The 16 Best Desserts in the World

Calories? What calories?

You know what they say: The secret to longevity is eating dessert--and lots of it. OK, we made that up, but we firmly believe the best things in life are loaded with sugar…and chocolate…and frosting. Here, the 16 best desserts in the world.

best desserts in the world gelateria

1. Gelato In Italy

You’d be hard-pressed to walk a block in any Italian city without stumbling upon a gelato parlor serving up a denser, silkier concoction than anything you’d find at home. Seek out hidden gems like Milan’s Il Massimo del Gelato, Florence’s La Carraia and Rome’s Gelateria del Teatro.

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2. Babka In Poland

The best part of this buttery brioche streaked with chocolate is that it’s completely acceptable to eat for breakfast. No Poland trip in the cards? You can snag one at Sadelle’s in New York that’s almost as authentic as anything in Warsaw.

3. Key Lime Pie In Florida

There are two reasons to go to the Florida Keys. First, the beach. Second, the key lime pie. Anything you find here will be creamy and tangy like custard, served in a rich graham cracker crust and topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. (We’re fans of the slice at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, for the record.)

4. Brigadeiro In Brazil

These tiny treats are essentially chocolate truffles covered with sprinkles, coconut shavings and nuts—and they’re as delicious as they sound. For the best, look no further than Maria Brigadiero, a picture-perfect shop in bustling São Paolo.

5. Baklava In Turkey

You’ve probably tried baklava--layered phyllo pastries filled with chopped nuts and honey. But nothing in America holds a candle to the kind you’ll find at Karakoy Gulluoglu in Istanbul. Its recipe--which involves a spoonful of clotted cream--has remained the same since 1871.

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6. Cronuts In New York City

In the dessert world, pastry chef Dominique Ansel is king. But among his must-try confections, the combination doughnut/croissant reigns supreme. Run, don’t walk to the Soho shop to nab one…and make sure you get there before 7 a.m., when the line starts wrapping around the block.

7. Beignets In New Orleans

As far as we’re concerned, Mardi Gras is just an excuse to chow down on beignets from the legendary Café du Monde. This Louisiana treat--fried dough covered in powdered sugar--is what every other doughnut dreams of becoming.

8. Sachertorte In Austria

Head to Vienna’s Hotel Sacher for what might be the fluffiest, moistest chocolate cake of your entire life. (It's made with thin layers of sweet apricot jam inside a rich chocolate glaze.) The recipe was invented in 1832 and hasn’t changed one bit since.

best desserts in the world belgian waffles
City Plug

9. Belgian Waffles In Belgium (duh)

Look, you can buy imported Belgian chocolate any day. When in Bruges, satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh, doughy and golden brown waffles from Le Funambule, which come with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and fruit on top.

10. Sticky Buns From Tartine Bakery In San Francisco

At this Bay Area bakery, it’s all about locally sourced ingredients like free-range California eggs and European-style, high-fat butter shipped from nearby Oregon. Come early to snag a loaf of bread or a pastry straight from the oven.

11. Hot Chocolate In Paris

You won't find anything resembling Swiss Miss in the City of Light. There, hot chocolate refers to real melted chocolate blended with whole milk or cream, resulting in a thick, rich and decadent dessert. Angelina tea parlor is super-famous for its chocolat chaud, but for an even better version, hit up chocolatier Jacques Genin

12. Éclairs In Paris

OK, now you can fill any room left in your stomach with a mouthwatering, inventive éclair from L'Éclair de Génie, the best in the city.


best desserts in the world mango sticky rice
That Food Cray

13. Mango Sticky Rice In Thailand

No trip to Bangkok is complete without a stop at Mae Varee’s Fruit Shop for a traditional combo of sweet, ripe mango and savory, coconut-flavored sticky rice. Fruit--how virtuous!

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Diary Traveler

14. Churros And Chocolate In Madrid

Chocolatería San Ginés is world-renowned for its sugar-coated, fried churros that come with warm, rich melted chocolate for dunking. Don’t be surprised if you see people eating this treat for breakfast--and feel inspired to do the same.

15. Mochi In Tokyo

These sticky rice cakes filled with red bean and green tea ice cream might seem odd to an American palate, but trust: They’re totally addictive--and the perfect compliment to all that salty fish you’ve probably been consuming.

16. Anything From Momofuku Milk Bar In New York City

Cereal milk soft serve. Birthday layer cake. "Crack pie." We rest our case.

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Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.