When in doubt, bring dessert. It’s a nearly universal rule of thumb for holiday gatherings. And for ones like Thanksgiving, where the food is the star, there’s no such thing as too many options.
But if it’s difficult to meet in person because of travel restrictions, logistics or cost, that doesn’t mean you can’t be there in spirit ― you can still “bring dessert” … even if someone else technically delivers it to the door.
Today, many baked goods are available for nationwide shipping ― Goldbelly, for instance, has built a brand around doing it. But shipping, especially for specialty items that are time-, texture- and temperature-sensitive, can be cost-prohibitive, on top of the premium “artisan” or “craft” prices you’re paying. Then, there are the third-party fees that get built in when you rely on a middleman, plus the losses that businesses endure when they have to pay a cut to businesses like DoorDash and Seamless, a hot-button topic that came to light as local food purveyors have struggled for survival this past year. Suddenly, that $25 pie you’re buying costs more than double that, completing the pile-up of financial pain passed down to the consumer.
But don’t lose hope yet! There are plenty of bakers and makers who have found a way to buck the system, and all to your benefit. Many small, local businesses have found ways through the pandemic to become delivery-based businesses and, to your great benefit, they’ve also found ways to do it nationwide. Many of the most famous brands have found shipping deals that free them to operate independently.
Here are some of the best dessert shops that let you order directly from the business.
For anyone who’s missing flavors from Thanksgivings past, these regional specialties offer a taste of home baking … and home.
Imagine the fattest layer of sinfully buttery crumbs, thick-chunked and full-flavored on a slab of moist, fluffy cake and you have an idea of what a treat these New York-style crumb cakes are. For under $30, choose from flavors like blueberry, PB&J or apple or three types of blackout (with your choice of mint, coffee ganache or raspberry preserves sandwiched between cake and crumb). There’s also a Crumb Cake of the Month (from $29.75) that lets them flex their creativity. The cake of the month ships free, as do any orders over $45. Otherwise, it’s a flat rate of $5 (East Coast) or $10 (West Coast) to ship.
Allow 4 to 6 business days for delivery; ships Monday to Wednesday only.
Rainbow cookies used to be a hidden secret of Italian Americans in the Northeast, but as New Yorkers migrated, so did word of their seven magical layers of almond cake, raspberry and apricot jelly, and chocolate ganache. But they’re not all created equal, and this bakery excels. These rainbow cookie specialists were among the first to introduce them in different forms, like filled cupcakes, layer cakes and doughnuts, all featuring house-made preserves and primo ingredients. One of our favorite items is the chocolate-covered rainbow bars ($32.50). For those who can’t decide between iconic black and white cookies and rainbows, the bakery makes an amazing hybrid, Rainbow Blue & Pink cookies ($29.50). It also offers combo boxes with both ($30), and they ship for as little as $8.
Allow 3 to 5 business days for delivery.
Another rainbow cookie mashup? Indeedy-do! The rainbow cookie cheesecake ($24) at this Long Island bakery has a bottom crust made of traditional tri-color cookie, with a topping that’s over the top: creamy New York-style cheesecake. The whole thing is then draped with silky chocolate ganache. Almost as famous and regional is its Linzer tart cheesecake, which looks exactly like a giant version of a Linzer cookie. Cheesecake is sandwiched between actual cake, and the whole thing is dusted generously with confectioner’s sugar over a hearty center topping of raspberry preserves ($24).
Time and cost varies for shipping; contact for options. East Coast only.
This Michigan-based brand uses locally grown cherries, apples, blueberries and peaches, standing firmly behind the agricultural roots of the state it’s so proudly from. And it makes it easy for others to enjoy the flavors, too, charging only a $19.99 flat rate for two-day and ground shipping for up to two items. So make it a pair, matching classics like best-selling Grand Traverse Cherry Crumb ($35.99), Apple Honey Pie ($39.99), Lakeshore Berry Crumb Pie ($35.99), Michigan ABC Crumb Pie ($35.99) with something creative like the signature Wayne Hill Cherry Ganache ($37.99) or Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake ($42.99) in an Oreo crust.
Allow 4 to 6 business days for delivery; can schedule ahead of time.
A little piece of Paris in the French Quarter, this adorable sweets boutique offers indulgent chocolate truffles ($38) in amazingly creative flavors, regional nods like candied pecans ($16) and luxurious French macarons in eight signature varieties ($22), with more in store. Those flavors include almond, blackberry honey, strawberry, chocolate, salted caramel, vanilla, pistachio, and of course, the very NOLA café au lait.
Order by noon on Nov. 21 for delivery by Thanksgiving.
Sure, you can go through a hub site to get the country’s most famous eats, but did you know you don’t have to? These big names have it figured out.
This Brooklyn institution is proud to have the “World’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake,” and it isn’t wrong. The treats have only gotten more famous with distribution on QVC and Goldbelly, but you can often save a few bucks by buying them direct. They’re still pricey at $44.95 and up a pop, but every variety it makes is at your disposal when you get them straight from the source. That includes seasonal picks like the pumpkin pie cheesecake ($50.95), where actual pumpkin pie make up the base, and Little Fella samplers for individual minis ($62.95 for 18). Look under Daily Specials and you can score discounts of up to half off, all while paying the two-day shipping rate of $15 for your first item, with a sliding scale for more ― or free, with the plain cheesecake add-on promo.
Order by Nov. 21 for delivery by Thanksgiving; can schedule ahead of time.
If you want a cake that’s more highfalutin and fluttery than a heavy cheesecake, the famous Mille Crepes cakes ($95) from this bakery are it. They’re made up of layers of delicate drama ― 20 ultra-thin ones, technically, of handmade crepes with airy pastry cream in between each and a toasted top to crown it all. They come in a wide variety of flavors, including novel ones like purple yam, green tea, pistachio and tiramisu. They come frozen, so shipping is around $25, but again, this is a luxe hostess gift for the fancy and for the ’Gram.
Order by 10 a.m. on Nov. 16 for delivery by Thanksgiving.
The New York City bakery that every early 2000s celebrity was obsessed with has become more available to the masses as it announced just this month that it’s shipping nationwide. It’s hard to tell which is better-known ― the decadent banana pudding or the signature swirl cupcakes ― but sampler packs ($28-$60) let your recipients hash it out for themselves. For the holiday, the bakery also has a banana pudding and apple crumb or pecan pie package ($80) and their very first banana-free pudding: apple crisp ($55) with cinnamon crumb! You can opt for cakes ($45), cookies ($15), brownies and blondies ($28) instead … or in addition to. May as well when it’s the same $20 flat rate to ship.
Order by Nov. 23 for delivery by Thanksgiving; can schedule ahead of time.
This New York City bakery is legendary for ooey, gooey, 6-ounce cookies that are nothing short of amazing. They’ve recently become available at Whole Foods nationwide, but frozen and smaller than the originals. To experience them in all their glory, it’s best to get them straight from the source, especially since they’re baked daily. The assortment boxes ($27 to $68) contain the original chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter chip and oatmeal raisin, all lovingly packaged for gifting. Look for promo codes that can save you money on your order. Shipping is otherwise as little as $10.
Order before midnight by Nov. 16 for delivery by Thanksgiving.
Yes, this is a chain, but it’s a chain that provides really good warm cookies in a wide variety of markets. Plus, they come in amazing gift packs, in no end of variety, and at an affordable price point that will leave you wondering why you haven’t sent them before. The $50 50 Classic Cookie Gift Box is a sure hit, and the available flavors are far from basic. There’s matcha latte, double chocolate mint and even vegan options in addition to standbys like M&Ms, chocolate chunk, peanut butter chip, snickerdoodle, and white chocolate macadamias. Even more apropos, it now has cookie cakes with blended doughs that say “I Was Told to Bring Dessert” front and center! Standard delivery is as low as $8.99.
Order by Nov. 22 for delivery by Thanksgiving; no shipping on weekends.
Baked goods are great, but if you’re putting ice cream on top of it, why not cut out the middleman while we’re doing the same with shipping? With seasonal flavors like pumpkin caramel and candied pecans, honey and cornbread cookies, sweet cream caramel brownie, cinnamon and oatmeal raisin cookies, and even dairy-free chocolate fudge and cookies ($12 each), there are plenty of options for dessert. Then there are creative, fresh flavors that will cleanse the palate, like Eureka lemon and marionberries, chocolate-covered strawberries and passion fruit lemon swirl. A flat rate of $14.99 per nine pints is ample reason to try at least that many.
Order by Nov. 21 for delivery by Thanksgiving; ships Monday to Thursday.
If you want to get hyper-focused on the holiday you’re ordering for, this company from a James Beard Award-winning author and ingredient-driven ice cream expert has you covered. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Jeni’s just released gift packs that feature five to six specially curated flavors for $68, and a nine-pack Friendsgiving Collection for $98. Flavors to skip a more solid dessert for include Mexican hot chocolate, Boston cream pie, skillet cinnamon roll, cognac & gingerbread, pistachio macaron and dairy-free lemon bar. Flat-rate shipping is $13 for most of the U.S. and $19 out west, making it an easy contribution to the table you wish you were at.
Ships in 5 to 10 business days, shipping from Monday to Friday, and no deliveries on Mondays.