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Six Must Try Desserts in Chicago

These 6 stops are Chicago classics, serving a range of mouth-watering desserts you can’t leave the city without trying!  – by Anna Volkmann


Doughnut Vault

This “hole in the wall” (literally!) spot is tucked into the River North neighborhood. Every morning, batches of their perfected creative flavored doughnuts are sold. The catch? There’s no closing time… they’re done for the day when they are all sold out! Luckily I got there in time to try a few of their most popular flavors, including their Seasonal Jelly Filled (this month- Peanut Butter and Jelly!).

The Classic Old Fashioned doughnut lived up to the name. After breaking apart at the cracks around the edge, with a slight crisp from the light glaze on the outside, the perfect fluffy cake on the inside was revealed. The flavor was as it should be- classic, not overpowering, and made for the perfect coffee-dipping pairing.



This upscale Italian restaurant serves up old-school hearty dishes in the West Loop. After a delicious spread of modern classics like calamari, orecchiette pasta, and grilled branzino, we indulged into their most famous part of the menu- their dessert.

Formento’s Chocolate cake has been served for over ten years, and continues to be their top-sold item. There are ten unique layers to each cake that pair together perfectly in each bite, from the mocha crunch layer in the middle to the rich chocolate ganache finish on top. The light mousse with the dense chocolate cake makes for a tasty flight for any chocolate lover!


The Bristol

Also owned by Formento’s management, the B. Hospitality Co., is the farm-to-table American spot called The Bristol. Located in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, this hip space offers their fresh twist on classic dishes and cocktails.

Before leaving, you cannot pass up the dessert menu. In addition to their house-brewed coffee and dessert cocktails is their well-known Basque Cake. This made-to-order treat hits the spot with its thoughtful flavor pairings. A decadent, gooey white cake baked to perfection, topped with raspberry compote, candied walnuts, and a dollop of vanilla crème fraiche on the side- so summery and delicious!


Lou Malnati’s

What’s a Chicago visit without a bite of their iconic deep-dish pizza? Lou Malnati’s comes out as one of the best specialty pizzerias in the city. Starting when the first one opened in a northern suburb in 1971 (the original is still open for business!), their homemade pizzas are worth the wait– each pizza is made from scratch and takes about 20-30 minutes to bake.

As a continuation of their classic deep-dish selection, their dessert menu includes their special Chocolate Chip Pizza. A classic take on the ‘pazooki’ dessert, this freshly made decadence is a deep-dish skillet filled with a gooey chocolate chip cookie, layered with vanilla bean ice cream, covered in whipped cream, and topped off with cherries. The pan is hot out of the oven, making the combination between the crusted cookie bottom with the melting ice cream a treat that you cannot leave Chicago without trying!


Cookie Bar

Located just a quick “L” ride north of the city is Lincoln Park, home to Chicago’s first and only completely wheat-free and gluten-free bakery. Owned and run by two innovative bakers, Joe Bova and Jeff Steinberg, this allergy-friendly bakery serves a delicious variety of treats, from their Giant Cookie Pizzas and their famous Salted Caramel Nutella Brownies, to classic chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cupcakes with buttercream. What’s even better? They are so delicious, you can’t tell it’s gluten free!

They also serve vegan options that are just as tasty. I tried their vegan chocolate chip cookie sandwich that is filled with vegan chocolate ganache. The lightness of the chocolaty interior combined with the perfect softness to the cookie surrounding was so well done! Even the slight coconut flavor (that came from the substituted ingredients) didn’t disrupt the taste- it paired perfectly with the chocolate goodness!


Hoosier Mama Pie Co.

If you’re wanting to explore the suburbs a little, head up to Evanston to grab a slice of pie any time of the day. They serve breakfast pastries and coffee, lunch sweet and savory pies (like their famous Chicken Pot Pie), and, of course, slices and whole dessert pies any time of the day. Their selections change daily, so make sure to get there early to try your slice of choice!

In addition to their classic Hoosier Sugar Cream pie, which had a light and subtle flavor, I had to try the fan-favorite Chocolate Cream pie. Their perfected buttery, flaky crust held together a rich combination of a chocolate mousse, generous amounts of fresh whipped cream, and decadent dark chocolate shavings. The slightly-chilled treat melted in my mouth and made for a perfect hot-chocolate alternative on a toasty Chicago summer day.

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