Being a busy college student can definitely be stressful sometimes. But then I remember, stressed spelled backwards is desserts, and how can I deny the sweet calling of gooey chocolate chip cookies or cold ice cream sandwiches? That’s right, I can’t.
I decided to compile a thorough list of the best dessert places in Orange County based on Yelp reviews, recommendations, and personal experiences to make life just a tad sweeter. This list includes a variety of dessert types scattered all around the county, and I have decided to include my favorites as well as the popular spots, so everyone can find something they enjoy.
There are so many more to discover, and so many for each dessert craving you may have, so don't limit yourself to this list. Having personally visited and reviewed all 25 spots, I recommend you check out any (if not all) of these places the next time your sweet tooth is tingling in the OC area. Enjoy!
As my personal favorite, this trendy dessert shop serves authentic, freshly brewed Thai tea, macaron ice cream sandwiches, and shaved ice. The famous pair of Thai tea with a crisp and cool macaroon sandwich will have your taste buds tingling with joy.
Snow Monster offers a variety of bottles you can purchase such as your very own glass jar, bulb, or their newest addition—camera lens mugs! Instagram-worthy pictures, delectable desserts, and open late all the time? Living up to its name, it’s the only valid dessert spot to be monstrous while eating.
Personal Favorite: Freshly brewed Thai Tea (with boba) and Colombian Coffee Ice Cream
Being a recent opening in OC, Rollin Creamery is the place to go for Thai-style rolled up ice cream. Offered with a variety of signature creations, the rich and creamy ice cream is made-to-order right before your eyes. You get to pick your flavor, and watch as the experts flatten your ice cream out and shape it into perfect little rolls.
You can top it off with an assortment of goodies, including pocky sticks, Oreo crumbs, or even coffee jellies. Definitely check this place out the next time you're (as they like to say), “Rollin with the homies.” It’s well worth it.
Personal Favorite: Cafe Du Su
Cafe Maji provides a variety of delicious drinks, scrumptious desserts, and a stylish atmosphere. The drinks are sweet and perfectly made alongside their aesthetically pleasing and mouthwatering waffles. With a collection of pretty little coffees and teas topped with a generous amount of whipped cream, these creations are definitely Insta-worthy. Book a date or study session with your friends at this hip and picturesque cafe soon.
Personal Favorites: Snow Affogato and Tiramisu Waffle
#SpoonTip: Cafe Maji also offers a savory foods such as fries and sandwiches (a perfect pairing to your sweet tooth).
Craving delicious boba drinks? This cute shop offers coffee, boba, smoothies, and more, all in fancy bottles you can take home with no added cost. With exotic flavors ranging from Pitaya, Lychee, and Passionfruit, feel free to customize your drinks and teas by adding various toppings like aloe vera and, of course, boba (they even customize your sweetness depending on your preference). There's a reason the lines are out the door, even at midnight. Roasting Water is a must try.
Personal Favorites: RWC with boba (Roasting Water Coffee) & Avocado Smoothie
This chain bakery shop provides excellent fresh pastries, desserts, and drinks daily. When you hear the famous line, “FRESH BREAD!” yelled by the bakers inside, you can’t help but get excited when they pass by with a tray full of warm, sweet pastries. Soft and baked to perfection, 85 degrees won’t disappoint you with their array of baked goods and desserts, as well as their signature teas and coffees.
Personal Favorite: Brioche Bread
Imagine this: handcrafted nitrogen ice cream meets a warm, waffle-y Puffle Cone. Okay, stop imagining, because IT IS REAL. This delectable combination is a match made in dessert heaven. Sweet, creamy, made-to-order ice cream paired with a warm, puffy waffle cone, the typical ice cream standard is renovated and even more amazing than ever before. Guys, ditch the flower bouquets and try out these roses instead. You might just be surprised.
Personal Favorites: Vietnamese Coffee and Rosewater
Shots! Shots! Shots! Cookie and milk shots? Yup, you heard right. This dessert shop, located in the hipster Tustin Marketplace district, is the perfect place to get your cookie and milk fix. With a variety of cookie shot cups to choose from—including red velvet, cookies and cream, or the classic chocolate chip to name a few— you can pair it with a shot of homemade vanilla or chocolate milk. Shots anyone?
Personal Favorite: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie with Chocolate milk
#SpoonTip: Ask for one free refill of the milk of your choice!
Need a quick go-to boba fix to quench your thirst? Zero Express offers signature drinks that will satisfy your boba craving every single time. Whether you're in the mood for spicy mango or strawberry milk, Zero Express will handcraft your beverage to perfection. The few options they offer are all you really need, plus you can pair it with an order of their popular Cajun fries. No wonder it was rated the Best Boba of 2016 in OCWEEKLY.
Personal Favorite: Classic Thai Tea with Boba
Frosted has been my favorite cupcake shop since day one, and it never fails to satisfy. Having tried all of the other popular cupcake shops like Sprinkles, Casey’s Cupcakes, and Crumbs, Frosted has stolen my heart. Why? These heavenly baked cakes are so moist that the flavors and homemade frosting just melt in your mouth.
Nicely sized, impeccably decorated, and baked to perfection, Frosted Cupcakery has the best cupcakes to enjoy without feeling too guilty for stuffing your face with more than one.
Personal Favorite: Toffee Crunch and Strawberry Cream Cheese
Creating your very own gelato on a stick is definitely worth experiencing. This is my favorite spot whenever I’m craving something sweet, crunchy, and just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. The gelato popsicle idea is always great for a summer day, and they offer natural fruity flavors all the way to a Fererro Rocher pop. Perfectly sized with a wide variety, it’s a spot for everyone to go nuts and try all the different toppings.
Personal Favorite: Hazelnut Pop Bar Dipped in Dark Chocolate with Almonds
Sometimes it’s not ice cream or cookies or sugary desserts you're craving. Sometimes you just long for a healthy açaí bowl while strolling on the pier. This stop provides you with a generous amount of freshly cut fruit filled to the rim paired with a perfectly blended smoothie, all in one famous Banzai Bowl. The options and generous servings will leave you feeling healthy, satisfied, and definitely not guilty for satisfying your sweet tooth.
Personal Favorite: Classic Banzai Bowl
This is not your typical shaved ice spot, Frostbites goes the extra frosty mile by pairing all your favorite Italian ice flavors with a blend of creamy, frozen custard. The italian ice flavors range from sour apple, mango, blue raspberry, and even passion fruit, and the custard on the bottom makes for the best combination. It is a perfect treat on a warm evening.
Along with the shaved ice, they offer their signature house made crepes that will make up for the cold shaved ice. You mix it all together and it really is the best of both worlds!
Personal Favorite: Passion fruit and blue raspberry with custard cream
#SpoonTip: The generous employees with offer you a variety of samples to try of the shaved ice, don't be embarrassed to try them all—it’s worth it!
From the amazing Yelp reviews for this doughnut shop, I had to go try it out. Featured in the image above, Butter and Salt is one of their original famous doughnuts the locals are constantly raving about. Extremely soft and baked with love, these doughnuts definitely live up to their reviews. Not too sweet, it makes for a perfect on the go breakfast item.
I do have to say, I still love my OG Krispy Kreme Doughnuts the best. But if you're in the mood to get out of that comfort zone, be sure to check out SideCar Doughnuts on your way to school.
Personal Favorite: Buttermilk Old Fashioned
I've never been a huge fan of macarons, but after discovering this shop and trying on-the-spot made macarons, I finally felt true love. Sweet, fresh, and made to utter perfection, Honey and Butter has reinvented my taste palate for macaroons.
They come shaped in a variety of little animal characters, and you can see the magic makings of the macarons right before your eyes. They are almost too cute to eat! Located at the Irvine Spectrum, be sure to check this place out the next time you're craving pretty much perfect macarons.
Personal Favorites: Classic Honey and Butter and Ferrero Rocher
I remember when Afters Ice Cream first made their debut, and I stood in an hour-long line to see what the fuss was all about. I also remember that one month later Afters took Orange County by a storm. This popular dessert shop has made its official mark in OC with its original pairing of ice cream in a donut.
The warm, gooey donut filled with crunchy, cold ice cream is a match for the dessert gods. Plus, they offer toppings to add a little more umph to this already over-the-top creation. Although the pairing is sometimes too sweet for me, this famous spot is perfect for those craving a unique dessert made of great quality.
Personal Favorite: Cookie Monster Ice Cream
The Loop has swept Instagram nation with its aesthetically pleasing Churro Sundaes. This trendy new dessert stop has instagrammable churros and yummy drinks. Beautifully crafted and made with your choice of a flavored, warm, and crunchy churro, it is dipped in a perfectly churned ice cream sundae.
The Loop has definitely stepped one foot forward in the dessert industry. For myself, I’m satisfied with a dollar churro and fro-yo from Costco, but this is well worth it to go when I’m feeling fancier. This dessert spot will definitely take your taste buds for a "loop" (sorry, I just had to).
Personal Favorite: Ferrero Rocher
Crepe Coop has mastered the art of exquisite crepes. Hand crafted, these French pastries are mouthwatering, tasty, and the epitome of a fluffy dessert crepe. They take your pick and shape it into a fluffy, soft cone filled to the brim with a little bit of everything—fruits, creamy ice cream, sweet chocolate syrup, and more. The warmth of the fresh crepe paired with the cold toppings will make you feel like you're in dessert heaven.
Personal Favorite: Strawberry Short Crepe
When you think of dessert, a good ol’ pie doesn’t generally come to mind (unless you are an old soul, like me). However, Gourmet Pie’s infamous “Boysenberry Cream Cheese Pie” is absolutely phenomenal. With a perfect balance of smooth and rich cream cheese filling topped with a freshly made boysenberry jam, this mouthwatering pie will become your Thanksgiving staple (like it did mine). No matter how old you are, this pie is worth your while!
Personal Favorite: Boysenberry Cream Cheese Pie
Eiswlet Gelato has charmed the world of social media with their adorable gelato creations. They can make your gelato scoop turn into a bear, rose, or anything currently trending at this cute little shop, on top of a crunchy cone. Their variety of both sorbet and standard gelato are rich and creamy. They finish their little animal creations with a variety of toppings that make it almost too darling to eat. Located in the heart of OC, Eiswelt has managed to capture our hearts with their frozen delights.
Personal Favorite: Hazelnut and Green Tea Gelato
#SpoonTip: Eiswelt Gelato is a startup by a UCI student, so be sure to go support this business- savvy Anteater!
Fairly new to the OC, Pie Hole has had a line out their door since they opened. Using only the freshest ingredients and baked daily, this dessert spot handcrafts delectable pies in a variety of exotic flavors. The Pie Hole is not any ordinary pie shop; each slice is meticulously baked featuring their most famous flavors such as the Guava, Cream Cheese, and the Strawberry Lavender Hand Pie.
Additionally, they offer individual-sized savory pies and speciality coffees if you're in the mood for a hot drink. This dessert spot is famous for perfecting every pie, so be sure to get there early before your favor one gets sold out! It really is happiness served by the slice.
Personal Favorite: Earl Grey
Remember those carnival nights where you would walk around eating cotton candy or a deep fried Oreo, and enjoy being a kid? If you are feeling nostalgic, come to this trendy dessert shop and you won’t be disappointed. Known for their special milkshakes with names like “Unicorn Shake,” “Cookie Monster,” and “Circus Animal,” their candy-filled crazy concoctions will take you over the top.
I promise that you'll be immersed right back into your childhood with one sip of these wacky handmade milkshakes. Besides their famous (gigantic) drinks, they offer a section of colorful cake slices, hot chocolates, and unicorn fudge barks to satisfy any sweet craving you might have.
Personal favorite: Unicorn Shake
The newly added OC location of Porto's Bakery & Cafe has already created quite the impression on the locals. This bakery offers everything, including high-quality cakes, pastries, desserts, and coffees. You name it, and Portos will not only offer it, but it will be baked to perfection. Each pastry is warm and flaky to the bite, leaving you wanting more (and more and more). Even weeks after their grand opening, the new location in Buena Park STILL consists of long wait times. That’s how you know it’s the best!
Personal Favorites: Cheese rolls and tiramisu
You know you’re living in OC when the newest dessert spot makes gelato topped with GOLD. Yes, you read right. Gold. Feeling a little extra? This hot new spot offers gelato topped with 24 karat gold. Providing a range of gelato flavors, each order comes placed in a customized cone and can be dipped in the chocolate of your preference.
The hardened shell makes an impeccable crunchy pair with the rich gelato inside, and the bright gold flakes on top really make for a glamorous photo. Although it is a tad on the pricey side, Tap Gelato is a must try if you want that extra bling on your dessert.
Personal favorite: Coffee and Almond Ice Cream dipped in chocolate
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, originally from San Francisco, has finally made its way to OC, and we couldn’t be more excited. The business is made on the creative idea of hybrid pastries, and they like to experiment in the bakehouse by infusing classic pastries to create new sweets, like the “Cruffin.”
This croissant-muffin pastry is filled a variety of flavored puddings and cream and is one of the most popular items on their menu. With every bite comes a gooey, delicious, cold pudding, a flaky pastry shell, and a whole lot of sugar to make you smile.
Along with the variety of pastry options, be sure to snag one of their gigantic homemade chocolate chip cookies, they are delicious! So set your alarm clock early and make your way to this dessert spot if you want a first choice pick!
Personal Favorite: Chocolate chip cookies
Ah, the father of all ice cream shops. You can never go wrong with a classic, traditional scoop of Thrifty’s ice cream. There’s a reason your Grandpa Joe always begins his stories with, “I remember when Thrifty’s was 10 cents a scoop…” because it’s been a classic forever! With the standard, all around loved ice cream flavors, Thrifty’s never ceases to disappoint. Next time you’re out, pick up your grandparents and head out to your local Rite Aid. It’ll definitely make for a ~sweet~ outing.
Personal Favorite: Strawberry cheesecake
Orange County often gets overshadowed by the trendy, hip Los Angeles when it comes to dessert spots. But don't be fooled, fellow dessert eaters. Along with LA, OC offers a wide variety of delectable treats that are definitely worth all the calories. Check out the best desert spots in Orange County on your next night out.
Just one last thing—life is short, so eat the dessert first.