Top 3 Bakeries in the Willamette Valley + 1

The difference between a mediocre pastry from a gas station and a well-made pastry at a bakery is like the difference between a $15 Borgougne blanc and a Lafon Meursault Perrieres.  A flaky, freshly made pastry is a faster path to transcendentalism than meditation. 

When visiting the Willamette Valley, indulging in a pastry is a fabulous way to enjoy an epicurean experience before noon and with mere change in your pocket. 

I have personally taken on a thorough investigation of bakeries throughout the Willamette Valley and am dishing the deets about my faves around the Valley.

Red Fox

"Grateful for Gluten" are the bumper stickers that represent this quintessential bakery right in downtown McMinnville. They have a cornucopia of incredible baked goods ranging from coconut macaroons to lemon pies to breakfast pastries. Among my favorite are the cinnamon snails and French buckwheat cakes. One tip of advice on the cinnamon snails, which are their version of cinnamon rolls, Do not unwind it to eat, use a fork and knife. It tastes significantly better this way. They also bake amazing bread, offer lunch and serve a full breakfast as well. I personally stick with the pastries.

Community Plate (the +1)

Ok, this isn't technically a bakery, but there is a heavenly woman named Kelsey who creates some phenomenal stuff. I am the creator of her fan club (and honestly I think she thinks I'm a stalker). Her baked creations change daily and shift between donuts to cookies to cakes to savory scones. I must say I am obviously not gluten free, but CP's gluten free muffins are by far the best muffin  I've ever had. I still crave it even after 2 full years of it being my go-to there- so it's legit bonafide.

Carlton Bakery


This place is a treasure trove of wonderful baked goods. One time; and it was terrible, I was gluten free, and all they had that was gluten free were airy macarons of many different bright colors and flavors that were perfection. Upon many other occasions in which I was not gluten free, I've enjoyed delicious breakfast sandwiches as well as croissants, lemon tarts, pecan rolls (which they say is the house favorite)... the list goes on and on. 

This tiny corner shop is incredibly convenient if you are staying in Carlton, which is a tiny town dedicated to the finer things in life- like Ken Wright, the best pancakes in the Valley, and a shabby chic boutique. Something else to note is that they carry a small selection of other great delicacies like maple syrup, eggs, honey, butter, cheese, pasta, and fresh bread to stock your cupboard while your visit the Valley.

Custom Baking Company

Ok, this is my new fave! This couple owned the crescent café in McMinnville for some odd years and decided to sell, as restaurants have the tendency to suck your soul. They feigned retirement but opened this bakery after mere months of "retirement": the location is tucked away just outside of McMinnville on highway 18 within the Biggio Hamina winery. Upon finally nailing down their location, my husband and I drove over early on Friday morning. One of the pair was arranging a brilliant bouquet of flowers while the other was at work baking. They do not have a display case; it's just pastries laid out on the counter. As I was picking out what I wanted I asked how it was owning a bakery after owning a restaurant and one replied, "it's wonderful: we sell out every day, we're only open Thur-sun, and we could've done anything we wanted- we wanted to bake." And does it show! The butter horns are hands down the best they have. They will tell you as much. The cinnamon rolls contain an intense spice that puts most cinnamon rolls to shame. One thing to note is they do not have coffee. I recommend dropping by Flag and Wire for your caffeine then jetting down to CBC. There are a few seats, but this is one of the bakeries that you can drop in, pick up, and carry back to your lodging for a sumptuous breakfast in bed. 

Natalie LeeComment