My love for donuts started with two things - Munchkin birthday celebrations in grade school and seeing Homer drool over them in episodes of The Simpsons. Now that I’m older and have sat through long-winding lines at local pop-ups, it’s obvious that the city shares my 3rd-grade-level excitement for these hand-held desserts/meals for breakfast. From old-school bakeries in the Northeast, historic marketplaces, and fun coffee shops, here are 11 places serving glazed and frosted sweets that I’m excited about right now.
A neighborhood wine bar like ITV might not be the first place that comes to mind when you want to grab a donut, but that’s where you can find this Passyunk pop-up that’s become one our favorite spots recently. They’re open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 8am until they sell out. With over a dozen variations ranging from sourdough to old-fashioned, whether you like your donuts moist, airy, or cakey, they’ve got something for you. One of our favorites is the chocolate glazed s’more donut topped with graham cracker dust and marshmallow cream.
Okie Dokie Donuts
With flavors like orange cardamom, oolong ginger, and Earl Grey lemon, this South Philly donut shop has no problem dreaming up some wild blends to put on its menu. Don’t miss a chance to bit into their perfectly round cranberry matcha almond cake donut. With two types of fruit (cranberry and lemon) in the donut, there’s a true blend and balance of sweet and sour flavors. The Thursday-through-Sunday spot is only open for four hours a day, but their online ordering system and alternate pick-up locations in West Philly and Fishtown make it easy to get your hands on any of their great options.
No matter what time of day you stop by Beiler’s Doughnuts, you’ll be in for a wait that resembles trying to cross the Tacony Bridge when it’s up. It’s worth it though because you can get up to 40 different varieties of these homemade Pennsylvania Dutch warm, doughy, and sticky treats. It’s hard to just pick one favorite behind the glass display at this spot, but you can’t go wrong with the classic vanilla sprinkled.
Federal Donuts will have you from the first waft you smell when you walk through their doors - you’ll get hit with both the scent of fresh chicken out of the fryer and their sweet donuts. Fans of sugar-topped ones can enjoy their churro or strawberry lavender options, but you can also catch other variations like cheesecake-filled or glazed ones at any of the franchise’s seven locations in the city.
Make no mistake, Dottie’s Donuts is not a donut shop where you’ll go “those were good...for vegan donuts.” It’s a donut shop that makes great donuts, period. With locations in both West Philly and Center City, they sell everything from classic apple fritters to options like their glazed gingerbread that’s topped with a hunk of chocolate-apple spiced cake. Open daily until 3pm or until they sell out, this spot’s donuts are consistently delicious and fresh.
The first time I bit into a Boston cream donut from Hello Donuts I thought, “It’s like biting into a pillow.” You know, if a pillow was edible and full of vanilla cream. Since they’re open only three days a week (Friday-Sunday), their donuts are more desired than HBO Max subscriptions now that they’re hosting all of the Warner Brothers movies. The Kensington shop’s rotation includes options like apple cider cake (vegan), miso carmel, maple bourbon (vegan), and even chocolate tahini.
There’s a certain reassurance that comes with knowing people have been doing something for almost half a century. For over 46 years, this staple has been filling Castor Ave with the smell of freshly-baked bread and packing their display cases with rows of cakes. The old-school bakery also makes some fantastic donuts each day. In such a classic place, you can’t go wrong with a delicious jelly donut filled with raspberry jelly and rolled in sugar.
Frangelli’s Bakery is another place that has been making tasty donuts for a long time - we’re talking longer than the LOVE statue has been around. Through the decades, the legendary shop has sold everything from chocolate frosted, jelly, glazed, and other go-to donut staples. But years ago, they took things to the next level with the “Franolli” and their ice cream donuts. The “Franolli” is a massive donut and cannoli hybrid filled with a mound of cannoli cream and tiny chocolate chips. The best part of eating one is that there’s so much cream that you get the perfect level of sweetness each time. For the ice cream, they slice a donut half and fill it with a tennis ball-sized scoop of ice cream.
Even though Factory Donuts has great sandwiches, the donuts at this spot in Mayfair are the main attraction. All 24 signature choices and seven cream-filled options, like maple bacon, apple cider, or strawberry lemonade, are made fresh-to-order. There’s almost nothing better than a warm donut right out the fryer, especially if they’re as light and crispy as theirs.
At any of the three locations in the city, you’ll find donuts topped with pastels, rainbow candies, and more behind their bakery case. Although you’ll find some colorful ones on display, I always go for their glazed option. Unlike some places where the sugar coating may start to flake off, here it’s almost melted into the donut, making each bite as sugary as the last.
There’s no shortage of filling in the powder cream donuts at Holmesburg Bakery, which is probably why it’s one of our favorites at the family-owned shop. And whether you’re grabbing a batch for takeout or curbside pickup (they’re open daily until 5pm), the sweet aroma from any freshly-fried batch will be worth the trip to the Northeast if you don’t live nearby.