Yes, we already have a list of Chicago’s Best Donuts. But this is a list of the best new donuts that have arrived on the scene in the past year. And these five places are good enough to inspire several hours of writing poetry dedicated to glazed pastries. So feel free to use this guide to get started on your new book of donut poetry - or just use it to find all the best new donuts in Chicago.
Liberation Donuts is a vegan donut shop in West Town, but the fact that they’re made without eggs or dairy is irrelevant - these are excellent. All the donuts are cake-based, not at all dense (which can happen with vegan baked goods), and perfectly fried until they’re just crispy. Our favorite donut is the For Greta - a plain cake donut filled with vegan whipped cream, and topped with vanilla glaze and fresh strawberries. We also really like the Sanctuary (bruléed sugar and pineapples) and the Kindness, which has a maple glaze and spiced chocolate crumbs.
When it comes to creative flavor combinations, we’re big fans of the donuts at Brite in Fulton Market. Flavors rotate frequently, but we’ve seen versions like tangerine Pop Rock (filled with citrus pastry cream and topped with vanilla glaze, candied tangerine, and pop rocks), an horchata donut filled with almond cream and topped with caramel and cinnamon rice crunchies, and the “thin mint” which is way better than its cookie namesake. But our favorite is the banana chai. It’s filled with cold brew pastry cream, glazed with banana chai tea, and dusted with banana powder. It’s an oddly refreshing donut, and we’re not sure why all that works together, but it does. Just be aware, you need to place orders at least 24 hours in advance.
This Filipino restaurant’s ham and raclette danish was one of the only good things to come out of 2020. And the West Town spot has also added a Boston creme brioche to their lineup, creating 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.
We first visited this Japanese spot when it was a food stall in the now-closed Politan Row food hall. Now Mom’s is operating out of Marz Brewing Company, serving tasty snacks like udon and katsu sandos, and (most importantly) donuts on the weekend. And those donuts are as good as we remember, with flavors like ube coconut, hojicha milk jam topped with Rice Krispies, and the delightful strawberry Kit Kat. Flavors change every week, but you can keep track of the upcoming menu on their Instagram.
Beacon (a donut shop that’s actually just a takeout window in an alley in Lincoln Park) is another spot that devotes its entire menu to vegan donuts. But unlike Liberation, they have several varieties besides cake - like yeasted and brioche fritters. You’ll find about 10 donuts to choose from, with flavors ranging from s’mores to birthday cake. They make them in small batches and tend to run out, so don’t wait until day-of to get one. Pre-order online.