Long before the cupcake became the fastest growing stand-alone pastry shop, there was the doughnut. Everyone loves a doughnut, and how could you not? They come in so many varieties, you can hold it in your hand, and it’s really easy to grab a box on the run. But with all the varieties, doughnut chains and specialty bake shops around the country, where are the very best?
Last month we polled the Interrobang Staff to find out some of their favorites. Sadly, several of the responses we got included the words Dunkin, Horton, and Entenmanns, so we turned to our readers to help us come up with the definitive list of the best donuts in the country. And here is the master-list that resulted, starting with our 9 original picks, followed by the best of the reader-sent, and finally, the honorable mention list.
Nobody does doughnuts like New York, and when you’re in New York, The Doughnut Plant is the place to go. There are many to choose from, and they are all fantastic, but our doughnut of choice is the Creme Brule. With a crunchy caramelized top (just like the dessert it’s named for) and a custardy sweet filling, it’s virtually perfect. Runners up (just in case they run out of the Creme Brule or you want some variety) are the Tres Leches Donut and The Blackout. 379 Grand Street, New York, New York. Visit them on the web at doughnutplant.com or @doughnutplantNY on twitter.
There’s a wide variety of donuts at Allie’s where they make their own donuts in an enormous kitchen. But don’t go there without ordering the Maple Frosted Coffee Bun. Now it doesn’t have a hole, but it’s definitely in the donut family. Imagine a huge delicious bun covered with homemade frosting. It’s totally unhealthy, but totally delicious. Plan ahead, at Allie’s they line up out the door. 3661 Quaker Lane, North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Visit this family style luncheonette, for the atmosphere and the donuts. It’s small town America at its best. Two counters line the tiny corner store and connecting those two counters is a bakery case filled with heaven. These glazed donuts are as simple as you can imagine and yet they will give any place on this list a run for their money. Perfectly crisp on the outside, moist on the inside and filled with rich flavor. If you can’t decide on regular glazed or chocolate glazed, go for the braided twist. Do get several to go, to avoid turning around and driving back five minutes after you’ve left. 343 Main Street, Westport, Connecticut.
If you live in the northeast, you’ve seen cider mills, and this one is a lot like many others except for one thing. They make the greatest donut that ever existed. You won’t find any frosting or sprinkles or glazes or powders on this donut, and you won’t need them. It’s a simple cake donut and you actually watch your donuts being made as you wait in line. It means you’ll have to wait a few moments for it to cool before you bite into it, and if you’re like me, you’ll never wait long enough, and you’ll always burn your mouth on that first bite. It’s sweet but not too sweet, soft but not too soft, and you can forget about bringing any home for your friends. Not only will you eat them all in the car, but you’ll rationalize that you’re doing your friends a favor because they won’t be as good when they’re not fresh. Visit them at 3600 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury, Vermont and on the web at coldhollow.com.
There is no place more famous than Voodoo for donuts, and it’s the only donut shop that offers it’s own Wedding Chapel. It’s a donut shop on acid, with wildly inventive shapes and toppings. You’ll find donuts with fruit loops, a pentagram donut, or even the famous cock and balls donut. But for our #1 pick, we’ll go with the Memphis Mafia– Fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon sugar covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top. Overkill? Yes, but once in a while, that’s the way to go. Visit them at 22 Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland Oregon and on the web at voodoodoughnut.com and @voodoodoughnut on twitter.
Tourist spot or not, these little French doughnuts are wonderful. They are fried. They are square. They come in threes. You’re guaranteed to become a powdered sugar covered mess, but totally worth it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and fight the tourists to get something great and this is one of those times. Check them out at 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, Louisiana and on the web at cafedumonde.com.
You have to go to this landmark if for no other reason than just to see the famous 22 foot donut on the roof, and while you’re there, the apple fritter is the thing to have. One is more than enough, but it wouldn’t hurt to take one home with you. Visit them at 805 West Manchester Boulevard, Inglewood, California and on the internet at randys-donuts.com.
Handmade Seattle Donuts frequently featured on top ten lists, and once visited by President Obama. Everything’s good but the Bavarian Creme, the glazed and old fashioned are the superstars. Multiple locations but we recommend 2124 5th Avenue in Seattle, Washington. They’re open 6am to 7pm during the week, 7am to 7pm on weekends. Visit their website at Toppotdonuts.com and follow them on twitter @toppot.
Fray’s Donut House in Pinellas Park, Florida has the hot melt-in-your mouth Oreo Chocolate Glazed donut. It’s the best donut ever combined with the best cookie ever. Pieces of Oreo cookie added to the glaze of a chocolate donut. If there’s a good excuse for Type 2 Diabetes, this is it.
Kanes, in business since 1955, is always on best donut shop in America lists. Make sure you get the chocolate honeydipped, and while you’re there check out the coffee rolls. We hear they’re the size of your head. You’ll find them at 120 Lincoln Avenue, Saugus, Mass. Visit their website at Kanesdonuts.com.
Created in 1937 as the country came out of the great depression, Southern Maid is an institution. You can see their HOT HOT HOT sign from the interstate, and when you do, make sure you stop in. If you’re there anytime from 4pm til they close at midnight you can request that fresh hot donut be custom made for you. Pools of fresh glaze collect in the bottom of the box for dipping. Legend has it that Elvis Presley Recorded their jingle, and it was the only product he ever advertised. Located at 3505 Hearn Avenue in Shreveport, La. And you can visit them on the web at southernmaiddonuts.com.
This award winning shop has so many great varieties but the bacon apple maple donut comes highly recommended. You’ll find them at 2760 24th Street, San Francisco, CA. Tues-Sat 7am to 5pm, Sunday 9am – 4pm. Closed mondays. Visit them on twitter at @dynamodonut and on the web at dynamodonut.com.
You have to look to find this tiny hole-in-the-wall bakery large enough to accomodate four people at a time, but its worth the search. They’ve been in operation for over 100 years so you know it’s authentic. The donut is overfilled with buttercreme filling with a slit on top that the creme bursts out of. You’ll find it at 7933 Frankfurt Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa, Open 6am to 6pm weekdays, 6am to 5pm Saturday, Closed Sunday. Visit their website at holmesburgbakery.com.
Be a hyppie. This place is all about passion before profit, where donuts and hyppies are treated with peace, love and respect by the locals who own and operate Hypnotic. Check out their signature donut: chocolate caramel and peanut butter mixed and topped with Peanut Butter Captain Crunch and crushed pretzel. True locals will also love the Hell Fire with vanilla frosting and hot peppers,but we’re a bit more traditional. They’re located at 9007 Garland Rd, Dallas Texas. Open 7 days a week, 6:30am to 12, weekdays, 7:30-1 Saturdays and 7:30 – 1:30 sundays. Follow them on twitter @hypnoticdonuts and on the web at hypnoticdonuts.com.
If you’re in Maine, you go to Tony’s. It’s a local treasure. It’s as old school school as you get, family owned, and make sure you try the local favorite– the molasses donut. If molasses isn’t your thing, you’ll be happy with the chocolate glazed. Visit them at 9 Bolton Street, Portland Maine. They open at 5am.
In operation since 1939, Britt’s offers glazed donuts, milk and coffee…and nothing else. They don’t have a phone number, they’re open only in the summer, and they are rumored to be the inspiration for Krispy Kreme. They’re airy, crispy, piping hot and you won’t be able to stop eating them, so buy extras. In season they operate 7 days a week 8:30 till 10:30pm. 11 Boardwalk, Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Check them out at their webpage.
Sublime is no stranger to best donut lists. Chef Grant promises and delivers world class homemade donuts to Atlanta. Their signature donut, the A Town Creme, is Grant’s own take on the Boston Creme filled with silky custard and topped with Belgian dark chocolate. Visit them at 535 10th Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia or on the web at sublimedonuts.com. Open 6am to 6pm Tuesday to Friday and 7am to 6pm on Saturdays, 7am to 3pm Sundays.
They’re made to order while you wait, at this small chain that claims that they don’t just serve donuts, they serve an experience. There’s a few of these now, but the original location is at 127th Street and Coastal Highway, Ocean City Maryland. Visit them on the web at fracturedprune.com. Call for hours.
Big. Fat. Donuts. The Funky Monkey seems to be the local favorite here, and you can see why. Grilled bananas with cream cheese icing with brown sugar. Find them at 1503 S 1st Street, Austin, Texas Mon-Thur 6am to 12am Open till 3am on weekends. Visit them on the web at gourdoughs.com.
You will find a line here, even early in the morning, and they definitely are prone to sellling out of the favorites. They’re best known for their gingerbread stack, the chestnut donut and the chocolate glazed. They open at 8:30am during the week and 9:30 on weekends until they run out. Prepare to wait. 400 1/2 North Franklin, Chicago, Illinois. Or visit their website on tumblr here.
If none of the above are anywhere near you or you just want more to choose from, here’s 29 more shops that made our honorable mentions list.