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Lavender and honey frozen yogurt at Olmsted in Prospect Heights.
Photograph: Courtesy Evan Sung Lavender and honey frozen yogurt at Olmsted in Prospect Heights.

The Best Dessert in NYC

From pistachio cakes and miso butterscotch to durian ice cream, find the best dessert in NYC for you to enjoy

Written by
Time Out New York contributors
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For those who love sweets, New York City is a wonderland of sugary delights. From far-out ice cream flavors and luxurious chocolates to hand-crafted doughnuts and in-demand cookies, you can find the best versions of any kind of sweets your heart desires. If you’ve got a real sweet tooth and consider dessert the best part of a meal, then we’re here for you with our list of the best desserts in NYC.

The best restaurants in New York are lauded for their standout appetizers and entrees, but some offer desserts so good you’ll want to skip right to it. Or you can always complete your meal at home by picking up a treat at various bakeries and sweet shops. These desserts are not only delicious, many are straight up works of art. From composed gelées to layer cakes to big scoops of ice cream, this list is packed with worthy competitors for the absolute best dessert in NYC, so try them all and decide for yourself.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

A dessert spot we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Harlem
  • price 1 of 4

To celebrate the “sweet life,” husband-wife team Nick Larsen (Blue Hill, Telepan) and Petrushka Bazin Larsen opened a community-minded ice cream parlor in their neighborhood of Mount Morris Park District in Harlem. The duo purveys traditional homemade scoops—vanilla, chocolate—along with more creative flavors like soursop (Caribbean fruit), sweet-corn jalapeño and PB&J alongsode treats like apricot–passion-fruit push pops, honey-and-ginger beer floats and black-forest ice cream sandwiches.

Best desserts in NYC

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  • Restaurants
  • Patisseries
  • DUMBO

You could walk by Burrow three times and miss it (and we have). Located inside the lobby of a run-of-the-mill glass building eyesore in Dumbo, there's no street-facing storefront giving you a glimpse at the magic inside. While others wait for the elevator, head to the black to find the patisserie version of a speakeasy. Burrow has quiet confidence. There's no over-the-top decorations or crazy flavor combinations, but what they create is nothing short of excellent. The pistachio cake is absolutely worth burrowing for with its pistachio mousse, praline and crunchy feuillantine layers. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Williamsburg

Since 1976, Fortunato Brothers has been serving Italian pastries in Williamsburg. Known for their affogatos, cannolis, and sensational gelato, here you'll find old-school New York charm. Customers wear Yankee hats and talk in a Brooklyn accent that's slowly fading. What's especially unique about Fortunato Brothers is their dedication to the craft of marzipan art. Bananas, eggplants, ears of corn, all sculpted with almond paste to look like the real deal. And during Christmas Eve, what's referred to as "Feast of the Seven Fishes," they have marzipan fish. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

This is a bar unlike all others. Here, drinks aren't the focus. Stools are placed around the perimeter of Pastry Chef Chika Tillman, where diners get a voyeuristic thrill as she preps, pipes and plates her desserts in expert fashion. A multicourse “meal” may include an amuse-bouche such as coconut sorbet in a little pool of chocolate-infused tea gelée. The main course might be a warm chocolate tart with pink-peppercorn ice cream, a mocha-and-hazelnut trifle or a delicious fromage blanc cheesecake. It all ends with darling petit fours. As if you needed them.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

Nicholas Morgenstern scoops inventive hard ice cream flavors (sesame-caramel, salt-and-pepper pinenut, green tea pistachio) and sorbets (lychee-raspberry, guava-strawberry) at this scoop shop. Some say that durian is one of the smelliest fruits in the world, but if you can get beyond that, it's one of the most complex, interesting ice cream flavors available around town.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Nolita
  • price 2 of 4

Sometimes we can't believe Rice to Riches still exists. Rice to Riches feels like what the '90s imagined The Future would look like. The space-age looking spot serves up flavors of rice pudding like Stubborn Banana, Black Cherry Birthday Suit and Coconut Coma. Think of like fancy gruel, served in reusable orange containers, we love carrying our lunch leftovers in. Oh, how sweet it is.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Flatiron
  • price 3 of 4

This elevated vegetarian wonderland is the latest expansion of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Paulette Cole’s ABC restaurant empire (ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina) inside Flatiron’s ABC Carpet & Home complex. One of their best dishes comes at the end: a refreshing grapefruit granita, which you can think of as a deconstructed fancy slushie. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Dominican
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

This Dominican diner is one of the remaining relics of old New York. While we love the mofongo, we stay for the tres leches. True fans of El Castillo no that in addition to the classic, there's sometimes a guava tres leches verision that's even better.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Carroll Gardens

One of our favorite store-bought ice cream brands finally opened up a brick and mortar in Cobble Hill. Founded by Pooja Bavishi, Malai serves up flavors from around the world. There's "rose with cinnamon roasted almonds," "sweet milk," "star anise," "ginger root" and Turkish coffee. Look out for the seasonal flavors, like the "sweet roti and ghee." Eat the ice cream served in a cone and with a variety of toppings like cardamom shortbread and peanut chikki. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Crown Heights
  • price 2 of 4

Butter & Scotch is the feminist bakeshop and bar of our dreams. With staff t-shirts that read "Count Orgasms, Not Calories" and "Smash the Patriarchy" in piped icing, many items on the menu give proceeds to related causes like Planned Parenthood. And while their activist mission is enough to make us interested in stopping by, the s'mores pie makes it clear the desserts can back it up, too. 

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

Missy Robbins' second restaurant, Misi has caused controversy amongst critics. Robbins is known for her al dente, sumptuous pasta at her Williamsburg restaurant Lillia. But at her follow-up in Domino Park, some were dissapointed. It's true. The paired down menu only offers one option: gelato. This simple-yet-rich olive oil flavor won't make you wish there were others to choose from. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Upper West Side
  • price 1 of 4

Peacefood has the feeling of an old-school vegan gem largely untouched by time in the way that Souen was. The fonts on the menu are hideous, the plating doesn't focus on what's Instagrammable and the interior design is understated. But they don't need to hide behind any of it. Beyond the delicious savory sandwiches on the menu, the real star is their carrot cake. Which is not just the best vegan carrot we've ever had, but one of the best carrot cakes, full stop. 

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Lenox Hill
  • price 2 of 4

At this cheery, kitschy Upper East Side family spot, sandwiches, salads and burgers merely set you up for the main course: dessert. The trademarked Frrrozen Hot Chocolate—a brain-freezing chocolate slushie—deserves its reputation; the massive beast should be shared. Given the size of the Coward’s Portion of the Outrageous Banana Split, we’re guessing the full-size version comes in a trough.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Upper West Side
  • price 2 of 4

At this UWS nook, size matters. Seductively gooey on the inside and golden brown on the outside, this Holy Grail of cookies is the size of your head and big enough to feed your whole crew (or not). Semisweet chocolate morsels and chunks of walnuts mix and mingle, making each buttery bite better than the next. The only thing worse than waiting on the long line out the door is the sinking feeling you’ll get when you’re left with no more bites.

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