The best candy stores in Chicago
It’s nostalgia that draws people in droves to this kitschy diner/ice cream parlor. Fancy silver trays, paper doilies and saucers filled with chocolate and caramel sauces bring back fond memories for many who’ve made this place a tradition since it opened in 1921. Equally reminiscent of the good old days are the display shelves, which are crowded with memorabilia from the Beatles, who just had to have some Margie’s ice cream after they played Comiskey.
French Pastry School grad Amy Hansen opened this super-cheerful Ravenswood shop, where jars of colorful retro and newfangled candies appeal as much to adults as children. We’re especially sweet on her house-made caramels, in flavors such as sea salt and dark chocolate. There’s a small selection of Chocolate Shoppe ice cream ready for scooping, too.
This old-school shop in Berwyn is the definition of iconic. Since 1969, the family-run business has attracted sweet tooths young and old from all over Chicago with nostalgic sweets, handmade chocolates and penny candies like Razzles and Mallo Cups. The shop also makes custom party favors for special occasions like birthday parties, baby showers and graduations. You can also pick up supplies to make your own candy at home. Live in the western 'burbs? Visit the shop's second location in Indian Head Park to get your sugar fix.
Prepare for sensory overload at the local candy and party supply superstore Dulcelandia, where a seemingly endless assortment of colorful bulk sweets and rows of princess and superhero piñatas vie for your attention. Much of the candy here is imported from Mexico, and the flavors skew toward the tropical (think tamarind and coconut). On a recent visit, we picked up a tasty confection of milk candy wrapped around sweet-tart guava paste, as well as a rather adorable (and spicy!) elote lollipop.
You’ll want to leave the kids at home for this one; homegrown haut chocolatier Vosges (which has attracted all manner of praise for its sustainably produced, super-high-quality chocolate) has a penchant for unusual and exotic ingredients (think fennel pollen, matcha tea and rye whiskey) that may turn up little noses, but will make more sophisticated palates sing. The Lincoln Park boutique isn’t Vosges’ only Chicago location, but it is the only one that features a cafe space where you can sit and savor a truffle or two with a perfectly paired glass of wine or beer in hand.
This family-owned candy maker churns out tons of tasty chocolates, nutty confections and more, but what you really can't miss are the "Doodles." Grab a box of the shop's unique recipe of kettle-cooked, puffed caramel corn mixed with crunchy nuts, and you'll be seriously addicted.
Don’t be fooled by its relatively compact size; you could spend ages perusing the sweets at this Hong Kong import, tucked into a first-floor shop on the northwest end of the Chinatown Mall complex. Among the offerings: a rainbow of hard candies far too wild for Grandma’s purse (we spotted tomato and pine versions) and American favorites in unusual flavors (think green tea Kit-Kats). What’s that you say? You’d rather have dried squid strips and cooked duck tongues? Never fear; Aji Ichiban has those, too.
This cozy Logan Square cafe and workshop crafts what is perhaps Chicago’s most decadent hot chocolate, along with flavored caramels, colossal marshmallows and a rotating roster of super-creative truffles (look for fall-appropriate varieties like peanut butter and green apple and fig-balsamic). What’s more, chocolatier-in-chief Katherine Duncan is big on using locally sourced ingredients, so you can have that hot chocolate and still feel a little bit virtuous.
New Hampshire-based chocolatier L.A. Burdick brings its European-inspired sweets to River North through this adorable storefront. The State Street location doubles as a café that serves drinking chocolate, stunning pastries and, of course, dozens of tasty hand-made candies. First-timer visitors will want to order the Signature Chocolate Mice, which are crafted over three days and require 12 steps to complete.
Heather Johnston has been selling high-end handmade chocolates under the Veruca Chocolates banner since 2012. She opened her first physical location in Bucktown in 2014, and moved in 2017 into this retail shop and “chocolate lab” near Goose Island, where she hosts tastings and classes in addition to purveying her luscious confections, including seasonal treats like these Halloween spider web bars.
Opened in 2017, this marshmallow cafe specializes in handcrafted takes on the sugary confection, with items like whoopie pies, s’mores kits and bespoke hot-chocolate mixes. Also check out the rotating marshmallow flavors, like Champagne, bourbon or apple pie.
Bulk bins line this store, brimming with vividly colored selections like jawbreakers, Swedish Fish, Spree and gummies in pretty much every shape imaginable (not to mention a small range of retro items like whoopie cushions and tin lunch boxes). This Mag Mile spot is sure to kick up a burst of childhood nostalgia. In the mood for something a bit more grown up? Check out the shop’s extensive licorice bar, stocked with options like traditional red vines, darling black Scottie dogs and salted licorice, a Scandinavian favorite.
It may be dedicated to toffee, but Terry’s is far from one-note. In its on-site kitchen, the West Side shop turns out varieties of the crunchy stuff in flavors ranging from the familiar (good old milk- or dark chocolate–dipped) to the unexpected (ginger-infused, dark chocolate–coated pieces dusted with crushed wasabi peas). Toffee-enriched popcorn, biscotti and ice cream are also available, and the friendly staff are generous with samples, giving you a chance to try before you buy.
If you’re one of those people who’s always worrying that there’s no good place in town to get a molded chocolate dachshund or an oversize chocolate bar that reads “Happy Divorce” anymore, relax—the Fudge Pot’s got you covered. This sweet shop/candy kitchen/Old Town institution features a prominent display of what can only be described as chocolate tchotchkes, which should be weird but instead are kind of charming. But we suppose you can get away with just about any decorative whim when you also happen to churn out 10 flavors of rich fudge, dynamite caramel apples, pecan-loaded turtles and a host of other handmade treats.
Although there is a large selection of novelty gift items and homemade candies here (truffles, chocolate-covered pretzels and fudge), the nightly post-dinner rush is mainly for the ice cream. Standouts among the store’s more than 30 flavors include blueberry cheesecake and green tea. Employees are generous with the scoops, which they plop down onto everything from small, plain cake cones to hulking chocolate- and candy-dipped sugar cones.
Chicago's top pastry chefs know what people want: ice cream, doughnuts and pie. But while they've mastered—and elevated—traditional desserts, the best spots go above and beyond, with s'more macarons and chamomile creme brulee, to name a few. When you have to end your dinner with the best, here's where to find the best desserts in Chicago.