The Best Dessert in Every State (and Where to Try It)

Tropical Light on Key Lime Pie


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Tropical Light on Key Lime Pie

Sweet Tooth

Whether you’re looking to end a meal on a satisfying note, or to enjoy a sweet delicacy at any time of the day, each state has desserts that feature some of its best and most unique ingredients. Some states even have their own official designated desserts, while others have regional specialties you won’t want to miss when visiting, and others just reign supreme when it comes to preparing the dish at hand. We’ve put together the top two desserts to sample in every state and Washington, D.C., and the best places to find them.

Related: Unique Comfort Food in Every State

Peach Park farmer’s market in Clanton
Gavin G./Yelp

Alabama: Blackberry Cobbler With Peach Ice Cream

Best Place to Try It: Peach Park farmer’s market in Clanton

Runner-up: Banana Pudding at Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Birmingham  

Alabama’s official state fruit is the blackberry, and cobblers are often found throughout the state’s bakeries and summertime gatherings. At the same time, peaches are a featured fruit, with Peach Park offering the best of both. Head here to sample fresh made cobblers, from blackberry to peach, and grab a side of peach ice cream. Banana pudding is a popular Southern dessert locals love, with Saw’s known for serving what some diners say are the best barbecue and banana bread pudding they’ve ever had.

Related: 50 Under-the-Radar Restaurants With Amazing Homemade Pie

Alaska Birch Syrup and Wild Harvest

Alaska: Birch Syrup Ice Cream

Best Place to Try It: Alaska Birch Syrup and Wild Harvest in Talkeetna

Runner-up: Fireweed glazed donuts from Kobuk Coffee in Anchorage

It’s often said Alaska consumes the most ice cream per capita in the nation, and ice cream is one of the ways to taste various local produce and products the state has to offer, including birch syrup. Similar in flavor to caramel with spicy notes, birch syrup comes from the sap of birch trees. Alaska Birch Syrup and Wild Harvest is the world’s largest birch syrup producer and has been making it for over 20 years, using it in ice cream you can get topped with the syrup. Fireweed is a wildflower found in the state known for its sweet and tangy flavor. Try it glazed on donuts at Kobuk Coffee, praised for its old-fashioned donuts that you can get glazed with the local specialty. 


Related: 20 of the Oldest Ice Cream Shops in America

Topo in Gilbert
Rochelle M./Yelp

Arizona: Prickly Pear Soft Serve

Best Place to Try It: Topo in Gilbert

Runner-up: Date shakes from Dateland Travel center in Dateland

Prickly pear cactus is a well-known symbol of the state and used in dishes and drinks ranging from margaritas to syrups and sorbets. Topo is a food stand dishing out burritos, elote, and a dessert that keeps locals and travelers coming back — prickly pear soft serve. The refreshing soft serve can be enjoyed on its own, with a twist of vanilla soft serve, or dipped in a hard shell of chocolate, lime, or prickly pear sauce. Medjool dates, the largest and sweetest of the date varieties, are grown throughout Yuma and are particularly popular in Dateland. You’ll often see them in desserts ranging from date shakes to cookies, ice creams, and pies. The shakes at the Dateland Travel Center are made with fresh Medjool dates blended with vanilla ice cream.

Related: The Best Soft Serve Shops in America

Stoby’s Restaurant in Conway
Tara M./Yelp

​​Arkansas: Possum Pie

Best place to try it: Stoby’s Restaurant in Conway and Russellville

Runner up: Fried pies from Morrison’s fried Pies in Hot Springs

Possum pie, invented in Arkansas, is a multi-layer pie featuring a crumbly crust and layers of chocolate, cream cheese, vanilla pudding, or sour cream and whipped cream on top. The name is a play on the term “play possum,” referring to the deceptive trick possums use to play dead for safety in relation to the pie’s deceptive nature, as it appears one way on the outside until you cut into it and reveal its layers. Diners love the possum pie at Stoby’s, which opened in 1980. Pies are a favorite dessert in the state, including fried versions that are handheld. Morrison’s Fried Pies offers savory options and sweet flavors like peach and apple or pecan. The pies are light, made with natural ingredients, and often sell out since they’re only sold fresh.

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IT’S-IT Ice Cream in Burlingame
Michelle E./Yelp

California: Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich

Best Place to Try It: IT’S-IT Ice Cream in Burlingame

Runner-up: Persian ice cream from Masti Malone’s Ice Cream in Los Angeles

Food historians say the ice cream cookie sandwich began in San Francisco in 1928 when a vendor put ice cream between two oatmeal cookies and dipped it in chocolate. Today, IT’S-IT Ice Cream is famous for the same sandwich. Southern California is also home to a large population of Iranian immigrants, and Mashti Malone’s has become famous for its creamy Persian ice cream. The ice cream is known for its signature use of spices traditionally found in Iran, like saffron and rosewater. 

Kokopelli Farms
Rita B./Yelp

Colorado: Palisade Peach Pie

Best Place to Try It: Kokopelli Farm Market

Runner-up: Root beer floats from Tommyknocker Brewery and Pub in Idaho Springs

Palisade peaches are one of Colorado’s summer perks, known for their incredibly juicy and sweet flavor thanks to the state’s bright sunlight. You’ll find them showcased fresh and in desserts ranging from pies to melbas, ice creams, cobblers and more. Kokopelli has been growing fruit in Palisade since 1979 and is known for its hand-picked organic peaches, cherries, apricots, and plums. The farm market is most famous for fried peach pies, but also makes delectable fresh pies with chunks of peaches. While root beer floats have several origin stories around it, one states that Frank Wisner created it in the 1800s after noticing the state’s mountain peaks look like ice cream floating in soda. Tommyknocker brews its own root beer and tops their famous root beer float with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Arethusa Farm
Dillon T./Yelp

Connecticut: Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Best Place to Try It: Arethusa Farm in various locations

Runner-up: Snickerdoodle cookies from Milk N Cookies in Stamford

Delicious ice cream can be found throughout Connecticut, and maple walnut is a New England favorite. Arethusa Farm is a dairy farm dating back to the 1800s and the dairy shines in hand-crafted ice cream made with fresh milk and cream. The maple walnut is a seasonal flavor that features on the menu to ensure the best taste when the products are fresh in season. Milk N Cookies is a sweet shop offering freshly baked cookies, a full cereal bar, and ice creams. The churro cookie takes the snickerdoodle, considered the state’s cookie, to the next level. The cookie gets stuffed with a gooey and warm dulce de lychee filling.

Warren’s Station
Jay D./Yelp

Delaware: Peach Pie

Best Place to Try It: Warren’s Station

Runner-up: Strawberry pie from JP’s on the Wharf in Frederica

Peach pie is the state’s official dessert, with orchards across the state lined with varieties of peaches. Warren’s Station is a family-run restaurant in Fenwick Island open on a seasonal basis, and diners say the peach pie here is divine.  Slices come thick without skimping on the fresh fruit, and it’s all served on a flaky crust. Strawberries are another fruit found throughout the state, so much so that they’re the state’s official fruit. The strawberry pie at the seasonal JP’s on the Wharf is a crowd-favorite and comes loaded with fresh strawberries.

Bread Furst
Dahye K./Yelp

​​District of Columbia: Canelé

Best Place to Try It: Bread Furst

Runner up: Crème brulée donuts from Astro Doughnuts

Canelé is a French, rum-flavored pastry that has a custard filling and a caramelized exterior. Because of the difficulty of making it, it can be hard to find this dessert made right. The version at Bread Furst is prized because it’s made to taste as it should, giving you a chance to sample the dessert in its authentic form. Get here early, though, as it’s known to sell out early. While in the city, you’ll also want to sample a crème brulée donut, with both Astro and District Donuts known for offering prime versions. Astro’s donuts have a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior, stuffed with vanilla pastry cream and coated in brûléed vanilla glaze.

Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe
Jacqueline T./Yelp

Florida: Key Lime Pie

Best Place to Try It: Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe in Key West

Runner-up: Strawberry shortcake at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City

Key lime pie is known for its sweet and tart flavor. The pie includes a custard of Key lime juice, condensed milk, and eggs on a buttery graham cracker crust. At Kermit’s try it as a slice, frozen, dipped in chocolate, or on a stick. The Florida house and Senate recently voted to make strawberry shortcake — a biscuit-based cake with sliced strawberries and whipped cream — the state’s official dessert. Close to 200,000 of them are served each year at the Florida Strawberry Festival, an 11-day event celebrating Eastern Hillsborough County’s strawberry harvest.

Crystal Beer Parlor
Laura B./Yelp

Georgia: Peach Cobbler

Best Place to Try It: Crystal Beer Parlor in Savannah

Runner-up: Peach ice cream from Burton Brooks Orchard in Barney

Peaches are Georgia’s state fruit, and they’re known for being deliciously sweet in the state. Peach cobbler, featuring juicy peaches and a biscuit crust, is one of the most popular desserts and the historic Crystal Beer Parlor is known for its rich cobbler served hot with vanilla ice cream and a sugary crust. Many of the peach orchards in Georgia offer fresh peach dishes to enjoy, including creamy peach ice cream at stops like Burton Brooks Orchard, where peaches, pecans, and seasonal fruits grown there are used in homemade, churn-style ice cream.

Leonard’s Bakery
Lindy P./Yelp

Hawaii: Malassadas

Best Place to Try It: Leonard’s Bakery

Runner-up: Shave ice from Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa

Malassadas are deep-fried balls of a sweetened dough rolled in sugar and stuffed with fillings like chocolate pudding, custard, and haupia. They are a Portuguese dessert brought by Portuguese plantation workers in the state during the 1800s. Leonard’s Bakery is a well-known institution for malassadas, with each fried to order for a crispy shell and a soft interior. Hawaii’s shave ice is much more finely shaved than snow cones to give it its powdery texture before getting topped with bright syrups often made from local fruit. The dessert traces its origins back to Japan, and at Matsumoto, the Matsumoto family has perfected its shave ice since its opening in 1951.

Victor Emporium in Main Victor
Elaine D./Yelp

Idaho: Huckleberry Milkshake

Best Place to Try It: Victor Emporium in Victor

Runner-up: Ice cream potato at Westside Drive-In in Boise

Huckleberries are similar to blueberries, with red varieties tasting more tart and dark and purple varieties tasting sweeter. Locals say huckleberry milkshakes are one of the state’s most popular treats, and the huckleberry is the milkshake flavor you don’t want to miss when visiting Victor Emporium. The brightly purple shake is made with fresh berries mixed into thick and creamy ice cream, with bursts of the berry shining through. The ice cream potato uses vanilla ice cream that’s dusted in cocoa, split in half in the shape of a baked potato, and topped with whipped cream. Try it where it originated at Westside Drive-In.

The Palmer House Hotel
A. Renee B./Yelp

Illinois: Brownie

Best Place to Try It: The Palmer House Hotel in Chicago

Runner-up: Rainbow cone from Original Rainbow Cone in Chicago, Lombard, and Darien

Illinois may not be the only place you can get a brownie, but the sweet treat we love today was invented there in the kitchen of the Palmer House Hotel in the 19th century. It’s still served there today using the same recipe. The rainbow cone — an ice cream delight made from five different ice cream flavors — features flavors of chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, orange sherbet, and Palmer House (a vanilla ice cream with cherries and walnuts). The Original Rainbow Cone opened its first location in 1926 and the invention has won the hearts of countless diners since then, with the same ice cream served here as it was back in 1926.

Nick's Kitchen
Rhett B./Yelp

Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie

Best Place to Try It: Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington

Runner-up: Persimmon pudding from the Persimmon Festival in Mitchell

More commonly referred to as sugar cream pie, this pie features a filling made with butter, salt, vanilla, cream, and brown sugar to give it its signature smooth texture. Considered the state’s pie, the version at Nick’s Kitchen is a favorite, topped with a crunchy sugar coating. The stop is known for offering Indiana staples like breaded pork tenderloin and the pie, homemade every day since its origins in 1908. Persimmons in Indiana are known for an extra-sweet flavor and are used to make persimmon pudding typically baked in the oven. Top persimmon pudding creators compete each year at the Persimmon Festival in Mitchell, taking place this year in September.

Chocolate Scotcheroos
Chocolate Scotcheroos by Amber DeGrace (CC BY)

Iowa: Scotcheroos

Best Place to Try It: Palmer’s Deli and Market in West Des Moines, Urbandale, Kaleidoscope, and Des Moines

Runner-up: Dutch Letters from Jaarsma Bakery in Pella, Iowa

Scotcheroos are a chewy Rice Krispie treat made with peanut butter, sugar, and melted chocolate dotted and butterscotch chips. They’re a popular dessert in Iowa and in Minnesota, and while its exact origins are unknown, the recipe first appeared on the side of a Rice Krispies box. You’ll find them in a range of local bakeries and cafes like Palmer’s Deli and Market, which opened its first location in 1989 and bakes its chewy scotcheroos from scratch every day. Dutch letters, known as banketstaven or letterbanket in the Netherlands, are puff pastries filled with almond paste and in the letter S to represent Sinterklaas. At Jaarsma Bakery, the Dutch letters are made from a recipe by Harmon Jaarsma, who created his version based on family recipes he brought as an immigrant from Holland in 1898.

Great Harvest Bread Co. in Wichita
Chryz C./Yelp

Kansas: Cinnamon Roll with Chili

Best Place to Try It: Great Harvest Bread Co. in Wichita

Runner-up: Peppernuts from Prairy Market and Deli in Newton

Cinnamon rolls are a popular dessert in Kansas and often get paired with chili. Great Harvest Breakfast Co. is known for its fresh-made breads, pastries, and large cinnamon rolls you can get to enjoy on their own or with a bowl of scratch-made chili. Peppernuts, crispy spiced cookies made with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, ginger and cloves, originated in Europe and can now be found throughout the state. The smell of anise hits you when you walk into Prairy Market and Deli, where the traditional peppernuts pack a spice-filled punch.

The Brown Hotel in Louisville
John K./Yelp

Kentucky: Derby Pie

Best Place to Try It: The Brown Hotel in Louisville 

Runner-up: Bourbon balls from Evan Williams Bourbon in Louisville

Derby Pie, created in 1954 by the Kern family of Kern’s Kitchen is a secret recipe the bakery still produces in small batches. The pie combines chocolate, walnuts, and a light crust and is often associated with the Kentucky Derby. The Kerns family has trademarked the name and now offers their pie at a range of locations like the historic Brown Hotel, where you can get a slice of the pie and also taste the state’s signature hot brown that was invented there. For a boozy treat, try a bourbon ball — a candy made with a smooth bourbon pecan filling that is topped with chocolate. Try the treat at the historic Evan Williams distillery, where you can sample the bourbon balls as part of a tour with a tasting of a range of whiskey and bourbon selections, or visit the retail shop to grab a box of your own.

Brennan’s in New Orleans
Hd K./Yelp

Louisiana: Bananas Foster

Best Place to Try It: Brennan’s in New Orleans

Runner-up: King Cake from Joe Gambino’s Bakery in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette

The Bananas Foster at Brennan’s Restaurant, where the dish was invented in 1951, includes bananas coated in a sauce with brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum and served alongside local vanilla bean ice cream with a flambé performed tableside. King cake Is a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition featuring a cinnamon-laced cake with an icing made of purple, green, and gold, with Joe Gambino’s Bakery serving it since 1949. The cakes are hand-baked using a Danish dough dotted with cinnamon swirls and filled with everything from pralines and cream cheese to figs and chocolate cream.

Helen’s Bakery in Machias
Chris M./Yelp

Maine: Blueberry Pie

Best place to try it: Helen’s Bakery in Machias

Runner-up: Whoopie pies from Wicked Whoopies in Freeport

Maine has a bountiful harvest of wild blueberries, and blueberry pie with wild local berries is its official state dessert. Try it at Helen’s Restaurant, where pies come filled with mounds of blueberries and topped with fresh cream. The official state treat, whoopie pies, are soft, pillowy cookie sandwiches made from two cake cookies and a filling of white frosting in the middle. The classic features chocolate cookies and a vanilla filling, and at Wicked Whoopies you can try it classic or go for flavors like maple and peanut butter.

Berger’s Bakery in Baltimore
Jose C./Yelp

Maryland: Berger Cookies

Best Place to Try It: Berger’s Bakery in Baltimore

Runner-up: Smith Island Cake at Smith Island Bakery in Ewell

Berger cookies — cake-like cookies slathered in chocolate frosting — date back to the 1800s at Berger’s Bakery. Maryland’s official state dessert, Smith Island cake is a tall treat, made with anywhere from eight to 15 thin layers of cake held together with chocolate frosting, though the common number tends to be between eight to ten layers. The traditional version features yellow cake with a chocolate frosting, although variations exist. Smith Island’s only bakery, Smith Island Bakery, specializes in the cake, available in the traditional or in flavors like lemon cream and caramel.  

Omni Parker House in Boston
Vin B./Yelp

Massachusetts: Boston Cream Pie

Best Place to Try It: Omni Parker House in Boston

Runner-up: Boston cream donuts at Union Square Donuts in Somerville, Boston, and Brookline

Boston’s Parker House Hotel claims to have invented the Boston cream pie in the 1800s, made from two layers of French butter sponge cake filled with custard, brushed with a rum syrup, and topped with toasted sliced almonds and chocolate fondant. You can still try it at its birthplace at the Omni Parker House. Boston cream donuts are a variation on the classic, typically made with a yeast-risen donut and a custard filling to resemble a mini Boston cream pie. The state’s official donut can be found at stops like Union Square Donuts, where a version comes stuffed with homemade vanilla bean pastry cream in a brioche donut.

Joann’s Fudge in Mackinac Island
Saurav C./Yelp

Michigan: Mackinac Island Fudge

Best Place to Try It: Joann’s Fudge in Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City

Runner-up: Superman Ice Cream from Ray’s Ice Cream Company in Royal Oak

Mackinac Island dishes out endless options for the treat made with milk, butter, sugar, and all sorts of toppings. Joann’s fudge store opened in 1969 and is known for its smooth and creamy fudge cooked over a traditional copper kettle. Superman, known for its bright blue, red, and yellow colors, is a popular ice cream flavor many say came to origin at Detroit’s Stroh’s Brewery during the prohibition era. Countless flavor variations exist, from lemon, Blue Moon and Red Pop (based on a local strawberry soda) to cherry, vanilla, and blue raspberry. Superman is one of the favorite flavors at Ray’s Ice Cream, which dates back to 1958 and provides a nostalgic soda fountain to enjoy over 50 flavors of ice cream in. 

Sarah Jane’s Bakery in Minneapolis
Erin G./Yelp

Minnesota: Dessert Bars

Best Place to Try It: Sarah Jane’s Bakery in Minneapolis

Runner-up: Sweet corn blueberry ice cream from Sweet Science Ice Cream in Edina 

Dessert bars can be found throughout the state, from fruity bars to cereal-packed bars, scotcharoos and multi-layer bars covered in chocolate. At Sarah Jane’s, there’s no shortage of bars, from peanut butter Snoopy Bars with chocolate frosting to citrus-packed lemon bars. In the summer, sweet corn is a treat you’ll find throughout the state, which is one of the nation’s largest producers. At Sweet Science Ice Cream, which specializes in all-natural ice cream in unique flavors, you’ll find seasonal sweet corn blueberry during the summer. It’s made with a vanilla base with sweet corn cooked into and immersed in the ice cream along with a blueberry compote sauce that gets churned into the mixture.

Chimneys Restaurant in Gulfport
Tam S./Yelp

Mississippi: Mud Pie

Best Place to Try It: Chimneys Restaurant in Gulfport

Runner-up: Caramel Cake from Sugaree’s Bakery in New Albany

Mud pie is a well-known chocolate dessert in the state, made with a crumbly, chocolate crust and layers of fudge topped with chocolate. There are variations on its fillings, and it may also be referred to as mud cake when it comes without the crust. Try it at Chimneys, where the mud pie is rich and doesn’t skimp on decadent chocolate sauce. Sugaree’s dates back to 1997 and is known for its scratch-made cakes that include Mississippi caramel cake, a butter cake with cooked caramel icing made the traditional way by browning granulated sugar in a cast iron skillet.

Park Avenue Coffee Roasters in St. Louis
Shay H./Yelp

Missouri: Gooey Butter Cake

Best Place to Try It: Park Avenue Coffee Roasters in St. Louis

Runner-up: Gooey butter cake ice cream cone from Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery in St. Louis, Town and Country, Kirkwood, and Clayton

Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis tradition, created when a baker put the wrong amount of butter into a cake mix. Park Avenue Coffee Roasters specializes in the treat, offering over 70 flavors including the Mom’s Traditional made with a dense, cake-like crust and a mix of cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. For a twist, try it in ice cream form at the city's first micro-creamery, Clementine’s, where chunks of it get swirled in cream cheese ice cream. Get it on a cone, as ice cream cones are the state’s official dessert thanks to the invention debuting at the St. Louis World’s Fair. The shop sells regular waffle cones and has flavors like lavender, red velvet, orange cream, and pink vanilla to choose from.

The Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse
Julia K./Yelp

Montana: Huckleberry Pie

Best Place to Try It: The Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse

Runner-up: Huckleberry ice cream from Sweet Peaks in various locations

Huckleberries are also popular in Montana, with huckleberry pies and huckleberry ice cream some of the two most popular desserts you’ll find featuring the berries. At Huckleberry Patch, you can get both desserts in one, with an a la mode slice of huckleberry pie. As Montana’s original huckleberry cannery that opened in 1949, Huckleberry Patch specializes in the berry — and the pie is what it’s known for. Everything from the crust to the filing gets made daily from scratch. Sweet Peaks uses local dairy suppliers and fresh fruits straight from the mountains to make the handmade ice cream known for its rich and creamy texture.

Sweet homemade yeast rolls with the addition of strawberries and butter crumble sprinkled with powdered sugar, close-up.

Nebraska: Kolaches

Best Place to Try It: Verdigre Bakery in Verdigre

Runner-up: Tin roof sundae from The Potter Sundry in Potter

Kolaches are a Czech pastry roll often topped with plums, cheese, or poppy seed, though variations incorporating lemons, cherries, and more exist today. It’s popular in Nebraska and states like Texas, and Verdigre is known as the Kolach Capital of the World, celebrating the dessert and Czech culture at the Kolach Days festival every year. The Verdigre Bakery is known for making delicious kolaches by hand in flavors ranging from Bavarian cream and raspberry to cherry and apricot. The Potter Sundry, once a pharmacy, invented the Tin Roof Sundae, believed to be named after the store’s tin ceiling. It’s an ice cream sundae topped with warm marshmallow cream, chocolate syrup, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and skin-on salted Spanish peanuts.

homemade gateau basque on cake cooler, freshly baked

Nevada: Basque Cake

Best Place to Try It: National Basque Festival in Elko

Runner-up: Dole whip float from Chilly Jilly’z in Boulder City 

Basque cheesecakes are known for having a firm exterior thanks to getting cooked at high heats, with a filling that remains creamy. Thanks to the Basque settlers that arrived in Nevada throughout the Gold Rush, the dessert is now a popular choice in the state. For a taste, check out the National Basque Festival or tap into your inner Star Baker and try your hand at making your own. The Dole whip float at Chilly Jilly’z is a hit with locals and visitors alike, featuring a rich pineapple flavor.

Cider donuts
Hailee Laroue/istockphoto

New Hampshire: Apple Cider Donut

Best Place to Try It: Meadow Ledge Farm in Loudon

Runner-up: Apple fritters from Appleview Orchard in Pittsfield

New Hampshire is known for its apples, and apple cider donuts are a fall staple. You’ll see them across bakeries and farm stands often using fresh-pressed cider. Get them with a cup of hot mulled cider at the Meadow Ledge Farm, a local favorite where the donuts are made hot to order on weekends. Apple fritters may seem similar to donuts, but they’re different in their flavor, made with apples cut into rings that get dipped into batter and deep fried before getting a coating of cinnamon sugar. You can try them across bakeries and seasonal apple orchards in the state like Appleview Orchard, where fritters are served hot and fresh on weekends.

Shriver’s in Ocean City
Karen P./Yelp

New Jersey: Salt Water Taffy

Best Place to Try It: Shriver’s in Ocean City

Runner-up: Candied apples from Jenkinson’s Sweet Shop in Pleasant Beach

Salt water taffy is the Jersey Shore’s most popular souvenir, and the chewy sweets got their start in Atlantic City in the late 19th century. The taffy gets pulled by hand to give it its signature texture, and today it can be found in a range of colors and flavors. Shriver’s is the boardwalk’s oldest business, with their chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry the must-try flavors. Candied apples are a Newark invention dating back to 1908 when a local candy creator dipped apples in melted sugar with cinnamon and a bright red coloring. Jenkinson’s Sweet Shop opened in the early 1900s, offers candied apples that include the traditional red candy apples plain or covered in coconut, caramel apples, and fudge-dipped apples.

Celina’s Biscochitos
Celina’s Biscochitos/Yelp

New Mexico: Bischochito

Best Place to Try It: Celina’s Biscochitos in Albuquerque

Runner-up: Sopapillas from Sopaipilla Factory in Santa Fe

New Mexico’s official state cookies pack big flavor into a small package. The cinnamon, sugar, and anise shortbread cookies are known to melt in your mouth and are so popular at Celina’s Bischochitos that they often go all out. Go for the traditional or customize your own box with flavors like green chile pecan, red chile, or lemon. Hatch green chiles also feature in desserts like apple pie with green chile, a popular dessert at Pie-O-Neer where chile pies also include a spiced chocolate chess pie and a peach green chile pie. Sopapillas are a light and fluffy dessert made with dough that is fried until it puffs up to create its signature air pockets. At the Sopaipilla Factory, you can get them topped with cinnamon and sugar, or go for a stuffed ice cream version with strawberries and whipped cream.

Hemstrought’s Bakeries in Utica
Jessica L./Yelp

New York: Half-Moon Cookie

Best Place to Try It: Hemstrought’s Bakeries in Utica

Runner-up: New York style cheesecake from Veniero’s Pastry in New York City

Hemstrought’s is known for the “original Halfmoon Cookie,” using the same recipe they did when inventing it in 1920. The cake-like cookies baked from scratch each morning get hand-frosted with chocolate fudge on one side and vanilla buttercream on the other, and they even offer a refreshing twist on it called Sun Ups featuring orange frosting instead of chocolate. Back in the day, cheesecake was made in Europe using curd cheese, but in the 1930s, bakeries in New York began swapping sour cream and cream cheese for curd cheese instead, inventing the New York style cheesecake we know today. Veniero’s Pastry dates back to 1894 and is known for its range of desserts that include its creamy New York cheesecake.

NC Jelly Donuts in Mebane
Amy S./Yelp

North Carolina: Yeast Donut

Best Place to Try It: NC Jelly Donuts in Mebane and Burlington

Runner-up: Sweet potato pie from Sweet Potatoes in Winston-Salem

Yeast-raised donuts are a popular treat in North Carolina, where Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Rudolph originally started his secret yeast-raised donut recipe to open the first Krispy Kreme shop in. Krispy Kreme can now be found throughout parts of the country, but at local stops like  NC Jelly Donuts, you’ll also find light and airy yeast donuts that come in everything from glazed to sprinkle and chocolate topped. The state is also the nation’s largest sweet potato grower, and sweet potato pie is a classic here. Sweet Potatoes serves Southern staples done right, including an award-winning sweet potato pie some customers say is the best they’ve ever had. 

Little Cottage Cafe in Bismarck
Lauren C./Yelp

North Dakota: Caramel Rolls

Best Place to Try It: Little Cottage Cafe in Bismarck 

Runner-up: Chippers from Carol Widman’s Candy Co. in Fargo

Don’t mistake caramel rolls for cinnamon rolls, as these North Dakota favorites are doused in a creamy caramel sauce, sans any nut toppings, with the gooey sauce as the star of the show. You’ll find some of the best across mom-and-pop stops and quaint diners throughout the state, including at the Little Cottage Cafe where the fluffy and warm caramel rolls are large, sticky, and just the right amount of sweet. Chocolate-covered potato chips, known as chippers, are a dessert snack invented by Widman’s Candy. It offers them covered in milk, dark, and white almond.

Malley’s Chocolates
Greg D./Yelp

Ohio: Buckeye

Best Place to Try It: Malley’s Chocolates in various locations

Runner-up: Shaker Sugar Pie from The Golden Lamb Restaurant and Hotel in Lebanon

Buckeyes are so popular in the state that there’s even a buckeye candy trail showcasing 37 stops to try the peanut butter and chocolate treat. Named after the nut that grows on buckeye trees, these candies are made of peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate with just enough of a covering to leave the “eye” of the peanut butter peeking through. Opened in 1935 and now offering 19 retail shorts throughout Northeast Ohio, Malley’s is known for its award-winning chocolate used to make the creamy buckeyes. While the exact origins of Shaker Sugar Pie are debated, traditional sugar pies introduced by Shaker communities have been served at The Golden Lamb​ since 1927. The Sister Lizzie’s Shaker Sugar Pie is slow baked with cream, sugar, and spices the traditional way. 

Pie Junkie in Oklahoma City
Heather B./Yelp

Oklahoma: Pecan Pie

Best Place to Try It: Pie Junkie in Oklahoma City

Runner-up: Blackberry fried pie from Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies in various locations

Pecan pie is considered one of the state’s official meals, and locally-owned Pie Junkie is known for having some of the best traditional pecan pie and twists like a Bourbon chocolate chip. It sells daily slices of deep dish pies on a rotating schedule, so be sure to call ahead to grab a slice of pecan. Blackberries are also abundant in the state, where desserts like blackberry pie and cobbler are local favorites. The fried blackberry pie from Arbuckle is one of the most popular flavors.

Willamette Valley Pie Company
Alisa B./Yelp

Oregon: Marionberry Pie

Best Place to Try It: Willamette Valley Pie Company in Salem

Runner-up:  Marionberry cobbler from Roseanna’s Cafe in Oceanside

These blackberry hybrids are known for their tart and earthy flavor and feature in pies throughout Oregon. Go for a slice at the Willamette Valley Pie Company, where slices of either the traditional Marionberry or the super popular Marionberry Crunch pie come thick with a fresh and flaky crust and buttery crumbles on top of the marionberry crunch. Marionberry cobblers are also popular, brimming with the fruit and a sweetened biscuit topping to seal in the flavor. Diners love the cobbler at Roseanna’s Cafe, which comes served warm with ice cream and a sweet biscuit on top.

Shoofly Pie

Pennsylvania: Shoofly Pie

Best Place to Try It: Bird-in-Hand Bakery in Lancaster County

Runner-up: Water ice from Rita’s in various locations

Shoofly pie is a popular dessert from the Pennsylvania Dutch, made from a mix of brown sugar and molasses. The Bird-in-Hand’s shoofly pie comes from an old family recipe  featuring its famous wet-bottom and a filling of syrup, eggs, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. In Philadelphia, Italian ice is known as water ice and is a summer staple made with water, sugar, and fresh fruit flavorings mixed in before the freezing process. Try it at Rita’s, which opened in Philly in 1984 and is now in over 30 states, and you’ll see why flavors made with real fruit, from blood orange to cantaloupe, are such a hit.

Sari Marissa G./Yelp

Rhode Island: Frozen Lemonade

Best Place to Try It: Del’s in various locations

Runner-up: Coffee cabinet from Delekta Pharmacy in Warren

The history of frozen lemonade dates back to 1840 in Naples, Italy, with the recipe eventually reaching America when the first Del’s Frozen Lemonade began in 1948. Today, Del’s offers their refreshing frozen drink in a range of flavors that include the traditional lemon, blueberry, cherry, peach mango, blood orange, grapefruit, and more. Cabinets are a form of milkshake found in Rhode Island, and coffee cabinets are a flavor you’ll find throughout the state. They’re made from coffee syrup, ice cream, and milk, with Delekta, a historic pharmacy and soda fountain, known for its coffee cabinets served with a house-made coffee syrup. 

Millers All Day in Charleston
Chao X./Yelp

South Carolina: Coconut Cream Pie

Best Place to Try It: Millers All Day in Charleston

Runner-up: Huguenot Torte at Fleet Landing in Charleston

Coconut cream pie, with its graham cracker crust and shredded coconut filling, is a popular dessert in the South, especially in South Carolina where variations of it exist throughout the state. Some of the best is served at Millers All Day, where the brown coconut cream pie by the slice features a creamy filling topped with flakes of coconut. Huguenot Torte is a Charleston staple, often found in its various tearooms. It features a filling made with apples and either pecans or walnuts and a meringue-like topping, with diners raving about the version at Fleet Landing that comes warm with vanilla bean ice cream and tastes like a cross between pecan pie and an apple crumb pie.

Strawberry cake

South Dakota: Kuchen

Best Place to Try It: Tyndall Bakery in Tyndall

Runner-up: Wojapi from Dakotah Steakhouse in Rapid City

South Dakota’s official state dessert is a traditional German cake that made its way into the state through German immigrants in the 1880s, made with sweet dough traditionally stuffed with either a fruit or custard filling. Today, there are various recipes and styles of kuchen. Tyndall Bakery has been in operation for over 80 years and is known for house-made goods including its kuchen. It offers a range of kuchen flavors, from blueberry to caramel apple. Wojapi is a Native American dessert sauce made with berries, and is typically served with fry bread, which is the state’s official state bread and is made of flatted and deep-fried dough. Try the combo together at Dakotah Steakhouse

Moonpie General Store in Chattanooga
Gina V./Yelp

Tennessee: Moon Pie

Best Place to Try It: Moonpie General Store in Chattanooga

Runner-up: Fudge pie from Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant in Lynchburg

The marshmallow and graham cracker sandwiches that come dipped in chocolate made by the Chattanooga Baking Company may be the state’s most well-known sweet offering. Find a range of flavors you won’t often see in grocery stores at this Moon Pie themed shop. Fudge pie is a Tennessee invention, featuring a chocolatey filling that’s gooey in the center and crisp on the outside like a brownie after getting baked. Miss Mary Bobo’s is a historic stop in Lynchburg, where the Jack Daniel Distillery is, and the fudge pie comes served with whipped cream infused with the whiskey. 

American classic cake with pecans and maple syrup.

Texas: Pecan Pie

Best place to try it: Fredericksburg Pie Company in Fredericksburg

Runner-up: Blue Bell Ice Cream at Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham

Pecans are Texas’ state tree and pecan pie became its official pie in 2013. Family-owned Fredericksburg Pie Company makes a buttery and smooth pecan pie customers love, with traditional, chocolate, and the crowd favorite, a bourbon orange pecan pie. Make sure to get there early, as they close once their pies sell out. Blue Bell dates back to 1907, with its creamery still open in its hometown. Stop by and grab a scoop at their Ice Cream Parlor.

LaBeau's Drive Inn in Garden City
Shay D./Yelp

Utah: Raspberry Shake

Best Place to Try It: LaBeau's Drive Inn in Garden City

Runner-up: Utah scones with honey butter from Sill’s Cafe in Layton

Raspberries are a favorite local fruit in Utah, with Garden City known for having some of the best raspberry shakes around. The rural town is known for its juicy raspberries, thanks to warm days and ideal nighttime temperatures that reap sweet raspberries. They feature in thick shakes at various restaurants and stops in the town like LaBeau's Drive Inn, which is known as one of the top spots to grab the creamy dessert in town. Utah scones are different from the scones you typically see elsewhere. These versions are deep-fried and puffy, typically served with honey and butter. The scones at Sill’s Cafe are the size of a dinner plate and come topped with honey butter.

Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in East Montpelier
Thu T./Yelp

Vermont: Maple Creemee

Best Place to Try It: Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in East Montpelier

Runner-up: Maple Cream Pie from Wayside Restaurant, Bakery, and Creamery in Montperlier

Creemees may be the most popular way Vermont’s pure maple syrup is incorporated into sweet treats, with the frozen dessert featuring a more creamy variation on soft serve with the fresh syrup added straight into the mix. Morse Farm is a maple sugaring operation that has been making its own maple syrup for over two centuries, and you can taste it in a range of products including fresh maple creemees. It’s no surprise that another signature dessert to try also features maple syrup, this time in pie form. The pie is made with a filling of syrup, eggs, brown sugar, milk, and heavy cream, plus a buttery crust. Diners love the cream pies at Wayside but the maple is the favorite.

Peanut Pie Virginia Diner in Wakefield
Virginia Diner/Yelp

Virginia: Peanut Pie

Best Place to Try It: Virginia Diner in Wakefield

Runner-up: Chess pies from Livin’ the Pie Life in Arlington

Virginia began commercial peanut production in the early 1800s and continues to put peanuts center stage at Virginia Diner. It’s famous for peanut pie, which features fresh peanuts cooked into an oozing filling topped with caramelized peanuts on a flaky crust. Chess pie is a popular Southern dessert, especially in Virginia. The traditional version is made with a filling of eggs, butter, vanilla and sweeteners that combine to make a custard-like base and variations like a honey-flavored chess pie and chocolate-filled one are all hits at Livin’ the Pie Life

Individual Size Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

Washington: Apple Pie

Best Place to Try It: Snohomish Pie Co in Snohomish and Mountlake Terrace

Runner up: Cherry pie from A La Mode Pies in Seattle

Apple pie is often touted as the state’s must-try dessert thanks to the wide variety of apples grown here. The apple crumb version at Snohomish Pie Co is praised for its mix of fresh apples that come topped with a sweet crumb mix. Washington is known for growing Rainier cherries, and the fruit is often used in pies across roadside stands and bakeries, especially in the summertime. A La Mode​​ tends to feature on best pie lists quite often, and their cherry pies are also enjoyed by diners. Their pie menus rotate, but their cherry selections also often feature sour cherries and sweet varieties.

Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream in Charleston
Lucy G./Yelp

West Virginia: Pawpaw Ice Cream

Best Place to Try It: Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream in Charleston

Runner-up: Potato candy from True Treats Candy in Harpers Ferry

Pawpaw has a sweet flavor reminiscent of custard, and it’s nicknamed the West Virginia banana. Pawpaw may not be known by many, but it’s a unique treat that has a very short shelf life, making it easy to miss. So, if you happen to be in Virginia in the fall, don’t miss the chance to taste it in pies, breads, jellies, ice creams, or beer. You can only get it for a few short weeks in ice cream form at Ellen’s, but it’s worth it when you sample its distinct flavor. True Treats is a treasure trove for history lovers, featuring over 500 selections of historic teas, candies, and treats from the mid-1900s. They sell freshly made versions of their Appalachian handmade potato candy, featuring peanut butter, potatoes, and powdered sugar.

Leon’s Frozen Custard
Abby C./Yelp

Wisconsin: Frozen Custard

Best Place to Try It: Leon’s Frozen Custard in Milwaukee

Runner-up: Kringles from Bendtsen’s Bakery in Racine

Frozen custard is a velvety cold treat made with eggs, cream, and sugar, and Milwaukee is home to the world’s largest concentration of frozen custard shops. When visiting, head to Leon’s Frozen Custard, which opened in 1942, to try selections ranging from butter pecan to maple walnut and cinnamon. Kringles, Wisconsin’s official pastry, are a Danish pastry made with layers of flaky dough and a range of fillings. Bendtsen’s Bakery is famous for them, with a variety of flavors that include cherry, apricot, almond, and cream cheese.

Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream
Shannon H./Yelp

Wyoming: Huckleberry Ice Cream

Best place to try it: Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream in Jackson Hole

Runner-up: Rhubarb pie from Cowboy Cafe in Dubois and Sheridan

Huckleberries are also found throughout Wyoming, and huckleberry ice cream often touted as the state’s best dessert. At Moo’s, the organic ice cream comes filled with fresh huckleberries that give it its distinct, bright purple hue. Rhubarb is plentiful in parts of Wyoming and is often featured in jams, cakes, and pies that combine rhubarb with everything from strawberries to custards. Cowboy Cafe often features a range of rhubarb pie flavors, from apple rhubarb to raspberry rhubarb and blueberry rhubarb made with just the right amount of sweetness. 

Related: The Most Charming Retro Diner in Every State