NYC Dessert Debate: Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cinnamon Bun Pie vs Cinnabon

Date December 8, 2009

Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cinnamon Bun Pie is a high class, low cost slice of NYC’s dessert elite.  Cinnabon is a low class symbol of NYC’s contribution to obesity.  In the end they both serve the same purpose, satisfying a sinful desire for cinnamon and decadent frosting.  But as discriminating foodies, we must ask, which is better? Read on for the final verdict…

NYC Food Guy Dessert Debate

Frosting: Momofuku

This is an easy one:

  • Momofuku: Decadent cheesecake brown butter frosting, by far the dessert’s best asset
  • Cinnabon: Sugary, viscous vanilla frosting

Game, set, match Momofuku.

Momofuku Milk Bar's Cinnamon Bun Pie -

Dough: Cinnabon

Cinnabon’s dough delivers the appropriately yeasty balance to the cloying sweetness of the frosting and cinnamon.  And although Momofuku is claiming not to be a bun but a pie, the base is still too firm and bready to surpass the satisfying chewiness Cinnabon’s dough provides.  As my friend Adeena aptly suggested, Momofuku’s cinnamon bun pie might have been better suited as a cinnamon bun bread pudding.  Oh the possibilities.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cinnamon Bun Pie -

Cinnamon: Tie

Both desserts offer very different cinnamon experiences.  Momofuku’s buttery, oat-based streusel is just sweet enough, lending it more of a textural role amidst the sea of overpowering frosting.  Unfortunately, the remaining cinnamon is scantly sprinkled atop the bready cornicione (lip of the pie) forcing us to include the tough dough if we want more flavor.  Cinnabon’s cloying sweetness is partially a credit to the syrupy cinnamon literally oozing from every layer of dough and pooling around the decadent center ring.  It’s an everyman’s cinnamon best suited for mall food courts.

Cinnabon -

Final Verdict: Tie

In the battle of the chain food underdog and it’s gourmet counterpart, all seekers of sinful sweetness win.  But for the foodies, neither dessert offers a totally balanced package of deliciousness.  Momofuku shines mainly for it’s cheesecake brown butter frosting and while buttery and a true guilty pleasure, Cinnabon’s artificially flavored cinnamon prevents it from ascending to victory.

Momofuku Milk Bar

207 2nd Ave at 13th Street
New York, NY 10003 (Google Map)
(212) 254-3500


Multiple Locations in NYC
Check the website

24 Responses to “NYC Dessert Debate: Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cinnamon Bun Pie vs Cinnabon”

  1. FN said:

    Without even trying the Momofuku version, I give the win to Cinnabon. Momo is overrated, dessertwise. Don’t care for it at all.

  2. kim said:

    I think these are two difference species and Momo’s cinnamon ‘pie’ can never create that ‘authentic’ taste. When you’re rundown, tired, and just wanted some comfort food, Cinnabon is probably the better ‘evil’ of the two.

  3. kim said:

    also a cinnamon roll should be yeasty, not dense.

  4. The NYC Food Guy said:

    What have you had that disappointed you at Momo Milk Bar?

    I tend to agree but from everything I’ve tasted there, the whole idea of Momofuku Milk Bar’s desserts is to replicate traditional flavors in new ways, so I guess my expectations, especially in regard to the doughs lack of yeast, were a bit high.
    That being said, I wasn’t comparing Momofuku Milk Bar’s cinnamon bun pie to a traditional cinnamon bun as much as I was evaluating the Cinnabon and the Momofuku on individual characteristics and when all was said and done, neither really stole the show. Where’s the best Cinnamon Bun you’ve ever had?

  5. Lee said:

    No chance. Momofuku is delicious. Cinnabon is often super gross.

  6. MOE said:

    love it

  7. Max said:

    Hey Lawrence, are you still planning on updating your links section? Please shoot me an email when you have a chance, man. Thanks!

  8. Phil said:

    Tie????? Food Guy, you have to explain something to me… Although I’ve never had a Momofuku cinnamon bun pie, it seems like an apples vs. oranges comparison. Kind of like asking which burger is better: McDonalds quarter pounder or Shake Shack??

  9. kim said:

    i haven’t had a cinnamon bun for a looong time. But I did remember that Bobby FLay throwdown with this Bostonian baker. Forgot her shop, but that sticky bun looked decadent!

  10. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Super Gross? I know your taste in nachos but I don’t know what you think about desserts. I think that’s a strong characterization though. Why gross?


    I’ll be in touch man, I’ll get that moving ASAP.

    Ha! I knew there would be some contention and I love it! The funny thing is, you could very easily compare the McDonald’s to Shake Shack but Shack Shack would win in a landslide. I think you can compare any two things with similar components. Want to try a different analogy other than apples and oranges?

    I’m going to have to check that out. What’s the best meal and dessert you’ve had recently?

  11. FN said:

    Let’s see, the cookies, the milkshakes, the pies….

    My mom makes better stuff. And mom doesn’t charge six bucks for a friggin milkshake.

  12. Howfresheats said:

    FG, welcome back. Fuck a cinnamon bun or pie. Milk Bar necessities are the cookies- the compost is insane, the same goes for the blueberry cream and the cornflake, chocolate and marshmallow. I don’t really fuck with the pies or cakes, but the choc malt soft serve was surprisingly delicious. Cereal milk was overrated. Horchata was serious business.

    Problem is the lines are filled with indecisive jerks.

  13. Hagan said:

    Hey Lawrence, did you want to join me on my NYC project?

    My e-mail must have hit your spam filter.

  14. AA said:

    Yes, I’m agreed on not liking Momo Milk Bar. I’ve been there many times, and everything there (cakes, pies, cookies, soft serve ice creams) — even though I have a big sweet tooth — is seriously oversweet, overbuttered, and just generally overdone.

    Sad, really, because I’d like to like it.

  15. Andy said:

    The Momofuku version drops the ball with the back end of the pie (the tallest part of the crust). It gets really dry each time, they should have weaved some icing in there, otherwise it’s a home run.

    Have you tried their Molten Chocolate Cake thing with the toasted marshmallows? Really good… skip the Chocolate Chip Cake, it has a passion fruit layer that’s subpar at best

  16. The NYC Food Guy said:

    So it’s fair to say you can do without Momo? Have you been to Chickalicious Dessert Club?

    Thanks for the love, albeit expletive laden, love.
    Haven’t had Horchata but love that stuff.
    As far as the line goes, if it was your first time there wouldn’t you be indecisive?

    I’m sort of with you, I want to like it more, that being said, there are definitely high notes. The cinnamon bun pie, except for the back crust, is damn good. Candy Bar Pie is pretty righteous as well. Haven’t had their egg sandwich on the weekend yet, that sounds awesome. The Volcano (weekends only also) is pretty tasty but didn’t live up to the hype I saw here:

    Great minds think alike. The back of the pie was what did the Momo in for me. Note the comment my friend made about how this pie would be better if it was more bread pudding like.

    By Molten chocolate cake do you mean the chocolate malt cake? I had a taste, interesting. Super sweet and decadent. I don’t love their cakes because they’re usually ice cold when they come out of the fridge. I think they’d all be better suited being served at room temperature. Haven’t had choc. chip pie but looks weird and was planning on staying away but appreciate the heads up.

    Any good desserts elsewhere for you? Favorites in NYC?

  17. FN said:

    Yep, been to both Chicka’s. I liked the fancy-schmancy one, though it was overpriced.

  18. Jamie Susan said:

    I’ll take both. Either. Whatever but I want. BADLY. Yum.

  19. The NYC Food Guy said:

    What did you have at fancy Chicka?

    Don’t see this at Costco do you? Great site you’ve got there, keep up the good work and give a shout if you’re heading up to NYC.

  20. Ed said:

    Picture shown has more than what words can describe it as, just an FYI, add two scoops of vanilla ice cream to Momofuku’s delicious bun pie, I can almost guaranteed that the bun pie will taste better than the normal cinnabon with ice cream.

  21. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Wow man. That’s an insane concept. Love it.

  22. Gratuitous Food Porn: Momofuku Ramen & Pork Buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar | NYC Food Guy said:

    […] Related: Momofuku Milk Bar Cinnamon Bun Pie vs Cinnabon […]

  23. April 10 – National Cinnamon Crescent Day « National Food Days in New York City said:

    […] celebrating today, has the uncanny taste of cinnamon and sugar baked into a delicious pastry. NYC Food Guy likened it to a high-end transformation of Cinnabon, and I couldn’t agree more. A thick, […]

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