14 Must-Try Donuts Around the Country

From pumpkin spice to cocktail-inspired creations
November 8, 2017
by Zagat Staff

In recent years, donuts have become the pastry of the moment. It may seem like every variation on the round treat has been tried at this point, yet the world of fried dough keeps turning with new shops, flavors and innovations. As temperatures drop, 'tis the season for donuts. Here are 14 must-try fall (and non-fall) versions to try around the country.

Chai-apple at Glazed & Confuzed Donuts in Aurora, CO

By the standards of wacky-flavor whiz Josh Schwab — who has whipped up creations with everything from jalapeño cream cheese and tortilla chips to infusions of CBD — this yeast-raised donut, coated in a chai-apple glaze and topped with an apple chip, is rather tame. But it perfectly celebrates the flavors of the fall season.

2501 Dallas St.; 303-524-9637

Pumpkin chai crueller at Nomad Donuts in San Diego, CA

International flavors are the inspiration for all the donuts at this North Park hot spot this fall. Nomad continues the trend by adding unique seasonal slants including a pumpkin chai crueller. Pumpkin purée gets a kick of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper for what’s sure to be a new fall favorite.

3102 University Ave.; 619-431-5000

Apple cider/buckwheat donut at Du’s Donuts & Coffee in NYC

Since opening a donut shop at The William Vale hotel earlier this year (and recently launching a pop-up at Chef’s Club Counter), acclaimed chef Wylie Dufresne’s creations have drawn fans for their unique flavors (think peanut butter and yuzu and honey fennel pollen) and picture-perfect presentation. Currently on the ever-changing menu is this apple cider/buckwheat donut created in collaboration with Mark Welker, the executive pastry chef of Make It Nice restaurant group. It’s a buckwheat donut with an apple cider glaze that’s topped with puffed buckwheat groats, apple chips and a sprinkling of Maldon salt.

At The William Vale hotel: 107 N. 12th St., Brooklyn; 718-215-8770

At Chef’s Club Counter: 62 Spring St.

Pumpkin spice at Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts in Houston, TX

This compact locale is celebrated for high-quality chicken and creative clouds of sugary fried dough. In addition to eight daily flavors like blueberry cake and Mexican chocolate, pastry chef Lillie Allen whips up special short-lease treats with fanciful frostings (think the recent candy corn with orange and white frosting stripes or bacon praline pecan caramel). In honor of fall, grab this pumpkin spice cake donut topped with cream cheese frosting and a dash of nutmeg. It's one pumpkin spice dish that's decidedly not #basic.

601 Heights Blvd.; 713-880-3550

Nacho donut at Trejo's Coffee & Donuts in Los Angeles, CA

In addition to his cantinas, actor Danny Trejo has now slapped his name (and face) on a donut shop in Hollywood. Thanks to pastry chef Dianne Crame, flavors run the gamut from traditional glazed to margarita, a sprinkle-topped "piñata" cake donut and maple-bacon. The most unique is probably the nacho flavor, a savory donut spiked with jalapeño and cheddar cheese. And we're totally OK with that.

6785 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-462-4600

Pomegranate tehina at Federal Donuts in Philadelphia, PA

Creative new flavors are a given at this beloved Philly-based chain by acclaimed chef Michael Solomonov. The seasonal pomegranate tehina is a mash-up of two of the fancy donuts featured in the shop's new book, the salted tehina and the pomegranate Nutella.

Multiple locations

Loaded donut holes at 1901 Restaurant at AceBounce in Chicago, IL

The game-changing restaurant at this subterranean Ping-Pong haunt isn’t messing around when it comes to sweets. On the brunch menu, guests can (and should) order a tray of donut holes flecked with maple and bacon and adorned with hot fudge. 

230 N. Clark St.; 773-219-0900

Spiked donut holes at The Salty Donut in Miami, FL

Bringing small-batch donuts to Magic City, this Wynwood shop has quickly become a local go-to. And its rotating assortment of spiked donut holes are particularly buzzy (pun intended). This weekend, the flavor is s’mores martini, 24-hour raised brioche dough, covered in marshmallow glaze and crushed graham cracker, paired with marshmallow vodka reduction and a chocolate shooter. Previous options have ranged from piña colada​ to a take on the old fashioned.

29 NW 24th St.; 305-925-8126

Boston cream donut at Union Square Donuts in Brookline, MA

Massachusetts' official state dessert gets a new spin at this pair of donut shops, the eponymous Union Square original and newer Brookline sibling, opened in January. Both locations stay well stocked with standout standbys like the Boston cream donut, a modern classic in the local food scene, plus seasonal flavors like Vietnamese coffee and vegan options like Belgian dark chocolate, all washed down with espresso drinks and nitro cold brew.

409 Harvard St.; 617-209-2257

Ice cream–and-donut "burgers" at Sublime Doughnuts in Atlanta, GA

Maybe it's the result of some late-night brainstorming. Maybe it's just the natural reaction to the donut-burger craze that's been clogging ATL arteries. But when one of Atlanta's most beloved donut shops decides to get creative, good things happen. Sublime Doughnuts splits one of its donuts down the middle, adds a scoop of ice cream, a topping and a sauce. Mainstay flavor combos include fresh strawberry and cream, peanut butter and chocolate, cinnamon toast and white chocolate peach, but you're welcome to get creative. Take that, ice cream sandwiches.

535 10th St. NW; 404-897-1801
2566 Briarcliff Rd. NE; 404-315-6899

Crullers at Daily Provisions in NYC

You’re not going to want to pass up these crullers at Danny Meyer’s bakery/cafe, where they’re offered in three flavors — maple (pictured above), cinnamon and glazed — and served warm. Developed by pastry chef Daniel Alvarez, these modern takes on a classic are hand-piped to create their classic shape, and the resulting product is perfectly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. They’re made fresh each morning and available while supplies last.

103 E. 19th St.; 212-488-1505

Design-your-own donut at Urban Donut in Dallas, TX

You can find a crazy, wacky donut just about anywhere these days, but few shops give you the opportunity to customize your creation from a massive bar filled with DIY goodies. This Uptown Dallas spot lets your wild imagination be the guide as you select your base from one of eight styles, choose a frosting or filling (or both) and then top it with a variety of delightful options, including bacon, jalapeños, cheesecake chunks and more candy varieties than a trick-or-treat bag.

2805 Allen St.; 469-687-5888

Pomegranate raised at Raised Doughnuts in Seattle, WA
Pastry chef Mi Kim (of 30 Under 30 fame) has been popping up all over the city with her new donut shop, Raised Doughnuts. In addition to classic crullers, she's whipping up mochi, cold brew and red bean flavors of puffy raised treats. Get to one of her pop-ups (which have been known to sell out in as little as 10 minutes) right now for fall flavors like pomegranate and apple cider. 
Check website for pop-up locations

Sweet potato pie donut at Sugar Shack in Washington, DC

South of the Mason-Dixon line, it's just not Thanksgiving without sweet potato pie. So it seems only fitting that this Richmond, Va.-based donut shop, which just opened a location in DC's Shaw neighborhood, would include an ode to the fall confection in its lineup of November's featured flavors. Fluffernutter-filled and cranberry-orange are the other two monthy specials, and people are still going nuts over the Butterbeer donut introduced last month — so much so that it's now available for special order by the dozen. 

1932 Ninth St. NW; 202-629-1417