Philadelphia’s Best Sweet Treats

Ice cream, doughnuts, babka — and that’s just the start.

16 min read
BestDessertsPhilly TheIgloo italianice feature

After dinner. With a steamy cup of coffee or tea, to get through that afternoon slump. Occasionally for breakfast. Late at night. Just because. For all of those times we find ourselves craving something sweet, these Philadelphia spots deliver sweet treats and baked goodies you’ll want to savor and share. These are the best in the City of Brotherly Love, based on some of the spots you order from most, as well as our local expertise on what’s acclaimed or otherwise notable.

Weckerly's Ice Cream

Pastry chef Jen Weckerle opened Weckerly’s Ice Cream in 2012. Originally located in the back of a neighborhood café in West Philadelphia, Weckerly’s is now a beloved “micro-creamery” based in a repurposed textile plant in North Philadelphia. It’s all about celebrating local ingredients in ice cream form. The Black & White ice cream cookie sandwich, vanilla bean ice pop with rainbow sprinkles, and a pint of cranberry apple pie ice cream are what frozen dreams are made of.

BestDessertsPhilly Weckerlys icecreamsandwich article

Bruster's Real Ice Cream

Bruce Reed, the “Bruce” in Bruster’s, started selling his homemade ice cream in 1989. Bruster's is proof that ice cream classics are classics for good reason. Bruster’s makes a spot-on banana split and hot fudge brownie sundae; for kids, order a dino sundae with a dinosaur sugar cookie on top. Hand-spun milkshakes are fantastically dense, and don’t forget an extra pint or two to stash in the freezer.

Cookie Dope

Obviously, the best part of making cookies is “tasting” the dough. With eight flavors of cookie dough — favorites include Chocolate Chip Trip and Gnarly Confetti Party — ordering from Cookie Dope means you can skip the dough-making process and head straight to a cup overflowing with the good stuff. Try the cookie dough paired with locally made Bassetts Premium Ice Cream, or in sandwich form, stuffed between two chewy cookies.

BestDessertsPhilly CookieDope group article

The Igloo

The Igloo isn’t shy about its love for its city. Philadelphia is traditionally home to water ice, and the Igloo serves this creamy Italian ice in many forms, mixed and matched with ice cream, frozen yogurt, custard, gelato, or sorbet. Order a pup cup for your canine family member and a chocolate-covered pretzel for something crunchy, salty, and sweet for yourself.

Scoop DeVille

Since 1989, Scoop DeVille has been a beloved Philadelphia institution, with locations in Midtown, South Street, and Old City. It’s famous for its custom soft-serve blends, which means you can create your own flavor, with more than 50 mix-ins such as bananas and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Also worth trying: the vegan milkshakes made with housemade oat milk ice cream, make-your-own lava cake sundaes, at-home sundae bars, and ice cream pie.

BestDessertsPhilly ScoopDeVille milkshake article

Flying Monkey Bakery

Flying Monkey Bakery began inside Philadelphia’s famous Reading Terminal Market as a labor of love from baker Elizabeth Halen. Almost 15 years later, her whoopie pies, brownies, and chewy, slightly crispy cookies are still baked from scratch in small batches. It’s hard to choose a favorite here, but the award-winning whoopie pies are a must. Try a box of six assorted flavors to share — or keep for yourself.

Yum Yum Bake Shops

Gilbert and Cecelia Conly started Yum Yum Bake Shops as a small doughnut and coffee shop in 1963. Today, it’s run by the family’s third generation. The Warminster shop’s doughnuts — filled, iced, crullers, rings, fritters — are the heart of what it does, and they’re fresh and delicious. The doughnut holes are called Yumsters; they’re best paired with coffee or your favorite hot beverage.

BestDessertsPhilly YumYumBakeShops donuts article

Batter & Crumbs Vegan Bakery & Café

South Philly’s Batter & Crumbs believes eating vegan shouldn’t be a sacrifice. The proof is in its giant Salty Monster Cookie, a white chocolate chip cookie stuffed with a birthday cake sandwich cookie, all topped with sprinkles and chunky sea salt. And in its luscious, fragrant cinnamon rolls. And in its mini cannoli, which PETA ranked as one of the top 10 vegan desserts in the country.

The Bakeshop on 20th

This small-batch bakery takes its inspiration from family recipes, so it’s all about nostalgia here. It’s worth calling ahead for the babka, braided brioche filled with either dark chocolate and a hint of cinnamon or fresh fruit and cheese. If you want to eat a cookie for breakfast andfeel exceedingly good about it, the breakfast cookie is a gluten-free treat made with freshly ground almond butter, oats, and dried figs, apricots, and cherries. It’s even better beside a coffee from La Colombe or Philly Fair Trade Roasters — your choice.

A La Mousse

This cozy cake shop opened on North 11th Street in 2015 and has grown since then, thanks to well-deserved adoration for its mille crepes cakes, more than 20 layers of fluffy handmade crepes and cream for a melt-in-your mouth experience that’s equal parts beautiful, special, and satisfying. Try matcha, chocolate, or vanilla depending on your mood and what’s in stock. A La Mousse also makes a chocolate mousse cake with a crispy hazelnut base in the shape of a brown bear that is almost, but not quite, too cute to eat.

Porco’s Porchetteria & Small Oven Pastry Shop

Nestled in the emerging neighborhood of Graduate Hospital/Point Breeze, Porco’s Porchetteria’s OG sandwich is a rich, porky beauty on house ciabatta, studded with crunchy pork cracklings. Its sweet and savory baked goods deliver on quality, including a croissant stuffed with applewood-smoked Black Forest ham, Gruyere, Swiss, and mustard aioli. Lemon custard pretzel bars, chai cinnamon buns, and Nestle Toll House-style chocolate chip cookies with sea salt are excellent ways to end a meal here.

D'Emilio's Old World Ice Treats

This East Passyunk Avenue spot is home to daily sundaes, soft-serve pints, and an almost dizzying array of frozen goodness in the form of sorbet, gelato, soft-serve ice cream, and water ice. Top your ice cream with sprinkles, caramel syrup, crunchy chocolate toffee bits, whipped cream, Oreo crumbles, and more.

Isgro Pastries

Isgro Pastries is a living, breathing, and delicious piece of Philadelphia history, opened in 1904 in the food-centric Italian Market at 1009 Christian Street — where it still stands today. Born in Sicily and trained in Vienna, owner Mario Isgro brought an old-world sensibility that remains in this family-run business that’s a culinary destination for sfogliatelle, pignoli cookies, rum cake, and so much more. The tiramisu cake is fantastically fluffy, and you can choose ricotta, chocolate, vanilla, or mascarpone filling for Isgro’s classic cannoli.

BestDessertsPhilly CookieDope group article

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Van Leeuwen began in a cheerful yellow truck on the streets of NYC in 2008. The brand is national now, with shops in Rittenhouse Square, Fishtown, and Center City that feature the smooth, flavor-forward ice cream that made Van Leeuwen famous. Try its understated and sophisticated Earl Grey tea and honeycomb flavors, or get a little more fanciful with marionberry cheesecake ice cream or the vegan combination of oat milk, churros, and fudge.

BestDessertsPhilly VanLeeuwen group article

Hope’s Cookies

Freshly baked cookies are a pure form of joy. Hope’s Cookies has embodied this philosophy since 1996, when it opened in Bryn Mawr and started winning awards soon after for its fine, chewy cookies made with high-quality ingredients. Stay classic with the chocolate chip, dense with semisweet gourmet chocolate, or switch it up with the Heath Bar and red velvet cookies. Hope’s makes excellent milkshakes, too.

Just Cravings

When the froyo trend ebbed, I felt personally offended. I love frozen yogurt. Just Cravings is the perfect place for me to indulge this love, with its cornucopia of frozen yogurt flavors and almost any topping you might dream up. It also has a great sorbet, ice cream, and even root beer floats for at-home assembly.

BestDessertsPhilly JustCravings froyo article


Owowcow Creamery

Since 2009, Owowcow Creamery has made its ice cream from scratch every day, starting with pasteurizing its own ice cream base using locally sourced organic cream. It’s a favorite of chefs, and Owowcow reserves half of its 24 flavors for vegan ice cream, sorbet, seasonal ice cream flavors, and specials, such as the salted caramel cookie crunch, which has ribbons of caramel and a crunchy cookie butter swirl⁠, and banana pudding, banana cream ice cream with a housemade vanilla pudding swirl and gluten-free Nilla Wafers. The 12 year-round staples include the Cookie Monstah, featuring house-made chocolate chip cookies, and the honey lavender.

The Ultimate Bake Shoppe

Family-owned for almost 40 years, the Ultimate Bake Shoppe in Ardmore lives up to its name with simple baked treats of the highest quality. For something a little less sweet, no-sugar-added banana chocolate chip cookies are true delights. If you’re embracing sweetness, try the cupcakes topped with Mom’s Buttercream frosting and the pillowy coconut macaroons.

The Sugaree

The Sugaree serves Bassetts Premium Ice Cream and Morrone's Water Ice, both in plenty of flavors and with a satisfyingly long list of toppings. It also sells novelty and nostalgic candies at the shop when you visit in person. But for ordering in, you cannot go wrong with a quart of Cookie Monster ice cream, a Peanut Butter Dream milkshake, or a vanilla-and-chocolate soft-serve swirl.

Pretty Tasty Cupcakes

This peanut- and tree-nut-free facility is a smart choice for the nut-allergy conscious. Pretty Tasty Cupcakes’ cupcakes, cookies, and cake pops are baked fresh daily in the charming Conshohocken bakery. They’re as stunning as they are tasty, and the staff will whip up custom creations for parties and events. Any day is a good day to order a lemon or red velvet cupcake, and there are new flavors on offer here every month.

Kiwi Yogurt

Another frozen yogurt worth seeking out! Kiwi Yogurt was founded by a froyo-loving brother-and-sister team and features over a dozen flavors of frozen yogurt full of tangy good-for-you cultures and more than 30 fresh, flavorful toppings so you can create your ideal cup. Maybe that’s creamy peanut butter frozen yogurt with pretzels and granola, or coconut frozen yogurt with shredded coconut and fresh kiwi. You could order hundreds of times and never get the same thing twice.

BestDessertsPhilly KiwiYogurt froyo article

Chill Out Ice Cream and Water Ice

The Monahan family purchased Chill Out Ice Cream and Water Ice almost two decades ago because they wanted to own a business and thought an ice cream parlor sounded like fun. Spoiler alert: It was. Their hand-dipped ice cream comes in 24 flavors (which may not all be available at once, depending on the day), both classic and esoteric, like vanilla bean and sweet-and-salty caramel pretzel. Chill Out also makes its own water ice — this is Philadelphia, after all — and offers housemade ice cream cakes and perfectly thick milkshakes.

Taffets Bakery & Store

Chef Omer Taffet had a creative challenge when his gluten-sensitive mother came to visit. How could he prepare food that was both genuinely wonderful and safe for her to eat? After experimenting with various gluten-free flours and techniques, Omer and his wife, Natasha, opened Taffets Bakery & Store on South 9th Street in the heart of Philadelphia’s Italian Market neighborhood. They sell gluten-free pizza crusts, bagels, and loaves of bread, but the sweets stand out. This spot's carrot cake cookie bar and oatmeal raisin cookies are equally fantastic for both those who eat gluten and those who avoid it.

Ice Moon

Warning: It’s dangerous to peruse the Ice Moon menu while craving something sweet. Where to start? A Double Ferrero Rocher sundae? A Strawberry Lady Thai rolled ice cream topped with Teddy Grahams and strawberry syrup? (For the uninitiated, Thai rolled ice cream is exactly what it sounds like: little rolls of ice cream packed prettily into a cup.) And to drink, a mango berry virgin mojito or a taro milk bubble tea? Or maybe a Pineapple Paradise smoothie? Or a mocha frappé? They're all so overwhelmingly delicious.


Cookie Dope by Preston Neidermyer

Yum Yum Bake Shops by Joseph Cole