Best Dessert in New Orleans

10Best calorie-worthy dessert indulgences in New Orleans

New Orleanians have had a sweet tooth for more than 200 years. Sugar made millionaires in this city back in the day, and its power to please has never been questioned.

New Orleans is also a place where if you want to eat dessert first, or for breakfast, nobody raises an eyebrow. Although some traditional treats are informed with an achingly sweet sensibility - pralines come immediately to mind - the historic influence of French pastry chefs left an indelible imprint on the food culture.

As with every course of a good New Orleans meal, dessert is expected to be something special, whether you're talking bread pudding, bananas foster,  multiple layers of ethereal Doberge cake or Italian gelato infused with local seasonal fruit.

Come Carnival time, innovative pastry chefs make King Cake more than just about the baby, riffing off of the traditional pastry with flavors like banana and peanut butter, Meyer lemon, goat cheese and apple. chocolate pecan and strawberry.

Flaming desserts are always a crowd pleaser and bananas foster is synonymous with New Orleans - the dish was dreamed up at Brennan's in 1951 by chef Paul Blangé. New Orleans, being a port city, was a major entry point for bananas and the chef created a dessert with rum, butter, bananas and vanilla ice cream that is still wonderful to this day.

And yes, the Mile High Pie is still a skyscraper wedge, a memorable dessert from the days of the Caribbean Room that is always a hit no matter what the occasion.

Take note that Friday lunch here is a tasty and raucous affair, with dishes like a fab steak tartare, artfully composed Caesar salad and softshell crab when it's in season. Wait WHAT? bottomless Veuve Clicquot for $30 - no wonder it gets noisy! Add the Chambong into the picture, a glass bong-like delivery system for the VC, and the ladies go crazy.




From the moment you step through the wooden screen doorsat Hansen's uptown, you'll be struck by the relaxed atmosphere and friendly service. The snoballs at Hansen's Sno-Bliz are a local legend, dripping with handmade syrups in flavors like ginger and cardamom. It was Ernest and Mary Hansen who pioneered the treat with Ernest's patented Sno-Bliz machine back in 1939, giving the shaved ice a powdery, fluffy texture nothing like the granular uber-sweet sno-cones sold in some locales. Now in the hands of granddaughter Ashley Hansen, the stand is a hallmark of imaginative combinations and superior quality perfected by three generations.

Recommended for Dessert because: Family owned for three generations, Hansen's has been dishing perfect snoballs since 1939.

Beth's expert tip: Try a brown pelican, a creamy delight made with housemade rootbeer that's a float in a cone.

Read more about Hansen's Sno-Bliz →

For a taste of what some might call the best confections in New Orleans, head over to the Garden District and drop by Sucre, Tariq Hanna's sweet retreat filled with gossamer macarons, Italian gelatos and chocolates that stand up to the best in Belgium. The Dark Chocolate Bark â€" sheets of chocolate shot through with assorted nuts and dried fruits â€" is a must-taste, as is the Drinking Chocolate, which is served with handmade marshmallows and caramel cookies for dipping. This sweet shop is as beautifully appointed as the meticulously packaged goodies it features and is the ideal stop if you want to satisfy a special someone's sweet tooth.

Recommended for Dessert because: Sucre is all about the art of pastry fueled by the best ingredients precisely rendered.

Beth's expert tip: Salon, Hanna's tea room/lounge in the French Quarter on Conti, is the latest from this pastry trendsetter.

Read more about Sucre →

This popular New Orleans landmark in Mid-City maintains a comfortable, neighborhood vibe, thanks in part to an exceptionally courteous staff and a steady stream of local families wandering by for an Italian-flavored treat. A family business that has dished silky gelato and traditional Italian sweets since the turn of last century, Brocato's is the place for piped-to-order cannolis, espresso-laced tiramisu or a slice of house made cassata cake. Authentic, Sicilian-inspired treats include one-of-a-kind gelato flavors like amaretto pistaccio. fresh fruit Italian ices and well-loved baked goods including cookies, biscotti, and you really can't miss the tiramisu - it's truly out of this world.

Recommended for Dessert because: For Italian dessert connoisseurs, it doesn't get any better than this.

Beth's expert tip: Housemade granita is an icy treat that is the ideal way to cool off on a swampy summer day.

Read more about Angelo Brocato →

Jack Rose
Photo courtesy of Randy Schmidt

Jack Rose is the festive eatery that reinvigorates what used to be the Caribbean Room in the Pontchartrain Hotel. Jack Rose, run by the locally based QED Hospitality Group from chef/co-owner Brian Landry and his partner Emery Whalen, virtually throws open the windows in the place, letting the fusty air out and the fresh air in. Thanks to a sassy cocktail program, bracing design and a modern New Orleans menu of craveable Italian, French and Spanish dishes from chef de cuisine David Whitmore, Jack Rose is anything but your usual hotel restaurant. Don't miss the bone-in chicken parm dusted with cheese, Muddy Waters, a seafood dish made with royal red shrimp and the raclette-filled fried squash blossoms when they're in season. More casual than its predecessor, gone are the must-wear jackets and traditional always-on-the-menu dishes. The name, by the way, pays homage to the Pontchartrain's connection with Tennessee Williams, who reportedly wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof while staying at the Hotel. Jack Rose is inspired by his play The Rose Tattoo. And yes, the Mile High Pie is still a skyscraper wedge, a memorable dessert from the days of the Caribbean Room that is always a hit no matter what the occasion. Take note that Friday lunch here is a tasty and raucous affair, with dishes like a fab steak tartare, artfully composed Caesar salad and softshell crab when it's inseason. Wait WHAT? bottomless Veuve Clicquot for $30 - no wonder it gets noisy! Add the Chambong into the picture, a bong-like delivery system for the VC, and the ladies go crazy.

Recommended for Dessert because: Jack Rose brings light, loft and energy above and beyond the average hotel restaurant.

Beth's expert tip: Have a cocktail at the Bayou Bar after dinner and enjoy live music just about every night of the week.

Read more about Jack Rose →

Stellar cuisine and a hip cocktail bar make this a sexy destination for twentysomethings or anybody looking for a romantic date night setting. Tempting bites â€" like eggplant crisps with skordalia, oven-dried roma tomatoes, basil and oil cured olive â€" line the menu. The grilled veal paillard comes served with broccoli raab, almonds, homemade ricotta toast and garlic parsley butter. Wine list includes 50 wines, with 11 varieties available by the glass. Executive pastry chef Carrie Laird consistently creates desserts that serve as an inspired exclamation point on the end of your meal. Skilled at spotlighting simple, seasonal flavors, Laird's vanilla panna cotta is a thing of real beauty.

Recommended for Dessert because: Pastry chef Carrie Laird elevates the classics to new heights.

Beth's expert tip: Try one of the dessert and beverage pairings like Vin Santo with brown butter cake.

Read more about Lilette →

Opened by chef Mike Stoltzfus and his wife Lillian Hubbard in December 2008, Coquette is a Garden District stunner, from its gleaming floors and crisp linens to its architectural details and warm exposed brick walls. Chef Stoltzfus proffers innovative southern cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced product and pastry chef Zak Miller does the same, with an emphasis on unexpected twists that elevate dessert into something ethereal. He uses seasonal fruit, fresh herbs and surprising flavors like smoke and heat to bring something special to the table. Whether he's concocting a satsuma creamsicle float or a chocolate cremeaux spiked with salted caramel and the tang of beer, guaranteed you won't skip dessert.

Recommended for Dessert because: Pastry chef Zak Miller brings a modern edge to classic French meets Southern desserts.

Beth's expert tip: Don't miss the floating islands, île flottante, which is like eating clouds.

Read more about Coquette →

Pastry chef Bronwen Wyatt creates poetry on a plate. Whether that has anything to do with her degree in English from Tulane or not, her lyrical desserts spin quite a tale. Wyatt came back to New Orleans in 2011 to develop the pastry program at La Petite Grocery, and now also oversees pastry at chef/owner Justin Devillier's second restaurant, Balise. Wyatt's desserts are informed by her Southern heritage and her adoration of all things seasonal. The seamless balance of sweet and savory can be found in her grilled vanilla bean panna cotta with satsuma sorbet and pistachio brittle and her grilled Alabama peach with mayhaw sauce harnesses the tart, fruity flavor of the berries that grow wild in the Louisiana swamps.

Recommended for Dessert because: Chef/owner Justin Devillier is known for innovation, and pastry chef Bronwen Wyatt is cut from the same cloth.

Beth's expert tip: La Petite Grocery is named after specialty grocery store that occupied the building in the early 1900s.

Read more about La Petite Grocery →

Emeril's New Orleans
Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Emeril's

Chef Emeril Lagasse is personally supporting banana growers all over the world. And it's because of the banana cream pie that has been on the menu at Emeril's, his flagship restaurant that is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015, for each of those 25 years. With eight to nine bananas to a pie, and as many as 30 pies sold on a busy day, the demand for the tropical fruit is never ending. Made with heavy cream, eggs, vanilla bean, the custard is beyond decadent. Add caramel sauce, shaved chocolate and sprigs of mint, and this is BAM dessert is in the New Orleans hall of fame.

Recommended for Dessert because: Emeril's isn't just a "celebrity chef" restaurant, it's real deal New Orleans.

Beth's expert tip: Banana cream pie has been on the menu for more than 25 years, order it.

Read more about Emeril's New Orleans →

Bakery Bar/Debbie Does Doberge
Photo courtesy of Debbie Does Doberge

Doberge cake is the stuff of legend in New Orleans. Created in the 1930s by Beulah Ledner, doberge (say dough-bash) is a riff off the Hungarian dobos torta, a heavy layered cake filled with buttercream. Ledner, taking the local climate into consideration, lightened the treat by replacing the buttercream with custard and Frenchifying the name. Debbie Does Doberge is a newcomer to the scene, dishing up doberge at Bakery Bar, a chill space with nibbles and drinks and a cake case towards the back. Order doberge in flavors like salted caramel, red velvet and praline or sit at the bar and tuck into a slice to see what all the fuss is about.

Recommended for Dessert because: Doberge is purely New Orleans and everybody should know about it.

Beth's expert tip: You can also order slices of DDD at Katie's Restaurant and Toup's Meatery.

Read more about Bakery Bar/Debbie Does Doberge →

Shake Sugary is a locally owned creative bakery located on the buzzing St. Claude Avenue corridor that flanks the Marigny/Bywater neighborhoods. The love child of owner Dawn Snead, who earned her degree in Baking & Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University, this bakery is known for inventive sweets like chocolate bourbon pecan pie and Bailey's chocolate chip cheesecake. The shop also sell cupcakes, cookies, tea breads, brownies and scones and serves savory options for breakfast and lunch. Also count on interesting vegan/gluten-free choices like coffee cake, seasonal tarts and macaroons. If wedding plans are bringing you to New Orleans, Shake Sugary creates elaborate custom cakes, cupcakes and other festive desserts.

Recommended for Dessert because: Shake Sugary is a locally owned hand crafted bakery.

Beth's expert tip: Pass by anytime you're feeling the need for something sweet during the day.

Read more about Shake Sugary →


Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets...  More About Beth