Whether you love doughnuts because they’re the ultimate vehicle for sprinkles or due to a somewhat misguided understanding of The Lion King’s Circle of Life, there’s no denying that these bready sweet treats rank amongst the best sugar highs around. London has a lot of good doughnut options but this guide is purely dedicated to the ones that will make you say something heartfelt and truly profound like, ‘doughnuts are the fucking GOAT’. Onwards for Nutella glaze, some quintessential strawberry jam, and perfectly smoked pork shoulder doughnuts, helpfully split into sweet and savoury options.
The Sweet Ones
Order this: This caramel and honeycomb number.
We were in love once. The world was bright, the sun was shining, our hearts were full of possibility. Yes, we were in love - for exactly five minutes and 20 seconds, which was the time it took us to eat Bread Ahead’s caramel and honeycomb doughnut. An achingly sweet creation that looks like it was designed by Zaha Hadid in the middle of a sugar high, it has the power to mentally transport you to a world where you just roll around in icing sugar all day. Of course, if that doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in - why? - then this Borough Market bakery also has flavours like lemon meringue, hazelnut praline, and the ultimate dessert collaboration we’ve all been waiting for, their carrot cake doughnut.
The Treats Club
Order this: The Nutella and Oreo s’mores hot donut.
Look, the only club we’ve ever been interested in joining was Brownies and that was when we were in primary school. And also, that was only because we thought it would purely involve baked goods. But then The Treats Club came along with their marshmallow fluff, and their raspberry ripple cheesecake swirls, and we realised that this was absolutely a club we want to be a part of. A little spot in Netil Market with a big online offering of DIY kits, you can’t go wrong with any of the luxury donuts available - but the Nutella-glazed, marshmallow-heavy hot donut is one of the best. Whether it’s Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s, or Random Tuesday Where You Decide You Need Nice Stuff, always be sure to check out their seasonal specials. They’re fantastic.
Order this: The strawberry jam classic.
St. John’s doughnuts are the Chanel suit of the London doughnut world. Both are intrinsically classy and will never go out of style. When it comes to fillings, this legendary London restaurant has got you covered with chocolate, vanilla custard, and our, personal favourite, strawberry jam. Because we all know that you can’t beat a classic.
Crosstown Doughnuts & Coffee
Order this: The peanut butter and blackcurrant compote creation.
We’re not sociologists, but someone really should be studying how a human being can have the exact same - seriously, the exact same - response to WAP played at full volume and their first bite of this nutty fruity doughnut. With sourdough packed full of blackcurrant compote with a deep roasted peanut butter glaze, it’s a fun take on the American peanut butter and jelly sandwich, except in extra sweet doughnut form. You can find this texture party at several Crosstown dessert bars across London, including in London Bridge, Hammersmith, Greenwich, and Shoreditch. Be sure to always keep an eye out for their creative seasonal specials too.
Order this: The Oreo cheesecake crodough.
If we ever win the lottery or somehow manage to worm our way into Rami Malek’s heart and hightail it out of London for a life of LA sunshine, one of the things we’d miss the most about this city is all of the charming, cheery little bakeries. Rinkoff is one of London’s great little old school bakeries and has been around since 1911. They serve all of the sweet British classics like chelsea buns, victoria sponge cake, and fruit scones, but in the last few years they’ve also jumped on the crodough game. Part-doughnut, part-croissant, they usually sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on the creamy yet crunchy Oreo cheesecake one, we salute you.
Uncle John's Bakery
Order this: The sweet bad.
Everyone deserves to have a bakery as good as Uncle John’s on their road. Technically, this Ghanaian bakery in South Tottenham is on everybody’s road now, thanks to the internet and their nationwide delivery. Aside from their majestic sweet bread and addictive servings of chin chin, their miniature fried coconut doughnuts are our favourite thing here. After months of dedicated practice, we’ve discovered that our preferred method of eating them is by steadily picking off the sweet, crispy outside, and then rolling the soft, doughy innards into a squidgy little ball whilst lying horizontally. We like to call this behaviour ‘self-care’. If you too wish to take part in some of London’s tastiest self-care, you should know that it’s only a quid for two tasty little sweet bads.
Order this: The biscoff buttercream ‘David Hasselhoff’ doughnut.
In our humble opinion, the time for doughnuts is ten-past right now. Especially when you’re getting involved in doughnuts covered in Kinder Bueno, a whipped Snickers mousse, and Jammy Dodgers. This Australian mini-chain has been in London for a hot minute now and has several spots across the city, but what you really need to know is that they specialise in fun XXL doughnut creations. We’re eternal fans of the superb simplicity that is the Lotus biscuit, so our go-to order is the Biscoff spread ‘David Hasselhoff’. Expect chocolate drizzle, a crisp caramel glaze, and plenty of crunch-factor from the Lotus biscuits.
The Savoury Ones
Duck & Waffle
Order this: The spicy ox cheek doughnut.
Okay, you’re probably reading this guide because you’ve got a massive craving for something covered in icing sugar that looks like the brainchild of Willy Wonka after a fourth shot of flaming sambuca, as he screams, More caramel! The flakes should all point towards the North star! Set in on fire then cover it in edible gold! But sometimes, occasionally, a savoury doughnut is so good that it too deserves the high accolade of ‘one of London’s best doughnuts’. For example, the spicy ox cheek number from Duck and Waffle. At the top of a City skyscraper, it’s open 24-hours a day, which means you can eat this meaty, paprika-and-sugar-covered doughnut at 6am, 6pm, or whatever time your friends agree to meet you there for cocktails over brunch.
NB: Duck and Waffle is currently closed due to the ongoing pandemic.
Order this: The nduja ‘Del Piero’ doughnut. (Okay, and the pork shoulder doughnut too.)
From The Ashes is a BBQ spot in Hackney Wick inspired by a local legend that a fisherman once saw a phoenix rise from the ashes of a discarded cigarette butt, demanding smoked meats and a pint. Kidding. We’re totally kidding. But jokes aside, you should know that the meaty doughnut offerings here are seriously tasty. This little hatch has two doughnuts on its short menu, but they’re packed full of big flavours thanks to the smoked pork shoulder, chilli jam, barbecue sauce, and a dusting of crackling. Honestly, we really can’t choose between the two as they’re equally moist, smoky, and full of top-tier textures, so please take this as permission to order both. A tub of sriracha marmite mayo is also encouraged.
Order this: The venison and vermicelli doughnut.
When this doughnut first arrives at your table you’ll think one of two things: ‘How very intriguing,’ or, ‘Wow this looks like a sea urchin that’s had a makeover on Queer Eye’. Don’t think about it, just eat it. A delicious, crunchy, flaky ball of deliciousness, packed full of yet more delicious spicy venison, it’s one of our all-time favourite dishes from this seriously excellent Indian restaurant. You’ll find it on the menu of their original Spitalfields restaurant, as well as their Tower Bridge spot where you can even enjoy this spicy luxury doughnut al fresco.
NB: Gunpowder Tower Bridge will be reopening on April 12th, but in the meantime keep an eye on their Instagram for delivery and click-and-collect venison doughnuts.