If the food truck market is a niche in and of itself, then dessert trucks are one niche deeper. Food trucks have proven to be a sizeable industry in the United States, with an estimated 4,130 of them, worth $1.2 billion, plying their trade in 2015. The trucks have experienced a surge in popularity and revenue partly by way of social media in the past decade, and the industry has brought a new angle to the classic concept of street food, which is eaten by 2.5 billion people every day. These vehicles full of creative concoctions are also popular in Canada and Western Europe and are rolling up to the curb just about everywhere else.
After food trucks first became popular, it was only a matter of time before the sub-category of dessert trucks attracted fascination. People love desserts, as the $2.36 billion frozen novelty industry shows, and the recent farm-to-table and artisanal food movements support the kinds of handcrafted ice cream, doughnuts, and crème brûlée options made available by individually owned mobile purveyors.
To compile this list, we started with our 2013 roundup of 50 dessert trucks, weeding out any that were no longer operational. Next, we analyzed each one’s number of Facebook and Twitter followers. After all, popular food trucks usually have loyal followings, and in order for fans to frequent them, they have to be able to locate them (usually via schedules on social media). We also took diversity of offerings and menu innovation into account when ranking the trucks. Now feast your eyes on the top 25 dessert trucks in America in 2015.
Diggity Doughnuts / Facebook
The founder of Diggity Doughnuts started her vegan doughnut truck due to a combination of three factors: her love for eating doughnuts with her brother and grandmother; the fact that as she got older, the ingredients in conventional doughnuts began to cause her stomach pain; and that she didn’t want her vegan friends to be left out of the wonders of enjoying doughnuts. The truck shows up at fewer public events since enterprise's brick-and-mortar shop’s opening, but fans can still find its schedule on the website or on social media. Doughnut flavors change every day, but some examples are Salty Spud (chocolate frosting with crushed potato chips), Razzle Dazzle (crushed raspberries and Champagne), and Nutty Rooster (creamy peanut butter and spicy sriracha hot sauce).
Sugar Philly / Facebook
The Sugar Philly Truck’s mission is to make desserts delicious and accessible in order to bring happiness and smiles to all. Food-truck lovers John Suh and Franklin Shen dreamt of creating a gourmet food truck to serve the city of Philadelphia, and after convincing their friend Dan Tang to return to Philadelphia to serve as head chef, the they were ready to launch. The truck serves crème brûlée, a selection of French macarons, and crème fraîche cheesecake made with local strawberries and a blueberry compote.
Torched Goodness / Facebook
Husband and wife Eric and Julia Ireland debuted their unique dessert truck in Phoenix in 2012 and have since moved the business to Kansas. Eric trained at Le Cordon Bleu, so when he and his wife were deciding what type of food truck to operate, the idea of bringing crème brûlée to the community seemed perfect. Classic flavors include traditional vanilla, sea salt caramel, and chocolate with a variety of infusions. The truck also offers fresh fruit, floral, and seasonal flavors.
Like No Udder / Facebook
Like No Udder is the world’s first all-vegan soft-serve ice cream truck, according to the company’s website (its founder formerly ran a vegan baking business.) The truck, which is purple with polka dots, serves vegan ice cream, shakes, floats, frozen slushies, candy bars, and jerky. Classics like vanilla and chocolate are available ice cream flavors, and toppings include peanut butter sauce, Oreo crumbles, and toasted coconut.
Longboards Ice Cream / Facebook
Longboards Ice Cream, which has been serving ice cream bars all over Southern California since 2007, strives to handcraft ice cream with the same passion and reverence artisans use when hand-making surfboards. Popular flavor combinations include the “O.G.,” a strawberry bar with caramel, milk chocolate, peanuts, and crushed waffle cone; the Skinny Dipper, a mango bar dipped in dark chocolate; and the Big O, a cookies-and-cream bar with milk chocolate and Oreos. The latter is the most popular flavor. The Candy Cane bar, available for a limited time this December, is also made with chocolate and Oreos.
Sweet Cow Ice Cream / Facebook
Sweet Cow Ice Cream’s primary goal is bringing smiles to the community. They’re pursuing exactly that by hand-crafting ice cream daily and only using compostable and recyclable products. The MooMobile, which started serving ice cream in July 2011, visits office parks, but is also available for booking for parties and events. Available flavors include cookies and cream, strawberry, and Dutch chocolate, as well as a daily featured ice cream.
Kalani’s Tropical Shave Ice / Facebook
This bright yellow truck features a rainbow shave ice on its side. Its Hawaiian-style tropical shave ice is available throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Kalani’s, which claims to be the area’s only authentic Hawaiian shave ice company, serves colorful products that are certainly worth a taste.
Cupcakes for Courage / Facebook
Sisters Kathryn and Laura Pekarik share a passion for baking and doing good. After Kathryn was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s T-cell lymphoma in 2010, her sister baked 250 cupcakes to fundraise at a benefit in Kathryn’s honor. The treats were such a hit that they started Cupcakes for Courage, an organization that donates 10 percent of proceeds to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Ride Janie Ride Foundation. They also donate desserts to local non-profits. The sisters run Courageous Bakery, as well as two dessert trucks, nicknamed Green Machine and Little Green. Cupcake flavors include taffy apple, chocolate-covered graham cracker, and the survivor cupcake, which combines all the cancer awareness colors to show there’s strength in numbers. Besides cupcakes, the trucks sell fresh-baked cookies, hand-cut doughnuts, and fresh-ground coffee.
Beavers Donuts / Facebook
The Beaver’s Donuts company is made up of a shop and three dessert trucks, which all serve imported coffee and mini doughnuts with gourmet toppings. Customers order by set amounts of mini doughnuts (a “medium” consisting of 15 mini doughnuts will only set them back $6). Signature toppings include s’mores (chocolate sauce, marshmallow sauce, and graham cracker crumbs), Grandma (honey and graham cracker crumbs), and goombah (cannoli topping and crumbled pastry shells). Another plus? Doughnut milkshakes are just $5.50.
The Parlour / Facebook
The Parlour, which makes handmade ice cream in downtown Durham, also boasts a bus that traverses downtown Durham to serve dessert at public events. The bus is even available for private hire, for events like weddings, and corporate get-togethers. Try classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and cookies and cream, as well as special or rotating flavors like Vietnamese coffee, sweet potato, and salted butter caramel. Our pick? The Parlour’s apple butter ice cream, which is made from fresh North Carolina apples cooked into apple butter with warming spices. Vegan options like vegan nog, coffee cookies and cream, and lemon sorbet are also available.
ChunknChip Cookies / Facebook
This family-owned business with a sister dessert truck serves “Ice Cream Sammiches,” which are made with oven-warmed, soft cookies. Try Blu-Valentine, snickerdoodle cookies with lavender blueberry ice cream; Butter My Velvet, red velvet cookies with peanut butter cup ice cream; or Bahama Mama, macadamia nut cookies with pineapple and white chocolate ice cream. Cookies and ice cream are also sold separately.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream / Facebook
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream has scoop trucks in both New York City and Los Angeles. The trucks offer flavors like honeycomb, Earl Grey tea, and Sicilian pistachio; recent specials like fluffernutter, brown butter cinnamon toast, and sour cream berry crumble; and vegan options like peanut butter chocolate chip, salted caramel, and coffee bean.
The Denver Cupcake Truck / Facebook
Cupkates Truck / Facebook
Get Shaved / Facebook
Husband and wife Pat and Kristin Roskowick founded this Hawaiian-style shave ice company, which now boasts four stores and two mobile trucks. Choose your size, flavors, and toppings for a personalized perfect combination, but examples of pre-existing ones are Island Breeze, mango, coconut, and guava shave ice; and Let Them Eat Cake, blue vanilla, coconut, and pineapple shave ice with sweetened condensed milk. Get Shaved also sells ice cream sandwiches and milkshakes.
The Treats Truck / Facebook
The Treats Truck, which has been braving New York City traffic since June 2007, offers cookies, brownies, pies, cake squares, and ice cream cone cupcakes on its extensive menu. Try the cranberry almond crispy square or a pumpkin swirl cookie. Owner, baker, and driver Kim Ima had this to say about her truck: “I believe in those little moments in the middle of an ordinary day when you treat yourself or a friend to a cookie.”
Sweetery / Facebook
This mobile bakery, which doubles as a marketing service, has produced over 100 marketing events to date for companies like American Express, Godiva, and Macy’s. The founders are former advertising and marketing executives who now run Sweetery, which is bright blue and covered with attention-grabbing text graphics. Menu items include ice cream sandwiches, cupcakes, cookies, croissants, and coffee.
HipPOPS Handcrafted Gelato Bars / Facebook
This gourmet dessert truck traverses the South Florida community offering handcrafted gelato, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. Ingredients are sourced locally and go into the making of all-natural, gluten-free, kosher pops on a stick at the company’s Dania Beach micro-creamery. HipPOPs also offers pop-up gelato bars for hire.
Kara’s Cupcakes / Facebook
Kara’s Cupcakes was started by Kara Haspel Lind, the daughter of a dentist who pursued her dream of baking sweets despite discouragement from her parents. Her delicious wares are sold in nine bakeries across San Francisco, some of which bear the business’ name. The KaraVan, as the cupcake truck is lovingly called, visits office parks and businesses regularly, and is also available for private hire and catering. Try flavors like sweet s’mores, passion fruit, or Kara’s karrot — you won’t be disappointed.
Flirty Cupcakes / Facebook
This Chicago cupcake staple can be found in Lincoln Square almost every Sunday. The truck’s sister — and stationary — location is known as the Flirty Cupcakes Dessert Garage. Cupcake flavors include Devil in Disguise, which is a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting, and the Turtle Always Wins the Race, a chocolate cupcake with a caramel pecan filling and caramel pecan cream cheese frosting.
My Delight CupCakery / Facebook
My Delight Cupcakery’s shop is located in Ontario, but its mobile truck enjoys the sunny areas of Los Angeles, San Bernardino County, and Orange County, California. Racks inside the truck can hold thousands of cupcakes, which have signature flavors like peanut butter chocolate chip, carrot, and cookies and cream. The price is right, as well — a classic size will only set customers back $3.
Wafels & Dinges / Facebook
This Belgian food truck, which sells waffles, ice cream, milkshakes, and coffee, also has a flagship café in the East Village. In Flemish, “dinges” is a placeholder word for things, people, and “whatchamecallits.” The truck, which is known for its Belgian waffles, offers a rotating menu. Wafels and Dinges said it best when they described their process: “Every week, scientists from the Belgian Department of Wafels gather deep down in the Ardennes Mountains in their Super Secret Wafel Lab. They concoct new recipes, and when ready, invite the King over for taste-testing.”
Mister Softee’s was founded in 1956, and the company’s mission of providing ice cream and smiles is still going strong with over 600 trucks in over 15 states, plus China. Over 100,000 Facebook and Twitter fans show the classic ice cream company is just as relevant as ever. If you’re a true-blue fan, check out the sheet music (and words!) to the Mister Softee jingle on the website. “Listen for my store on wheels ding-a-ling down the street…”
“Farchitecture,” or food plus architecture, is the premise on which co-founders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller built this truck. Their business, which seeks to deconstruct flavor profiles and encourage learning about architecture and design, debuted in April 2009 at Coachella Valley Music Festival. Coolhaus’ unique ice cream sandwich creations are sweet-meets-savory concoctions. Some even incorporate architectural puns into the names — think “Frank Berry,” which is made with strawberry ice cream and snickerdoodle cookies. Other flavors include brown butter candied bacon and avocado sea salt.
Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff started their seasonal ice cream truck in June 2009. The business’s unique treats quickly exploded in popularity, eventually allowing the two to open spinoff shops in the East Village and West Village. Try a Salty Pimp, with vanilla ice cream, chocolate dip, sea salt, and dulce de leche; or a Gobbler, with pie pieces, whipped cream, and either pumpkin butter and maple syrup or apple butter and bourbon butterscotch. Continued popularity of the dessert joint and its unique offerings allowed it to keep its No. 1 spot on The Daily Meal’s list this year.