Donuts may be the newest food fad, but Chicago proves the cupcake craze isn’t dead. We went all around the city to figure out which cupcakes, out of the many, are deserving of the hype. Here are our top 10 picks.
You can’t go on a cupcake crawl without visiting Sprinkles. The Gold Coast outpost of this iconic nationwide bakery is home to a 24-hour cupcake ATM that stocks a rotating variety of flavors and even cupcakes for dogs. On Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, try the salty caramel cupcake with caramel cake and buttery caramel cream cheese frosting.
If you have dietary restrictions but still love dessert, Swirlz Cupcakes in Lincoln Park is calling your name. The first cupcake-only bakery in Chicago, Swirlz now bakes the vegan, gluten-free and vegan-gluten-free cupcakes for all 28 Whole Foods locations in Illinois, plus one in Indiana.
With more than 1,400 flavors on their roster, there’s no doubt that at least one will tickle your tastebuds. Our favorite is the chocolate caramel pretzel. The chocolate cake, caramel filling, caramel buttercream frosting and pieces of housemade chocolate-covered pretzels form the perfect marriage of salty and sweet.
You may remember Molly’s Cupcakes from its Food Network Cupcake Wars victory. This bakery is famous for its center-filled cupcakes and custom sprinkle station, and its popular Ron Bennington flavor is like nothing we’ve ever tasted. The rich chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, chocolate ganache and crushed butterscotch topping proves that seriously decadent desserts can come in small packages.
The Chicago outpost of this quintessential New York bakery is famous across the globe for its fluffy and pastel-colored buttercream frosting. It especially shines on the simple chocolate cupcake.
Southport Grocery may only sell three cupcake flavors, but what they lack in variety, they make up for in quality. All cupcakes are made daily, but the vanilla-vanilla is the real winner and was named the best cupcake in Chicago by Chicago Magazine in 2007.
If you’re looking for cupcakes bougie enough for the fanciest of dinner parties, More is the cupcake shop for you. This bakery boasts an impressive menu of alcohol-infused cupcakes like mojito, chocolate champagne and white Russian, to name a few. Plus, the frosted treats are works of art, with toppings like chocolate shavings, fresh fruit and meringue.
We recommend the classic red velvet, topped with a chunk of red marbled white chocolate that resembles stained glass. In addition to the Gold Coast location, More has a cupcake food truck called the More Mobile whose location you can follow on Twitter (@theMoreMobile).
This Lincoln Park bakery is a full-service operation, offering up breakfast items and sandwiches alongside its handmade desserts and pastries. All cupcakes are frosted to order to ensure freshness, and our favorite is chocolate cheesecake.
The Wicker Park location of the famous Chicago Cupcake food truck opened just recently. Both shops offer their signature buttercream frosting, hybrid cake-cheesecake base and crust foundation. We suggest the crême brulée — a rich vanilla cake on a vanilla wafer crust, covered with an Italian vanilla buttercream.
If you ask anyone about bakeries in Chicago, Sweet Mandy B’s will top their list. Picture your classic, sugary sweet homemade cupcake: that’s what you’ll find at this candy-colored wonderland. However, forget the iconic pastel-frosted yellow cupcake and go for the cookie monster (complete with a chocolate chip cookie crust).
Stop by this Loop bakery for cupcakes (including gluten-free options), macarons and cake pops. The real highlight, though, is the breakfast cupcakes. More similar to muffins, they’re made with real fruit and topped with cinnamon streusel and an optional frosting shot.