Beyond beignets and Bananas Foster: where to eat desserts in New Orleans

Cake, pastry, ice cream or pie, New Orleans has enough desserts to ensure you’ll have a never-ending sugar rush — we pick some of the best in town.

By Farida Zeynalova
Published 18 Feb 2023, 12:00 GMT
A cinnamon roll at La Boulangerie, headed up by executive pastry chef Maggie Scales.

A cinnamon roll at La Boulangerie, headed up by executive pastry chef Maggie Scales.

Photograph by Link Restaurant Group

There’s a lot to love when it comes to the desserts of New Orleans. Bars, boulangeries and restaurants all over the Crescent City dish up puddings both traditional and avant-garde, each one deeply rooted in the past and present of the city and its people. Whether it’s pastries or pralines, beignets or banana tarts, or an award-winning po’boy and breading pudding hybrid, the sugary landscape of this iconic city is well worth tucking into. Here are six of our favourite places in town that are a must-try for any sweet-toothed visitor. 

For a classic with a twist: Bread pudding po’boy

Ye Olde College Inn
The decadent deep-fried bread pudding po’boy is an entirely unique dessert that’s twice earned the ‘Best of Show’ award at the annual Po-Boy Festival. Owner Johnny Blancher cuts French bread in half and saturates it in a custard and raisin mix, before it’s baked and deep-fried and served in a bed of rum sauce. 

For date-night: Tarte a la Bouillie 

On the corner of Magazine Street is the cosy, chandelier-laden Coquette, specialising in elevated Southern cuisine. Skip the mains and go straight for the tarte a la bouillie; this traditional Cajun custard pie is dressed up to the nines here with pumpkin, persimmon and shards of meringue all topped off with sage and pepper. 

For serious chocophiles: Doberge cake 

Miss River, Four Seasons 
This uber rich, multi-layered doberge cake is New Orleans’ homage to the Hungarian dobos torte. It was initially created by pastry chef Beulah Levy Ledne, born in Louisiana to Hungarian-Jewish parents. At Miss River, expect layer after layer of chocolate filling and dark chocolate cake, wrapped in a chocolate glaze and topped off with edible gold leaf.

The Mile High Pie at Jack Rose restaurant is the most popular dessert on the menu. 

Photograph by Sheila Tahvildari

For a dessert to share: Mile High Pie

Jack Rose, The Pontchartrain Hotel
Don’t let its name fool you; the signature dish at Jack Rose isn’t actually a pie but a towering, three-layered ice cream — chocolate, vanilla and peppermint flavoured — with a black cookie dough base and topped off with scorched meringue marshmallow and a drizzle of rich chocolate sauce.

For liquid dessert: Frozen bourbon milk punch

Bourbon House
Dickie Brennan’s signature milk punch is made up of Benchmark Bourbon, homemade vanilla gelato, simple syrup and vanilla extract, all mixed in a daiquiri machine and topped off with ground nutmeg. 

For day-time relaxing: Pineapple upside down cake

La Boulangerie
This French-inspired bakery by Link Restaurant Group is a neighbourhood favourite and home to a plethora of cakes, pastries, breads and pies. Keep an eye out for pineapple upside down cake or banana tart — both favourites across Louisiana and the Southern states — whipped up by executive pastry chef Maggie Scales.

Published in the US Cities guide, distributed with the March 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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