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The best cupcakes in Chicago

Craving cupcakes for dessert? These are the best bakeries and trucks selling the sweet treat in Chicago.

Photograph: Martha Williams
More Cupcakes

Cupcakes may have hit full-blown mania a few years ago, but the little treats are still super popular at the best bakeries in Chicago. Whether you want a snack from a food truck, one of the best desserts in town or a double dose of sugar (after eating cupcake pancakes at Southport Grocery, one of the top spots for brunch in Chicago), here's where to find the best cupcakes—Chicago has no shortage.

Best cupcakes in Chicago

1

Sweet Mandy B’s

This sweet-as-can-be little bakeshop is tops when it comes to cakes, whether it's a full birthday cake or a tiny cupcake. The cupcakes are available in regular, delicious cake flavors like lemon, red velvet and confetti, and they can come topped with a variety of buttercream frostings. But it's Mandy's carrot cake with cream cheese icing that we really can't stop talking about.

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Lincoln Park
2

Southport Grocery and Café

Southport Grocery has a lovely savory menu, but it's the cupcake we order every single time. It’s moist, it’s substantial but not heavy, and the thick, sugary icing hides deep flavors of chocolate and vanilla. If you want a double dose of cupcakes, order the cupcake pancakes, made with cupcake batter and served with vanilla butter and maple syrup.

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Southport Corridor
3

Molly’s Cupcakes

The cutest cupcake shop of all, Molly's has swings at its counter. Plus there's a sprinkle bar so you can add a variety of brightly colored shapes to your cupcake. There are plenty of fancy cupcakes, like a cookies and cream version, but it's the simplest ones that you build yourself—vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, brown butter icing atop banana cake—that have us returning again and again.

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Lincoln Park
4

Magnolia Bakery

It's easy to see how Magnolia Bakery launched the worldwide cupcake craze. The dense cakes are capped with thick, sweet frosting, they're manageable in size and they evoke nostalgia for childhood birthday parties. The vanilla is a classic, but we'd grab any cake out of the cooler.

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Loop
5

Sprinkles Cupcakes

The cupcakes at this LA export are moist with just enough frosting to get the job done. They're also manageable in size, which may convince you to eat more than one. Some advice: Chocolate flavors are better than non-chocolate (the peanut butter chocolate is insane; the vanilla is just insanely sweet); fruit flavors (strawberry, lemon) taste slightly artificial; and if you can't bear to wait in line, no worries—there's a cupcake dispenser outside.

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Gold Coast
6

Vanille Patisserie

With locations in Lincoln Park, the French Market and Lakeview, you have at least two places to find Vanille's excellent cupcakes. With a tender crumb and a good balance of frosting, these cupcakes may be large but aren't overwhelming. As a bonus, they come with one of Vanille's heavenly macarons jauntily affixed to the top.

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Lincoln Park
7

Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique

Sugar Bliss has one big distinguishing factor: $1 frosting shots, in flavors like dark chocolate, strawberry cream cheese and lemon coconut, all topped with a flower design. For more than just a sugar high, Sugar Bliss sells fresh fruit–studded muffins (which means you can eat cupcakes for breakfast) and cupcakes that range from classics like red velvet to unconventional flavors like the seasonal piña colada cake with pineapple buttercream.

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Loop
8

Swirlz Cupcakes

With a menu of only cupcakes (flavors change daily but include the insanely popular red velvet), cakes and beverages, this takeout spot is similar to others in Chicago. But it sets itself apart by offering things the others don't, namely, gluten-free, sugar-reduced and sugar-free options, “pupcakes” for dogs and custom cupcake carry-out boxes that keep the icing perfectly in place.

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Lincoln Park
9

More Cupcakes

Showcased in a glass display, the rotating selection of cupcakes, which includes classics like coconut and chocolate, looks like art because it is. The signature cupcake is a take on a Hostess cake, but we also appreciate how these cakes aren't too sweet, and the red velvet in particular is a well-balanced treat. More also has a truck, the More Mobile, so you have even more chances to snag one of the cupcakes.

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Gold Coast

Comments

1 comments
CuriousTraveler66 !
CuriousTraveler66 !

Having a roundup review like this is nice, but your dollar-sign indication of price is really vague and only relative. It'd be much better if you told us what the cupcakes REALLY cost apiece -- because without that, there's no indication of true value.  Anything more than a buck a cupcake is ridiculous when you can easily bake them much more cheaply yourself, even usuing boxed cake mix (yes, I realize few city people bake anymore, let alone from scratch and particularly if they don't have kids, but that's no excuse for obnoxious price escalation).  When, exactly, did we decide as consumers that paying $2 or more per cupcake was acceptable? Was it when Starbucks began charging stupid prices for pastry and $2.50 for cake pops?!?  I refuse to pay such exorbitant prices.  Not all of us are one-percenters and can throw away money like that, and I have to wonder why some of my fellow city-folk are dumb enough to go along.  Explain this, TimeOut.  And start giving us actual prices, eh?