cakes with New York skyline

Best Bakeries in NYC for Birthday Cakes

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As someone who grew up in New York’s tri-state area and now lives in the city, bakeries with excellent birthday cakes have always been super important to my life in and around the Big Apple. Finding the perfect birthday cake for one of your favorite people can be challenging and a bit intimidating here, since there are so many different options in New York. 

To take the guesswork out of finding New York’s absolute best birthday cake — if you’re not up to taking on cake and cupcake recipes yourself — I’ve narrowed down a list of my favorite bakeries in the city. To determine my personal recommendations as a lifelong connoisseur of baked goods, I’ve drawn from past visits to New York bakeries and online reviews to present my favorite spots to pick up your next birthday cake in NYC.

When it came to research for this article, I sought out bakeries with more interesting and innovative flavors, and also noted if these establishments have gluten-free offerings. Don’t get me wrong, I love a simple vanilla or chocolate cake, but there is something about a cannoli cake or an ube cake that makes a birthday special. I also included bakeries offering more interesting types of cake. Here are a local’s recommendations for the absolute best birthday cakes in New York City. 

Milk Bar

Milk Bar cake with sprinkles

Milk Bar / Facebook

When it comes to New York City confections, few are as well-known as the iconic Milk Bar cakes. Renowned pastry chef Christina Tosi launched Milk Bar in the East Village in 2008, and it’s super popular for good reason. Personally, I’ve had and bought many Milk Bar cakes over the years, and every single time, it’s proven worthy of the popular acclaim.

One of the great things about these cakes is that while you can pick them up at Milk Bar branches around New York — and now at locations in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and beyond — the chain also ships nationwide, so if you cannot be with a loved one for their birthday but want to send them a piece of New York City, you can.

When it comes to flavor, the signature Milk Bar birthday cake is sure to impress just about anyone. This cake is confetti-style with sprinkles flecked in the batter, and it’s topped with frosting, crumbs, and more sprinkles. The cake is sold “naked” (meaning that the cake-layer sides are not covered in frosting). Something else to love about the Milk Bar birthday cake is how lightweight and fluffy its texture is. This is not a dense cake, although it does look like that. It’s well-balanced in flavor, and the frosting-to-cake ratio is fantastic. Milk Bar also offers a gluten-free birthday cake.

milkbarstore.com

Multiple locations

Billy’s Bakery

Billy's birthday cake with cherries

Billy’s Bakery / Facebook

Founded by two friends with a mutual love for sweets, Billy’s Bakery is a retro-inspired pastry shop. It feels like you’re getting something homemade at this cozy spot, whether you’re looking for a birthday cake, a classic chocolate chip cookie, or lemon bars.   

If the person celebrating a birthday has a niche interest or wants a unique saying on their cake, Billy’s Bakery is a great choice. Here birthday cakes are super customizable, so you can choose the cake, the frosting, the hand-drawn images on top, and much more. This bakery is all about the details. Let your creativity take control, because there is so much you can do. This establishment offers a gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cake, as well.

And while Billy’s has great cakes, if you’re looking to switch things up, it offers a range of other sweet treats that would be a great alternative for a traditional cake. One of the reasons why Billy’s Bakery earned a spot on this list is because it has excellent reviews across multiple reputable online sources. This bakery has three locations in Manhattan, and it ships a select few cakes.

billysbakerynyc.com

Multiple locations

From Lucie

From Lucie cake with flowers

fromlucienyc / Instagram

From Lucie has one location, in Manhattan’s East Village. Not only is this bakery super cute, but while picking up a birthday cake, it’s a great spot to enjoy a mid-afternoon snack (trust me on this one).

The beautiful naked cakes sold at From Lucie are admired for the stunning flower arrangements on top of them. If the birthday reveler is someone who prefers to let their phone eat a photo before they dig in, they’re going to adore this cake. Each confection is unique and aesthetically pleasing, and they feature interesting flavor combinations such as lemon olive oil cake with lavender Swiss meringue buttercream. This bijou bakery offers other treats as well, including cookies and vegan delights.

These cakes are a little more dense than what you’ll find at Milk Bar, but they’re quite filling. They still have the right amount of moisture when it comes to cake, but are also a bit crumbly. The frosting and cake ratio is great as well, but the frosting for this cake is a bit thick.

fromlucie.com

(917) 409-0771

263 E 10th St, New York, NY 10009 

Empire Cake

coconut cake with salad design

empirecakenyc / Instagram

With “cake” in its name, Empire Cake is highly regarded for these confections, but it is also well-known for modern takes on classic American store-bought sweets. So, if you have a friend who loves Twinkies or Ho Hos, you can offer Empire’s versions of them as a fun alternative birthday treat. 

Empire sells some classic cakes like German chocolate and red velvet, but the bakery also offers more interesting flavors such as pistachio praline, hazelnut, cannoli, and more, with gluten-free options as well. In addition to traditionally designed cakes, you can get some elaborately decorated cakes featuring just about any theme you could imagine. From funny salad-lookalike cakes to confections shaped like wine bottles to edible purses and beyond, you can make a dream cake come true with Empire’s talented fondant sculptors. Empire Cakes has one location in Manhattan, but you can place your order online and have products delivered throughout the tri-state area for an additional fee. 

empirecake.com

(212) 242-5858 

112 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery yellow confetti cake

magnoliabakery / Instagram

Magnolia Bakery might be the most famous confectionery in all of New York, and perhaps beyond. The business began in 1996 with a West Village corner shop, but now it has multiple sites around the city, and has expanded to Chicago, Los Angeles, and international locations. Chances are a New Yorker has been to Magnolia at least once in their life. While renowned for cake and cupcakes, Magnolia is equally revered for its legendary banana pudding. 

The traditional birthday cake flavors at Magnolia Bakery are top-notch, so if the person being celebrated prefers classic options like chocolate, this is going to be an excellent choice. These cakes are also cute, simple, and minimal, so they’ll look stunning and blend in with any and every theme. 

For something truly unique, try Magnolia Bakery’s hummingbird cake with Jamaican origins. This specialty combines the flavors of banana, pecan, and pineapple with a texture not unlike carrot cake. However, if you’re not sure about the birthday celebrant’s cake-flavor preferences, don’t worry — getting the vanilla cake topped with colorful sprinkles is a smart move. Magnolia’s buttercream frosting is thicker and on the sweeter side, while the cake itself is bit dense and quite moist, balancing flavor without being overwhelming. 

magnoliabakery.com

Multiple locations

Lady Wong

Lady Wong cakes on display

ladywongpastry / Instagram

Providing some of the most interesting and fun flavors on this list, Lady Wong has two locations in Manhattan — an independent storefront in the East Village, and a site inside the Urban Hawker Asian-style food hall by Times Square. You’ll love these cakes because they’re flavored with Southeast Asian ingredients but made with French techniques. Some of the standout cake options are ube blackberry, white sesame raspberry, and the pandan pistachio royaltine. 

If you’re in the market for a non-traditional birthday cake, Lady Wong is a fantastic option; you even have the option of ordering a roll cake. And while this patisserie has awesome cakes, it also offers some intriguing party platters featuring delights like pandan panna cotta bites, in case you would like something different to complement the celebration. Lady Wong ships gift boxes nationwide, so this can be a great option for birthday celebrations beyond New York. 

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ladywong.com

Multiple locations

Sprinkles

Sprinkles naked red velvet cake

sprinklescupcakes / Instagram

Although Sprinkles was founded in Beverly Hills and has numerous locations across the United States, the chain’s Upper East Side location is a landmark for New York foodies with a sweet tooth. Sprinkles is best known for cupcakes, but the bakery also offers full-sized cakes in an array of flavors. The chain ships nationwide and also offers local delivery, with vegan and sugar-free red velvet cakes available.

Sprinkles cakes are made in the naked style, with the sides free of frosting. If you’re interested in more traditional flavors, this bakery is a good choice, but Sprinkles also offers special flavors, including lemon blueberry and walnut-infused carrot cake. The cakes are a bit more on the denser side, and they are not overly sweet, with an excellent lineup of creamy frosting varieties. If you’re looking for a birthday cake that tastes like it’s from a local bakery but better, this is going to be your next destination. 

sprinkles.com

(212) 207-8375

780 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10065

Padoca Bakery

Padoca Bakery hot dog cake

padocabakery / Instagram

With three locations in Manhattan, Padoca Bakery offers a ton of different styles and flavors of cake, including gluten-free options. Padoca is on this list because each cake the bakery sells can be made with countless customizable options, while offering some pre-designed cakes with playful references to pop culture icons ranging from Taylor Swift to Spider-Man. 

Some favorite Padoca designs include a cherry-themed cake, a sky-blue cloud cake, a fox-faced cake, and so much more. Many of these ornate confections come in standard flavors like chocolate and vanilla, but orange olive oil and red velvet cakes are also available, while filling flavors range from vanilla mascarpone to coconut to cookie butter. If you have the perfect idea for a birthday cake, but can’t execute it on your own, create a custom cake with Padoca’s designers.

Everything from Padoca tastes like it was freshly baked in your grandmother’s kitchen. The cakes here are super moist, and the buttercream is nice and fluffy but not too sweet. 

padocabakery.com

Multiple locations

Lady M

Lady M lavender cake

ladymcakes / Instagram

Offering a truly distinctive birthday cake option, Lady M is acclaimed for mille-crepe cakes. The bakery is based in New York with multiple locations throughout the city, as well as boutiques across the United States and in Asia. Customers can pre-order a cake, but you can also stop in at stores and buy whole cakes in myriad flavors.

I love this bakery and style of cake, because it’s not too sweet and it’s so pretty. Some people prefer cakes that aren’t very sugary, and this is a phenomenal option for that friend or family member. While visiting one of the Lady M locations, quite a few people are likely to be snagging birthday cakes there. 

Another reason why Lady M should be on your birthday cake radar is because it offers incredible flavor options, including green tea, lavender, mango, and much more. We’re partial to the lavender matcha cake because it is equally tasty and beautiful. These cakes are light in texture and have the perfect amount of flavor, and in the lavender matcha cake, you can easily taste both flavor profiles. 

ladym.com

Multiple locations

NY Bakery and Desserts

NY Bakery cake with fruit

nybakeryanddesserts / Instagram

Do you need a last-minute birthday cake that will still impress? The two Midtown locations of NY Bakery and Desserts are both open 24/7, so if you need a showstopper cake with no time to spare, this might be the best place to visit. The bakery offers delivery, but only within Manhattan.

Anyone who prefers old-school New York desserts will consider this as a favorite spot for sweets. The menu has all of the classic treats that you’d find in a vintage diner, including New York-style cheesecake and strawberry shortcake. However, this bakery also offers more modern creations, like gluten-free chocolate ganache cake and a decadent Godiva cheesecake.

Other unique offers include slices of Italian cannoli cake, Oreo mousse cake, and tres leches cake with strawberries. Diversely flavored cake pops are also available here, if that better suits the vibe of your birthday party; pies are an option as well.

nybakeryanddesserts.com

Multiple locations

Huascar & Company Bakeshop

Huascar cake with roses

huascarandco / Instagram

After vanquishing the competition on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” in 2013, Huascar & Company Bakeshop became a premier cake destination in Hell’s Kitchen. Something that makes this bakery unique is its innovative cake flavors such as pink lemonade, pistachio cherry, Boston cream pie, and many more. Along with cakes and cupcakes, Huascar & Company sells macarons, candies, tiramisu, and varied gluten-free delights. 

If the birthday celebrant prefers a more stylized cake, that is an option at Huascar & Company. Some of the more fanciful confections showcased by the bakery include an alcohol-themed cake festooned with macarons and minibar liquor bottles, an ornate cake bearing the Boston Celtics logo, and a unicorn cake with a golden horn. 

Huascar & Company offers delivery around central Manhattan, and caters for corporate events. However, if you stop by in person to order a cake, you can also enjoy a beverage from the lengthy cafe menu, which includes chai lattes and hot chocolate. 

hbake.com

(212) 933-1041

453 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

Keki

Keki purple and regular cheesecake

kekimoderncakes / Instagram

Anyone who prefers cheesecake to regular birthday cakes will be happy with a jiggly confection from Keki. Inspired by Asian pastry shops, this contemporary bakery has two locations in Manhattan — but you’re in luck even if you live far from New York, because Keki offers nationwide shipping. However, Keki management proudly sources all ingredients from around the tri-state area.

Keki offers light-textured “bouncy cheesecakes” and a lineup of “fancy” cheesecakes sold frozen, providing unique options for people who might want a little something different for their birthday. Every confection is aesthetically pleasing, with elegant flavors including ube and green tea, providing phenomenal choices for a celebration with international flair. 

This is also a good option for someone who likes cakes that aren’t overly sweet, and Keki’s cheesecake is great for smaller birthday gatherings or any special occasion. These super fluffy and deliciously flavored cheesecakes almost melt in your mouth. 

kekimoderncakes.com

Multiple locations

By the Way Bakery

starry By the Way cake

bythewaybakery / Instagram

By the Way Bakery is a gluten-free and dairy-free confectionery, and it’s incredible. Everything served here — from cakes to brownies to chocolate chip cookies — is extremely delicious, and does not taste like it’s missing any ingredients. If you are looking for a custom-made cake, that option is available as well.

The strawberry shortcake is a personal favorite, but By the Way also has scrumptious chocolate raspberry cake, latte layer cake, lemon cake, and more. If you want to treat yourself along with the birthday honoree, this bakery also offers mini delights that you can snack on, like a single-serving bundt cake with sprinkles or a whoopie pie.

By the Way has two locations in Manhattan, one in Westchester, and another site in Greenwich, Connecticut. This bakery does not ship, but you can get non-customized cake orders delivered via Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats. 

btwbakery.com

Multiple locations

Methodology

lavender and matcha cake slice

Becca Glasser-Baker/Look

Selecting the best bakeries for birthday cakes in New York City was no easy task, because there are so many incredible options to choose from. Numerous factors were considered when determining which establishments made the list. I started this quest for the best bakeries by drawing on my own preferences from past visits, while also consulting with New York-based friends and family members.

Flavor and diversity were something that came up a lot, because a typical birthday cake is a great option, but if you’re looking for a more novel or whimsical type of cake, I wanted to highlight options for that as well. Another factor was if the bakeries have allergen-free options, especially for folks who follow gluten-free diets, and I also noted if a spot offered vegan products. Some friends and family mentioned that they often found birthday cakes too sweet, so I made it a mission to find cakes that would suit their tastes. It was important to find a cake for everyone, since everyone has a birthday. 

I also checked out numerous reviews online and on social media across multiple platforms. Despite reading various reviews that proved crucial to this research, sometimes my personal preference for a bakery prevailed over the input of online platforms.

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