7 Cool Dessert Ideas for a Restaurant Menu

The right dessert ideas for a restaurant—no matter how formal or informal—are a mixture of combining new trends with those traditional mouth-watering classics. From a managerial standpoint, hitting on that mixture involves a strategic planning process revolving around production and customer feedback. This process is also continual; the best dessert menus are always evolving to fit guests’ tastes.

From the production side, managers need to determine the equipment and staff time needed to produce those sweet customer favorites. Fortunately, restaurant managers do not always need to purchase new equipment for new dessert ideas; instead, they should plan on purchasing versatile equipment that can be used for the long-term.

For customers, schedule regular menu evaluations to determine what dessert menu items are hot sellers. Don’t hesitate to drop desserts that just aren’t appealing to customers.

Soft Serve

Ice cream is a classic customer favorite. It is also a classic that can be served with a new twist, like a new flavor or topping. From the production side, research equipment that keeps the product cold and fresh, is easy-to-maintain by staff, and is capable of producing multiple flavors.


Shakes are another timeless classic that can be easily adapted to new trends. To mix it up, consider changing the ingredients, such as new candies and fruits. Choose ingredients carefully to fit the target audience demographic and equipment that can handle ingredient blending process seamlessly.

Iced Coffees

An iced coffee is a welcome addition to customers’ early- and late-night routines (sometimes in the middle too). This caffeinated favorite is also a top-seller when the weather gets hot. As an added perk, iced coffees are easy to produce and promote.


Obviously, there’s a bit of debate as to whether this crowd favorite is a dessert or drink; to many customers, it satisfies both tastes! For trendier crowds, or during certain times of the year, add different, fun margarita flavors to the menu for a fun change-up.


This dessert is a menu item that appeals to all ages. For a health-conscious crowd, select natural ingredients that can be advertised and promoted.

Fried Foods

Donuts, fried cakes, and funnel cakes are popular traditional dessert menu mainstays. For a new trendy twist, consider new favorites like fried cookie dough or cheesecake that can quickly become a crowd draw.


Slushies are usually a favorite among younger customers; new trendy lemonade and tropical flavors are turning that tide and making a slushy a popular choice for customers of all ages. For younger customers, sour flavors are a new trend that’s a definite crowd-pleaser.

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