Since prehistoric times, humans have been perfecting the art of breadmaking. The earliest flatbreads may date from up to 30,000 years ago, when our ancestors ground the roots of plants and possibly mixed the pulp with water and cooked it on hot rocks. Throughout the ages, the style, density, and taste of baked goods has dramatically changed.
We’ve come a long way from grain gruel, and it’s been a journey that has taken us from unleavened bread to hybrid baked innovations that folks living in the Middle Ages would not have been able to comprehend. We’ve come so far that we now have specialized subtypes of bakeries, and we know the difference between a pâtisserie (which makes pastries) and a boulangerie (which bakes bread). There specialized bakeries for everything, from the those that are devoted to the fine and delicate art of making French macarons to standalone cupcakeries and wedding cake experts. According to a report by Sundale Research, the U.S. now has nearly 6,700 independent bakeries serving Americans daily. This number has greatly decreased in recent years (the report stated that in 1993 there were 21,000 bakeries in the U.S.), most likely due to the rise of health-consciousness and the proliferation of bakery and baked-goods-selling coffee chains, but 6,700 is still a lot, and we've picked 75 of them that we feel are still doing stellar work — the best of the bunch.
In a country with so many bakeries, you’ll see wide variation in style and ambition, but with the common mission of bringing flaky, moist, often sugary goodness to their customers, they can be ranked against each other. We narrowed those 6,700 bakeries down to 200, based on a combination of factors including bakeries that have made it to the top of our previous lists as well as those recognized nationally by other publications, and pitted them against each other in a survey that we sent out to our expert panel. Participants were asked to rank what they thought were the top bakeries by region and indicate which items they felt each bakery was best known for (pies, cakes, breads, etc.). We then took the list and put it under The Daily Meal editorial team’s scrutiny. Were they only specialists in a certain category of pastry? If so, were they so good in that category that they were still worth putting on the list.
After hours of deliberation and help from our panelists, we ended up expanding our 50 Best Bakeries in America list with 25 additions that offer bakery aficionados a wide selection of delicious variables to consider. A large portion of the total list hails from the New York area, which panelists had the most input on, as many of our panelists knew the city well and were able to confidently rank those establishments. We’ve also got a hefty number of bakeries from other major cities like Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia, as well, and a few quaint mom-and-pop bakeries that make a visit to their small town worth the trip.
Take a tour around the country with us to find out where you can get the best cannoli, pies, breads, cupcakes, and so much more by clicking through our delicious slideshow!
Additional contributions made by Vivian Mac
#75 Bing’s Bakery, Newark, Delaware
Bing’s Bakery, established in 1949 and the self-proclaimed longest running bakery in Delaware, is a full-line scratch bakery that has mastered the art of pastry. Petit fours, Danishes, pies, and cheesecakes are just some of the sweets that come out of Bing’s on a daily basis. Try their delicious butter cookies for a decadent and homey treat.
#74 Pinkitzel Cupcakes & Candy, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Even though the talents of Pinkitzel Cupcakes & Candy are focused mostly on gourmet cupcakes, those cupcakes are so tasty that we just had to include them on our list this year. In addition to options like the Turtle Cheesecake (a chocolate cupcake with a cheesecake center and cheesecake buttercream, topped with caramel, nuts, and chocolate), they have over 100 loose candy selections, making this the ultimate sweet house in Oklahoma City.