Just because you’re ordering in doesn’t mean dessert is out of the question. But living in Denver, surrounded by playful cereal-flavored ice cream and baklava every which way, it can be hard to decide what you’re in the mood for.
Enter our go-to list of restaurants, bakeries, ice cream shops, and more that always satisfy our sweet tooth. You’ll find classic (and not so classic) kouign-amann, milkshake and fry combos, s’mores-inspired pudding (in a jar!), and even a vegan option or two. So go ahead — order the cake a la mode.
This Portland, Oregon, doughnut shop import has made quite a home for itself in Denver — it’s got two outposts in the city (Colfax and Broadway) and another on the way in Boulder. Locals love the bakery’s cheeky flavors: Cap’n Crunch cereal-topped doughnuts, bacon maple bars, bubble gum-dusted doughnuts, and maple blazer “blunts.”
Make Believe Bakery
Vegan sweets aren’t so easy to come by in Denver, but this Capitol Hill bakery has dessert lovers with dietary restrictions covered. Try the Ho-Ho cupcake with vanilla coconut cream and chocolate ganache, and the Scout cookie — made to taste just like Girl Scouts Samoas, with coconut and walnut for that craggy crunch and sweet potato and molasses for caramel-y sweetness.
Ice Cream Riot
Fans of Voodoo Doughnut will appreciate this Colfax ice cream shop’s playful options. The cereal flavors are churned with actual cereal,such as Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and you can enjoy them in scoops, pints, or ice cream sandwiches with Pop-Tarts. Bonus: Ice Cream Riot is a couple blocks away from Voodoo Doughnut on Colfax, in case you want to double up your cereal-centric dessert spread.
The star of this popular bakery inside Denver Central Market is the kouign-amann — or the “Classic Queen,” as it’s called here. Buttery, flaky, sugar-crusted laminated dough is enough on its own, but it’s even better when finished with Nutella, pistachios, or apple and caramel. As you can tell, we love the Queen, but don’t skip the vanilla cream morning bun.
Flavors change daily at the South Denver outpost of this adorable ice cream chain, so check the website ahead of ordering so you can snag the latest drop. Pro tip: If you see it in stock, get the amaretto or peanut butter and jelly. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with butter pecan, “Super Delicious” vanilla, or cookies and cream.
These simple-yet-satisfying yeasted rounds have a cult following. Peter, the one-man show behind this Arvada bakery, turns out some of the best doughnuts — folks regularly travel across town for them. The glazed one practically melts in your mouth, and the Chocolate Long John comes with your choice of filling (ahem, Bavarian cream).
This Peruvian shop in Lakewood is known for its empanadas, which include fruit-based versions like apple, cherry, and guava. But for the full Piero dessert experience, order a dozen powder-sugar-coated alfajores, two buttery cookies sandwiching soft dulce de leche, and the caramel-layered pionono cake.
High Point Creamery
Imagine Earl Grey tea and shortbread or blackberries and fresh-torn basil leaves, power duos in their own right, but made even better with one additional ingredient: ice cream. This Curtis Point ice cream shop specializes in these creative flavors that go beyond the usual vanilla. In colder seasons, we love the brown sugar cinnamon with a slice of warm homemade pie.
Elizabeth Chambers recently expanded her Texas-based bakeshop to Greenwood Village, and now her Southern-leaning specialties — mini pecan pies, mini key lime pies, kolaches, pound cakes, and lemon bars — are available with just one click. The cafe serves lunch as well, but dessert is a must.
Little Man Ice Cream
This Highland ice cream shop is famed not only for its instantly recognizable location (it’s inside a giant old-school cream pail) but also for its textbook ice cream, so good that you’ll often see a line down the block. Skip the scene and get pints delivered in some of Little Man’s best flavors: salted Oreo, banana pudding, and Space Junkie, with black raspberry, brownies, and marshmallow.
LaMar’s Donuts & Coffee
Founder Ray Lamar’s raised doughnut recipe dates back nearly 100 years, and it’s still alive and well at this Baker mainstay. Order a baker’s dozen and stick to the classics — the bismarks, doughnut holes, blueberry cake doughnuts, and French crullers are all solid choices.
Istanbul Cafe & Bakery
This University Park cafe and bakery makes five distinct styles of baklava — each with 42 layers of handmade dough. One version, şöbiyet, adds thick cream to the mixture of filo, pistachios, and honeyed syrup, while cevizli comes with chopped walnuts. Word to the wise: Don’t forget the kunefe, which is a delightful mix of filo, pistachios, and sweet Turkish cheese.
For those with a more savory-leaning sweet tooth, look no further than this throwback American diner in Uptown. It serves shoestring fries and chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry milkshakes — perfect for pairing — as well as a variety of cupcakes, cookies, and cakes.
Nuggs Ice Cream
This family-owned shop along Colfax Avenue is our go-to for flavor mashups we didn’t know we needed. Think Strawberry Blonde, strawberry ice cream blended with Golden Double Stuf Oreos, and Brotherfinger, Butterfinger bars crushed up and swirled in a peanut butter sauce. Be sure to order the house waffle cones.
Happy Cones Co.
This New Zealand-style ice cream shop in Edgewater blends real fruit into its sweet cream base for a fresh, soft-serve-like ice cream just like you’d find Down Under. We beeline to banana strawberry and mixed berry (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries), but if you’re not craving fruit, try the vanilla churned with toffee honeycomb.
House of Bread
While this Armenian cafe and bakery along South Parker Road is known for its khachapuri, House of Bread also bakes stunning cakes, like triple-layered Napoleons and Monterosas — sponge cake with mascarpone, ricotta, and strawberries. If you’re going all in on khachapuri, try the sweet one made with lots of Nutella and fruit.
The Duffeyroll Cafe
This beloved chain has cornered the Denver cinnamon roll market. With outposts in Englewood and Platt Park, Duffeyroll not only offers a consistent cinnamon sugar-rolled dough, but it also tops it with fun glazes, like zesty orange and Irish cream. We also highly recommend the fruit cobbler rolls and ham-and-Swiss-loaded savory swirls.
Don’t be fooled by the name — this mini-chain of shops, with a RiNo outpost, does so much more than ice cream. And, yes, many of the desserts come a la mode, including the brownies and apple pie. We’re into the sweet crepes and the Belgian waffles topped with all the fruits (strawberry and banana), Nutella, and whipped cream. (The waffle options come paired with strawberry or vanilla ice cream, too).
The Post Chicken & Beer
Popular for its crispy thigh fries (buttermilk-marinated, fried strips of dark meat), this South Denver hang also makes incredible desserts. We’re eyeing the seasonal hand pies, chocolate whoopie pies, and s’more pudding jar, which piles in toasted marshmallow, graham crackers, and chocolate shavings.
AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q
Come for the Texas-style, post-oak brisket and smoke-infused sides; stay for the sweet treat that is required with any meal from this South Denver spot. Real ones know that the go-to is the creamy housemade pudding, with banana slices mixed in and cookies crumbled on top.
If you’re craving a more virtuous dessert, this Denver Central Market delivers. Come during morning or midday for its flavor-packed smoothies and fruit-filled acai bowls. Our favorite is the B.A.B.S., a colorful bowl brimming with sliced banana, strawberries, peanut butter, cocoa nibs, granola, and almonds.
The nostalgic desserts draw in diners — just as many as the pesto linguine and chicken Parm do — to this red-sauce Italian restaurant in Aurora. There’s chocolate-chip-studded cannoli, berry-topped panna cotta, and our personal favorite, the peach budino, a bread pudding crowned with an orange-caramel sauce and an amaretto-laced mascarpone.
Shamane’s Bake Shoppe
Pastry chef Shamane Simons is well-known in Boulder, after working at beloved local restaurants The Med and Brasserie Ten Ten. At her bakeshop, you’ll find perfectly flaky chocolate and almond croissants — order early since they sell out fast — as well as mini chocolate molten cakes and a number of sweet breads and cookies (try the oatmeal cherry walnut!).
Courtesy of Steuben’s Uptown
Courtesy of Bird Bakery
Happy Cones by Scotty Wisniewski
Courtesy of Izzio Bakery
Heaven Creamery by Gabriel Aude