Are you looking for the best birthday cakes in New York City? Either to bring to a special someone or eat by yourself because #quarantine?
Well, I’ve called NYC home for the past 8+ years. In addition to celebrating my own birthday with cake, I’ve hosted my fair share of birthday parties. New York City is notoriously a social city after all, and we eat a lot of cake around here!
All this to say, I’ve probably tried over 30 different types of birthday cakes from New York City bakeries. There’s a handful that stood out for all the right reasons, and a few more that stood out for all the wrong ones too.
Below is my personal list of the best birthday cakes in NYC, based on firsthand experience. Hope you enjoy!
It’s impossible to name a more popular place to get birthday cakes in New York City than Milk Bar. The place became a viral sensation — largely thanks to the cereal-milk soft serve and the Milk Bar Pie, better known as “crack cake”– and hasn’t shown any signs of stopping since.
Another item on their menu that has a cult-like following is quite possibly the most popular birthday cake in NYC, Milk Bar’s iconic Birthday Cake (available in the original vanilla flavor and chocolate).
Description from Milk Bar: You’ve never tried a birthday cake like this. Our bestselling Birthday Cake, inspired by the boxed vanilla funfetti cake we loved as a kid, has grown up and gone gourmet. It has three tiers of heavenly rainbow-flecked vanilla birthday cake, layers of creamy frosting & crunchy crumbs, all topped with rainbow sprinkles.
It might be helpful to know that Milk Bar offers national shipping, so you can have this cake delivered to anyone anywhere in the US, but honestly, nothing tops getting it from one of the bakeries in NYC.
Also worth mention, Milk Bar offers a gluten free version of this beloved NYC birthday cake.
Image Courtesy Milk Bar
Ask any local for their personal list of the best birthday cakes in New York City and it’s inevitable that Brooklyn’s beloved Ladybird Bakery will show up somewhere near the top.
The birthday cakes from Ladybird Bakery check all the boxes. They’re moist, flavorful, airy and memorable. Plus, there’s a great selection of classic flavors to choose from.
Unlike a lot of bakeries in NYC, Ladybird Bakery is more interested in baking fresh and flavorful baked goods than becoming an instagram sensation.
You won’t find over-the-top flavors, colors or decorations, but you will find one of the best birthday cakes in New York City. A cake your friends will remember long after the bamboo plates you served it on have composted.
I can’t recommend the Brooklyn Blackout (rich chocolate-forward cake) and the Red Velvet enough. In fact, whenever I attend a friend’s birthday party, I’m always secretly hoping they serve a cake from Ladybird Bakery.
If you like to sway from tradition and would prefer a more custom birthday cake in NYC, then City Cakes it sure to fit the bill. Seriously, the birthday cakes from City Cakes are a work of art.
In fact, at this incredible bakery the only thing that stops your wildest birthday cake dream from coming true is your budget.
Due to the specialty and price of these incredible birthday cakes, I suggest ordering one for a special occasion (big birthday or life milestone). Regardless of which cake you have designed, there’s no way your guests will be able to forget the flawless NYC birthday cakes churned out of this iconic bakery.
Martha’s Country Bakery
Just thinking about the cakes from Martha’s Country Bakery makes my mouth water as I type this, arguably some of the best birthday cakes in NYC can be found in this bakery. In fact, this is my go-to when I’m asked to pick up a last-minute birthday cake for one reason or another.
The cakes are consistently good and always get complimented to the extreme. They’re beautifully decorated and never disappoint in the taste department.
P.S. The berry neapolitan cake is quite possibly the best cake I’ve had in NYC, which is why I can’t recommend it enough.
Since opening in 2014, Mah-Ze-Dahr has risen to the top of most “best bakeries in NYC lists” within a mere seven years. No easy feat in a city chock-full of bakeries and steep competition.
The owner, Umber Ahmad is a James Beard Award semi-finalist (a huge deal in the culinary world) who left the lofty confines of the financial world to purse her dream of baking.
She’s lovingly called a banker-turned-baker, and let me tell you — we are all better for it, she’s incredibly talented.
The bakery lives up to the name by offering years of world-travel experience that shines through in the various assortments of baked foods, and nowhere is this more evident than in the delectable assortment of cakes.
The chocolate cake, aptly called The Devil in Ganache, is known to induce dreams for months after. And the carrot cake? Well, that makes me want to crawl over the register to kiss the chef. I mean, the cream cheese frosting is infused with maple!
There’s no denying that Mah-Ze-Dahr is one of the best bakeries for cake in New York City, but don’t just take my word for it, order a slice next time you’re in the West Village!
Ovenly’s version of the iconic Brooklyn Blackout has been attracting folks from all corners of New York state for years now.
Defined by an impossibly deep black color, this cake is no joke. In fact, if you have a friend that constantly complains about the lack of chocolate flavor in a chocolate cake, while simultaneously taking shots of chocolate syrup from the fridge, this cake will stop them in their tracks.
Another crowd-pleaser is the impeccable Pistachio Cardamon Cake which has the most satisfying blend of comforting flavors.
Two Red Hens (Currently Closed)
Two Little Red Hens is currently closed while they try to find a new location next to their flagship on the Upper East Side. Regardless, this bakery is worth the wait and there will probably be a line wrapping the block when they open again.
They make some of the most delicious and beautifully decorated traditional birthday cakes in NYC and the UES is so lucky to have them!
I’m partial to their version of the Brooklyn Blackout and Carrot Cake, but the Red Velvet truly steals the show. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Two Little Red Hens makes the best red velvet cake in New York City.
Walk into Amy’s Bread on any weekend morning and you’ll find yourself lost in a sea of locals eager to get their hands on a baked good from this beloved neighborhood bakery.
You’re also bound to find a few cheery folks walking out with boxes of some of the best birthday cake in New York City.
The chocolate cake at Amy’s Bread really sets itself apart form the competition. It’s rich, moist and perfectly airy, topped with a “chocolate silk”. But you won’t be disappointed regardless of what you order here.
They say you can’t call yourself a New Yorker until you’ve lived in this city for at least 10 years, but I think there’s another caveat — you know you’ve become an official New Yorker when you start attending parties where Magnolia’s epic birthday cakes are the norm.
Magnolia Bakery is a New York City staple made popular by Sex and the City. They’re best known for delicious cupcakes that span the gamut. So it probably comes as no surprise that a bakery specializing in cupcakes would churn out some of the best birthday cakes in NYC too.
Here you’ll have your pick of perfectly-executed classics, like Devil’s Food Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Carrot Cake and Red Velvet.
Whatever you do, don’t leave without picking up a banana pudding on your way out.
Lady M has become an international sensation thanks to its delicate layered crepe cakes. The crepes are spread over light pastry creme before being finished with caramelized sugar. I can’t help but wonder how we’ve lived so long without this invention!
This bakery also offers several interesting flavors, like matcha, if you’re looking for unique birthday cakes in NYC, this will fit the bill.
Billy’s Bakery holds a special place in my heart because it’s my neighborhood bakery. Most Sunday mornings start with a quick stop at Billy’s Bakery for a sweet treat before heading into Central Park.
There’s a plethora of cake flavors to choose from, but my personal favorite is a tie between the banana cake, lemon raspberry cake or coconut cake.
However, the most famous cake here might just be the icebox cake, which is comprised of fresh whipped cream (chocolate, peppermint, or vanilla) sandwiched between crispy chocolate wafers – it’s perfect.
Best Vegan & Gluten Free Birthday Cake NYC: Erin McKenna’s Bakery
We have a handful of friends that are gluten-free, as such, we’ve spent our fair share of time in search of the best gluten-free birthday cakes in NYC. I can tell you from firsthand experience that nothing tops Erin McKenna’s Bakery.
This Lower East Side bakery is a must-know for anyone with food allergies or sensitivities. They’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and kosher yet churn out a mean birthday cake.
List of best birthday cakes in NYC
- Milk Bar
- City Cakes
- Martha’s Country Bakery
- Two Little Red Hens
- Amy’s Bread
- Lady M
- Billy’s Bakery
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery
Map of the best birthday cakes in New York City
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
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Hope you enjoyed the sweet treats, folks!