The Absolute Best Cupcake Shops In The U.S.

Buy a dozen in lieu of a cake, bring a selection to the office to sweeten everyone's day, or grab a single one when you need a little pick-me-up. Whatever the occasion, the answer should always be cupcakes. What came about as an individual pound cake sometime in the 18th century, per Food Timeline, has since expanded into a billion-dollar industry. From classics done well (vanilla and buttercream frosting, anyone?) to an infinite number of variations you'll unfortunately never have the time to try, cupcakes deserve to be in the spotlight.

Nowadays you can find these handheld cakes all over, in supermarkets, cafés, bakeries, and let's not forget at birthday parties. However, dozens of shops countrywide specialize in only selling these miniature cakes, and you can bet that their creations go above and beyond. Aside from cupcake-only bakeries, a number of spots focusing on baked goods are doing a commendable job making the portion-sized treats. Cupcake lovers — get ready to plan the ultimate sweet tooth trip across the country. And for anyone who's stuck with the taste of stale cupcakes and dry frosting from a poor rendition from their distant past, clear the cache and start off fresh thanks to our list of the absolute best spots in the U.S. to get your cupcake fix.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop - Brooklyn

Going strong for over 15 years, Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Brooklyn seems to do it all. With multiple locations in the hip borough, you're never too far from a sweet treat. Plus, the bakery caters for events of all sizes, so they'll even come to you. On top of making decadent cupcakes, the bakery also sells other classic American desserts — cookies, bundt cakes, cheesecakes, pies, ice cream, bars, and more — making it an obvious one-stop wonder for all of your dessert needs. The bakery ensures that all of its ingredients are high-quality, seasonal, and sustainably grown and produced in the surrounding regions. Onsite, goods are baked fresh daily so you can always expect the best from this friendly spot.

Back to the cupcakes: Expect some familiar favorites as well as unique twists on the most tantalizing flavors. Satisfied customers love the Southern red velvet, pumpkin spice (seasonally available), Coconut Cloud, and the Brooklyn Blackout (a heavenly chocolate overload which was recognized as one of the country's best chocolate cakes by Food & Wine in 2018). Other fan favorites include pistachio grape jam, peanut butter & jelly, and gluten-free and vegan chocolate cupcakes. You might want to plan a party just to have a huge supply of these delectable cupcakes on hand.

Cupcake Bakery - Eagan, Minnesota

Cupcake Bakery in Minnesota knows that people like to have options, so a variety of assorted packs are available on the menu. Decide whether you need the ultimate, premium, or gourmet selection and prepare to savor every last morsel. Per its website, the bakery has been experimenting with flavors, toppings, and fillings since 2004, so you can guarantee that the 50 or so choices taste of pure perfection. Classics stay on the menu and seasonal spins are regularly in the works, meaning that you'll always have a different cupcake to sample when you stop by.

Premium cupcakes come with a filling, and you're looking at mouthwatering combinations like chocolate caramel, vanilla white chocolate, triple chocolate, and dulce de leche with vanilla. The gourmet category is missing a surprise on the inside, but these cupcakes are no less delicious. Try chocolate cream cheese, cookies and cream, or chocolate peanut butter. Anyone with gluten sensitivity knows how hard it can be to find baked goods that are worth it, and Cupcake Bakery has the recipe down. Try raspberry chocolate, strawberry lemonade, or lemon sunshine and you might never search elsewhere. As for the vegan cupcakes, creative flavors abound: Oreo and sweet mint, salted nut, or vanilla latte are up for grabs.

Kara's Cupcakes - Multiple locations

Funnily enough, Kara of Kara's Cupcakes actually grew up with a dentist parent. From small-scale catering to a popular bakery with multiple locations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Napa, Kara is now making and enjoying her fair share of treats. Quality ingredients are prized and a focus on local products seals the deal. Kara's aims to suit a range of dietary needs, and both gluten-free and vegan options are available.

Popular favorites include fleur de sel (chocolate ganache, caramel, and sea salt), red velvet with cream cheese frosting, sweet vanilla, Meyer lemon, and sweet s'mores — honestly, it's hard to go wrong. The vegan and gluten-free options are more limited but you'll still be able to savor chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, and coconut flavored cupcakes. You'll want to visit regularly because monthly and seasonal flavor specials keep the anticipation high. Cupcakes stuffed with fresh strawberries and cream topped with cream cheese frosting? Count us in!

Cupcake Royale - Seattle

While it seems unimaginable today to think of a time with no cupcake shops, when Cupcake Royale opened in Seattle in 2003, it was the first bakery of its kind to set up shop outside NYC. This is Seattle, so you can bet that the fresh daily baked cupcakes are served with some of the best java around. Community commitment is at the forefront of the bakery's principles, and apart from sourcing all of the ingredients regionally, it also makes regular donations to local non-profits. Enjoy a cupcake and be confident that it's contributing to something greater; what more can you ask for?

An emphasis on fresh seasonal ingredients means that new and exciting cupcakes are always being made. Plus, creatively themed assortments are on the menu in case you need a box of cupcakes with dog, cat, alien, or football designs to bring to an event. The baker's choice assortment is certainly a tempting proposition (especially for the indecisive among us), and a vegan box makes it easy to keep dietary restrictions straight.

The flavors are enticing enough to make you order a selection: salted caramel, lavender, tiramisu, cherry chocolate cheesecake, and chocolate hazelnut crunch are obvious choices. Or else, try the Fluffernutter (vanilla cake with marshmallow fluff and peanut butter), Peppermint Party (mint buttercream on a chocolate or vanilla cupcake), or let loose with a Dance Party (vanilla buttercream and cake with confetti).

Georgetown Cupcake - Multiple locations

Sisters Katherine and Sophie have been running the show at Georgetown Cupcake since 2008, quickly expanding with locations from coast to coast. Cupcakes run deep in this family and the owners picked up a lot of baking tricks from their grandmother, which they've shared on a couple of TLC shows and in two books. Everyone is eager to get a bite, and Georgetown Cupcake has received acclaim from dozens of outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, Oprah, and Martha Stewart, to name a few. The bakery caters for events and goes above and beyond in the community, sharing the joy of a sweet treat with countless charitable organizations.

It's futile to try to list all of the cupcakes you can pick up at Georgetown because on top of its everyday selection, there are daily and monthly specials to enjoy the peak of each season's flavors. Assorted theme boxes are equally varied, with options like Republican, Democrat, garden party, fun in the sun, or a rainbow and unicorn dozen if you're in need of a fantasy treat.

Choosing your cupcakes is going to be the trickiest part of a visit here, so any tip is welcome. Spoon University interviewed the staff, and favorites include cookies & creme cheesecake, lava fudge, chocolate salted caramel, and vegan apple cinnamon. Some seasonal favorites to try are white chocolate peppermint, gingerbread, lavender Earl Grey, pumpkin spice, and banana split.

Sprinkles - Multiple locations

We love being able to get our favorite cupcakes across the country, and apart from having locations in eight states, Sprinkles ships nationwide. Since 2005, the bakery has been making cupcakes and other sweet treats for its satisfied customers. The value of a cupcake should not be underestimated, and Sprinkles works with community organizations and projects to share some of that sweetness with everyone. Regular customers will love the loyalty program which compensates you with a free cupcake after you reach a certain amount of points.

The cupcake menu is filled with tempting options (gluten-free and vegan too!), and flavors available for a limited time keep it exciting. Among the bestsellers, chocolate lovers need to taste the Belgian dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate frosting and sprinkles. Other guaranteed favorites are strawberry (cake and frosting), black and white (dark chocolate cake with vanilla frosting), and red velvet. Triple cinnamon, carrot, and banana cupcakes add plenty of variety, and the gluten-free or vegan red velvet will keep everyone content.

Magnolia Bakery - Multiple locations

When it comes to setting trends, Magnolia Bakery has been selling cupcakes for 25 years. First founded in NYC, there are now branches in Chicago, LA, India, the Phillippines, and the Middle East. Magnolia owes at least some of its rise in popularity to the HBO series Sex and the City, after an episode in 2000 showed stars Carrie and Miranda savoring the cupcakes outside the Greenwich Village location. As a nod of appreciation, Magnolia's gave out free cupcakes (named The Carrie) to celebrate the show's 20 year anniversary in 2018, per Food Network.

Of course, the cupcakes are worth the fuss and they immediately became trendy because they're so delicious. You can imagine that in a quarter-century the bakery has experimented with hundreds of recipes, and home bakers will be pleased to know that they can reproduce some of them at home with The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. The cupcake flavors stick to solid classics like vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet, but seasonal options pop up as well. Once you get a taste of the airy cakes and rich buttercream frosting as it melts in your mouth, you'll value the simplicity of the selection.

Buzz Bakeshop - Multiple locations

With two locations in Virginia, Buzz Bakeshop is satisfying the local sweet tooths with its tempting selection of baked goods. The bakers will happily cater to any occasion — how about a cupcake decorating party? You could enjoy one of Buzz Bakeshop's savory breakfast offerings, a hearty muffin, or the assorted desserts, but a cupcake is obviously a must. While you're at it, you'll probably have to bring home a variety to try a variety of the tasty flavors on the menu.

Classics like vanilla, red velvet, and chocolate are obvious places to start, and coffee lovers will definitely want to save some space for the specialty buzz cupcake (chocolate cake with espresso buttercream). As for the gourmet options, s'mores, cookies and cream, and lemon cake will keep you coming back for more. Yelp reviewers praise the moist cupcakes, noting that they don't cross the delicate line of being overly sweet. One new customer even called them "life-changing," adding about the bakery, "I wish I didn't know you existed, cause now I think about you all the time." Loyal fans describe them as being "truly decadent," so get ready for a well-deserved treat!

My Delight Cupcakery - Ontario, California

If you're looking to devour an "edible work of art" then a stop at My Delight Cupcakery is non-negotiable. Mom and daughter duo Melinda and Naomi opened the cupcake-only bakery in Ontario, California in 2009, and the acclaim has been consistent. In case you can't make it onsite, the My Delight Cupcake Truck brings the treats directly to you — or to Google headquarters or The Grammys!

It's no surprise that everyone wants a taste of these tiny cakes. High-quality, local, and organic (when possible) ingredients, paired with Naomi's training and experience from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pastry & Confectionery, shine through in every heavenly bite. The menu offers a choice of signature, featured, monthly, and weekly specials, so there's always something new to taste. Signature flavors are offered as mini or standard-sized cupcakes, so go ahead and try a range.

Availability varies daily, but look out for rose champagne, chocoflan, Nutella s'mores, raspberry lemonade, vegan strawberry horchata, snickerdoodle, caramel churro, or a gluten-free salted caramel cheesecake. Or for something totally unique (and award-winning!) try the breakfast cupcake made with a buttermilk base with smoked bacon, smothered in buttery maple icing with yet more bacon and maple syrup. It's definitely one way to start the day! Meanwhile, if your dog has a sweet tooth, be sure to pick up a doggie delights cupcake: peanut butter, honey, and carrot cake topped with peanut butter buttercream, dog biscuit crumbs, and a dog bone.

Billy's Bakery - New York City

It's been almost 20 years since business school friends Marc and Wayne co-founded Billy's Bakery in NYC. Now, with three locations in Manhattan, the bakery is busier than ever feeding the neighborhood sugar fiends. The menu is extensive with breakfast pastries, cookies, cheesecakes, pies, and cookies among the selection. It doesn't stop there; various DIY Kits let you decorate your own treats so you can feel like you're partaking in some of the artistry.

As for the cupcakes, classics like chocolate and vanilla are on offer, but you'll want to expand your palate. You can't go wrong with bourbon salted caramel, red velvet, and chocolate peanut butter, or for something fruitier, try lemon raspberry or banana Nutella. Billy's also has an assortment of unique creations for special occasions such as the King's Cake for Mardi Gras: a cinnamon cupcake with cream cheese frosting. For the indecisive, the Crowd Pleaser combines vanilla and chocolate batter into a single cupcake with marbled icing. If you want to have a say, discuss custom options with the baking team to design your dream cupcake.

Trophy Cupcakes - Multiple locations

Trophy Cupcakes is a husband and wife collaboration with multiple locations in Washington state. The pair has been baking up a storm for 15 years, following their mission: "​​We believe every day should be a party." And what better way to highlight a party than by savoring a selection of cupcakes? DIY cupcake decorating kits can be shipped countrywide, or come in to see the latest creations. Classic, special, and themed cupcakes are available, and daily flavors are always changing.

A moist cake with just the right amount of icing can be an elusive concept but Trophy Cupcakes delivers. Some customer favorites include sea salt caramel, s'mores, coconut, and Black Forest. Be sure to save some space for the Hummingbird (banana pineapple coconut cake with cream cheese frosting), lemon cream pie, strawberry sundae, or chocolate chip cookie dough party cupcake. A couple of vegan and gluten-free options mean everyone can join in on the fun. If you're looking for a party pack, mini cupcakes are for sale too, and themed designs really steal the show — think Star Wars, woodland creatures, mermaids, or jungle animals by the dozen.

Gigi's Cupcakes - Multiple locations

Although Gigi Butler, the name behind Gigi's Cupcakes, is no longer at the helm, this bustling bakery has franchises across the country. That means that each location has its own specials and unique flavors, inspired by the local community. What do they have in common? A towering swirl of creamy frosting, perfectly paired with the flavors of every cake. If you're all about the icing then you'll love the fact that there's no skimping here. Custom cupcakes are welcome, and Gigi's is ready to cater weddings, birthdays, and any celebration where a sweet treat is on the menu.

Speaking of which, Gigi's menu showcases classic and seasonal flavors, so don't worry about getting bored. The flavors are fun and creative and these cupcakes are total showstoppers. Try lemon champagne for your bubbly fix or enjoy the Lovella (Nutella and strawberries). Or, skip the Nutella and try a strawberry shortcake cupcake for a fruity snack that also comes in a gluten-free version. Chocoholics need to try Midnight Magic, chocolate salted caramel, or cookies n' cream — all are good bets.

Molly's Cupcakes - Multiple locations

Founder John Nicolaides' elementary school teacher Miss Molly was the inspiration behind Molly's Cupcakes, and as he recounts, she would bake incredible birthday cupcakes for all of her students. So, Johnny opened up his own shop in Chicago to share the cupcake joy, making a point to donate a part of all profits to local schools. After wowing the country on Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" back in 2009, the bakery expanded with outlets in Iowa City, Cincinnati, and NYC.

There are variations on the menu depending on your location, but they all have delicious fillings and a custom sprinkle station in common. Some top favorites include red velvet, peach cobbler, peanut butter Nutella, salted caramel butterscotch, crème brûlée, and Boston cream. Chocolate lovers are covered, and chocolate mousse, flourless molten chocolate, chocolate decadence, and German chocolate all lay it on thick. As for seasonal flavors, the tempting options are endless: passionfruit, mango, pumpkin spice, pecan pie, key lime, and eggnog are all prime choices. And of course, Molly's has an assortment of vegan and gluten-free cupcakes so no one is left out.

The Flying Cupcake Bakery - Indianapolis

The Flying Cupcake Bakery in Indianapolis has graced many best cupcake lists since opening in 2007. If you like savoring a cupcake as a small or larger snack, you'll love the fact that the treats come in mini, regular, and a signature jumbo size. Plus, classic and daily flavors keep the selection wide (over 60 choices!), and vegan, gluten-free, and custom options are all available. If you're planning an event, you'll want to reserve one of the bakery's two food trucks (cutely named Petunia and Penelope), and if you're anywhere else in the continental USA, the bakery even ships!

The cupcakes even have fun names, and you might want to enjoy a Breakfast Club Mimosa (champagne cake with orange buttercream and edible pearls) followed by a Bart Simpson (chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and Butterfinger). ET Phone Home is a great choice for anyone who loves Reese's, and if you're all about the coconut then say it loud and clear with a jumbo KooKoo for Coconuts. Staff favorites include black raspberry truffle and Fluffernutter (cake filled with marshmallow cloud buttercream, topped with peanut butter fluff, more marshmallow buttercream, and a Nutterbutter cookie to finish it off).

Buttah Bakery - Ridgewood, New York

Buttah Bakery in Ridgewood, New York has a wildly tempting selection of cupcakes and assorted treats for all sugar lovers out there. Create your own combinations or try any from the menu and you're guaranteed to love every bite. To customize your order, choose from a number of appetizing designs that can be paired with your choice of cake base. If you're sticking to the menu, thanks to the ever-changing variety of flavors, your cupcake-loving self will never get bored.

Among the enticing flavors, you'll find Banana Peanut Buttah (with chocolate ganache, of course), Charlotte Russe (a throwback to an iconic 1930s treat from Brooklyn consisting of a raspberry jelly roll with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry), coconut cream (vanilla or chocolate cake with whipped cream and coconut flakes), and carrot (spiced carrot, walnut, and raisin cake with cream cheese icing and candied carrots). For a chocolate lover's dream, the Brooklyn Blackout is filled and topped with chocolate pudding and covered in chocolate cake crumbs. You had better get in line!