Whether you’re eating a doughnut for breakfast, enjoying a couple for a midafternoon snack, or working your way through a box to help you deal with life’s challenges, a great doughnut is worth its weight in gold. It’s difficult to be anything but joyous when your taste buds are experiencing mouthfuls of unbelievably flavorful fried dough.
Doughnuts aren’t exactly a new invention. While the exact timeframe isn’t known, historians believe that humans have been devouring these timeless goodies for thousands of years. It’s safe to say that doughnuts will remain a sweet staple as long as mankind continues to roam this planet.
While you can find amazing mom-and-pop donut shops in all 50 states, don’t overlook chains when looking for fantastic doughnuts. In fact, what may be the world’s best doughnut is available at a chain. That said, not all doughnut chains are worth visiting. In fact, some of them should be ignored completely. To help steer you toward the best doughnut chains, we’ve listed the chains in order, ranked from worst to best.
Back in early 2019, Dunkin’ Donuts officially changed its name to become Dunkin’ (via Business Insider). While they still sell doughnuts, it’s obviously no longer their focus. If you want to see for yourself, take a bite of one of their boring doughnuts and you’ll see why they decided to drop the "Donuts" from their name. Compared to other doughnut chains around the country, Dunkin’ simply can’t compete. Their offerings are yawn-inducing.
Not everything about the restaurant’s offerings is underwhelming. Dunkin’ boasts some really delicious drinks, and their affordable muffins are so yummy you should try them while you’re still in the land of the living.
Doughnuts not being high on the priority list for Dunkin’ isn’t new. As it turns out, doughnuts only account for about eight percent of their sales, according to CSP Daily News. As time goes on, expect that number to drop even further because there’s really no good reason to order their doughnuts. They are utterly forgettable.
Once upon a time, disparaging Tim Hortons out loud was enough to start a fistfight with any Canadian within earshot. Back in those good old days, the only thing better than the coffee at Tim Hortons were their scrumptious doughnuts. Tragically, those days are now gone. Even Canadians agree that the quality of the coffee chain is going downhill at a rapid rate, contributing to the overall decline of Tim Hortons. Many believe that things started getting worse in 2014, when the company that owns Burger King purchased Tim Hortons and began cutting corners. Whatever the truth may be, it’s plain as day that this legendary chain no longer is what it used to be.
These days, Tim Hortons has more than 600 locations in the United States, but your best bet is to avoid this chain entirely. Although their doughnuts are a little bit better than those you can find at Dunkin’, they have a limited variety and there’s no longer anything special about the taste. Don’t let nostalgia fool you into thinking Tim Hortons is worthy of a visit. Times have changed.
Yum Yum Donuts
Yum Yum Donuts has been around for nearly 50 years and has more than 50 locations. Despite all of their experience, it’s not difficult to stumble upon negative reviews for this West Coast doughnut chain. Multiple customers claim this place sells old doughnuts, which is definitely a problem for anyone with working taste buds.
To make matters worse, doughnuts from Yum Yum Donuts aren’t all that good, even if you get your hands on a fresh one. The flavors are limited and the texture is often too mushy. With the possibility that you’ll receive old doughnuts, there’s a good chance that you’ll be saying "yuck yuck" after your first bite of a Yum Yum purchase.
The only good thing about this doughnut chain is that most locations are open 24 hours a day. Then again, perhaps you’d be better off waiting for a superior doughnut place to open, rather than settling for what very likely would be a substandard experience.
The doughnuts at Legendary Doughnuts look, well, legendary. These beautiful treats might be more aesthetically pleasing than any other doughnuts in the industry. Just take a look next time you’re in a Legendary Doughnuts restaurant and you’ll surely agree that they’re jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Sadly, the beauty of their doughnuts is only skin deep. Once you shove one of these deep-fried treats into your mouth, you’ll soon realize that lamentable fact. The doughnuts on the Legendary Doughnuts menu are often dry and tend to fall apart in your hands. What you think will be a beautiful moment will soon turn into a crummy, crumby situation. In fact, some of their offerings are so powdery that they are difficult to eat.
If you find yourself at Legendary Doughnuts and want to make the best out of the situation, go with one of their fruit-filled doughnuts, like the Tart Lemon Pillow doughnut or the Apple Pie doughnut. The filling will help mitigate the dryness that plagues most of their beautiful goodies.
Honey Dew Donuts
If you spend any time in New England, there’s a good chance that you know all about Honey Dew Donuts. This chain has 145 locations in New England that each sells an impressive variety of doughnuts.
While it’s possible for you to be happy after visiting Honey Dew Donuts, you should know that you’re taking a bit of a risk. The doughnuts at this place are frequently very hit or miss. Sometimes, you’ll believe that you’ve found a fantastic doughnut dispensary. Other times, you’ll be convinced that you were robbed of your cash by an overrated doughnut shop.
To give yourself a better chance of getting a good doughnut from Honey Dew Donuts, show up early. It appears that the quality of their treats takes a nosedive not long after they open their doors in the morning. Though this isn’t strategy isn’t guaranteed to work, it will give you better odds of your gamble paying off with a glorious sweet dessert.
Unlike Honey Dew Donuts, you know what you’re getting at Daylight Donuts. No matter which of their more than 400 locations that you travel to, you can rest assured that your next doughnut from this chain will taste just like the last doughnut you bought from them. Daylight Donuts definitely deserves a round of applause for their consistency.
Unfortunately, that consistency from doughnut to doughnut is both a blessing and a curse. While your taste buds will know what to expect, the truth is that their doughnuts just aren’t that notable. The quality you can expect at this doughnut chain is basically the same as what you’d find at any supermarket or corner store in the country that sells similar treats. It’s highly questionable whether it’s worth going out of your way to visit this chain when so many other shine. You won’t be too disappointed, but neither will you be wowed by the run of the mill doughnuts they have for sale.
The Dapper Doughnut
If you want a well-dressed doughnut that will undoubtedly please your eyeballs, The Dapper Doughnut is definitely up for the job. The doughnuts on the Dapper Doughnut menu all look stunning and are popping with flavor. However, there’s one caveat that you need to know before you visit: Dapper Doughnut treats are really small. Even if you’re prepared to be underwhelmed, the puniness of these doughnuts will still be a shock to your senses.
Sure, size isn’t everything when it comes to doughnuts, but it is rather annoying that you need about a dozen of these bad boys to fill up. If you make the mistake of ordering one or two, you’ll likely be even hungrier than when you arrived at The Dapper Doughnut. That said, if your order is large enough, you’ll be more than satisfied by their doughnuts.
If you want a recommendation, you can’t go wrong with their Bananas Foster doughnut. These yummy doughnuts feature cinnamon, caramel, crumbs of graham cracker, topped with a banana slice.
LaMar’s Donuts & Coffee
The doughnuts at LaMar’s Donuts & Coffee are the first doughnuts on this list that are safely above average and won’t let you down. They’ve also got a long history that can be traced all the way back to 1933, according to LaMar’s. Today, they have more than two dozen locations. There’s no catch with their doughnuts. They have a wide array of goodies that you can order with confidence. If you don’t know what to pick, go with the Ray’s Original Glazed or, if you’re a chocolate lover, the Ray’s Chocolate Iced Original. Both of these are sure to thrill your taste buds.
Two things hold LaMar’s Donuts & Coffee back from being even higher on this list. First of all, though the flavor is sublime, the texture of their doughnuts could use improvement. Secondly, the coffee at this doughnut chain is, frankly, gross. If you pair your morning doughnut with a cup of coffee, you might want to go somewhere else.
Winchell’s Donut House
If you want big, filling doughnuts, Winchell’s Donut House could be your home away from home. Not only are their doughnuts large in stature, but ordering a dozen doughnuts at this chain will result in you getting two extra goodies. When a dozen or a baker’s dozen of 13 won’t satiate your hunger, opt for the Winchell’s Donut House dozen of 14 hefty doughnuts.
Size-wise, not only are Winchell’s girthy doughnuts impressive but so is their menu of many options. If you can dream it, you can probably find that exact doughnut on their lengthy menu.
The only downside to the doughnuts at this place is that some people find Winchell’s offerings are too sweet. Even if you love the taste, you may struggle to eat more than one or two due to the overwhelming sweetness. On the other hand, if your sweet tooth rules your life, Winchell’s Donut House is sure to satisfy your palate.
Five Daughters Bakery
Five Daughters Bakery is an up-and-coming doughnut chain that has a really bright future. As time passes, expect this chain to only climb higher on this list. Right now, they only have six locations, with four in Tennessee and two in Georgia. However, that relatively small footprint hasn’t stopped celebrities like Reese Witherspoon from taking note of their spectacular doughnuts.
While all the doughnuts at Five Daughters Bakery are worthy of their price tag, it’s their Hundred Layer Doughnuts that steal the show. These majestic desserts are like the lovechild of a doughnut and a croissant. They taste even better than what you’re probably imagining. While all the flavors are great, if you demand the best of the best, then try The Purist, glazed with vanilla bean icing.
If you follow a paleo or vegan diet, you’re also in luck. Five Daughters Bakery cooks up paleo and vegan-friendly doughnuts that are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and have no added sugars. Diet doughnuts? Yes, they’re real and they, too, are spectacular.
As long as you avoid the gimmicky flavors, the doughnuts you can get at Voodoo Doughnuts are top-notch. For example, you likely don’t want to order the Voodoo Bubble doughnut that comes with a piece of bubble gum on top or the Oh Captain, My Captain that’s covered with Cap’n Crunch. Those doughnuts are just weird. That said, a majority of their goodies are really, really good.
Though you want to avoid the gimmicks, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun when ordering at Voodoo Doughnut. They make a menu item called the Maple Blazer Blunt doughnut (don’t worry, it’s legal in all 50 states) that has maple frosting, cinnamon sugar, and red sprinkles that will surely give your taste buds a sugar high.
Voodoo Doughnut has locations across the nation, from Portland, Oregon to Orlando, Florida. If you’re ever in the area, you owe it to yourself to give their unique doughnuts a try.
Don’t fret, animal lovers, as Duck Donuts promises that it is actually named after a city in North Carolina, not the waterfowl. Thankfully, this means you don’t have to worry about any feathers appearing in your doughnuts. The only thing you’ll find in their doughnuts is a whole lot of yumminess.
When you go to Duck Donuts, you could pick one of their featured doughnuts or opt for one of their ever-popular fan favorites. However, unless you want to take the easy way out, what you actually should do is customize your own made-to-order doughnut, a unique feature of this chain. You first pick a coating such as powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, or strawberry icing. Next, you select a topping like shredded coconut, graham cracker, or rainbow sprinkles. Finally, you add a drizzle on top of your creation, such as marshmallow or hot fudge. If you don’t absolutely adore the resulting doughnut, you only have yourself to blame.
As it stands, Duck Donuts can primarily be found east of the Mississippi River. However, this fast-growing doughnut chain is spreading its wings and locations are popping up throughout the United States.
If you prefer your doughnuts to be extra thick and hearty enough to fill you to the brim for half a day, go to Shipley Do-Nuts. This doughnut chain, which is based in Texas but can now be found in seven states, launched shortly after the Great Depression and, according to Shipley Do-Nuts itself, initially sold a dozen doughnuts for only five cents. While their prices have increased, their bevy of satisfied customers isn’t complaining.
If you have a Texas-sized hunger, you can’t go wrong with the chain’s apple fritter. This thing is huge and oh-so scrumptious. After you finish swallowing every last morsel, you’ll be licking your fingers until every last drop of icing is gone. Other outstanding choices include the chocolate-filled doughnut, the Bavarian doughnut, and their ginormous bear claw.
While you’re at Shipley Do-Nuts, you should also try one of their wonderful savory kolaches, a Czech-style pastry popular in Texas (via Saveur). Shipley’s sausage, cheese, and jalapeno version is extra delicious.
Top Pot Doughnuts
While you might have to travel a far distance to visit Top Pot Doughnuts, their goodies are so phenomenal that it’s definitely worth going the extra mile. At their locations, which can be found in the Pacific Northwest and in Texas, you’ll encounter magnificently beautiful doughnuts overflowing with an incalculable amount of flavor. You will be convinced that Top Pot Doughnuts has mastered the art of the doughnut after your first bite.
The options at this doughnut chain are always changing, which is actually a good thing. Each time you go to this chain, there will be more than 40 varieties available on the Top Pot Doughnuts menu. Seasonal favorites include the Orange Marmalade Cake, the Peppermint Snowdrift, and the Pumpkin Old Fashioned, which is so good that President Barack Obama himself deemed it "addictive", according to the Top Pot blog.
Sure, Krispy Kreme isn’t the hippest doughnut shop in the country. It seems like every man, woman, and child has eaten and enjoyed at least one Krispy Kreme doughnut in their lifetime. While you won’t get any hipster cred by proclaiming that Krispy Kreme is the cream of the doughnut crop, you’ll be telling the truth. They’re the best doughnut chain out there. It’s not even that close.
Walk into a Krispy Kreme and the first thing you’ll notice is the fantastic smell of their doughnuts. That is just a hint of what’s to come. If you’re one of the few souls who hasn’t tried one of their doughnuts, begin with their simple but legendary Original Glazed. Though it may look unassuming, it’s part of the reason why Krispy Kreme is one of the most delicious doughnut chains you can find anywhere in the world. Its melt-in-your-mouth goodness is euphoric.
The next time you drive by one of Krispy Kreme’s many locations, keep an eye out for their beloved Hot Light. If it’s lit, that means that their doughnuts are just coming out of the fryer and are as fresh as it gets. Taking a bite of a fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut is genuinely one of the greatest pleasures you can experience.