Whether you need a fresh loaf of bread for sandwiches or you want a decadent cake for an upcoming birthday party, the bakery department at your local grocery store is an essential stop for many shoppers. In fact, a good bakery can set a supermaket apart from its competitors, simply through the sights and smells of all those enticing fresh-baked goods being prepared throughout the day.
Consider the aroma of chocolate chip cookies as they come out of the oven and the feeling of a still-warm loaf of sourdough bread as you add it to your shopping cart—your senses will tell you that you're shopping at a top-notch bakery. Of course, there are other ways to tell a great bakery from a good one.
Some bakeries offer more unique, one-of-a-kind items that you won't find anywhere else. Others stick to high-quality ingredients. Some bakeries are renowned for their customizable cakes, while others are great for specialty breads. No matter your baked goods needs, there's a bakery department out there that can serve you.
If you're in need of a stellar bakery department, consider the following grocery chains. From large national brands to smaller regional markets, you likely don't live too far from one of the following stores.
Your destination for freshly baked bread, cookies, muffins, bagels, and cakes, Costco's bakery department is an essential stop for its members when making their weekly grocery runs. Its variety of breads includes traditional multigrain and country french loaves, typically sold in packs of two. The bakery also releases seasonal desserts, like the new Black Forest Bar Cake and Mini Gingerbread Cakes. The variety of options and Costco-sized quantities combine to make selections here not only delicious but cost-effective for its members.
Like other departments at Whole Foods, the bakery prides itself on its high-quality standards. According to its website, Whole Foods says its baked goods made in-house are done with unbleached, unbromated flour, and cage-free or better eggs, with zero traces of hydrogenated fats or high-fructose corn syrup. The result is a lineup of products that customers rave about, from cookies to croissants. The next time you have a special occasion like a birthday or office party, swing by your local Whole Foods bakery, and you'll surely find a dessert that everyone will love.
Sprouts Farmers Market
Similar to Whole Foods, the products sold at Sprouts are mostly natural and organic, ensuring high-quality flavor without any artificial additives. Its full name—Sprouts Farmers Market—evokes a sense that you're actually shopping at a farmers market with locally sourced foods made with fresh ingredients. This extends to its bakery, where customers can shop for everything from French bread to cookies. "They have really good cookies," wrote one fan on Reddit. "The oatmeal ones are the best, but the salter caramel ones are good too."
The Fresh Market
If there's a long list of baked goods on your grocery list, you can likely find everything you need at The Fresh Market. Not only that, but you'll find baked goods that are made fresh in-store, like banana nut bread, French butter croissants, and blueberry muffins. Its chocolate cake, in particular, was worth noting by one fan on Reddit. Another chimed in, adding, "Their cheesecake is great, and so are their tarts. Bonus points for a wide selection. I usually buy Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas desserts there for family potlucks."
Beloved regional grocery chain Stew Leonard's has locations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Locals love Stew's for its fresh baked goods, made not only throughout the day in-store, but in easy sight of customers, displaying confidence in the chain's fresh products. Products range from bread and New York-style bagels to celebration cakes and fresh-made cheesecakes and pies. If you're in the area and need to pick up a dessert on your way to a special gathering, you'll earn a ton of mileage by shopping at Stew Leonard's.
The bakery department at Wegmans has everything customers need, whether it's loaves of bread or buns for everyday lunches or specialty desserts. The bakery department is just one of the reasons regular customers love Wegmans so much, in addition to the open-air market feel you get when shopping there. Specific baked goods, in particular, rank high among customers, like Wegmans' mini chocolate chip cookies, which inspired a wave of copycat recipes online. Seasonal items also stand out, like its pumpkin pie, which bested several competitors in a recent taste test by Eat This, Not That!
Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B has a lot of special traits that make it a customer favorite, like its bakery. One of the best things about H-E-B is its tortillas, which are made from scratch in the H-E-B bakeries throughout the day. The tortillas are such a fan favorite that customers can even purchase a tortilla-scented candle in-store or on H-E-B's website. "Whoever invented the HEB Butter Tortillas deserves to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize," raved one Redditor. Tortillas aside, the H-E-B bakery offers plenty of other fresh-baked products, including cakes, cookies, and bread.
The infamous Pub Subs from Publix are never complete before the ingredients are sandwiched within a fresh baked roll. Those rolls, among many other baked goods, are what make the bakery department at Publix stand out among the competition. The grocery chain bakes over a dozen different kinds of bread in-store, according to its website, but bread is not the only specialty. Publix also offers unique desserts like chantilly and chocolate ganache cakes. Its fresh products are one of the reasons why Publix was ranked America's Most Trustworthy Grocery Store.
Walmart is the world's largest retailer, and that impressive showing extends to its bakery. In fact, according to Yahoo Finance, one out of every four cakes sold in the U.S. comes from a Walmart. Those cakes are big business for the retailer, with customization available for just about every occasion. Beyond cakes, customers can find just about any kind of baked good available at Walmart from breads to desserts. Fans swear by the quality and competitive pricing.
While some customers might not immediately think of Walmart when it comes to top-botch baked goods, regular shoppers standby the quality and competitive prices of the retailer's products. "I don't know of anywhere else I can buy the chocolate cake that I buy from the Walmart bakery," raved one Redditor. "It is delicious, and the cost seems like a steal compared to other options."