The donut’s origins -- as a pragmatic New England ship captain’s mother's take on the Dutch olykoeks (aka "oily cakes") with nuts in the center because the dough wouldn’t cook through -- are not that sexy. And up until the last 10 years or so, one could argue that donuts weren’t sexy -- mostly a breakfast pastry used to make unoriginal jokes about chubby cops.
My how that has changed. Over the course of the last decade we've seen the Phoenix-like rise of the artisanal gourmet donut, with toppings made from scratch, innovative hybrid take-offs (hello Cronut), and a reputation makeover. Donuts are like the pastry version of that unpopular high school kid who goes to college and buys new jackets and comes back cool. And we're damn glad about it.
How we picked the list is pretty simple: over the course of the year, we ate a lot of donuts and wrote down the ones we liked. And if Liz or myself didn't eat the donuts, other members of our editorial staff and trusted freelancers ate the donuts and made the argument for said donuts' inclusion. And then we all argued about the list for a while until we got it down to 33. Point being: we actually ate the donuts, and now we want you to eat them too.
I have family in Minneapolis (fine, Excelsior), and my sister went to college there, so I try and get out there once a year in the summer, to go out on the lake and listen to soothing, Nordic-inflected accents and eat things. And for a few years, I was solidly in the Glam Doll camp for best donuts (NOTE: they're still very delicious). But that was just because I rarely went to South Minneapolis, and never got to A Baker's Wife. Now, this place is an actual pastry shop, so it has more than just donuts, but everyone orders the donuts. And you can understand why once you bite into that cinnamon-and-sugar cake masterpiece, which has none of the oily texture you sometimes get with poorly constructed donuts. It was light and just the right amount sweet, and oh yeah: it only cost 50 CENTS. I’ll see you again this summer, and this time I'm bringing a $5. -- Kevin Alexander, national writer-at-large
As a kid, did you bring cupcakes to school to celebrate your birthday? That's adorable. You know what I brought? A donut the size of a cake. A donut cake, if you will, shaped like an ice skate, a heart, the sun, or whatever else I could dream up. I can attribute my elementary-aged baller status to Allie's Donuts, a Rhode Island institution that has been around for decades, catering to locals and touristy beach-goers alike. The place is packed with a line out the door every weekend, and if you want one of its custom-made donut cakes, you've got to call weeks in advance. It also offers the individual classics, from old-fashioned crullers to glazed donuts and jelly sticks. But the top seller is a fluffy yeast donut with fluorescent sprinkles atop sugary, melt-in-your-mouth white frosting. It's a child's dream donut. It's an adult's dream donut. And it's best enjoyed en route to the ocean with the windows down and sprinkles all over the car. -- Sarah Anderson, senior production assistant
The Gallows is one of my favorite Boston restaurants, with a burger worthy of an out-of-town journey. When it opened up a donut shop, I was excited but confused, as running a restaurant and successfully pulling off damn good donuts are two things that don’t necessarily intersect. But clearly I worry too much. Blackbird’s donuts (made on site, which, as touted on the website, is actually a rarity in Boston proper) have that artisanal look, meaning they're impeccably dressed up in beautiful glazes and offer up weird-ish flavors (when I was there the shop had a blueberry white chocolate Bismarck and a cold-brew coconut).
I always get the simple donuts, though, when trying out new shops (because, basically, if you can’t do a layup, how're you going to hit a half-court shot?), and both the simple raised-style vanilla glazed and the cinnamon-sugar cake donuts checked off all the boxes: airy, pillowy dough in the raised, and that moist cake without the oil in the latter. It also has soft-serve, I should point out, in case you don’t feel like a donut alone poses much of a challenge to your system. -- KA
A few years back, I knew Blue Star was going to be making a big impression on Portland... a tough nut to crack considering the city has been on the forefront of the donut revolution for as long as people have been standing in line for Voodoo Doughnut's dong-shaped cream concoctions (a long time). Well, now Blue Star has multiple locations throughout Portland, one in LA, and one in Japan, where Portland has become the new Hello Kitty. The expansion, however, hasn't changed anything. The crème brulee donuts are still perfect in their burnt-sugar crunch, with a pipe of Cointreau syrup jammed in the top. The brioche-based dough is a fantastic counter to the traditional cake in everything from the buttermilk old-fashioneds to dulce de leche, Mexican chocolate, and almond granache. Soon, Portland might have to share Blue Star with the world. If that means more donuts of this caliber for everybody, well, we’ll take it. -- Andy Kryza, senior editor, Food and Drink
Now look: I am a Leonard’s man, and I have expressed that on several of the previous lists. But our Hawaii contributor Summer Nakaishi insisted that, although she too digs Leonard's, Champion’s malasadas are "equally as good or better" thanks to the dough's famed aging process, which makes them less airy, but still chewy with a crispy outer layer. They fly under the radar for people like me, who just come barreling in from the mainland all sunburned demanding Leonard’s in still-creased, newly purchased Hawaiian shirts. -- KA
I'm from Alabama, just over the Georgia border, and Atlanta was always the "big-city" destination, the place my family went for museums (culture!) and its the first home of the first restaurant where I had a very formal waiter scrape the tablecloth in front of me after I exploded bread everywhere. (I was 9! Sorry!) If you’re imagining Elf-like skyscraper-ogling moments, you’re on the right track.
While I’m now less intimidated by Atlanta, I do still get very excited when I find any place that contradicts my 9-year-old intimidation. Da Vinci's is relatively new -- it opened in 2014 -- and Melissa Rudd, who owns the spot with her husband, draws inspiration from making donuts with her family as a child, and her small, dunkable cake donuts are a refreshing throwback to, well, simpler times. You can grab some of the elaborate orders like the caramel apple that’s stuffed with apple pie filling and coated in an oozing caramel icing, but stick with classics: I dare you not to fall under the basic powdered’s instant nostalgia-inducing power and picture Saturday mornings with a bag of the bite-size grocery store bites. But, you know, in the big city and much, much better. -- Liz Childers, senior cities director
The last time I went into DISTRICT, I was alone, which I’ve since decided is the best way to go. For one, it’s easier to get a spot at the counter and, despite being open two and a half years, and having a surprisingly large shop for a Magazine St breakfast-cum-lunch spot, seats are hard to nab considering the line that weaves and jumbles overwhelmingly by the door. But also, eating a giant donut stuffed with cheesecake filling and topped with a citrus blueberry glaze has the instant effect of making you look like a kindergartner who has encountered sugar for the first time -- even if you’re tackling it with a fork and knife.
For a city with such a phenomenal dining culture, New Orleans also has a history of being slow to join food trends, so DISTRICT was a sugary explosion onto the scene in 2013. While there are a few flavors that fall into the "simple" category of the daily rotating menu, most options are just the right version of over-the-top, like that blueberry-lemon cheesecake one or a whiskey-ginger number. If donuts aren’t your thing (we'll try not to judge you), the nitro iced coffee or the fried chicken sliders are still worth a trip or five. But let this place convert you to donuts. And then eat them with full enthusiasm -- and lots of napkins -- alone. -- LC
If you're headed to the Barracks Row neighborhood of DC it's probably to eat at Rose's Luxury because Bon Appetit told you to while you were thumbing through the magazine during a layover. But there's a better reason to get to Southeast -- and it's warm, round, and dipped in Nutella. I'm talking about the Goodfellow at District Doughnut, which is named after a CrossFit coach despite its status as a caloric punch to the gut. After being dipped in Nutella and cream, it gets a heavy dose of applewood-smoked bacon that Elvis would dig. Other flavors include the simple brown butter and the salted dulce de leche. There's a scientific reason why District slays it at fried dough. It's that the donut maker, Christine Schaefer, is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, so don't forget to yell "YES CHEF" at the register. Probably with a mouthful of sugar. -- Laura Hayes, Thrillist DC contributing writer
As one would have to expect from a shop keeping such prestigious donut-making company, Do-Rite does the fancy-donut basics right (spelling, less so), with the chocolate old fashioned and pistachio-Meyer lemon being standouts among the steady offerings. But it also pushes the creative envelope. If it didn't, would it offer fried-chicken donut sandwiches kissed with a spicy maple aioli? Would it offer a steady stream of visionary donut collabs, including the latest, an insane Upside Down, Inside Out creation conceived with music video revolutionaries OK Go?! Look, if both the dudes who create insanity like this AND Winston from New Girl want to get into the donut game with you, you're doing it right. Or Rite, even. -- Matt Lynch, executive editor
Larkspur, CA basically looks like a fake town they’d make up for romantic comedies in which the very good-looking firefighter lives in a place so picturesque as to be nearly offensive. And in the heart of Downtown Larkspur, down what is not really an alley as much as just a Magnolia Center parking lot, sits the shop, which Steve and Ann Pring took over in 2008. Inside is completely standard -- just a few tables, a bunch of delicious-looking donuts, and three of what look like hampers with labels like "powdered sugar," "chocolate," and "blueberry."
But ignore the spartan interior and focus on the donuts -- though this spot's got a standard variety, you’re here specifically for the old fashioned, which has one of the best and most subtle, crunchy crusts I had this year. Get one of each flavor (it comes in four varieties), then head out the door and eat them amid the splendor of a somehow not-made-up beautiful Marin County town, and you’ll be having a pretty damn good day. -- KA
I go down and visit my father in San Diego five or six times a year, because I’m a nice son/family is important/I like free dinners. And each time I go, I set aside a morning to make the trip to Donut Bar (now making a third consecutive appearance on our list), partially because it’s my job or whatever, but also because I continue to be obsessed with its Big Poppa-Tart donut (for more about what’s actually in it, read this). Does it make me feel gross after I eat it? Of course. It's A DONUT STUFFED WITH CRUSHED-UP POP-TARTS. Do I continue doing it five or six times a year? Yes. Also because family is important or whatever. -- KA
If I learned anything from T2, it’s that I'm oddly attracted to women who can do endless pull-ups, but also that robots can't cry. But they can bring tears to our eyes, as proven by both Arnold’s touching goodbye and the next-level desserts made by a semi-automated robot at Portland food cart Donut Byte Labs. The place specializes in miniature rings, pumped out fresh all day by a specialized android of sorts, then gussied up by an actual human who custom-makes every single 'nut in the box to order (plan to spend some time on the sidewalk). They're hit with everything from bacon and real maple to salted caramel, Reese’s peanut butter, and a blowtorch, which caramelizes the cinnamon sugar on the insane French toast bite. Ive seen the future. And in it, John Connor is very, very fat. But he's cool with it. -- AK
The first time I went to Donut Savant, I didn’t do things right. You see, there are three sizes of donuts here, and the champion move is to get the donut holes. Meanwhile I just got two normal (delicious!) donuts and returned home, only to be told by a buddy in Oakland that I'd just made a horrible mistake. What I didn’t realize originally is that, unlike most donut holes, which are just kind of shitty afterthoughts, the holes here actually resemble tiny donut cupcakes, as thoughtfully crafted as the rest. And also: you can eat SO MANY MORE THAN TWO. I'd recommend getting at least a half-dozen, including but not limited to the salted maple and the vanilla dust. OK, and maybe a regular-sized vanilla cream Cron't. Decisions are hard. -- KA
Dottie's stays on the list for a second time in a row, thanks to the fact that we still can’t get enough of her alliteration ("the deluxe destination for delicious donuts") or her donuts, and the fact that though I was obsessed with the powdered sugar last time, this time I tried the jelly and now I can't even remember ever wanting anything else. Although I have to say -- the strawberry pancakes looked pretty damn good, too. -- KA
With just six flavors to choose from, this West Village newcomer specializing in small-batch yeast donuts stands out among NYC donut shops with countless elevated flavors in constant rotation. The Costanza (salted chocolate with buttered pretzel) and the Bronx (olive oil and black pepper) tend to receive the most hype, but my vote goes to the outstanding and admittedly strange beet donut stuffed with ricotta -- named Those Beetz are Dope, which we'll forgive, because it’s just that good -- and the the bacon maple bar (or The Classic). But the beet & ricotta is enough to land The Doughnut Project a spot on this list -- the bright-pink glaze makes for the perfect mix of sweet and savory, with an added kick of savory from the fluffy cheese filling inside (which, it should be noted, is not obnoxiously over-filled, as filled donuts tend to be). Also, the maple bacon bar features a full strip of bacon. No further explanation necessary. -- Lucy Meilus, New York editor
On our list once again, this wildly popular fried-dough purveyor has been known to break hearts over its limited number of fresh-baked donuts (it only bakes a certain number daily; once they run out, it closes until the following day), so you’ll have to plan your trip wisely. Stop by on the early side for an array of some of the best old-fashioned-style donuts in the city, like toasted almond, coconut cream, and lemon poppy seed. Pro tip: a limited number of the coveted old fashioneds are also available at the restaurant group’s other cafes, including Sawada Coffee, C.C. Ferns, and 3 Arts Club Café. -- Sean Cooley, senior city editor
The first time I went to Duck Donuts, I bought one donut. Five minutes later, after I’d eaten it in two bites and turned around, I made my second trip to the cash register, and purchased 24 donuts. That’s what Duck Donuts does to a man. This place doesn't lay up. The donuts are of the stomach-filling cake-batter variety, fried in soy-based shortening and each heavier than an iPhone. At the original location, the donuts are fried on a conveyor belt behind glass panels, so you can follow your fattening little friend from batter ring to fully topped beauty. This makes it feel like a field trip. Field trips were pretty great, huh? Pro tip: eat more than one, but fewer than 24. Do as I say, not as I do. -- Dave Infante, writer-at-large
Yes, it’s on our list again. And yes, chef Michael Solomonov’s ode to the simple pleasures of chicken, donuts, and coffee continues to be one of the best places in the country to get a simple honey donut and some delicious spicy fried chicken. But if you want to just stick to the donuts, the old-fashioned glazed is as perfect a single donut as you're going to find on the East Coast. There I said it. Again. -- KA
If you’re from Memphis or have lived in the city for at least a few years, you’ve been to Gibson’s. It's just what you do when you have this sort of mom-&-pop legend in your town. And the fact that you can get a simple triple-rise, glazed yeast donut and a cup of coffee on the cheap makes a very strong case that the almost 50-year-old institution hasn’t changed since Lowell Gibson first started frying rings. However, things have changed, but unlike most modern inflections on a trusted old thing, the updates to Gibson’s have only made it that much better: a half-priced happy hour from 11am to 1pm (it’s open 24/7) and the Samoa donut -- a play on the caramel-and-coconut Girl Scout favorite -- is so good you might just be able to forgo your springtime cookie orders from now on. -- LC
When I found out that Renee Erickson of The Walrus and the Carpenter and The Whale Wins (among others) had -- a while ago -- eaten a filled donut at Fergus Henderson's famous London restaurant St. John and that she thought about it so much that she had to open a donut shop, I immediately stopped just respecting her work and started liking her personally. And now she's done it, given the project my favorite name on this list, and focused exclusively on filled donuts using chef-quality ingredients. I only got a chance to try two when I was there (vanilla custard and peaches & cream), but I’d gladly eat dozens of each if not for worries about my health/penchant for elastic-waisted pants. -- KA
It's only open Thursday to Sunday, so Dallas residents have to avoid donuts for three days and just stick to queso. But when it is actually open, it's fantastic -- the guava cream was better than any I had while in Mexico, and I ate three Saigon cinnamon sugar before I even asked anyone else if they wanted anything. Also worth noting: there's a Friday and Saturday late-night menu (like geniuses, these guys re-open from 9pm to 2am) that includes donut grilled cheeses and fluffernutter sandwiches. So let the place stay closed those other three days. It's damn well earned it. -- KA
In Southern tradition, kids turn to their parents for family recipes, so it makes sense that, when Kimberly and Brock Beiersodoefer -- who knew nothing about donuts in a city that was late to catch on to the donut craze -- decided to open a donut shop, they turned to Gibson’s (the grandpa of the Southern donut game) and current owner Don DeWeese. The couple did time in the kitchen at the East Memphis legend, learning trade secrets, which explains why there’s a hell of a lot more years of experience in each bite of their fried treats. While jokes like "Heaven is a place on Earth... when you have one of Kimberly’s custard-filled Bismarcks" or "the chocolate-covered sour cream is like a gift from heaven" (Brock makes the chocolate in house) are far too easy to riddle off in full corny glory, well, I stand behind it. Gibson's was just that good of a teacher. -- LC
Once you realize that you actually don’t have to get the hug part of the business, Matt Opaleski and Jason Hill’s Houston donut shop suddenly becomes more enticing. Although these guys are showmen and unafraid to put together crazy concoctions -- they get our nod because they do the gourmet moves well (get the Homer and the One Night in Pearis) while also paying tribute to the local scene with excellent kolaches. -- KA
On for the second year in a row, Long’s continues to make our list despite a litany of complaints: lines are too long! It won’t accept the Apple Pay on my iPhone! They don’t taste good when you dip them in St. Elmo's cocktail sauce! But everyone just shut up, get in line wearing your very cool Rik Smits jersey, and spend just over $3 on a half-dozen glazed yeast donuts. There are other kinds, of course, but the glazed are the reason you’ll happily endure the queue. -- KA
Hamtramck is a bit of an oddity: a city within the city of Detroit populated with huge Polish and Muslim enclaves that’s seemingly worlds away from the city just outside its limits. It's also home to some of the best bakeries in the state, and on Paczki Day (or Fat Tuesday, if you're wrong), it’s home to the best hyper-caloric donut varieties in the US. At New Palace, though, every day is Paczki Day, with the city’s best version of the dense, stuffed Old World donuts come in flavors ranging from rose hip to Boston cream, apple, cherry, blueberry, and prune, just in case you overdo it. New Palace didn't exactly reinvent the wheel (Dave Goodwill did that, we think). They just kind of pumped it full of fat and butter and some of the best custard you’ve ever had,. Then coated it in sugar. -- AK
"We don’t have any donuts left." If you're not at Oram's early, this is the earful you'll get. Oram's has been in the business for almost 80 years, and is known for its enormous and delectable cinnamon-roll donut. It's the size of a human head, with a cinnamon swirl, and no hole in the center. It's the stuff of legends and an absolutely necessary buy if you can make it in time. Set your alarm clock an hour or two ahead. -- Laura Zorch, Thrillist Pittsburgh contributing writer
There are plenty of donut shops in New York City doling out massive, over-the-top creations in flavors like gin & tonic, creme brulee, and spaghetti carbonara with peas (or, you know, just the first two). A lot of these places are quite good (in fact, one is on this list), but there’s something to be said about the classic New York donut shop that offers simple flavors and reliable service for little more than a buck.
Peter Pan in Greenpoint (on for the second straight year) has been slinging unfussy classics like red velvet, jelly with powdered sugar, and toasted coconut since the 1950s, and hardly anything about it has changed since then. The staff still sports old-school pink-and-teal uniforms (hats included!), the donut prices are still criminally low, and there are still crowds of regulars (old-timers and newer, younger residents) that line up every Saturday and Sunday morning for a coffee and a red velvet donut that’s arguably better than a slice of red velvet cake. While Greenpoint’s changing rapidly, Peter Pan remains an important piece of neighborhood history. -- LM
Miami, as we are to everything else on the planet, was a few years late to the gourmet donut party. Which means this spot, still operating out of a trailer in the Wynwood Arts District, was the first gourmet shop in Miami-Dade County when it opened in December. But showing up on Miami time isn't so bad when you've got a lineup of donuts like these guys. Owners Andy Rodriguez and Amanda Pizarro traveled the country trying a bunch of the places on our last list of best donuts shops, brought their inspirations to chef Max Santiago, and created this menu that's got Miamians waiting in line for something other than bottle service. Highlights include double-chocolate gluten-free donuts that taste more like Ho Hos than health food, and "spiked" donut holes, stuck with booze-filled pipettes that effectively turn your dessert into a hand-held cocktail. -- Matt Meltzer, staff writer
When LA sweets lovers heard rumors that the beloved Costa Mesa store Sidecar was finally coming to town, they and their cars both rejoiced -- after all, it wasn't uncommon to hear of people driving a full hour to get their fill of the always-fresh, ultra-unusual, crazily delicious donuts -- which use a proprietary technique to maintain crunchiness on the outside with an extra-doughy interior -- and then promptly driving back home. Now that they're by the ocean in Santa Monica, it puts them in competition with both classic shops (lookin' at you, Randy's!) and trendy, newer openings (oh hey, Blue Star). And then it crushes them. -- Jeff Miller, Los Angeles editor
There was a dream that was Spudnuts, once. It would be a potato batter-based donut franchise empire that stretched from sea to shining sea. And for a moment, it might have been, but for the Sacramento public-works bond fraud that took down the parent company’s owners in the late '70s.
Charlottesville's Spudnuts Shop is one of a couple dozen remnants of that empire. It’s a small, unassuming, and sincerely old-school outpost, and to this very day, it serves classic crullers and potato donuts to locals and students in the know. Like the exterior, Spudnuts' coffee and prices are a throwback, and once something's sold out, it’s sold out for the day. It's closed on Sundays and the walls are covered with news clippings and old photos of the golden years, long before artisanal desserts became a "thing." - DI
Now on our list for an unprecedented third year, I can’t stop eating these every time I go home. I’ve already talked enough about them in years past, but quickly so you don’t forget: they folks here make everything by hand each day, the raspberry jam flavor (when in season) is absolutely ethereal, and the Boston cream is better than the ones I remember getting from the Mister Donut on Route 9 in Natick after church when I was 8, and I LOVED THOSE DONUTS. -- KA
If Federal Donuts in Philly is the boss of the new wave of donut & fried chicken joints, then WCD is the most promising new employee. The self-proclaimed inspiration is "a mix of old-school donut shops and the artisan shops popping up all over the country" and it pulls it off, with new-school donuts sitting in those old-school baking trays, waiting to be crushed alongside some damn good fried chicken. On my visit, I got talked into getting the chipotle limon alongside some of the other classics, and its smoky flavor mixed with the citrus stuck with me, much like my sweaty shirt in the hot Arizona sun, all day. -- KA
To think that I might never have found this place if not for being very sick of our features editor Joe Keohane on a trip to New Mexico. But luckily Joe drove me out to seek new foods and I found myself in Whoo's eating the most delicious (and only) blue-corn donuts I’ve ever had. It’s like eating a corn muffin that has been put into a culinary witness-protection program and comes out with a totally new identity, but is more delicious. OK, so maybe that was a bad analogy. Anyway, you don’t need to be sick of someone to try these donuts. You just need to get to Cerrillos Rd by the ChocolateSmith before they're sold out. -- KA
Love free donuts? Find out where to stock up for this year's National Donut Day on Friday, June 3rd.
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Kevin Alexander is Thrillist’s national writer-at-large and, after researching this story, the "at large" part makes a lot more sense. Follow him into the social media abyss: @KAlexander03.
Liz Childers is Thrillist's senior cities director, and is currently happily smeared in donut icing. Follow her to more napkins: @lizchilders1.
Serving up some great donuts (be sure to check out there Boston creme and any of their sprinkled donuts), they are staple in the area. Also, they have beer available for those who want to wash down the sugary goodness of their donuts with something other than H2O.
Blackbird Doughnuts is a mix of gourmet donut shop and a chic upscale hotel. Fans are flocking over and raving about Blackbird’s apple Bismarck, which the owners have likened to an amazing McDonald’s apple pie.
Not content with just Yakuza and Little Big Burger, the folks behind those spots now also have Blue Star Donuts, the latest entry into their 'establishments to make PDXers enormous' list. Blue Star offers up "donuts for adults," meaning that you should look elsewhere for sprinkles. Instead, here you'll find donuts with flavors like horchata glazed, chipotle chocolate ganache, and maple glazed & bacon.
This lesser-known Moiliili establishment churns out high quality malasadas, minus the long lines at some more popular spots. Dough for the original malasada is aged and made-to-order, resulting in a sugary mound that’s hot and crispy on the outside, and soft and tender on the inside. Pre-made haupia, chocolate and custard-filled malasadas, and sponge cakes are available to fill the holes in your take-home box.
One of two locations in the Atlanta area, Da Vinci’s Donuts has earned rave reviews for their tiny, custom made donuts. The moist, cakey bites are incredibly delicious on their own, but are otherworldly when it comes to their countless toppings. You can enjoy over 70 varieties, and because they're so small you can eat a lot of them without feeling guilty... right?
As the name implies, DISTRICT excels at coffee, sliders, and donuts -- and makes some innovative changes to all of them. In lieu of your average sandwich, expect "croquenuts" (an insanely delicious hybrid of a croque madame and a donut), bold breakfast options like bacon and egg on a miso-praline biscuit, and unconventional donut flavors like Sriracha-maple and candied thyme. While you could sip on a basic brew while you're indulging on such sugary goodies, we suggest you opt for house staples like Vietnamese cold brew and or the "sproca-cola," a winning combination of cola, espresso, and chocolate milk. It's a common destination for hipsters trying to get their morning sugar fix, so try to get there early -- everything here is made fresh daily, so popular bites tend to sell out fast.
Carving out a tiny, counter-service storefront in Petterino's, the chef duo behind DRD includes an L20 vet, who's now cranking out small batches (only three dozen at a time) of fried dough in 10 rotating varieties (maple w/ candied bacon, open-face jellies w/ peanut butter mousse & raspberry jam...), and a proprietary Dark Matter blend designed as the perfect accompaniment to a donut, knocking off previous title holder The Rest of the Donuts.
Enjoy mindblowingly good donuts in a picturesque locale at Donut Alley in Larkspur, CA. Slightly off the beaten path but not a long drive outside of SF, Donut Alley should be on your list if you're into scouting out the best treats in the Bay Area. Get there early for out of this world buttermilk donut bites.
This Cortez Hill bakery is open from 7am to whenever they sell out, so get there early; you don't want to miss your chance at treats that have most of San Diego lining up outside the door. The menu changes daily but includes vegan and non-vegan options like buttermilk bites, Creme Brûlée donuts and Maple Bacon cinnamon rolls. Coffee and espresso drinks are also on order for when you do claim your spot first in line at 7am.
DS is doling out something called a Chocolate Bomb, which's a dark chocolate cake ring that's filled with an Irish whiskey ganache, then topped with a Guinness and Bailey's glaze. Uh huh. You should go now, because these aren't the only amazing things to come out of their oven.
These handcrafted sweets come in all the flavors you'd expect and some you wouldn't-- an old fashioned with beet icing and ricotta cheese filling? Yes, please. Also on the menu are bacon-studded cream eclairs, which wrap up all the great flavors of breakfast (salty, sweet, and savory) in one irresistible bite.
This wildly popular fried-dough purveyor in River North (it has a second location in West Loop and a "Vault Van" that changes location every day) breaks hearts with its limited amount of fresh-baked donuts. DV only bakes a certain amount of donuts every day, and once they run out, they're gone 'til the next morning. The dense, old fashioned-style donuts come in flavors like buttermilk glazed, toasted almond, and lemon-poppy seed. Stop by on the early side (it opens at 8am on weekdays, 9:30am on weekends) for the best selection and the shortest lines.
With locations all over the Northeast, Duck Donuts serves up hot, fresh, creative pastries. The fried dough selections might look to be on the petite side, but topping choices like shredded coconut and chopped peanuts and bacon, as well as "coating" options like peanut butter and strawberry icing, will make your single treat a carbo load to last the whole day. Pair the maple frosting and bacon topping, and you've tasted heaven.
Federal Donuts, situated in Philadelphia's Center City West neighborhood, serves the absolute best of both worlds: donuts and fried chicken. If, for some reason, "fancy" and freshly hot donuts (made in house) doesn't excite you, Federal offers an unforgettable cup of coffee.
If you're looking for contemporary takes on everyone's favorite morning pastry, head to Gibson's Donuts. The East Memphis donut haven is serving some serious dessert-worthy treats, like the Samoa, a caramel, coconut, and chocolate triple threat is even better than the cookie. Unlike the all-too-short Girl Scout cookie season, Gibson’s is open 24/7.
Hand-crafted, small-batch donuts in flavors like Pineapple Rum Upside-Down Fritter, Bananas Foster Fritter, Rasberry Glazed, Blind Limoncello, and The Elvis Killer: peanut butter, bacon, banana, and honey.
Cake, yeast, or glazed? The choice is yours but rest assured they'll all be heavenly selections at The Heavenly Donut Co. in Birmingham. These bite sized treats have long been a neighborhood fave and are regularly praised by Food Network star Alton Brown-- what are you waiting for?
Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the owners of popular food truck H-town StrEATs opened a brick-and-mortar donut and kolache shop. Gorge yourself on freshly baked gourmet goodness, including (but not limited to) options like lemon-curd filled lemon meringue pie donuts and Gatlin’s BBQ brisket kolaches.
Once you get a taste of their glazed yeast donuts, or the blueberry cake, or that apple one, you won’t mind the lines. And with donuts being under just barely over half a dollar, you won’t mind the cash-only policy either.
Just a quick drive outside of Pittsburgh stand Oram's Donut Shop, a family owned and operated bakery that's been in the pastry game since 1938. This traditional spot offers a wide variety of favorites- - old fashioned donuts, jelly donuts, crullers, and Bavarian creams-- but the spotlight here belongs to the cinnamon bun, which is double the size of what you'd get anywhere else and twice as good.
This donut shop in Greenpoint is over 60 years old, having opened its doors in the 1950's. They offer all kinds of pastries, egg sandwiches, and more than 20 varieties of donuts, like French crullers and creme-filled and crumb-topped yeast varieties -- but the signature is the lightly glazed red velvet cake donut, which they start turning out at 4:30am. During the hotter summer days, you can get it split open and get it filled with cherry amaretto ice cream.
From Andy Rodriguez, Amanda Pizarro and chef Max Santiago, comes Miami's first gourmet donut shop: The Salty Donut. Serving up dense (in a great way) cake donuts, traditional yeast donuts, actually-delicious gluten-free donuts, alcohol-infused donut holes, herb-infused donuts, cream filled donuts and somehow so much more. Stay traditional and get the incredible glazed donut or step out of your comfort zone with the guava and cream cheese donut. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
Gone are the days when you'd have to haul all the way out to Costa Mesa to score some of the city's best breakfast treats. Now, you can satisfy your sweet tooth on huckleberry, cinnamon crumb, apple fritter, lemon & thyme, or even savory poached egg and ham donuts right in Santa Monica.
What's a spudnut, you ask? Come find out at this adorable little hole in the wall pastry shop in Charlottesville. They cook up a mean take on the traditional German version of a doughnut. Made with potato flour, these dense, delectable treats are worth spending some extra time on the treadmill for.
No place in town slings fried rings of dough better than this spot. With options like a crunchy cheddar-topped apple fritter and rose pistachio chocolate donuts, there are a lot of unique flavors going on -- but you should get there early if you want a full selection.