The Best Donuts In Chicago
photo credit: Derrick Koch
Whether it’s for breakfast, dessert, or second breakfast, donuts are wonderful. That's why it’s important to know where to get them. From glazed old-fashioneds and apple fritters to horchata and vegan ’s’mores, here are the best donuts in Chicago.
Mindy’s makes incredible danishes, bagels, croissants, laminated brioches—you get the idea. They know what they're doing when it comes to all things dough, so it’s no surprise that this Wicker Park bakery also makes great donuts. For chunky cake donuts, order the old-fashioned, but the best are the yeast, which are airy and perfectly squishy. There’s usually only a handful of flavors, but you can expect things like cinnamon sugar, salted caramel, and hot fudge topped with a piece of Mindy’s chocolate.
If you want to try six different donuts but hate the side effects of eating six donuts in one sitting, this Lakeview spot is for you. Every donut at Mini Donut Factory is tiny (about the size of a silver dollar for anyone that used to have a coin collection). They’re sold in groups of six, which essentially adds up to one regular-sized donut. The donuts are soft and taste like funnel cake, and come with toppings that are added after you order. The raspberry has just enough tartness and the cookies and cream taste like a fried Oreo—a.k.a. delicious.
Mashed potatoes are the secret to this Uptown spot's soft and creamy (yet slightly cakey) donuts. So if you can’t decide between cake or yeast, this hits a happy medium. Plus, Downstate Donuts has tons of great flavors like sweet potato maple, Vietnamese coffee, and our favorite: Japanese pancake with hints of butterscotch and a berry jam drizzle.
This Near West Side spot is part of a Hawaiian-based chain with shops all over the country. Chains can be hit-or-miss, but this place's mochi donuts are great. Mochinut’s rice flour base creates a sticky, stretchy interior with a crispy exterior. They have over 20 to choose from, but the savory and fruity flavors are the best. So go for the black sesame, matcha, or mango.
There is nothing—we repeat nothing—not to love about D&D’s in Ashburn. Not only are the donuts fantastic, but this place is incredibly likable—you get handed a donut hole to try when you walk in and they give away free (and actually delicious) giant donuts to any kid that brings in their report card. Everything is great—from the glazed and blueberry to the apple fritters that are about 10 inches across, three inches thick, and a literal wonderland of textures. In conclusion, cancel out the rest of your day and dedicate it to this donut.
After the world fell out of love with cupcakes a few years ago, a bunch of boutique donut shops started opening around Chicago. Firecakes in River North was one of those spots and has thankfully managed to stay around. They have great seasonal specialties (like a gooey meyer lemon or apple-spiced), but our favorite is their vanilla iced. The vanilla flavor is strong without tasting like extract, and it comes with little crunchy pearls. We can’t leave here without one.
We like going to Stan’s when we want a lot of variety or a donut that sounds like it was created by an eight-year-old. For example, they have a caramel marshmallow, Cap’n crunch, and our personal favorite, the biscoff (a.k.a. cookie butter-filled) pocket. If you don’t feel like feeding your inner child, consider ordering something like their pretzel-glazed or the pistachio old fashioned.
You might know Do-Rite primarily as the place that makes fried chicken sandwiches using glazed donuts as buns. And while that is a perfectly valid thing to order here, if you’re going to pair an animal with your donut, we’re fans of their maple-glazed bacon. They also make a great pistachio meyer lemon, and some great vegan and gluten-free varieties, too.
You can’t tell, but the donut pictured above is gigantic. Dat Donut in Chatham specializes in Texas-style donuts, which are about 10 inches in diameter and can be shared by two to three people. While we love their cartoonishly large donuts, another great option is their reasonably-sized strawberry. It’s not too sweet, and the flavor of the fruit really comes through.
If donut shops had coaching trees, then Old Fashioned Donuts would be Bill Parcells. This Roseland spot has been around for 50 years, and people who have worked here (like the owners of D&D’s for example) have gone on to open their own successful donut shops. This place started the giant donut trend, but if you’re looking for a regulation-sized donut, their yeasted glazed is fantastic.
Webers has been around for a long time (since 1930 to be exact). And if you’ve ever eaten those tiny pre-packaged glazed donuts at the gas station, this South Side shop is for you. Specifically their chocolate-covered cake donut. The chocolate icing has a rich cocoa flavor and isn’t too sweet. Plus, it covers the donut with the right amount of thickness to complement (not overshadow) the flavor of the cake.
The Doughnut Vault is another spot with a short menu of excellent donuts, and our favorite happens to be their perfectly fluffy yeasted vanilla-glazed. They also make a fantastic old fashioned, and you should probably get both. And while there was a time when the line for this place would literally wrap around the block (and run out of donuts before you got to the window), at least now you can pre-order online.
This Filipino spot in West Town makes some of the best pastries in the city, including donuts. Their ham and raclette danish is one of the only good things to come out of 2020, and the Boston creme brioche is another reason for us to be online at 8am placing an order from here. The donut/bread hybrid is rich the way you expect a brioche to be, fluffy the way you hope a donut is, and has a creamy vanilla filling with a chocolate glaze top. All of that is delicious, but one of the best components is the bottom of the donut, which is laminated with caramelized sugar.
A lot of places have a few different vegan doughnuts on their menu. But Beacon (a donut shop that’s actually just a takeout window in an alley in Lincoln Park) devotes its entire menu to vegan donuts. You’ll find about 10 to choose from, with flavors ranging from s’mores to birthday cake, and they manage to be light and fluffy. And since they run out, don’t wait until the day-of to get one. Pre-order.
If you’re wondering what happened to Bridgeport Bakery 1.0, it closed. But thankfully version 2.0 has the same delicious treats as the original. And while they have a lot of baked goods besides donuts, we like coming here for their long johns and bismarks. As a bonus, almost every donut is $1.50 or less.
Delightful Pastries is known for its paczki (filled Polish donuts everyone buys on Fat Tuesday), which are available all year round. This is great news, not just because they’re delicious, but because you don’t have to take an entire day off work waiting in line on Paczki Day to eat one.