The 8 Best Donut Shops In Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee, might be best known for its blues, barbecue, bluffs, and as the birthplace of Rock n' Roll, but Grind City (so-called for the city's NBA team, the Grizzlies, whose motto is "Grit and Grind") wakes up to some of the best donuts in the U.S.

Home to historic restaurants, family-owned legends, and over 70 soul-filling barbeque restaurants alone, Memphis is known for its food scene, so it's not a surprise that independent donut shops can be found serving up the sweet circular puffs of deep-fried joy across town. Every donut shop featured has mainstays — cake donuts and yeast donuts — on the menu, but each one also has a unique donut or two. A couple of these donut shops open at the crack of dawn and close at night, and one is even open 24 hours a day, so donuts in Memphis go beyond breakfast and serve as afternoon pick-me-ups and late-night treats. Here are our picks for the best donuts in Memphis, Tennessee.

Gibson's Donuts

Gibson's Donuts has been cranking out what they claim is the 'Best Donuts in America' since 1957. The neon-red Donuts sign beckons donut lovers from near and far, and the shop sells hundreds of donuts a day, so you can always count on consistent turnover and freshly deep-fried donuts. Owner Don DeWeese claims that Gibson's Donuts is the largest single-owner, single-location donut shop in the U.S. Open 24/7, donut lovers know they can conquer cravings here around the clock. Gibson's serves many types of donuts, including cake donuts, yeast donuts, fritters, and donut holes, with a wide selection of flavors that changes daily. You'll find every flavor under the mid-south sun, including pineapple fritters, red velvet cake donuts, maple bacon yeast donuts, and of course, the coffee-dunkin' classics, cinnamon cake donuts. The yeasted bourbon donuts are lighter than air, with a just a touch of bourbon flavor, and are truly a mid-southern-style donut delight, while the coconut cake donuts are packed with coconut flavor reminiscent of a southern-style coconut cake. What's Gibson's secret to the lightest, tenderest, best donuts in town? They give their donuts time to rise three times.

Howard's Donuts

At dawn, regulars line up for Howard's Donuts, a simple, red-roofed donut shop where the cases are filled with so many delicious donuts, made fresh daily, that it's almost impossible to choose just one. Since the donuts here are also very affordable, with most donuts priced at $1, your best bet is to take a dozen or two to go. Howard's specializes in cake donuts with various flavors: devil's food cake, buttermilk cake, bacon and maple cake, coconut cake, peanut butter cake, and raspberry jelly cake are menu regulars, with special cake donuts that change with the seasons. The bacon and maple cake donut is a mid-south delight that perfectly balances sweet and savory. The glazed donuts here feature a variety of colors for donut lovers looking to brighten their mornings, while donut purists will want to partake in Howard's plain, old-fashioned cake donuts, which make for the perfect accompaniment to a morning cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk. Seating is available, so you can sit and stay awhile and sample donuts to your heart's content.

The Original Donut Man Bakery

Customers flock to the Original Donut Man for the bismarcks: these delicious, light, airy jelly-filled, yeasted donuts feature a slit down the middle, so you can easily tear them apart and see what flavor of jelly awaits on the interior. Jelly fillings change daily, but don't miss the lemon jelly bismarck, a glazed, yeasted donut filled with sweet and tart lemon jelly. The 'Tiger Tail' is also a delightful treat: reaching 12 inches in length, it's a devil's food donut with glazed stripes reminiscent of a tiger's tail. If you're looking for a savory breakfast for on the go, you'll also find a selection of croissant sandwiches, including sausage egg and cheese, turkey egg and cheese, bacon egg and cheese, and ham egg and cheese, as well as southern biscuit sandwiches, all wrapped and ready to go. If you just can't choose, leave it up to the Donut Man and grab the Donut Man dozen, a preselected mix of traditional donuts, to go.

Midtown Donuts

Monday through Saturday, at 4 am, Midtown Donuts opens its mid-century modern donut shop to reveal a display case packed with beautiful, fresh, and warm donuts. Sprinkles and colorful glazes add whimsy. The donuts here are affordable, too, with most donuts priced under a dollar. The flavors here veer towards the classics, with plain glazed donuts, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, maple bacon, and Oreo cake donuts always on the menu. In addition to donuts, Midtown Donuts also features savory bites, including bacon,  sausage, or egg and cheese biscuits; 'kolaches,' a.k.a. pigs in a blanket, baked rolls filled with smoked sausage and cheese; and other sweet fried treats like pineapple fritters, bear claws, tiger tails, eclairs, and cinnamon rolls The delicious donut holes come in a variety of flavors: plain, maple bacon, or Oreo. Midtown Donuts iced coffee is the perfect accompaniment to the delicious donuts on sweltering mid-south mornings.

Darling Donuts

In a city where barbecue-grilled meats are king, Darling Donuts serves up vegan-friendly donut delights every Sunday from City & State Coffee House and French Truck Coffee, two charming coffee shops known for their handcrafted specialty coffee drinks. The donut rotation changes each Sunday, as Darling Donuts are made with seasonal ingredients in mind, so check their Instagram account to see the donut lineup for the week. These aren't your everyday donuts: Recent months have featured peach-filled glazed donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar pretzel bits, chocolate-glazed donuts filled with raspberries, cherry-topped sundae donuts, and upside-down pineapple cake donuts. Beyond the more inventive donuts on the menu, you'll also usually find classic glazed donuts, Bavarian cream-filled donuts, and apple fritters. Fat Tuesday calls for Darling Donuts' King cake donuts, which arrive with a lucky baby nestled in the donut hole and are sprinkled with purple, green, and yellow sugars, the colors of Mardi Gras.

Happy Glaze Donuts

Located in a small shop in a strip mall in Germantown, a suburb that borders Memphis to the east-southeast, Happy Glaze Donuts serves hot, fresh, made-to-order mini donuts. Each donut box here contains a dozen miniature donuts with your choice of glaze, and you can mix and match flavors to match your donut cravings. Donut flavors rotate daily and with the season, but you'll usually find cinnamon sugar donuts, powdered sugar donuts, and chocolate glaze donuts on the menu, as well as the signature 'Happy Glaze' donut, a delightful puff of a donut glazed with cream cheese. Gluten-free donuts are also available upon request. Happy Glaze donuts only serve organic, locally roasted coffee from 901 Roasted, and you can even pick up a bag of coffee beans in-shop. If you're looking for a big box of donuts to take to an office party or gathering, the Little Big Box features 100 donuts with up to four different toppings packed in a convenient, easy-to-transport pizza box.

O.B. Donuts

Though their strip mall donut shop is on the smaller end of the spectrum, you'll usually find 30+ varieties of donuts, made fresh daily or even hourly on busy days, at family-owned O.B. Donuts. You'll find all the classic donuts you love here, including the most pillowy, traditional, yeasted glazed donuts this side of the Mississippi. But O.B. Donuts wins the prize for the best yeasted, chocolate-glazed donuts in Memphis. The glazed chocolate donut is the smoothest and richest in town, while the yeasted, glazed donut is bigger than average yet lighter than air. The Bavarian cream-filled eclair donut is perfection, and the maple bacon donut magically merges sweet and salty. We also love the sausage-stuffed 'kolaches,' a.k.a. pigs in a blanket, and the bacon and cheese biscuit.

If you're feeling particularly lazy yet craving delicious donuts, stay in your pajamas and have them delivered to the comfort of your own home via Uber Eats.

Bartlett Donuts

Friendly, family-owned Bartlett Donuts is located in a small strip mall in Bartlett, Tennessee, on the northeastern boundary of Memphis. You'll usually find the display case here packed with about 12-15 donut varieties each day, including classic glazed donuts, filled donuts (Bavarian cream, apple, cream cheese, lemon cream, chocolate cream, and strawberry), and cake or yeasted donuts topped with your choice of sprinkles, chocolate chips, Oreo cookie crumbs, M&Ms, coconut flakes, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, or cinnamon cake crumbs. What sets this donut shop apart from the rest is the adorable, colorful donut décor that shifts with the seasons and holidays: Turkey-shaped donuts are available around Thanksgiving, heart-shaped donuts for Valentine's Day, Christmas tree donuts for December, and so on, and you can also even request letter-shaped donuts. Order the birthday box for a dozen plus dozens that spell out 'Happy Birthday glazed in a rainbow of colors with googly eyes for good measure. A wide selection of smoothies is available as a healthier option, too.