Millennium Park and Willis Tower might be the top of your Chicago bucket list, but the Windy City has some pretty sweet desserts as well. You’ll definitely want to pencil in these treats for a post-dinner snack. Whether you’re just visiting or you’re a Chicago native, here’s your ultimate dessert bucket list:
1. Formento’s Chocolate Cake from Formento’s
An Italian restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop, Formento’s chocolate cake is much more than meets the eye. The 10-layer cake is made up of chocolate cake and chocolate pudding.
2. The Giant Birthday Cake Donut from Firecakes
This place is known for its donut ice cream sandwiches, but a birthday cake-donut hybrid that’s as big as your face? Count me in.
3. Old Fashioned Hot Chocolate from Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
Aptly nicknamed, Chicago can get pretty cold in the winter. Stop into Mindy’s for a cup of hot chocolate (much thicker than your average Swiss Miss) and a house-made pastry.
4. Marjolaine Cake from JR’s Dessert Bakery
Gluten intolerant? You can still treat yo’self with marjolaine cake. Layers of walnut meringue, white chocolate and dark chocolate mousse make up this gluten free dessert.
5. Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting from Sweet Mandy B’s
Located in Lincoln Park, Mandy B’s specializes in old fashioned desserts. Grab a chocolate and vanilla cupcake to bring you back to childhood days of hopscotch.
6. Friday Night Flight from Hoosier Mama Pie Company
The only thing better than one slice of pie? Three slices. Stop in at Hoosier Mama Pie Company on Friday nights to order a flight of their ever-changing menu of pies.
7. Churros from Xoco
The place for all your favorite street foods in fancier forms, Xoco has churros that are too good to pass up. The restaurant shares a block with two of Rick Bayless’ other Chicago restaurants (Frontera Grill and Topolobampo), and it’s the most casual of the three.
8. The Turtle Split from Margie’s Candies
Selling both house-made candy and ice cream, Margie’s is famous for their signature sundaes with a side of hot fudge. Their turtle split is a mashup of two classics, made with vanilla ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, nuts, cherries, caramel and fudge.
9. Peanut Butter Nutella Cupcake from Molly’s Cupcakes
The only thing better than a cupcake is a Nutella filled cupcake. Peanut butter cake, Nutella filling and Nutella buttercream frosting make this cupcake irresistible. Learn how to make your own lava cake version here.
10. S’mores Pizza from Bar Toma
11. Smoked Pork and Toffee Crunch Shake from Little Goat Diner
I’d compare it to chocolate covered bacon – sounds suspicious but surprisingly incredible. Because a plain chocolate shake is just too basic.
12. Basque Cake from The Bristol
A traditionally French dessert, basque cake is so good you’ll want to bask in it. The Bristol makes their own with citron jam and candied almonds.
13. Tableside Smores from Prime & Provisions
Prime & Provisions is one of the most famous steakhouses in Chicago. If you save any room, top off an incredible meal with this surprising dessert.
14. Brambleberry Sorbet and Crisp from Jeni’s
Founded in Ohio, Jeni’s serves up homemade ice cream. They also have sorbets perfect for that dairy-free friend. Pair a few of their ever-changing flavors but be careful not to let the tower of ice cream fall!
15. Almond Croissant from Vanille
Save yourself the embarrassment and don’t try to pronounce it. You can’t go wrong with this French patisserie croissant.
16. Buttermilk Old Fashioned Donut from Do-Rite Donuts
Do something right for your self and try one of the best donut shops in Chicago. Do-Rite features changing specialties, but their buttermilk old fashioned donuts are hard to beat.
17. Hazelnut & Coffee from Boka
If you’re looking for a fancy dessert almost too pretty to eat, Boka’s the place to be.
18. Blueberry French Toast Gelato from Black Dog Gelato
19. Lemon Sabayon Tart from Bittersweet
20. Elvis Concrete from Scooter’s Frozen Custard
Illinois’ proximity to the land of custard has definitely paid off. Their concretes are like DQ blizzards – only better, because custard. The Elvis is made with vanilla custard, Reese’s peanut butter cups and bananas.
21. Chocolate Chip Cookies from Summer House
We could eat this leaning tower of chocolate chip cookies all summer long.
22. Chocolate Cake Stout Milkshake from Public House Chicago
Chicago’s own version of Black Tap’s crazy milkshakes. This drink is honestly a meal in itself.
23. Egg Waffle from J Smile 51
Inspired by Hong Kong street food, the egg waffle can be topped with ice cream, fruit and, of course, chocolate sauce.
24. Chocolate Tostada from Cantina 1910
Though not as traditional as flan, this Chocolate tostada puts a twist on a classic Mexican dish.
25. Black Forest Chocolate Cake from Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House
At Hugo’s, one piece of cake bigger is bigger than your head (and then some). You won’t want to pass up this chocolate cherry cake.
26. Rainbow Cone from Original Rainbow Cone
Some trends may be getting old, but this chocolate, strawberry, palmer house, pistachio and orange sherbet cone has been around since 1926.
27. Flavored Ice from Maxwell Street Market
Smooth scoops of shaved ice can be topped with tajín, a spice made of Mexican chilies, lime juice and sea salt.
28. Pot de Creme from Floriole
These were around way before the mason jar trend. They’re petite, so obviously you can have two.
29. Macadamia Turtle Pie from Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
Chicago really loves using knives for dramatic effect. Just try to finish this after a steak dinner. We dare you.
30. Maple Bacon Long John Donut from Glazed and Infused
31. Fried Ice Cream from Citizen Bar
Just like the state fair’s fried foods, but way fancier and slightly more socially acceptable.
32. Grapefruit Baked Alaska from Salero
Baked Alaska isn’t as complicated as you think. Find out how to make it in a college kitchen here.
33. Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Johnny’s Grill
All that fruit makes it count as breakfast, right?
34. Green Tea Crepe Cake from Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
An exciting infusion of French and Japanese traditions. Crêpes can be savory, but we prefer them for dessert.
35. Snickers Stuffed French Toast from Whisk
Two slices of Texas toast filled with Snickers chocolate then topped with a white chocolate sauce. Um, yes please.
36. Cookies & Cream Bombo from Bombo Bar
Bombo, short for bombolone, is an Italian doughnut filled with jelly or cream. With their cookies and cream bombo, you get the best of both worlds.
37. Mille Feuille from Au Cheval
38. Peanut Butter and Jelly Soft Serve from bellyQ
This is a serious upgrade from your grade school sandwich.
39. Carrot Cake from Lula Cafe
Definitely counts as your daily serving of veggies (plus your serving of dairy if you count the cream cheese frosting).
40. Hand Pie from Hot Bar
Yeah, you read that correctly – handheld pie. Portable versions of any desserts are always a yes.
41. Shake of the Month from DMK Burger Bar
A lucky charms shake in March, a donut one for national donut day – DMK Burger Bar’s shakes are always creative and tasty. Plus, you now have an excuse to go at least once a month.
42. Oh My! Caramel Pie from Beatrix
43. Pot de Crème Au Chocolat from The Blanchard
Tastes as delicious and fancy as it looks, but basically a pot of chocolate sauce. Yes, please.
44. Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée from The Signature Room
The Signature Room is located on the 95th floor of the Hancock building, so you’ll have to brave the height in order to enjoy this dessert.
45. Truffles from Chocolat Uzma Sharif
You can also take classes at Chocolat to learn how to make some of their delicious chocolates yourself.
46. Roasted Chili Churros from Dusek’s
Dulce de leche cream, bittersweet chocolate sorbet, candied mango and sweet chili lime oil comprise this unusual but incredible dessert.
47. Chocolate Pecan Pie from Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
An unlikely combo of flavors, this pecan pie is definitely not just for Thanksgiving.
48. Drinking Chocolate from Katherine Anne Confections
This isn’t your average, watery hot chocolate, this is drinking chocolate seasoned with spices and sugars. Another hot drink for a cold night – don’t go on a full stomach!
49. Caramel Popcorn from Garrett Popcorn
A Chicago staple, Garrett’s popcorn always has a long line. It’s well-worth the wait, especially for these pieces of popcorn seasoned with butter, sweet brown sugar and a crème brûlée crunch.
50. Chocolate Cake Shake from Portillo’s
An entire piece of chocolate cake spun into a shake pairs perfectly with a Portillo’s hot dog.