandwiches, but the dessert you need to try is the Croissant Cube! The croissant cube comes in 3 different flavors: Chocolate, Pistachio, & a rotating seasonal option. The filling is super rich and smooth. Currently the croissant cube is only available at their Third Ave location on the Upper East Side. See my video review of the Croissant Cube on Instagram.
- Keki Modern Cakes - At Keki's you'll find the famous bouncy cheesecakes. These differ from the the classic NY cheesecake (which are very dense) and you'll find that they are really light and silky in texture and just melt in your mouth.
- Lady Wong Pastry & Cakes - Lady Wong Pastry is a Nanyang inspired pastry and kuih boutique serving up Southeast Asian pastries and treats. One of my favorite parts of NYC is that there are so many options to experience new-to-me cultures through food. Visit Lady Wong Pastry and grab a selection of whatever catches your eye like the Indonesian Rainbow Cake or a mille crepe cake and you won't be disappointed. Order the Kalamansi Lemonade or Iced Pandan Latte to wash it down.
- Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery - The Suprême is a cream-filled, round croissant drizzled with glaze and other toppings. If you're on social media in any capacity you've definitely seen this dessert online. You'll always find the chocolate option on the menu along with a rotating seasonal flavor. This is a flaky, messy, indulgent dessert! If your schedule permits, I recommend going on a weekday for much shorter lines.
- Lysee - Lysee is a Korean, French and NYC inspired pastry boutique. Chef Eunji Lee considers pastry an edible art which is clear in the creations you'll find here including a Corn mousse cake, Teddy Bear madeleines duo and more.
- Magnolia Bakery - As I mentioned above, I don't go to Magnolia for the cupcakes, I go for the banana pudding. It is so good! And I've never been someone who craves or regularly eats banana pudding, but they are doing it amazing here. Magnolia Bakery offer the Classic Banana Pudding flavor which is delicious in it's own right and they have seasonal offerings too like Cookies & Cream, Red Velvet and, my favorite, the Pumpkin Spice. If one of the seasonal options are available during your visit, I highly recommend picking up that flavor.
- Maison Pickle - Maison Pickle is a sit-down restaurant on the Upper West Side and makes a great stop for brunch or dinner. They're known for their french dip sandwiches, but also an over-the-top, but totally delicious 24-layer cake served by the slice in both chocolate and birthday cake options.
Really Unique NYC Dessert (that's more for the grown-ups)
- Sugar Wood - Sugar Wood is a one-of-a-kind spot with some really playful waffle desserts. You can choose from two waffle styles, the Kitty and the Woody, both of which are shaped after genitals. Then you'll select your sauce to top it from peanut butter to milk chocolate, caramel or more. Sugar Wood believes in normalizing talk about our bodies and sex and also not taking ourselves too seriously - so what better way to do that than with a d!ck-shaped waffle?!
What desserts is New York City known for?
The desserts that I believe New York City is known for include the Black and White cookie, since it's such a nostalgic, old-school treat. Plus, New York style cheesecake since you can find the best of the best here.
Additionally, I want to claim the Cronut since it was founded here and, in my opinion, really kicked off the craze of unique, creative pastries.
The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity 3 and cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery are also famous NYC desserts in their own rights thanks to Hollywood!
What is the latest dessert trend in NYC?
From my perspective, it's all about the stuffed croissants which I shared above too. The trend kicked off years ago with Dominique Ansel and the cronut, but in recent years we've seen the Supreme croissant from Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery just blow up on TikTok. Now, Julien Boulangerie has their own version with the Cube croissant. I'm looking forward to enjoying whatever the next croissant iteration might be!
Best Desserts New York City List
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Here's a quick list recap of everything shared above, plus a map further below!
Black and White Cookies
- William Greenberg Desserts
- Russ & Daughters
- Breads Bakery
New York Style Cheesecake
- Eileen's Cheesecake
- Breads Bakery
- Magnolia Bakery
- Little Cupcake Bakeshop
- Chip City Cookies
- Levain Bakery
Ice Cream & Frozen Treats
- Caffe Panna
- Milk & Cream Cereal Bar
- Ralph's Famous Italian Ices
- Serendipity 3's Frrrozen Hot Chocolate
- Sugar Hill Creamery
- Taiyaki NYC
- Whipped Urban Lab Dessert Bar
Pastries & Other Desserts
- 75 Degrees Cafe
- Dominique Ansel
- From Lucie
- Julien Boulangerie
- Keki Modern Cakes
- Lady Wong Pastry & Cakes
- Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery
- Magnolia Bakery
- Sugar Wood
Must-Have Items for Your New York City Visit
Crossbody or Belt Bag
This crossbody bag is the perfect dupe for the iconic Lululemon bag that's always out-of-stock and just a fraction of the cost with 100% of the same usefulness! Perfect for sightseeing when you just need a few items.
The best Hand Sanitizer
I love this brand of hand sanitizer, it smells amazing and has this really nice mist that helps clean up your hands instantly. Since you'll be enjoying lots of food, you'll want to have some sanitizer handy. Over 500 uses per bottle!
I love a sunscreen stick for touch-ups while travelings. Since you'll likely be spending a lot of time walking outside while visiting New York, make sure you have sunscreen handy for reapplication.
Map Of The Best Desserts In New York City
This post was all about the Must-Try Desserts in NYC
I hope you find a sweet or treat that you haven't tried before or one you can add to your list to try next! I'll continue to update this post as I find new favorites or in case of any closures.
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