Looking for the most delicious and Instagram worthy desserts in NYC? Don’t worry, I’m here to satiate your sweet tooth.
Anyone out there got a huge sweet tooth? raises hand I never say no to a tasty treat, whether it’s ice cream, cake, cookies…just gimme all of it. What’s even better when it’s Instagram worthy – pretty AND delicious, the best combo!
For my birthday this year, I hopped on a plane to NYC, rounded up some friends (including Serena of Serena’s Lenses, Sierra of Passport Voyager, and Debbie of Offbeat Trekker), and planned a dessert tour around the city (okay, mostly lower Manhattan). Together, we hit up 10 dessert places over 3 days. Needless to say, I’m still in a sugar coma 2 weeks later, but it was pretty much the best birthday ever.
We devoured lots of treats and found the best and most Instagram worthy desserts in NYC. Here are the spots we went to (along with some others that were on my list that I never made it to because any more places would’ve just been crazy, y’all).
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The Most Instagram-Worthy Desserts in NYC
Momofuku Milk Bar
Momofuku Milk Bar is a NYC icon. Part of chef David Chang’s Momofuku empire, Milk Bar is an award-winning bakery with locations all over NYC and beyond. Helmed by pastry chef Christina Tosi, Milk Bar’s signature treats include the birthday cake truffles, compost cookies (with pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, graham cracker, butterscotch, chocolate chips), and the ever-so-addictive crack pie (YES, it is like crack. So good).
Perhaps one of the most popular and Instagram worthy desserts in NYC is the soft serve here – the most popular of which is the cereal milk, which is supposed to taste like the milk that is left over at the bottom of the bowl after finishing a bowl of cereal. It is actually pretty tasty.
Also Instagrammable is the signature pink neon “milk” sign – a perfect backdrop for snapping a photo of your treats. I’ve found that the East Village and Midtown locations are the most Instagram worthy.
Stax is a donut shop and ice cream shop in one. You can order either ice cream or a donut separately, if you wish. But put the two together, and you get the Cremella, which are a donut ice cream sandwich. Choose your donut, your favorite ice cream flavor (they have some unique ones available), and your topping of choice.
This is definitely one of the most Instagrammable desserts in NYC. It is pretty sweet, as is to be expected when you combine a donut with ice cream, but I found the combination to be pretty tasty regardless.
Address: 279 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
Chikalicious Dessert Club
I saw this Churro cone ice cream on Instagram and immediately bookmarked it. I was dying to try it but alas, there is only a finite amount of stomach space. Seriously though, doesn’t it look insane?
Address: 204 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
Black Tap is a modern-day diner, serving up craft burgers, salads, beer, and more. What they are famous for, though, are those extra AF shakes.
Some of your options here include the Bam Bam, a Fruity Pebbles shake with a Rice Krispies treat, and strawberry Pop Tart, Laffy Taffy; the Sour Power, a black cherry shake with sour gummi poppers, Pixie Stix, a Rainbow Pop, Sour Straw, and Nerds; and a Cake Shake, which comes topped with an entire slice of cake.
YES, it was over-the-top and YES, it was intense. However, I went on my birthday, so I mean….#yolo, amirite?
Black Tap is known to have a line around the block, but I went on a Monday afternoon and it was pretty empty.
Address: 529 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Dominique Ansel’s signature Cronut may be one of the OG Instagram worthy desserts in NYC. Dominique Ansel always has a line out the door, and the Cronuts are always one of the most in-demand desserts in NYC – for good reason! Don’t even try to have an imitation Cronut from another bakery – you *must* have the real thing.
There is a huge difference. The donut shaped croissant is perfectly flaky, and has a variety of fillings inside. So, soooo good. Dominique Ansel also has a selection of cakes and other pastries that are super tasty and Instagrammable. A must-have while in NYC.
Address: 189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Bingbox takes a modern spin on traditional Korean shaved snow ice (aka Bingsu). They have a variety of flavors of shaved ice, and an array of toppings. You can concoct your own creation, or choose from a selection of preset offerings. You can opt to get your treat in a waffle bowl to add to the Instagrammability. Bingbox also does soft serve as well.
Address: 125 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
New Territories creates traditional Hong Kong sweets with a New Yorker twist. They specialize in bubble egg waffles, a Hong Kong specialty (you can find something similar at Bubblewrap, where you’ll find some of the best desserts in London). These come with artisan ice cream and an array of toppings.
Some of their offerings include the U-be Trippin’, with ube ice cream, condensed milk, animal crackers, and Fruity Pebbles;. Dark and Snowy, a black ash waffle with early grey ice cream, banana chips, and hot fudge; and B with the Rose, a black tea and rose infused waffle, honeycomb ice cream, ginger snap cookie, and chocolate shavings (this is the one I ordered).
They also do some crazy creative milkshakes, like the Unicorn Parade, a vanilla shake with marshmallow, Pocky, Fruity Pebbles, and a sprinkles rimmed cup. To be honest, New Territories was a bit too sweet for my liking, but if you like your desserts to be on the sweeter side, then you will really enjoy them.
Address: 190 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
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C Tea has some of the most Instagrammable bubble tea you’ve ever seen. Some of the drinks you can order include a green apple milkshake with a donut, their signature fruit tea (with colorful fruit slices), and a mermaid shake.
Adress: 52 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012
Flour Shop was actually not on my original list, but we happened to stumble upon it on the way to another spot on our agenda. You can’t help but smile when you walk in here. They have these super colorful rainbow cake push pops. They also have cake truffles, which are super cute and the perfect little bite-sized treat.
Flour Shop also has a super fun rainbow wall, which also makes for another perfect photo op!
Address: 177 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10013
Eggloo is another Hong Kong egg waffle joint. Here, you can choose one of 3 waffle flavors as your base, then select from 8 different ice cream choices, and have an unlimited number of toppings from their selection, which include things like Pocky, Fruity Pebbles, coconut, mochi, and more.
Or, if you get too overwhelmed (like I did), just look at the photos on the wall, which picture some of the most original creations from their customers. This is what I did, and I ended up with a tasty and Instagram worthy treat.
Address: 60 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
Raise your hand if you like to sneak bites of dough out of the bowl while you’re baking cookies. If so, then you will probably love DŌ, which sells cookie dough by the pint, mixed into other desserts, or in a cone or sundae, just like ice cream.
You can get a colorful cone and add toppings, which makes it one of the most Instagram worthy desserts in NYC!
Address: 550 LaGuardia Pl, New York, NY 10012
Bar Pa Tea
Bar Pa Tea puts a healthy twist into their bubble tea drinks (or boba, as we Californians call it) – everything on their menu is vegan and gluten free. You won’t be able to tell the difference though, because their drinks are absolutely delicious.
You can make it Instagrammable by making it a float (as I did), which comes with layers and a scoop of ice cream on top; or make it a pink latte, which is created by adding beetroot powder. They have a variety of tea flavors, such as the traditional matcha, brown sugar oolong, and salted caramel oolong.
They also do soft serve here, which is also one of the most Instagram worthy desserts in NYC. It comes in a black tea or oolong flavor (or you can get a swirl), and you can add toppings, such as tapioca pearls, a mini stroopwaffel, or a honey braided twist.
Address: 85 Kenmare Street, store #2, New York, NY 10012
Soft Swerve specializes in, you guessed it, soft serve. This is not only one of the most Instagrammable desserts in NYC, it was also one of my favorites on my dessert tour. The soft serve here is just right – flavorful, not to sweet, and super creamy. It comes in flavors such as matcha, ube (purple yam), coconut, and black sesame.
They also have plenty of toppings available, and you can either create your own, if you’re feeling creative. Or, you can choose from one of their “Swerve Specials,” which include things like Strawberry Fields, with matcha soft serve, freeze dried strawberries, and strawberry drizzle; or the Woodside, which comes with ube soft serve, mochi, and toasted coconut.
Address: 85 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
Popbar’s concept combines two of my favorite things: popsicles and gelato. Popbars are essentially gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt on a stick. You can choose from one of 26 flavors, and then add toppings to make your Popbar super Instagrammable! Popbar’s bars are all gluten-free and Kosher, with some varieties (the sorbet and yogurt) being vegan and lactose-free.
Address: 5 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014
Taiyaki is traditionally a Japanese fish-shaped waffle pastry, usually filled with red bean. One of the new trendy desserts is a taiyaki-shaped cone with ice cream and various toppings inside. This is Taiyaki’s specialty and it does not disappoint as one of the most Instagram worthy desserts in NYC!
I couldn’t help myself and HAD to get the Unicorn Taiyaki here because it was just sooooooo cute. This was also another one of my favorites from my dessert tour – mmmm, delicious and photo-worthy is the best combo!
Address: 119 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013
Let’s just say….I LOVE churros (see my Mexico City guide and Barcelona guide for proof of this). Add to that the Instagrammability factor and it was no surprise that Sweet Churros ended up on my list. Sweet Churros does loop-shaped churros with various toppings.
You can either get the churros as-is, or on top of a cup of soft serve. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and stomach space and never made it there…but it is definitely on the list for next time (you bet I’ll want to do a part 2 of this dessert tour sometime).
Address: Food Gallery 32, 11 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001
Milk & Cream Cereal Bar
If you are a cereal fan like I am, then you will probably LOVE Milk & Cream. Here, you choose either vanilla or cookie dough ice cream, and a cereal of choice which they then mix in and blend into soft serve. You then add a topping and a drizzle, and choose to have it served in a cup or cone (there are multiple cone flavors too). Or, you can opt to go with one of their special signature blends as well. Milk & Cream may have been my favorite from the weekend. I loved the cereal concept (even though a lot of the other places had cereal as toppings, Milk & Cream took it a step further). Not only is the ice cream itself super Instagrammable, so is the entire storefront – they even have a super fun neon sign that says “treat yo’ self” – which was definitely my motto for the entire weekend.
Address: 159 Mott St, New York, NY 1001
Best Photo Gear for Taking Photos of the Most Instagrammable Desserts in NYC
Wondering what gear you should have when photographing the most Instagrammable desserts in NYC? Read on for my favorite gear that will help you up your photography an Instagram game!
I currently shoot on the Nikon D7000 (which has now been updated to the Nikon D7500). I’ve been a Nikon fan for years – to me, the colors on Nikon are super vibrant and their cameras always feel right in my hands (but what camera brand you choose is really a personal choice). The D7500 is a good mid-range model – easy to use but with upgraded features than your standard entry-level camera.
On a budget or want a simple, foolproof dSLR? Look into an entry-level model like the Nikon D3500 or the Canon Rebel T7. They are super easy to use, will help you learn the basics of photography, and take amazing shots – and you really can’t beat the price!
Want the image quality of a dSLR without the weight? A mirrorless camera is perfect for you! Sony is definitely the king of mirrorless, and you can’t go wrong with any of their cameras. Many of my friends shoot with and love the Sony a6000 because it’s lightweight, easy to use, and shoots amazing photos!
Best Travel Lenses
The lens that lives on my camera about 90% of the time is the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 (for Nikon, Canon, Sony). If budget were not an issue, I would absolutely get the Nikon version of this lens, which many professional photographers use, and is known as one of the best all-around lenses (there are Canon and Sony versions of this as well). The Tamron version has similar specs, but is sold at at a fraction of the price.
The 28-75mm range covers much of what I need when traveling, and this lens takes excellent close-up shots, which is perfect for food photography! The f2.8 means that it shoots well in low light AND gets that amazing bokeh, or blurred background, which makes your food photos look amazing!
For the Best Phone Photos
I’m lazy AF so I actually end up taking a lot of photos with my phone. My currently phone camera is the iPhone XR – it’s known as one of the best phone cameras, and I tend to agree! The newer iPhone 11 has an even better camera, and is even better for close-up shots (perfect for food photography), so definitely look into it if you’re due for an upgrade. My boyfriend also has the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, which might be even better (shh don’t tell him that) because it has manual controls – it makes food photos look absolutely drool-worthy.
What are some of your favorite desserts in NYC? Let me know in the comments, so I can check them out next time!
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Caroline is a Southern California based traveler, writer, and photographer. She travels all around California, the US, and the world in search of the most colorful places, the most delicious food, and bucket-list adventures. Her aim is to inspire other travelers discover how to add more adventure and joy to their lives. On Pictures & Words, you’ll find detailed guides + itineraries, along with vibrant photos to help you plan the the most epic trips. When she’s not traveling, Caroline also runs half marathons.