The Absolute Best Bakeries in Chicago
Load up on award-winning tarts, pies, cookies, cakes, and more.
Shower thought: Do you ever think about the improbability of humanity discovering baking? Do you ever think about how, in order to create cakes, breads, pastries, and all of the other best, tastiest, most delightful foods in the world, some guy in Egypt around 8000 BC had to have the idea to grab some wild yeast from a brewer, mix it with water, and then grind up a bunch of plants until they turned into flour? Do you ever think about how they had to mix and heat everything precisely, without stand mixers or gas ovens?
Suffice it to say, the fact that baked goods exist today is nothing short of a miracle. Celebrate this miracle this holiday season and beyond by hitting up one of the standout Chicagoland bakeries that nobly carry on the tradition of that one guy in Egypt all those years ago.
A bread lover’s dream, La Boulangerie imports all of their flour from France, and makes all of their breads, pastries, and other treats from scratch every morning before they open. Grab a loaf each of Brioche and Sourdough and use them to treat yourself to the best homemade french toast you’ll ever have.
Helmed by Michelin-starred pastry chef Aya Fukai, Aya Pastry is a must-visit in West Town for treats both sweet and savory. Their menu is wide-ranging, including overstuffed Apple Pies and French Galettes made with seasonal fillings right alongside fluffy Shokupan, a traditional Japanese milk bread. The most tempting and beautiful offerings on the menu include the (gluten free!) wonderfully chewy Matcha Mochi Cake and the toasty goodness of the Black Sesame Cake, but don’t overlook their breads and breakfast pastries either.
Good Ambler doesn’t just supplement their coffee offerings with a croissant or scone, they go all out with a stunning array of cakes, pastries, cookies, and adorably-decorated chocolates. No matter whether you’re looking for a custom specialty cake or a simple-but-perfectly-assembled BLTA, Good Ambler has you covered. The pro play is to bring a laptop, post up on one of the couches, and make Good Ambler your remote office for the day, sipping coffee and treating yourself to pastries as necessary. Just remember, Kouign Amann is pronounced “Queen Ah-mon.”
Andersonville & Wicker Park
Lost Larson is a true baker’s bakery. They mill their own flour using a traditional stone mill, and they make their pastries and breads with a long-fermentation method that really boosts natural flavors. Both locations offer a wide variety of baked goods, including not-to-be-missed rotating offerings like seasonal tarts and breads only available on certain days of the week (don’t miss Friday’s Challah), while the Andersonville location also includes cafe goods like quiches and sandwiches.
Dating to 1992, Bittersweet is one of Chicago’s most legendary bakeries, and has earned that reputation by creating some of the most stunning cakes the city has ever seen. Don’t believe us? Ask Eddie Vedder, Michael Jordan, and Oprah, all of whom trusted Bittersweet to create custom wonders for them. That said, even if you’re not planning a wedding or some huge event that requires a four-foot-tall cake shaped like a dinosaur, Bittersweet is worth your time, as they stock a wide selection of pastries and breads from Macarons to Brioche Rolls. We especially recommend their Tarte Belle-Hélène, a perfectly crafted and delicate blend of poached pears and chocolate frangipane.
The story of how Renaud Hendrickx became a baker is a relatable one. Growing up at boarding school, he was regularly given a piece of bread alongside some dark chocolate every day after recess. It was the best bread he had ever had, and, unable to find any that matched up to it no matter where he traveled, he vowed to recreate it. Years later, he did—only he forgot to write down the proportions. Finally, he was able to recreate it a second time, this time with a written recipe. All this is to say that as one of the city’s only true Belgian bakeries, Hendrickx is wholly devoted to the craft of breadmaking. The Belgian Country Bread is a must, but don’t leave without sampling the croissants and chocolates as well.
Kasama offers a wide range of wonderful Filipino foods, from Pickled Papaya to Adobo-marinated Chicken Thighs to Lumpia, which makes the fact that they are also one of the city’s best bakeries seem almost unfair. First-come-first-served pastries from perfectly-executed classics like Apple Hand Pies to more creative items like Ube-huckleberry Basque Cake top the prized list. Be sure to be quick, however—they regularly sell out.
You'll be hard-pressed to find better hand-forged bread than the beautifully crusty loaves here, and pastries like Monkey Bread, muffins, and fruit-studded scones are delightful enough to turn just about anyone into a morning person.
Yes, tourists, downtown shoppers, and bachelorette parties flock to this local outpost of this cupcake chain like bees to honey. But don’t be fooled by the cutesy branding and gimmicky cupcake ATM—the cupcakes are well worth the hype (and the Gold Coast price tag).
Unlike most Chicago-area bakeries, which only bring out the Pączki once a year, this European shop offers the traditional Polish pastry year-round for your enjoyment. The treats come in flavors like plum jelly and custard-filled, and share the stage with everything from Apricot Kolaczki to Blueberry Turnovers. If you’re not in the mood for pączki, Delightful Pastries also offers a variety of other pastries, cakes, and cookies, all made with the philosophy that wonderful ingredients don’t need to be covered in sugar to taste great.
From strudels and tarts to cookies and its famous Stollen, this German outpost has been the answer to Chicago's collective oven-fresh needs for the better part of a century—they’ll be celebrating 100 years in business in 2022. If sweets aren't your thing, don't worry, they also offer a selection of sandwiches and quiches to satisfy the savorty set.
Washed in pastel hues and equipped with a pastry display bursting with colorful cookies and cupcakes, Sweet Mandy B's is a veritable sugar fiend's fairytale. Go forth and feast.
Given that Sweet Mandy B's and Floriole share the same block and produce some of the best baked goods in the city, we couldn't recognize one without the other. Floriole boasts a varied menu full of fresh pastries both savory and sweet—our mouths are watering right now imagining their Basque Cake. But don’t overlook their frozen take-and-bake offerings. If you go to Floriole and leave without a four-pack of Croissant Dogs, you’re doing it wrong.
This time-tested, family-owned establishment has been around since 1904, and after just one bite of its housemade Cannoli, you'll understand why—it's that good. The assorted Italian cookies and Sfogliatelle deserve credit for its longevity as well, but don’t leave the bakery without at least glancing at their pie menu, which features almost 20 different mouth-watering varieties.
Get your pie fix alongside a piping hot plate of Biscuits and Gravy at this rustic eat-in bakery and cafe. The pies rotate daily, and are available for pre-order every day of the week. It’s legendary for a reason.
Helmed by pastry great Mindy Segal (Mindy's Hot Chocolate), this cozy oasis within the buzzy Revival Food Hall is stocked with all things caffeinated, boozy, and baked. Stop by the one-stop shop for Brioche Donuts and nitro lattes on draft during the day, followed by stiff (and coffee-infused, if you wish) cocktails in the evening.
Sure, you can score a well-rounded meal here, but wouldn't you rather have a multi-course feast of Rainbow Layer Cake, Iced Cut-out Cookies, Pecan Sticky Buns, and hulking Rice Crispy Treats instead? The choice is yours.
With locations in both Chicago and Evanston, this kitschy pie shop has earned a slice of both city and suburban pie markets with its rotating selection of fresh-baked endeavors. The sweet creations are available whole, by the slice, or in flights, and come in flavors like Hoosier Sugar Cream, Pear Apple Cranberry with walnut crumble, and Maple Pecan.
Step inside this classic French bakery and you'll swear you've just been teleported to a quiet Parisian side-street. Brioche, croissants, beignets, and baguettes abound, and, as an added bonus, most of their breads contain natural sourdough starters, giving everything La Fournette makes a special touch.
Panaderoa Nuevo Leon has been a staple in the Pilsen community for the past half-century. The Mexican bakery specializes in traditional favorites, including Pan Dulce, Churros, and Flan, as well as savory tortillas slathered with jalapeño and chili guajillo.
Whether you're lingering over a casual oatmeal breakfast or dropping by to pick up a Bacon, Egg, and Brie Sandwich on the go, there's no better place to kickstart your day in Lincoln Square than here. All the baked goods are made with flour milled in-house. It’s also located right across the street from a gym, but nobody needs to know that.
This carbo-loaded attachment to Stephanie Izard's Little Goat Diner sells a slew of cookies and ice creams, but the true belles of the ball are the super-experimental baked goods they trot out, from a cake that looks like a pie, to a have-to-try-it-to-understand-its-greatness Chocolate French Fry Pie.
Artsy, graffiti-inspired walls and red, white, and blue booth-seating reflect this bakery and diner's playful menu. Dark Matter coffee, booze aplenty, sustainability-driven baked goods, and gut-busting brunch eats like a Chorizo-egg Croissant Sandwich and Caramel Apple French Toast round things out.