We here at Destin.com take dessert seriously. To prove it, we took a poll on our Facebook page to see where Destin locals like to get their sweet on so we could share the insiders look at places you’ve got to try while visiting.
We got a huge response including suggestions from restaurant desserts to homemade recipes, but to help you narrow down the field we chose only the top votes for local dessert spots. Here are the six spots that top the charts for favorite spots in Destin to satisfy that pesky sweet tooth and we even threw in a couple honorable mentions!
1. Shake’s Frozen Custard
Shake’s is a franchise based out of Joplin Missouri, and has been operating in Destin since 2002. The main item sold in the small to-go style outdoor eatery is frozen custard with tons of delicious toppings to choose from.
“I think honestly the biggest draw is that we make a delicious product and everyone has gotten the word out to give us a try and that really helps us out,” said General Manager, Chelsea Donaldson.
Custard is a frozen treat which contains at least 10 percent milk fat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids, and it may be that secret recipe that makes Shake’s a local favorite.
“We make it fresh hourly. It’s a premium ice cream and it has a higher content of egg yolk which gives it its creamy texture,” said Donaldson. “It’s actually gluten free and soy free so it’s great for allergies,” she added.
For flavor options, Shake’s takes a simple route.
“We just do chocolate and vanilla as homemade flavors and then when add the flavors by mixing them in,” said Donaldson. Mix-ins include hot fudge brownies, cheese cake chunks, and several types of cookie dough. Donaldson ensured that Shake’s uses only real fruit additions, and exclusively name-brand candies in their sundaes.
“We really take a lot of time to handpick the products and really pick out the best of everything,” she said.
When asked how busy Shake’s can get in Destin, Donaldson replied, “Ours is the number one store in the company. Defiantly the tourism in the summer is where we do the bulk of our business, but we get a lot of help coming from the locals in the off season.”
2. Bruster’s Real Ice Cream
Craving some delicious homemade ice cream? Look no further than Bruster’s Real Ice Cream in Destin. Every flavor featured at Bruster’s is freshly made daily in the store which may just be why it’s been voted a Destin favorite by our Facebook fans.
“All the ice cream is home made, we make it ourselves,” said Destin General Manager Devin Simpson. “We have a base cream and we add fruit, flavors and everything else that goes into it like candy and nuts.”
Simpson said the most popular item in the store is the freshly made waffle cone filled with birthday cake ice cream, but other flavors are a close second. With about 30 flavors rotating on the menu year-round it’s easy to see why you would want to try every flavor.
Bruster’s even has an ongoing special for kids and pets that makes a family trip to the creamery that much sweeter.
“All kids under 40 inches tall get a free baby cone that comes with any flavor of ice cream, sprinkles and candy eyes,” said Simpson. “If you bring your dog, you get a free doggie sundae which is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a milk bone.”
Besides ice cream, Bruster’s also offers sorbet, sherbet, Italian ice, sugar-free fat-free ice cream and yogurt. And if you suddenly have a more savory tooth, the Destin Bruster’s just so happens to be paired with Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.
3. K.I.S.S. Bakery
A true down-home local spot, K.I.S.S. Bakery (stands for Keep It Simple Sweetie) will give you that small town charm of the Destin of yesteryear. Long-time Destin local Liz Berta said inspiration to open the bakery, which just celebrated it’s first birthday, stemmed from a love of baking and family.
“I’ve always helped my mom,” said Berta. “I’ve done it since I was a kid. There are nine in my family and I’m number eight, so we always made Thanksgiving pies together… Christmas bread and cookies and all the birthday cakes we grew up on.”
The bakery’s menu reflects the store’s motto with simple and sweet treats ranging from pies and cakes to brownies and cream puffs and of course, always a pot of fresh coffee.
“We just love to bake and love to make things yummy and sweet,” said Berta. “My big thing is, I love to make people happy. I love to see people sit down with a piece of pie and coffee and just take a break for a minute.”
The atmosphere in K.I.S.S. Bakery is rustic modern with a homey feel as two comfy couches sit in the lobby and bistro chairs with brightly decorated trays for tables line the wall of the bakery for seating. As for the food, the options change with the seasons but always remain fresh and sweet.
“I just go with the flow of what the season is,” said Berta. “I just want people to know that we are the place to come for coffee and individual slices of dessert.”
4. Small Cakes
How about a decadent cupcake to curb that sugary appetite? Small Cakes in Destin has some extravagant flavors that are perfect to indulge in.
“We bake fresh daily and we have between 16 and 18 flavors to choose from every day,” said franchise owner Haven Burley. “We also offer cookies, brownies and during the summer season we have ice cream.”
With flavors like Choco-Holic and Maple Bacon, Burley said customers often have a hard time choosing a favorite.
“Wedding cake is our number one seller, it’s an almond flavor, and red velvet is our number two, but chocolate and vanilla are the most popular flavors always,” she said.
Although Small Cakes has a nice dine-in area, Burley said most customers order specialty cup cakes and full-sized cakes for events.
“We do cakes, weddings and birthday parties by special order,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know we do cakes as well as three different sizes of cup cakes.”
However, she added, if you just need a moment to indulge in the decadent, you can purchase a large cupcake in the store for only $3.50; take it from us you won’t be sorry!
5. The Candymaker
Hearkening back to the old candy shop days at the turn of the 20th century, The Candymaker in Destin is full of handmade sugary goodness from it’s famous salt-water taffy to creamy fudge and caramel apples.
“We have all sorts of chocolates, fudge and salt water taffy that we make in-house,” said General Manager Jon Williams. “And a lot of the machinery we use is from 1911. We make it all from scratch in a giant copper kettle.”
The original Candymaker opened in Destin in 1992 after owner Tom Ehlke noticed tourists searching for taffy in his friend’s beach goods store. After perfecting the recipe and his candy making method, Ehlke launched The Candymaker, and the rest as they say, is history.
“He is still running it and he still comes in sometimes,” Williams said of Ehlke. “It’s one-of-a-kind saltwater taffy, you can’t get it anywhere else.”
The Candymaker has a lot more to offer besides taffy and fudge, in fact, the store has become it’s own tourist destination with a souvenir gift shop, a frozen yogurt station, a coffee shop and even a full country breakfast café during the busy season.
When asked what the most popular item is in the store, Williams said it’s the taffy of course.
“It’s a toss up between vanilla, banana and watermelon flavors though,” he said. “And for the kids they just love anything sprinkled or dipped like our marshmallow sticks. We even have dog bones dipped in white chocolate so we cater to everybody.”
If you are in the Destin Commons make sure to stop by Kilwins for a sweet bite of fudge, chocolate or even homemade ice cream. Although the franchise is based out of Michigan, owners Thomas and Kari Zingale are Destin locals dedicated to bringing the best sweet ingredients to their home town.
“Our specialties are our homemade fudge, caramel and our original homemade ice cream,” said Kari. “We have 24 flavors of ice cream, 10 flavors of fudge and 10 different varieties of caramel apples.”
Kilwins is also a great place for free entertainment as fun displays of candy making go on every evening in the store.
“Kilwins is known for the fact that we make all of our products in front of our customers,” said Kari. “You can watch us paddle fudge or dip caramel apples each evening. It’s quite a production as our employees like to interact with customers and give samples to everyone warm off the tables.”
When asked what the most popular item is, Kari said anything with the word turtle in it.
“Signature items are our turtle fudge and turtle pecan apples and fresh baked waffle cones,” she said. “Definitely our most popular item is the turtle fudge.”
We had such a great amount of feed back on this Facebook Poll that we thought we would let you peruse some of the comments as well as learn the top two honorable mentions.
Honorable mention number one goes to The Donut Hole, which of course is a shoe-in local favorite, not only for it’s donuts but also for it’s famous key lime pie. To find out more about what they have to offer read a full article HERE.
Also earning an honorable mention is the newest donut shop in Destin, Destination Little Donuts which has quickly made a name for itself after opening earlier this year. You can also read more about Destination Little Donuts HERE.
And here are some of the votes from our locals to you.
“Bruster’s or shakes!” said Korey Shae Timmons. “Can’t go wrong with either one!”
K.I.S.S. Bakery got the vote of Melissa Morris-Jones who said, “K.I.S.S. Bakery! Without a doubt the tastiest handmade bakery items! Let’s just say homemade pop-tarts Yum!”
“Mimmo’s has a salted caramel martini that is the best dessert I’ve ever had!” John Bleakley said, mentioning a local Italian restaurant.
“Hands down, the bread pudding at Camille’s,” Michelle Sullivan Markel said of another popular Destin restaurant.
And here’s some votes from our honorable mentions.
“Key lime pie from the Donut Hole,” said Mary Jo Dollman. “The perfect crust…delicious.”
Destination Little Donuts was the favorite of local Megan Walkinshaw. “I love the Flintstone Favorite and Oreo Cheesecake donuts,” she said.
We hope this helps you pick your favorite sweet spot in Destin. Let us know what you think too by tagging us on instagram @destindotcom or by commenting on our Facebook page!