Review: The Starbucks Glazed Doughnut Is A Worthy Krispy Kreme Alternative

It's pretty safe to say that Starbucks is not a doughnut shop. You might walk in and order a dozen coffees for the office, but you likely won't be asking for a dozen doughnuts to go along with it. You might not even know it sells doughnuts! But the chain has made several changes over the years, and we're not just talking about the expansions in its holiday drink menu. Starbucks began selling food in 2003, and the offerings have grown into a substantial list over the years. Today, there are several choices to satiate your appetite as you get your daily dose of caffeine, and food represented nearly 18% of Starbucks' first-quarter revenue in 2022 (via Business Quaint).

The egg sandwiches are the most beloved breakfast items according to Starbucks regulars, but we've always had a sweet spot for the bakery items. Alongside the bagels, lemon loaf, and croissants is a single doughnut offering — an old-fashioned cake variety glazed with sweet icing. We wondered how it would stack up next to Krispy Kreme's iconic glazed pastries, so we picked up a few and tested the sugary waters.

Don't expect to find the Starbucks glazed doughnut at every location

The history of Starbucks and doughnuts started back in 2005 when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made a deal to sell Seattle-based Top Pot Doughnuts in his coffee shops (via Seattle Times). The sweet treat was rolled out in a few Starbucks-owned chains in Western Washington, but by 2007, the doughnuts were available in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. In 2010, the Seattle Times reported that Starbucks had removed the Top Pot label and that the recipe had been given to "big bakeries all over the country that supply Starbucks stores." We were unable to determine a specific location or bakery that makes them today, but Redditors claim that Starbucks pastries arrive at the store frozen in plastic bags.

We thought we could swing by any Starbucks location to pick up the doughnut, but it turned out to be a harder task than we anticipated. We visited two locations before finding it at a third. (An employee told us that's because Starbucks pastries vary by location.) Before you get your heart set on a specific food item, she recommended calling ahead or using the online ordering system to see if it's available at your location.

Krispy Kreme is easier on the wallet, but size matters

Compared to Krispy Kreme, Starbucks is a little on the expensive side. At our local store, the doughnut clocked in at $2.65. When we went to Krispy Kreme, we purchased two doughnuts for the comparison taste test: The Original Glazed doughnut, which cost $1.75, and the Glazed Sour Cream Cake doughnut, which rang in at a slightly more expensive $1.95. It is worth noting that the Starbucks doughnut may have a higher price tag, but it also happens to be significantly larger. Weighing almost 4 ounces (113 grams), it was more than double the size of Krispy Kreme's doughnuts, which come in at 1.7 ounces (48 grams).

Compared to other Starbucks pastries, the doughnut is a pretty good bargain. At $1.55, the Petite Vanilla Bean Scone was the only sweet pastry that cost less than the doughnut, but it's also a fraction of the size. Most of the other pastries cost between $3.25 and $3.75, depending on the item.

Comparing the nutritional information of Starbucks and Krispy Kreme doughnuts

According to Starbucks, the glazed doughnut contains eggs, milk, soy, and wheat, so you'll want to steer clear if you have any allergens. Each glazed doughnut contains 480 calories, 27 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein. A Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut is 190 calories, 11 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein with no cholesterol. However, once you factor in the size differential, the numbers aren't all that different.  

Another thing to note is that the Starbucks Glazed Doughnut is of the cake variety while the Krispy Kreme Original Glazed is a yeast doughnut. A better comparison can be made with the sturdier Krispy Kreme Glazed Sour Cream Cake Doughnut. That one contains 300 calories, 15 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein.

How does the Starbucks Glazed Doughnut taste?

Honestly, we weren't expecting much out of this doughnut. After all, Starbucks is a coffee chain, not a doughnut shop. Despite our low expectations, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed this pastry. The first thing we noticed was the doughnut's large size. It stood almost two inches tall on the table, with small craggles on the top and bottom and a soft glaze coating. It wasn't as shiny as other glazed doughnuts, but we knew the icing was there from the small amount of sugary residue left on our fingers after picking it up. It smelled sweet and fragrant, and a single whiff piqued our taste buds for a bite.

We were greeted with a soft, mushy texture with no noticeable crunchiness. While the word "mushy" might sound unpleasant, it was actually pretty nice. The doughnut had a nice crumb — light and flakey without disintegrating as we ate it. It was sweet but not too sugary, with a lightly tangy flavor from the sour cream and soft notes of vanilla. It left a buttery aftertaste that had us craving a second bite as soon as we finished. All in all, we really wish we didn't know how many calories were in this thing because otherwise, we would have devoured it in an instant.

Which doughnuts was better: Starbucks or Krispy Kreme?

We compared the Starbucks Glazed Doughnut to two Krispy Kreme doughnuts. First was the Glazed Sour Cream Doughnut because the two share a similar shape and texture, and both are old-fashioned cake doughnuts. Side-by-side with Starbucks, Krispy Kreme didn't stand a chance. Where Starbucks was soft and crumbly, Krispy Kreme was dense and crunchy — you could hear the glaze while you chewed. The tasters agreed it only tasted like sugar, and we had no cravings to dig back in for a second and third bite.

On the other hand, it only took one bite to realize Krispy Kreme's Original Glazed doughnut is iconic for a reason. It's hard to compare the eating experience, though, because these doughnuts are in two different categories. Starbucks is an old-fashioned doughnut (made with baking soda and baked in an oven) while Krispy Kreme uses a yeasted dough that's fried. That makes the doughnut delightfully pillowy, collapsing as soon as you take your first bite. The glaze has a sharper, sweeter flavor than the coating on the Starbucks doughnut, and the yeast left a pleasant aftertaste on the palate. It was a phenomenal doughnut when the "Hot Now" sign was on, but the flavors did dull and fade as it cooled.

So was one definitively "the best?" Well, the tasters who preferred less sweet desserts all picked Starbucks. Those with a profound sweet tooth chose Krispy Kreme Original Glazed. And no one opted for the Krispy Kreme Glazed Sour Cream Doughnut.

Is Starbucks Glazed Doughnut worth buying?

All in all, the answer here is a resounding yes: We were surprised at how much we loved the Starbucks Glazed Doughnut. We were impressed with the size of Starbucks' doughnut, and while it packs in the calories, it's also filling enough to keep you satiated all morning long. Starbucks' version might not have been as earth-shattering as the hot Krispy Kreme doughnut, but all the tasters agreed they would order the Starbucks again. If given the option to eat a cold Starbucks doughnut or a cold Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut, most chose the former.

So it stands to reason that the Starbucks doughnut would be even better if they could just warm it up, right? Wrong, and your barista begs you not to ask! Redditors confirmed that the icing will melt when heated, which requires workers to shut down the oven for cleaning. (Worse, it could also start a fire.) That hot icing could also be a safety hazard, causing burns if it gets on your skin.

While it may not be our absolute favorite Starbucks pastry, the coffee chain's glazed doughnut is a tasty and filling treat. Next time you have a doughnut craving, you may want to think twice about traveling to Krispy Kreme if a Starbucks location happens to be closer.