Charleston’s food scene gets a significant amount of national press—and rightfully so. From shrimp and grits to festive oyster roasts, it’s far too easy to consume award-winning cuisine in the Holy City.
If you’re in search of something sweet to start your day or finish your meal, you’re in luck. Charleston’s renowned culinary offerings extend to delightful dessert options all over town. Whether you are walking the cobblestone streets of historic downtown Charleston or vacationing on Folly Beach, these desserts are guaranteed to delight your taste buds.
Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery
You may have already tasted the delicious bread of Normandy Farm without even knowing it. This popular bakery is one of the most esteemed bakeries in Charleston, and it provides fresh bread to many of the city’s finest restaurants.
The smell of freshly baked bread will lure you into Normandy Farm, but the sight of its cupcakes, tart pies, scones, and other mouth-watering treats will make you stay. Its chocolate éclairs are always perfectly flaky, glazed with rich chocolate, and then drizzled with a light and creamy vanilla pastry cream. In a word, they are perfect!
Kaminsky’s Dessert Café
Located on Market Street in historic downtown Charleston, Kaminsky’s is the go-to place for locals and visitors alike. Unfortunately, the dessert café’s enormous popularity means that you will likely have to wait in line.
However, its famous Tollhouse Pie is well worth the wait, along with many other delectable desserts at Kaminsky’s offers. If you prefer imbibing your dessert, try one of its dessert martinis or hot spirited specialties.
If the line is too long at Kaminsky’s, head to Carmella’s, located just a few blocks away on East Bay Street. This gourmet dessert bar has everything you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, along with savory Italian paninis and a fantastic wine list as well.
You can’t go wrong with any dessert at Carmella’s, but the rum cake and homemade gelato are always good choices. The relaxing atmosphere and historic charm add an additional appeal to Carmella’s, making this quaint establishment hard to pass by.
Ye Ole Fashioned
When Mount Pleasant residents need to satisfy their sweet tooth, they know to go to Ye Ole Fashioned. Located in the charming town of Mount Pleasant, the ice cream and sandwich shop has been voted “Best Ice Cream” by locals, and the accolades are well-deserved.
Ye Ole Fashioned has a reputation for serving huge portions, but this isn’t what makes locals and visitors rave about its treats. Order any ice cream sundae, and you will be hard-pressed to find a sundae that rivals it in town.
Fans of butterscotch should try its Gold Digger Sundae. The butter pecan ice cream with butterscotch, pecans, and bananas will make you a lifelong fan of this old-fashioned spot.
Market Street Sweets
Locals hope that their family members will make them home-made pralines, but visitors can simply stop by Market Street Sweets to get their fill of this Southern sweet treat.
Market Street Sweets has two locations, one on Market Street and the other on King Street. Both locations boast a large variety of gourmet candies, including its freshly made, “World Famous” pralines. If you have never tried this Southern sweet, you’re in for a treat.
Pralines make an excellent gift to take home for friends and family, but be prepared to buy a box or two extra for yourself. Their pralines are simply that good.
Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
Glazed isn’t your average donut shop. Located on King Street, Glazed makes all of its donuts in-house, using many of the ingredients from its garden in the back. With over 200 different flavors and styles and an ever-changing menu of seasonal treats, you will always find a donut to suit your fancy.
Customers rave about its apple bacon fritter and raspberry-glazed donuts, but don’t be afraid to try some of the more eclectic flavors. The Purple Goat is Glazed Doughnuts’ most popular creation, featuring a lavender glaze with berry goat cheese filling.
Sugar Bakeshop is a hidden gem in Charleston. Located in historic downtown Charleston, this charming bakeshop makes all kinds of delicious sweet treats, from cookies, tarts and cupcakes.
Their cupcakes are incredibly moist and scrumptious and may ruin you for any other cupcake you try after Sugar Bakeshop. Get the Lemon Curd or Red Velvet cupcake for a sumptuous dessert you won’t soon forget.
One of Charleston’s most award-winning restaurants, FIG has been enriching the Holy City’s culinary scene since it opened in 2003. If you find yourself lucky enough to get a reservation, you must save room for dessert.
The menu changes often, based on the season, but you will have no trouble finding something exceptional on FIG’s dessert list. Their sticky sorghum cake and panna cotta never disappoint, and the service here is unparalleled in the city.
Located in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village, the Village Bakery is a quaint bakery shop featuring delicious desserts that look almost too good to eat. This bakery also has an impressive brunch/lunch menu, which means that you may find it crowded at certain times of the day.
Still, you can’t miss trying its mocha torte. And, while others rave about the coconut cake at Peninsula Grill, the Village Bakery’s coconut cake is amazingly decadent and moist. Plus, you get the old-country ambiance as you enjoy your delightful dessert and sip strong coffee.
With its fresh, local ingredients and rich culinary traditions, it’s hard not to overindulge on Charleston’s delicious, Lowcountry cuisine. However, we promise that you will never regret saving room for dessert. From decadent chocolate pastries to traditional Southern pralines, the Holy City’s sweet treats will linger in your dreams long after you return home.
Traci Magnus was raised on the Charleston Coast and attended the College of Charleston before heading to the Big Apple. She returned to Charleston in 2006,along with her husband Glenn and their son Max. She joined the Dunes Properties team in early 2008 as Director of Marketing.