The Best Cupcake in All 50 States
We’re going to sugarcoat it. Twelve years after the advent of the cupcake-only bakery (the California-launched chain Sprinkles is credited with opening the first in 2005), there are a lot of options. We rounded up 50 of the best decadent desserts across the country. So go out, have your (cup)cake—and eat it, too.
1. ALABAMA // WEDDING CAKE, DREAMCAKES BAKERY
Location: Homewood, Alabama
State newspaper Al.com found this shop, well, quite dreamy—giving them top honors in a 2012 hunt. Co-owner Jan Potter, a former food stylist, said she focuses on both taste and Instagram-ibility of the treats, telling the paper, “I believe you eat with your eyes first.” Of the 80 flavors on offer—between 18 to 20 are available each day—the paper was most impressed by best seller Wedding Cake, a white velvet confection with almond buttercream.
2. ALASKA // LEMON ROSEMARY SMOKED SALMON, KASTLE'S KREATIONS
Location: Eagle River, Alaska
A perennial best of winner—most recently named Alaska’s top food truck—the mobile bakery offers flavors ranging from churro to strawberry lemonade. And for the truly brave, there’s the lemon rosemary smoked salmon deity that landed owner Kastle Sorensen and assistant Amy Gruce a victory on a 2013 episode of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
3. ARIZONA // FRENCH TOAST, TREEHOUSE BAKERY
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Who needs buttercream? This dairy-free shop was named best in the state by culinary website The Daily Meal, who declared, “A vegan bakery that makes you forget about the fact that it is vegan is a winner in our book.” And for the truly healthy conscious, many of their rotating 30 flavors—including standout French Toast—are available in gluten-free varieties.
4. ARKANSAS // RED VELVET, PATTICAKES BAKERY
Location: Conway, Arkansas
With a five-star rating on The Knot, brides will want the pros at this Conway shop to bake them a cake (or cupcake tower!) as fast as they can. A self-proclaimed “scratch bakery," the spot’s website says they’re “dedicated to serving desserts reminiscent of a visit to Grandma’s.” A highlight: their traditional red velvet—also available in doughnut form!
5. CALIFORNIA // PUMPKIN MAPLE, SUSIE CAKES
Started by Chicago native Susie Sarich—and a stack of 4x6 cards bearing her grandmothers’ recipes—this chain with 17 locations in Northern and Southern California and four in Texas prides itself on using the finest ingredients (think: European-style butter and Ghirardelli chocolate) in treats such as coconut and lemon as well as seasonal standouts such as the pumpkin maple. As the site proclaims, “If you can’t spell it, we don’t bake with it.”
6. COLORADO // CARROT CAKE, GOLD MINE CUPCAKES
Location: Golden, Colorado
Four years after the mother-and-daughters trio started whipping up recipes for pina colada and macadamia nut cookie in the lone oven in their mom’s kitchen, they’re nabbing honors for their 40-plus flavors. But Yelp reviewers agree the carrot cake is one of their best. The key, says owner and baker Sara Rutter, is their carefully developed buttercream. “Our cake and the frosting are the perfect complement for each other, never having one overpower the other,” she explained to The Denver Post. “Our buttercream frosting was very important to us as we developed the perfect recipe because we didn’t want it to be too sweet and we loved having a soft creamy texture.”
7. CONNECTICUT // BOOZY BREAKFAST, NORA CUPCAKE COMPANY
Location: Middleton, West Hartford, and Canton, Connecticut
“Like most good stories, it all started in a bar,” the website for this spot reads, detailing owner Carrie Carella’s journey from bartender to owner of three locations, a mobile food truck, and more than 300 flavors. That list includes cocktail-infused confections such as the blackberry margarita and the Boozy Breakfast, made with maple cake and Jameson chocolate ganache filling, but also more PG varieties such as Lucky Charms and Candy Explosion from the “kiddie gangsters” section of the menu.
8. DELAWARE // CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE WITH OREO COOKIE MOUSSE, SWEET SOMETHINGS
Location: Wilmington, Delaware
Recently named the best bakery in the state by Yelp reviewers, this shop dishes out nostalgic treats. “There are plenty of places that do ‘cutting edge’ desserts, but for me, it’s about making products you remember as a kid, with grandma,” owner Lee Slaninko told Delaware’s Out & About magazine. “We try and marry that with good service, creative design, and great taste.” Among the appetizing throwback flavors: a chocolate cupcake with Oreo Cookie Mousse.
9. FLORIDA // GUAYABERA, SWEETNESS BAKESHOP
Just seven years old, the family-owned business has already been recognized by Zagat, Food and Wine Magazine, and the Miami New Times, which named them the best in the city. Though their 275-plus flavor list—the guava-and-cream cheese blend Guayabera is a signature—is impressive, it was their vanilla bean-embedded Thrilla-in-Vanilla that impressed Miami New Times writers, who raved, “They have the perfect density, consistency, moisture, flavor and icing-to-cupcake ratio.”
10. GEORGIA // SWEET POTATO & BOURBON, THE ATLANTA CUPCAKE FACTORY
Shortening is a dirty word at this artisan bakery, whose site proclaims they’re “dedicated to small batch baking and to feeding our customers with integrity.” Standouts such as the Sweet Potato and Bourbon blend (with Kentucky Bourbon cream cheese frosting) on the weekly rotating menu earned the boutique shop the distinction of being named The Today Show’s best cupcake in the country.
11. HAWAII // SHAVE ICE, HOKULANI BAKESHOP
This island shop—another Cupcake Wars winner—prides itself on using quality ingredients (pure Grade A sweet cream butter, cane sugar, and fresh eggs) in unique creations such as the Liliko (baked with passion-fruit puree and topped with lemon-zested cream cheese icing) and Shave Ice, a local favorite made with Adzuki beans and drizzled with condensed milk.
12. IDAHO // TOMATO SOUP, SUGAR RUSH CUPCAKERY
Location: Boise, Idaho
A decade of baking wedding cakes—and listening to requests from clients—inspired parent company Family Ties to create a spinoff store offering mini versions of their fun flavors. Among the bakery’s more inventive creations: a tomato soup-flavored option with a cream cheese buttercream.
13. ILLINOIS // MANGO PASSIONFRUIT, SWIRLZ CUPCAKES
Swirlz Cupcakes, the oldest all-cupcake shop in Chicago, layers each buttermilk-made cake with two dollops of frosting. As of their 10-year anniversary in 2016, the shop had dreamed up more than 1700 freshly-made flavors for their rotating list but Food & Wine editors were most impressed with the Mango Passion: a raspberry-and-vanilla cake base topped with mango white chocolate ganache, passion fruit buttercream, white chocolate, and a passion fruit flower.
14. INDIANA // RED VELVET ELVIS, THE FLYING CUPCAKE
The state’s first cupcake shop when it opened in 2007, the bakery has now expanded to six locations and racked up honors from Buzzfeed, MSN, Paula Deen Magazine, and TheIndyChannel.com for its creatively named treats. One reader dubs the Red Velvet Elvis (with chocolate chunks and cream cheese icing) “unbeatable.”
15. IOWA // BAILEY'S & GUINNESS, CRÉME CUPCAKE
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Few things pair better with cupcakes than cocktails. After 5 p.m., this Midwest spot turns into a dessert lounge, featuring suggested drink and dessert pairings (including wines from the aptly named Cupcake Vineyard). Or get your sweets and spirits in one fell swoop with this seasonal pick: a chocolate cake with Guinness mousse filling topped with a Bailey’s buttercream.
16. KANSAS // CHOCOLATE TORTE, GIGI'S CUPCAKES
Location: Overland Park, Kansas
Inspired to open up shop in 2008 when her brother said her red velvet treats were better than those at the famed Magnolia Bakery in New York City, Gigi Butler has expanded to 100-plus independently owned locations. But at this spot, the triple-chocolate gluten-free torte reigns supreme with the owners vowing it’s the most delicious thing you’ll ever taste.
17. KENTUCKY // UPSIDE-DOWN DIPPED CUPCAKE, HOMEMADE ICE CREAM & PIE KITCHEN
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Though not touted in its name, the former lunch counter is famed for their upside-down dipped cupcake created when a still-hot vanilla cupcake is thrust bottom-side-up in chocolate or vanilla icing. The result, raves Louisville.com, is a “sugary wonder.”
18. LOUISIANA // RED VELVET, BUTTERCUPS CUPCAKES
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana
Recipes for the banana pudding (topped with crushed vanilla wafers) and their standout red velvet were developed in Kim Hand’s home kitchen. Each treat incorporates what the brand calls "high quality pure ingredients," including real fruit and "rich chocolate."
19. MAINE// MAINE BLUEBERRY, LET THEM EAT CAKE
Location: Kennebunk, Maine
Named one of the top pastry pros by Martha Stewart Weddings, this New England company also earns raves for its artfully decorated cupcakes. Their treats—one satisfied bride dubs their Maine Blueberry with Stonewall Kitchen wild Maine blueberry jam delicious—can be topped with anything from intricately crafted flowers to a fondant lobster.
20. MARYLAND // CARROT, CHARM CITY CUPCAKES
At Food Network star Duff Goldman’s original bakery even the cupcakes—available in such flavors as amaretto cream, chocolate espresso, and staff favorite carrot—are topped with a thick layer of egg white, butter, and sugar-based buttercream and turned into works of art.
21. MASSACHUSETTS // BITE ME, WHIPPED URBAN CUPCAKE CO.
Though the cakes at this delivery-only brand (a pop-up shop is slated to open soon) stand only at a inch without frosting, they “pack such intense flavor, it’s almost surprising,” raved one Mass Live tester. (The local site named the company tops in the state in 2016.) Another raved that the apple-and-molasses filled Bite Me “packed unreal apple pie flavor into a tiny package” while the java-infused Get Hyped “had some of the purest coffee flavor that I’ve ever encountered in a baked food.”
22. MICHIGAN // DELISH, UNION GENERAL STORE
Location: Clarkston, Michigan
Housed in an 1850 parsonage, this outlet is part all-purpose shop (pick up anything from bubble bath to a harmonica), part cupcakery. All the treats, piled high with a generous dollop of frosting and topped with treats such as malted milk eggs and fresh fruit, are worth the calories, but customers especially crave this blend of chocolate truffle and salted caramel.
23. MINNESOTA // HANDLE WITH CARAMEL, CUPCAKE
Of the 70-plus flavors owner and Cupcake Wars grand champion Kevin VanDeraa has created—including those named for celebrities, such as the Taylor Swift, a vanilla cake with sweet frosting and sprinkles—his favorite is the Handle with Caramel, he told Food & Wine. The chocolate cake “delivers caramel in three ways,” he explained, “liquid caramel sauce, whipped caramel and caramel filling.” The topper: chocolate ganache, chocolate drizzle, and a caramel candy.
24. MISSISSIPPI // COCONUT, SUGAREE'S BAKERY
Location: New Albany, Mississippi
As their website declares, this small batch bakery is “dedicated to the preservation of our culinary heritage in the Deep South.” As such, the pastry chefs whip up caramel by browning granulated sugar, and for the classic coconut flavor, they pour a hot butter glaze over freshly baked cakes. Their aim, they explain, “is to make the richest, moistest homemade cakes available.”
25. MISSOURI // 24 KARAT CARROT CAKE, JILLY'S CUPCAKE BAR
Location: St. Louis
Bring a friend when you visit this St. Louis shop. Chefs Casey Shiller and Dana Holland—two-time winners on Cupcake Wars—churn out gourmet cupcakes that, when stuffed and iced, weigh in at roughly a half pound. One luxe option: the 24 Karat Carrot Cake, filled with vanilla whipped cream and topped with cream cheese frosting, toasted coconut, white chocolate shavings, and gold dust. Or sample from the seasonal menu—caramel apple, banana pudding, and pumpkin cheesecake are on tap for fall!
26. MONTANA // LAVENDER CUPCAKE, BERNICE'S BAKERY
Location: Missoula, Montana
Around since 1978, this landmark insists they never cut corners to make their chocolate, wine, cream, and poppy seed cakes. On their site, the company vows, “All of our fillings, frostings, and toppings are made fresh, from scratch. Actual Lemons are juiced to make the Lemon Curd. Real Raspberries are cooked down and squeezed out by hand to make the Raspberry Puree.” For a special treat, request the shop's signature lavender cupcake, available in wine and chocolate varieties.
27. NEBRASKA // SWEET AND SALTY, JONES BROS. CUPCAKES
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Plans for the family-run business were first discussed around the Joneses’ kitchen table. Today, it’s expanded into a full café that sells tart yogurt, espresso, wine, and homemade small-batch ice cream, but the top seller is still their Sweet and Salty cupcake: chocolate laced with caramel and sea salt, then topped with chocolate buttercream and caramel drizzle.
28. NEVADA // CHOCOLATE-DIPPED CHERRY, FREED'S BAKERY
Location: Las Vegas
A frequent winner in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Best of Las Vegas book, the wedding cake specialists also whip up tasty cupcakes using signature ingredients like European butter cream and Bavarian crème filling. One to try: the chocolate dipped cherry with a literal cherry on top.
29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // CANNOLI, QUEEN CITY CUPCAKES
Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
A popular choice in New Hampshire Magazine’s best of list, the store specializes in flavors that entice both kids (the chocolate-and-marshmallow Hot Cocoa or the Chocolate Chip Cookie with a brown sugar base and cookie crumbles on top) and adults, such as the Guinness cupcake with beer baked right in. But the Cannoli—an almond cupcake with almond buttercream topped with dessert pieces, chocolate chips, and pistachios—receives extra raves.
30. NEW JERSEY // CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TRUFFLE, CUPCAKE MAGICIAN
Location: Red Bank, New Jersey
No wizardry is used in making 600 daily cupcakes at this mom-and-pop shop—just plenty of fresh buttercream and chocolate ganache. The result, gushes a blogger at Flavor Chronicles of the stuffed Chocolate Raspberry Truffle variety, is “heaven.”
31. NEW MEXICO // RED VELVET, SMALLCAKES
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
"Maybe a cupcake will help?" is the slogan of this sugary franchise, named one of USA Today’s top ten spots. But if their 18 signature cake flavors—including birthday cake, peanut butter cup, caramel crunch, and their “famous” red velvet—aren’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, add a scoop of their homemade small batch ice cream.
32. NEW YORK // BLACK & WHITE, LITTLE CUPCAKE BAKESHOP
33. NORTH CAROLINA // ASSORTED PEPPERED CUPCAKE FLAVORS, THE PEPPERED CUPCAKE
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Though sweets such as salted caramel and crème brulee are among the roughly 100 options on the menu, as the name suggests, this spot is known for its savory cakes baked with jalapenos, habaneros, and fresh cracked pepper and topped with one of 15 preserves such as mango and habanero or pear, mint, and wasabi.
34. NORTH DAKOTA // VANILLA, SWEET TREATS CUPCAKE BAR & BAKERY
Location: Bismarck, North Dakota
If you prefer to DIY your desserts, this Midwest eatery is your spot. Sugar seekers choose from classic cake bases—vanilla, chocolate, marble, red velvet, and seasonal varieties—then add frosting and toppings to suit their fancy.
35. OHIO // BUCKEYE, FATE CAKES
Location: Columbus, Ohio
The Buckeye—based off the state nickname and the most requested dessert—is a peanut butter-and-chocolate combo that has this shop's customers raving. “The first bite I had was fabulous!” wrote one fan. “The icing was to die for!”
36. OKLAHOMA // NEOPOLITAN, PINKITZEL
Location: Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma
Resplendent in black-and-white checked floors and chandeliers, this cafe describes itself as part Willy Wonka, part Alice in Wonderland and part Marie Antoinette. Their treats are just as fanciful. Candy-inspired cakes are topped with buttercream or cream cheese icing then wrapped in signature damask paper. One favorite: the Neopolitan, with strawberry and vanilla buttercream and a cherry sour.
37. OREGON // SESAME CARAMEL BOMB, KYRA'S BAKE SHOP
Location: Lake Oswego
Diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder at age 20, founder Kyra Bussanich went gluten-free and found herself disappointed with the dessert options on the market. Experimenting with millet, tapioca, potato, and cornstarch, the Le Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef (a four-time Cupcake Wars winner) developed a slate [PDF] of tasty creations, including this mix of coconut, salted caramel, and toasted sesame that the Cooking Channel has dubbed “heaven.”
38. PENNSYLVANIA // APPLE CRISP, SWEET FREEDOM
Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia
The gluten-free trend is taken one step further at Sweet Freedom, where the chocolate, vanilla, banana, and apple crisp—a must-try, per Food Network—cupcakes are both vegan and devoid of any corn, wheat, peanuts, and soy. Highly processed sugars are always nix, according to their site, which swears, “The only sweeteners we will ever use are the most natural and unrefined of sugars that are gentler on your body.”
39. RHODE ISLAND // ZEPPOLE, SWEET INDULGENCE
Location: Cranston, Rhode Island
Decorated with anything from intricate flowers to unicorn horns, these sweets—ranging from apple pie down to the seasonal Zeppole, topped with a fried Italian pastry—look as good as they taste, earning them the honor of best cupcake in the state by Rhode Island Monthly readers.
40. SOUTH CAROLINA // LEMON CURD, SUGAR BAKESHOP
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
In their renovated four-seat shop, New York City transplants and architects-turned-bakers Bill Bowick and David Bouffard showcase their homemade creations inspired by the treats of their youth. Indulgences such as the by-order-only Lady Baltimore (almond cake with sherry-soaked raisins and a meringue topper) have earned raves from the likes of Southern Living, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine. But it’s their “sweet and tart” Lemon Curd cupcakes that the editors of Travel + Leisure swear are a “must-try.”
41. SOUTH DAKOTA // CHOCOLATE PB ATTACK, OH MY CUPCAKES!
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Among the customer-beloved signature treats at this people-pleasing bakery (their mission, they declare, is to make people smile with cupcakes): the chocolate PB attack cupcake, a gluten-free palate-pleaser infused with creamy peanut butter and topped with a whipped peanut butter buttercream.
42. TENNESSEE // PROZAC, MUDDY'S BAKE SHOP
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
The family-owned business’s mission is to make people happier—a goal they achieve with their smartly named customer favorite, a chocolate cake topped with their “famously delicious” chocolate buttercream.
43. TEXAS // BASILBERRY CUPCAKE // SKULL & CAKEBONES
Cooking Channel praises the “herbacious-ness” of this vegan cake (the shop specializes in all-natural, vegan, non-GMO delicacies made with locally sourced foods) packed with basil and topped with a strawberry buttercream.
44. UTAH // CARAMEL POPCORN, ALISHA'S CUPCAKES
Location: Pleasant Grove, Utah
Every month, this twin sister duo offers a new crop of sweets from their list of 100-plus, but one treat takes the cake. This sweet-and-salty combo, topped with their made-from-scratch caramel popcorn, was featured on Cupcake Wars.
45. VERMONT // VERMONT MAPLE BACON, MY LITTLE CUPCAKE
Location: Burlington, Vermont
As the name suggests, all the treats at this bakery are miniature-sized, but packed with local and premium ingredients. Take the Vermont Maple Bacon topped with Vermont maple buttercream and, naturally, a slice of bacon.
46. VIRGINIA // 9:30 CUPCAKE, BUZZ BAKERY
Location: Alexandria, Virginia
The bestseller at this brunch place is this rich devil’s food cake filled with vanilla buttercream, coated with chocolate frosting, then dipped in chocolate glaze. Comparing it to “a giant Hostess cupcake,” pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac told Food & Wine it’s “for people who love chocolate, and they’re superhappy with it."
47. WASHINGTON // SALTED CARAMEL, CUPCAKE ROYAL
Location: Seattle, Washington
While seasonal favorites like the Pumpkin Cardamom delight at this Northwest favorite, the Salted Caramel, finished off with house-made caramel buttercream, Fleur de Sel, and dark chocolate curls is “hands-down” the most popular declares Food & Wine.
48. WEST VIRGINIA // OREO AND CREAM, LIL' BIT OF HEAVEN CUPCAKES
Location: St. Albans, West Virgina
Yelp reviewers rated this chocolatey treat—from the husband-and-wife-run bakery—tops in the state. A fudge cupcake filled with chocolate ganache and a white chocolate Oreo butter cream, topped with more of that buttercream and a chocolate-dipped Oreo, their site declares it’s “a chocoholic’s dream!”
49. WISCONSIN // CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER, CAKE GURU
Location: Appleton and Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Named the 2017 Sweetest Bakery in Wisconsin, this company is known for its oversized Fabu “Lux” Cupcakes. Among the most exorbitant: this chocolate peanut butter blend filled with peanut butter whip and chocolate, then topped with peanut butter frosting and puppy chow.
50. WYOMING // DONKEY TOWN NUTS, ALLA LALA CUPCAKES
Location: Gillette, Wyoming
At Gillette, Wyoming’s first and only cupcake boutique, the treats are sweet and available in jumbo varieties, four times the size of a standard dessert. Bite into the quirkily named Donkey Town Nuts, a mix of chocolate cake, vanilla frosting, and caramel soaked honey-roasted peanuts.