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Dessert Week – Day 5: Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Cupcakes

A review of dessert places in New York City would not be complete without mentioning the Magnolia Bakery; the place that made cupcakes cool. This old-fashioned bakery specializes in freshly made, brightly colored cupcakes that are as beautiful as they are delicious. Locals and tourists come from all parts of town, at all times of day, to score these little treats and there is always a line around the block. The small bakery can barely accomodate 10 people, so a doorman usually holds the line outside and lets a few customers in at a time. Be prepared once you enter, since the cupcakes go fast and there will be several people alongside you trying to get in. Some simple rules that will make your visit to Magnolia a little easier:

1) Cupcakes are self-serve.
2) 12 cupcakes maximum per person.
3) You touch it, you buy it.

Once you enter the bakery, the self serve cupcake area will be immediately to your left. You can fit 4 cupcakes in each preassembled box, and even if you set out to only buy one, most people can’t help but fill all four slots (it’s a definite problem for me). Don’t worry if the selection of cupcakes is small when you start to fill your box. The staff continuously brings out new cupcakes and within a few minutes chances are good you’ll have more colors and flavors to choose from. Before you reach your maximum of 12 in the self serve area, keep in mind that special cupcakes, such as the coconut meringue and red velvet, are only available at the front counter. Magnolia also makes great cakes, brownies, cookies and other old-fashioned desserts which are usually hidden from view by the enormous line, so save room for non-cupcake choices that you’ll discover as you wait to pay.

Self Serve Cupcake Area

The details:

What I bought: 4 cupcakes (1 chocolate cake/pink buttercream frosting, 1 yellow cake/purple buttercream frosting, 1 coconut meringue and 1 red velvet). The coconut meringue cupcake was my favorite of the bunch. The cake is moist and the frosting is lighter and smoother than any I’ve ever had on a cupcake. A note about the red velvet cupcakes: “Red velvet” is a yellow cake base with cocoa and red food coloring mixed in. Magnolia always has the red velvet cake available, but does not always have it in cupcake form. Magnolia tops their red velvet cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting, but I prefer the cream cheese frosting found on the red velvet cupcakes at Magnolia’s sister bakery, the Buttercup Bakeshop.

Special Cupcakes

Cost: Self serve cupcakes are $1.75 each and special cupcakes (at the front counter) are $2.25 each.

Wait: You’d be lucky not to find a line at the Magnolia bakery since it is busy all day, every day. Customers usually wait 10 minutes to get into the bakery, and another 10 minutes to pay.

Atmosphere: The bakery’s small space adds to its charm. The smell of buttery cakes takes over the entire store, and you can see the staff in the kitchen doing everything from mixing to frosting. The lime green walls, handwritten signs and vintage posters bring you back to a time where no one counted calories and the best desserts were made by Mom (well, maybe they still are).

Magnolia Counter

Uniqueness: While many places now offer cupcakes, no one has captured their old school charm better than the Magnolia Bakery.

Clientele: Who doesn’t love cupcakes?

Location: The Magnolia Bakery is located directly across from a park, making it a perfect place to sit outside and enjoy your cupcakes on a warm day.

Staff: After two visits I have found the staff to be opposite of many negative reviews I have read. The staff is patient, helpful and above all, nice (which is especially difficult considering the line of people they are constantly dealing with).

Final Verdict: This leader of the cupcake revolution still heads the pack.

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker St (at 11th Street)
(212) 462-2572

Mon 12pm-11:30pm
Tue-Thu 9am-11:30pm
Sat 10am-12:30am
Sun 10am-11:30pm

Dessert Week – Day 6: Serendipity 3 >


Lovescool - For the Love of Dessert » Dessert Week Wrap-Up says on March 10th, 2005 at 8:27 pm:

[...] nd packaged chocolates, fun gifts and warm drinks are all available in one location. 4) Magnolia Bakery The cupcake pioneer still serves up delicious old-fashioned desserts. 5) [...]

Lovescool - For the Love of Dessert » New York Pastry Tour says on April 11th, 2005 at 2:56 pm:

[...] ered last Spring sold out immediately and had a waiting list longer than the worst line at Magnolia. The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) Walking Tours – Downtown Pastry Tour [...]

Robyn says on March 6th, 2005 at 10:36 pm:

I’ve been to Magnolia Bakery three times and, maybe out of pure luck, it was never so crowded that I couldn’t immediately go in and easily navigate the interior…and GET THOSE CUPCAKES. :) (One time was early and rainy, another time was early evening, the other time was a chilly morning.) I thought the cupcakes were okay, probably looking better than how they taste (but they do look perfect) and were probably too hyped up for me, but now I’ll have to try that coconut meringue cupcake!

Robyn says on March 6th, 2005 at 10:40 pm:

Another note: I’m really enjoying these “dessert week” posts! Next on my dessert destination is Teany, which I just went to but didn’t order a dessert at. My friend had a smore thing and said it was really good. Methinks I’ll be going back very soon.

Kelli says on March 6th, 2005 at 10:41 pm:

That’s really good to know! You give me hope for a shorter wait next time I go. I agree that cupcakes are so hyped lately that they almost never live up to our imagination (especially when they look SO good!). I think they’re still worth eating if you keep your expectations in check :)

c says on March 7th, 2005 at 4:25 pm:

isn’t that an overwelming amount of frosting?

Susie says on March 7th, 2005 at 8:25 pm:

Well, yea but no one’s asking you to eat ALL of it…Unless you want to :)

Candy says on March 7th, 2005 at 11:15 pm:


BrocanteHome says on March 19th, 2005 at 4:10 am:

God I wish I lived in Manhatten.

kitkat says on July 13th, 2005 at 11:42 am:

My husband and i went there this past weekend…the place is totally overrated! The icing was too sweet and the cake was dry and had not flavor. I went by Eleni’s bakery near by (Chelsea market) and picked up one of their cupcakes and it was much better.

Roxanna says on August 17th, 2005 at 10:06 am:

Omigosh, these are the best cupcakes ever had! I one the other day and they are delicious! They are so good I almost bought another one. Good job for making yummy treats Magnolia Bakery!

susan says on November 13th, 2005 at 6:58 pm:

best cupcakes ever!!! how many calories do you think they pack into each one??

Joe A - Montana says on December 6th, 2005 at 1:15 pm:

Best cupcakes ever!!! Everytime I come into the city I pick up my Dozen. My wife is so addicited she cries for days if I do not pick them up. Yes the line sucks. Yes the service sucks. But those cupcakes are just wonderful.

Erika says on January 22nd, 2006 at 3:38 pm:

I think I’ll have to take a trip to New York specifically to try these cupcakes out! If you’re craving them and want to cheat a little.. I found a website where they posted the recipe: http://www.recipelink.com/cookbooks/2005/0743246616_2.html. Happy eating!!!

viccillancari says on March 16th, 2006 at 2:10 am:

do you ship cup cakes to california?

linda says on March 31st, 2006 at 1:30 am:

Do you ship out of state?

Potrero Hill Parents » Archives » says on May 5th, 2006 at 1:13 am:

[...] May 4th, 2006 • 10:12 pm • Cooking I sometimes consider myself a real cupcake “snob”. Growing up on only home made treats as a kid, I find it tough to even like most bakery cupcakes. That was until I went to NYC and tried cupcakes by Magnolia Bakery — never dry and they have lots of (well my favorite) buttercream frosting! [...]

Golden Gate Parents » Archives » Mmmm…Magnolia Cupcakes says on May 6th, 2006 at 12:56 am:

[...] Mmmm…Magnolia Cupcakes May 5th, 2006 • 9:56 pm • Cooking I sometimes consider myself a real cupcake “snob”. Growing up on only home made treats as a kid, I find it tough to even like most bakery cupcakes. That was until I went to NYC and tried cupcakes by Magnolia Bakery — never dry and they have lots of (well my favorite) buttercream frosting! [...]

ANGELA says on June 27th, 2006 at 6:11 pm:


Julia says on October 8th, 2006 at 7:50 am:

i’ve been to magnolia one time. it was on a early
evening.. I get there some pink cupcakes and is was
so sweet and delicious!I live in the netherlands so
it isn’t not so easy to come back.
but i try to make some the same cupcakes
for my birthday the 29th of october.

LJ says on December 12th, 2006 at 9:01 pm:

I *love* Magnolia. I’m also a big fan of Buttercup Bake Shop… both are mighty fine!

Anyone know if Magnolia ships? I’m guessing no… but this outta town girl can dream!

Bonnie says on August 23rd, 2007 at 11:33 pm:

My sister and I visited Magnolia’s in May and were a little disappointed in the red velvet cupcakes. They were way too dry – but the vanilla ones with chocolate frosting were delicious. Maybe the red velvet ones just didn’t turn out good that day. We enjoyed the little park across the street as it was beautiful weather in NYC. We even brought a few home (to Arizona) to friends.

Danielle says on October 11th, 2007 at 12:03 pm:

Magnolia Bakery is awesome! I saw them on Martha before I moved out from the west coast to Philadelphia. Manhattan is such a cool place and this bakery fits right in! Thanks for the nice pictures and yummy blog! d.

Amalia says on August 20th, 2009 at 2:32 pm:

I love cupcakes so I had to visit Magnolia!! I agree with Bonnie, the red velvet cupcakes were not as good as I expected them to be but I LOVE the vanilla ones!!
I’ll be in Manhattan this weekend, any recommendations?? Are there any cupcake shops / bakeries comparable to Magnolia?
If you have any recommendations, let me know: cupcakenobility@yahoo.com
Thanks, Amalia

Kelli says on August 20th, 2009 at 5:05 pm:

Hi Amalia – This post was written in 2005, so a lot has changed, but Magnolia is still going strong. They have many more locations around the city now, but I still like the original location’s feel the best. Right now my two favorite cupcakes in the city are the chocolate cupcakes from the Chocolate Room in Brooklyn, and the s’mores cupcakes from Chickalicious. They are little different style than Magnolia – not as sweet. If you find something else good let me know! Have fun.

Jennifer says on November 21st, 2009 at 11:24 am:

I visited Magnolia every day when I was in New York. SUPER DELICIOUS. A must-go for anyone in the area!
I live in Toronto, Canada and there is nowhere that sells cupcakes like these….if you know of somewhere in Toronto I can get my sugar kick, let me know PLEASE!

Tampa Cupcakes says on June 8th, 2011 at 3:46 pm:

Tampa Cupcakes…

Lovescool – For the Love of Dessert ” Blog Archive ” Dessert … article was instrumental in my research on cupcakes to order for my English class paper….

magdalena latapi says on August 12th, 2011 at 6:52 pm:

i think they are beautiful, i want to have a magnolia bakery here in Mexico City.

I love cupcakes.

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Lovescool is the documentation of a journey to discover what sweet things are out there, why people love them so much, and perhaps what it takes to start something new.

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An interest, that turned into a blog, that turned into a career. Kelli Bernard is now the owner and baker of Amai Tea & Bake House.

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