Two kids and dog eating ice cream on bench in Stillwater

Where to Taste Minnesota's Sweetest Candies, Cupcakes, Doughnuts & Treats

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Leo's Malt Shop in Stillwater is one of Minnesota's many must-visit ice cream shops / Paul Vincent

Where to Taste Minnesota's Sweetest Candies, Cupcakes, Doughnuts & Treats

By James Norton

Whether your sweet tooth aches for cupcakes, ice cream, doughnuts or candy made by accomplished bakers and confectioners, you'll find sweet treats in every corner of Minnesota. From the heart of downtown Minneapolis to the state's rural corners, where pie and old-school doughnuts really come into their own, here are 10 spots to indulge #OnlyinMN-style.

  1. Aroma Pie Shoppe, Whalan
    Aroma Pie Shoppe, Whalan

    The Lanesboro area is one of the most charming parts of the state, and the namesake item from the award-winning Aroma Pie Shoppe is one of the most charming things to eat near Lanesboro — homemade-quality pies, made with love and creative attention to detail. Since taking over the business in 2015, current owners Karna and Pat Hudoba have brought some exciting new varieties to the table, including the so-great-everyone-should-make-it Bluebarb (a mix of blueberry and rhubarb). 

  2. Milkjam Creamery, Minneapolis
    An ice cream sandwich made with doughnuts

    Milkjam partnered with nearby Glam Doll Donuts for this delectable concoction / Milkjam Creamery

    Milkjam Creamery, Minneapolis

    One of the hottest ice cream spots in the country is Milkjam Creamery in Minneapolis. There, the culinary team behind the immediately adjacent World Street Kitchen dish up impeccably made flavors like Pillow Talk (strawberry sorbet with cardamon meringue), Cereal Killers (orange coriander milk with candied pebbles) and Poppin' Bottles (an alcohol-rich champagne sorbet; have your ID at the ready), which bring a ton of deliciousness and are not merely too cool for school. And if you can't make up your mind, you can always order the $56 All of Them sundae — a scoop of every ice cream available in the house.

  3. World's Best Donuts, Grand Marais
    Pastry spread from World's Best Donuts in Grand Marais

    Stock up on sweets at World's Best Donuts in Grand Marais / @foodformyfamily

    World's Best Donuts, Grand Marais

    Are the doughnuts of World's Best Donuts legitimately the world's best? Many think they're in the running. They're made fresh, and they're classic as they come — no bacon-bedecked long johns or doughnuts laced with caviar or wasabi. Ordering a few of these beauties plus a cup of coffee before taking a walk along the shore of Lake Superior should be a must-do on the list of any traveler coming through this beautiful part of the world.

  4. Red Wing Confectionery, Red Wing
    Red Wing Confectionery, Red Wing

    One of the state's great classic little candy shops, Red Wing Confectionery boasts locally made chocolates, salt water taffy, root beer floats, Cedar Crest ice cream, a full-service coffee bar and some of the best chocolate-covered graham crackers known to humanity.

  5. Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Jordan
    Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Jordan

    Table after table of candy of all sorts — including retro faves and some European imports near and dear to the hearts of world travelers and Euro-natives alike — make the candy store at Jim's Apple Farm in Jordan one of the must-stop sites for Minnesota visitors with a sweet tooth. True to its title, this is a truly epic place.

  6. Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis
    Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis

    Spoon and Stable has quickly become one of the state's most celebrated outposts for fine dining, a reputation it has built with every taste served from the first cocktail of the evening to the complimentary selection of baked treats in the petit four tins that hit your table at the end of the meal. James Beard Award semifinalist and executive pastry chef Diane Moua turns out subtle, lovely, eye-catching desserts that turn the close of a Spoon and Stable meal into a moment to cherish.  

  7. Mojo Monkey, St. Paul
    Four fancy doughnuts from Mojo Monkey in St. Paul

    Mojo Monkey specializes in classic and inventive doughnuts alike

    Mojo Monkey, St. Paul

    Mojo Monkey creates scratch doughnuts that are lovely to look at and greatly enhanced with liberal doses of pizzaz—everything from S'mores-filled Bismarcks to root beer-iced raised doughnuts to banana pecan fritters with caramel glaze. While Mojo's flavors and toppings are playful and push the envelope, they're not totally crazy; fans of classic dunkers will find many a doughnut to love here. Make a special trip on the weekend for 100 percent authentic New Orleans beignets.

  8. Daube's Bakery, Rochester
    Daube's Bakery, Rochester

    Founded more than 30 years ago, Daube's Bakery has become locally famous for its decadent cream cheese-frosted carrot cake and its take on the kolacky, a fruit-stuffed Czech pastry made with sour cream dough. This family-owned place makes its baked goods from scratch with real cream and butter, and its festive cakes have been the centerpieces for innumerable celebrations since the shop's opening.

  9. The Chocolate Ox, Nisswa & Grand View Lodge
    Outside an ice cream shop at a Minnesota resort

    The Chocolate Ox is a must-stop for Brainerd Lakes area vacationers

    The Chocolate Ox, Nisswa & Grand View Lodge

    "Every aisle is the candy aisle" is the slogan at The Chocolate Ox, a Brainerd Lakes vacationland staple that serves up a menu heavily focused on candy and ice cream. Massive jawbreakers, innumerable jelly bean varieties, chocolate truffles and more present a veritable minefield to dieters or anyone looking to skimp on dessert.

James Norton

James Norton is the author of Lake Superior Flavors (University of Minnesota Press), a guide to eating and drinking on the Lake Superior Circle Tour. He is currently the editor and publisher of Heavy Table.