The Best Donuts In The US, According To Tasting Table Staff

Whether you enjoy them powdered or glazed, cake or yeast, or even cross-pollinated with a croissant, there is no better way to get your morning off to a sweet start than scarfing down a donut. America's favorite breakfast pastry is ubiquitous across all 50 states, and while popular chain standbys such as Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme will do the trick, we always prefer to keep things local when we're shopping for a dozen. 

While coming up with a rundown of the best donut places across the U.S. is hard enough, narrowing down the list of our favorite individual donuts is an even tougher task. Thankfully, the writers and editors of Tasting Table were up for the challenge. They scoured locales from coast to coast and beyond in search of the country's best offerings. From tried and true classics to modern twists, these donuts would surely earn the endorsements of both Homer Simpson and J Dilla. 

Blue Corn Blueberry Lavender Donut from Whoo's Donuts (Santa Fe) - Matt Kirouac

In Santa Fe, local ingredients like blue corn and green chile paint a veritable rainbow of flavors, and nowhere is this more vibrant than Whoo's Donuts, an adorable bakeshop on the southeastern edge of downtown. Here, green and red chilies are frequent fodder for fritters in all shapes and sizes, but my favorite is the blue corn blueberry lavender donut, a particularly lustrous cake-style option that's as pretty as it is delicious.

Using blue corn from nearby Colorado as a cake base, the donuts here achieve a balanced flavor that hits notes of both sweet and a tinge of savory, with some toasty, nutty elements. Topped with a glistening blueberry-lavender glaze, the purple beauties get a welcome layer of tart sweetness and refreshing herbal notes from the fragrant lavender. Altogether, not only are these the most colorful donuts on deck, and my requisite order any time I'm in this foodie town, but they pack a layered punch of flavors that showcase Santa Fe ingredients in a bright new way.

O.C. Sand from Fractured Prune (DE/MD/NJ) - Brandon Rich

We all know that donuts are a dopamine dump. And everybody gets theirs differently. These days, they come in all shapes, sizes, colors, flavors, and textures, so having a dose of happiness is truly a choose-your-own-adventure situation. Yet, there is something irresistible about a tried and true classic. Especially when it's made fresh in front of your eyes and with enough of a unique touch to trigger a special feeling in your tastebuds. For me, that's the O.C. Sand from Mid-Atlantic mini-chain Fractured Prune.

Hear me when I say that this donut is quest worthy. I'm unashamed to admit that there have been (several) mornings when I've woken before dawn and driven the two-ish hours needed to get from my home to a Fractured Prune in Ocean City, Maryland. The treasure that awaits me on those crusades is a stunning sunrise, the beach under my feet, and honey-glazed, cinnamon sugar-topped rings of perfection between my teeth. (Again, also more than one.)

What makes the O.C. Sand so good? It's a simple pleasure done well. In case you're unfamiliar, Fracture Prune specializes in making from-scratch donuts in-shop. As you wait, you can watch the machine mix, pour, and flip your fried cake delight before an employee tops it with a veritable smorgasbord of toppings. While there are many other extraordinary ways to dress the company's quality donuts, a sunny mix of honey and warming spice is all you need to pair with a sea breeze.

Better than Boston Cream from DG Doughnuts (Ocoee) - Dani Zoeller

When my family and I moved to Central Florida, we had no idea of the donut sanctuary that awaited us. With boutique donut shops everywhere and massive yeast rings sold at theme parks, we have many outstanding options. Our favorite spot, however, is DG Doughnuts in Ocoee — and that's largely due to its version of the classic Boston cream donut. Aptly named "Better than Boston Cream," this delightfully moist oval donut is filled with some of the most creamy and delicious filling you can imagine. Then, it gets dipped in some warm chocolate ganache with a little extra chocolate topper.

The cream is smooth and rich, and even though there is a lot of it, it never feels like too much. The chocolate on top does an excellent job of accenting the smoothness of the Boston cream filling. But it's the freshness of the donut which really sets this one apart from all other Boston creams I've ever tried. Although DG classifies this as one of its "Fancy Pants" donuts that rotate weekly, you can count on it being available most days.

Leche Flan ni Lola from Kora (NYC) - Joe Virgilito

Everyone knows donuts are practically dessert for breakfast, but what if you had an actual dessert inside your donut? That's a question Kora co-founders Kimberly Camara and Kevin Borja have simultaneously dared to ask and boldly answered. The Long Island City-based bakery, which began in Camara's apartment, is now regularly selling out a rotating variety of unique donuts centered around Filipino cuisine — specifically her grandmother's recipes.

All of Kora's selections are incredible, from the ultra-violet Ube to the chocolate-centric Champorado. But the best offering I tasted was the Leche Flan ni Lola, a fried brioche donut that's quite literally filled with Camara's grandmother's flan as well as flan-flavored cream. The interior lends a delectable, creamy contrast to the dough that surrounds it, making each bite texturally exciting and supremely satisfying. And despite its clear dessert qualifications, the donut is not too sweet, which means you'll probably want to save room for the whole thing (or at least call first dibs if you're sharing the contents of the box). If flan is one of your favorite desserts — and, frankly, even if it isn't — this is a donut you should drop everything for.

Overboard! from Nauti Donuts (Ocean City, NJ) - Julia Collins

There's nothing better than taking a nice stroll in a beach town in the summertime, appreciating the warm sun and salty ocean breeze scents. But beach days are made all the better with good donuts, and there's no donut we look forward to more than the Overboard!from Nauti Donuts in Ocean City, New Jersey.

Nauti Donuts is a local institution, and with every donut, there is something to dream about. But specifically, I'm a mega fan of the Overboard! because it's a cake donut, covered in chocolate icing (already off to a great start), and then loaded with pieces of real bacon bits. What is more perfect than that? It combines all of your favorite breakfast foods into one ideal bite, with the saltiness of the bacon bits cutting through the sweetness of the icing for the perfect pairing. The cake donut base is a particularly great vehicle for the toppings since it's not too heavy or too light.

Passionfruit Glaze from Super Nice Coffee and Bakery (NYC) - Brendan McGinley

Famished from biking, I spent the late '10s on a bit of a donut tear, visiting acclaimed spots around Manhattan. For a long while I would have said the crown sat on the head of Supermoon, whose gorgeous pastries taste as good as they look on Instagram. But after trying the passionfruit glaze from Super Nice, I can confidently say that the Upper West Side bakery now reigns supreme.

Thanks to the yeast, it is one of the few counters where chocolate isn't the automatic order. These donuts are simple, straightforward, and steeply nuanced. The bread can compete with the sugar and toppings, so it's allowed to play a bigger role. Take the passionfruit, with a tanginess that melts on your tongue while the bread shows you its full spectrum of flavor. The contrast belies its own simplicity — this donut is going to "She's All That" with your tastebuds.

Super Nice donuts are pricey but they reward slower eating if you have the discipline. There's so much more to savor here. And once you do, nobody's going to blame you for going back to the well just to be sure the real get isn't loganberry, Fruity Pebbles, or mango chili: all mainstays at this beloved hotspot that's so good, it's already collaborated with local brewers to make beer versions of its creations. See? There's nothing yeast can't make great.

Orignal Sin from Holey Grail (CA/HI) - Claire Redden

Holey Grail Donuts basically defies any traditional interpretation of the American pastry — and not just because the donuts are plant-based, although that is part of it. These donuts are made from a base of taro root, a key ingredient with deep cultural roots across all of the eight Hawaiian islands. Holey Grail is also keen on seasonality and locality, sourcing ingredients from farmers and producers in their surrounding communities. With donut shop locations in Kauai, Oahu, and Los Angeles, this means you may not find the same offerings on the menu at any given time or place.

While you can't go wrong with any of Holey Grail's donuts, there does seem to be one flavor that's more or less always available: the Original Sin. This take on the classic vanilla glazed just so happens to be my personal favorite. While the toppings may change based on the season, it's always made with Holey Grail's signature taro base and Hawaiian vanilla beans, sourced from Laie Vanilla Company in Oahu. Served fresh and warm, I personally like to enjoy my Original Sin with an iced matcha latte made with house-made plant milk, and a view of the beach.

Le Stan from Stan's Donuts & Coffee (Chicago) - Jessie Molloy

You don't have to look too hard in the city of Chicago to find excellent baked goods, but when it comes to gourmet donuts, Stan's Donuts & Coffee easily takes the cake. The local chain, which spun off from an iconic, but now closed LA doughnut shop, serves up a wide array of tasty treats including classic donuts, Long Johns, and a pastry somewhere between a Danish and Bismarck which Stan's refers to as "pockets" that contain everything from fruit jams to Nutella.

While you can't really go wrong with any of these selections, the most delicious Stan's offering is the Le Stan, the chain's take on Dominique Ansel's iconic cronut. Unlike the original croissant and donut hybrid, the Le Stan is square and has no icing on the top, instead highlighting a crunchy coating of crystallized sugar around the entire surface of the pastry. While it might look somewhat dry from the outside, the flakey layers of fried puff pastry are deliciously buttery without being greasy and the sweet dough is made even better by the generous helping of rich, award-winning vanilla bean pastry cream housed inside it. While the cream can make it a bit messy to eat, the true challenge of the snack is remembering to slow down and savor every bite. Every mouthful of this sugary breakfast masterpiece is a pleasure and it's absolutely a must-try if you're going to be in the Chicagoland area.

Glazed Cinnamon Coffee Roll from Neil's Donuts (CT) - Hannah Berman

Neil's Donuts has been a Wallingford, Connecticut institution since 2001, but it recently opened up a new location in nearby Middletown. It's there where I discovered the Glazed Cinnamon Coffee Roll which quickly became my reason to keep coming back. Neil's is by no means an artisanal donut shop: It's a casual, lowkey spot that was literally founded to combat the existence of terrible donuts at sales meetings.

While there are plenty of standard donut options, the Glazed Cinnamon Coffee Roll is the best thing on the menu. First of all, it's massive — about as big as a person's face — which makes the fact that it's sold at the same price as the rest of the donuts seem like madness on the part of the owners. It's made of the same dough as a standard donut, so it's light and airy, with a distinct fried crispness at the outer edges that gets softer as you work your way into the swirl. The behemoth is rolled in a delicious cinnamon sugar mixture, and covered in the signature Neil's glaze, so it's not for the faint of heart when it comes to sweetness. Still, the fact that the dough is so pillowy makes it entirely possible to finish the whole thing. In college, I loved ordering a Glazed Cinnamon Coffee Roll, taking it to a less-frequented path nearby, and not leaving until every trace of it had disappeared.

Churros & Chocolate from Fan-Fan Doughnuts (NYC) - Jenessa Abrams

Churros and chocolate is a beloved breakfast pairing that originated in Spain and found a second home in Mexico. To partake in this culinary delight, you dip a deep-fried churro heavily dusted in sugar into a cup of rich hot cocoa. The Churros & Chocolate donut at Fan-Fan Doughnuts in Brooklyn pays homage to this tradition with a decadent donut that's generously glazed in Fan-Fan's signature Choc Choc Valrhona chocolate and adorned with two petit churros.

Almost all the donuts at Fan-Fan are made with the same mouthwatering dough, which is satisfyingly cake-like, bringing all of the flavor and none of the dry weight. This density allows the dark Valrhona chocolate and the crunchy churros to add to the donut without overpowering it. I ate the churros — which are choux pastries deep-fried in oil — one at a time, slathering them in the Valrhona chocolate and savoring the crisp exterior as the intensity of the sugar coating hit my tongue. The interplay of Fan-Fan's dense doughnut base perfectly complements the texture of the churros — both are structured, but chewy and deeply flavorful.

Fan-Fan's James Beard award-nominated chef and owner Fany Gerson was born and raised in Mexico and many of her artisanal creations are inspired by her heritage. The Churros and Chocolate donut expertly conjures the comforting nostalgia of dipping a sugar-coated churro into a steaming cup of hot cocoa.

Blueberry Crumb from The Italian Bakery (Lewiston, ME) - Emilee Unterkoefler

When I'm craving a rich cake donut covered with warm sweet glaze, I know exactly where to go — The Italian Bakery in Lewiston, Maine, where hundreds of donuts are hand-cut and fried each morning. The bakery might look small from the customer's end, but boy is that kitchen mighty, pumping out cookies, pastries, and pies. As for those signature donuts, my heart is always set on the blueberry crumb. After all, Maine does blueberry treats better than anyone else.

These donuts are rolled out and individually hand-cut, then fried and glazed in-house before reaching the crumb coating station. While the traditional blueberry glazed is delicious on its own, the crumb coating adds something special. Plain, chocolate, cinnamon sugar, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar donuts are placed through a food grinder and transformed into a soft and crumbly coating. The flavors of each donut unite beautifully and pair exceptionally well with the sweet and slightly tart blueberry glaze. Don't miss out on a chance to try Maine's best donuts (and signature fruit) next time you visit Vacationland.

Powdered Suger Cake Donuts at World's Best Donuts (Grand Marais) - Sarah O'Phelan

Travel about an hour and a half north of the bustling, Lake Superior-adjacent city of Duluth and you'll find yourself in the charming artists' haven of Grand Marais, Minnesota. The town's permanent population hovered around 1,400 as of the 2020 Census, but that number balloons in the summers as tourists flock to the North Shore. There are many reasons to love Grand Marais, but one stands out: World's Best Donuts. Owned and operated by multiple generations of a local family since 1969, this little bright-and-red shop, which operates from late spring through fall, looks like something out of a fairy tale, and their donuts are most definitely fairy tale quality.

While WBD serves everything from Skizzles (a.k.a. Elephant ears) to Long Johns and chocolate knots, the classic powdered sugar cake donut is the star. Soft and fluffy, yet remarkably dense, these donuts have incredible texture and flavor and are absolutely doused in yummy powdered sugar. Having grown up partly in Grand Marais, biting into a World's Best Donuts powdered sugar cake donut brings back fond memories of waiting in line with friends or family (it doesn't matter when you go –- there will be a line!) and plopping down at one of the inside tables, which are plastered with photos of Cook County locals enjoying WBD's offerings.