The Most All-American Desserts Ever – And Where to Eat Them

By Tom Stockwell,

If there’s anything America does well it’s food, but especially dessert. Whether you’re local or just visiting, it’s impossible to pass up the chance to appease your sweet tooth and give in to all of the delectable offerings up for consumption. Worry about calories later, and give in to your desires – your taste buds will thank you as soon as the first morsel drops into your mouth. With so many sweet treats offered, what should be at the top of your list? Satisfy your urges with these sublime slices of heaven.

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Ooey Gooey Melty Marshmallow Goodness
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S'more USA
Photo by ErinM

A classic American dessert, S’mores are a cultural reference that crops up continually in movies and on television shows, but it’s a reference that can sometimes be lost on non-Americans. Simply put, s’mores are toasted marshmallows and chocolate placed between two Graham crackers and melted together to form a gooey delicious mess. Simple but oh-so-American, s’mores are easy enough to rustle up yourself if so inclined, and can be found all over the country, but are especially good in front of a rustic campfire.

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Sweet’N’Sour Sunshine
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Key Lime Pie in Miami
Photo by Ralph Daily

No dessert represents the South more than Key Lime Pie. Equal parts tangy and sweet, the dish screams sunshine and the South and can be found on menus from Virginia to Alabama and beyond. Florida, specifically the Florida Keys is the best place to grab a slice of pie, since that’s where these tart limes grow most famously. which differ from the regular limes found in most supermarkets. The Icebox Cafe in Miami serves up a delicious slice!

Key Lime pie in Miami
Photo by Ernie Hsiung
Customers waiting at the busy Icebox Cafe in Miami for their slice of Key Lime pie

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Smooth Criminal
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Best Cheesecakes USA
Photo by Patrick H

While the origins of Cheesecake are up for debate, there’s no doubt that America has made this dessert its own. Smooth and silky cream cheese topped with caramel, raspberries, blueberries, toffee, or any ingredient you can think of, cheesecake is a versatile dessert and a firm favorite of mine. Where is the best place in the world to dig into this sweet treat? New York City of course, specifically the rich Italian cheesecake served at Veniero’s. Try it – you won’t regret it.

Best cheesecake Veniero's New York City
Photo by Vincent Desjardins
Veniero’s Cheesecake is the best in the Big Apple.

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Homer’s Favorite Treat
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Voodoo Donuts in Portland
Photo by Camknows

Donuts are a long held feature of American pop culture, this fried treat is more than a punch line for The Simpsons. Unlike doughy confections found in other parts of the world, American doughnuts are a culinary entity unto themselves from the basic glazed, to more adventurous options. Leading the way in doughnut innovation is Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, with such decadent flavors as maple bacon, Cap’n Crunch topped and even lemonade and ice tea flavored.

US Desserts Voodoo Doughnuts Portland
Photo by Camknows
Voodoo Donuts will cast a spell on you. 

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Red, White and Delectable
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American desserts
Photo by Benson Kua

Not to be confused with the song Black Velvet by Alannah Myles, although one taste of Red Velvet Cake and you wouldn’t think it odd if a rock ballad was belted out about this divine dessert. Served in cake, cupcake, or whoopee pie form, red velvet cake is made from a rich chocolate turned deliciously red, and topped with a sumptuous spread of buttercream or cream cheese icing. No harm in reaching for a second cupcake!

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Slice of Americana
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US Desserts  Pumpkin Pie
Photo by Sea Turtle

No list of American desserts would be complete without the traditional Pumpkin Pie. The autumnal dessert of choice, pumpkin pie is perfect as a simple treat or after a full Thanksgiving Day meal and has reached cult status immortalized as a fall Starbucks beverage as well! Add a dollop of whipped cream on top, pick up your fork, and indulge in a true slice of Americana – and understand why this dish has embedded itself in the American psyche permanently.

What’s your favorite, and classically American, dessert?